The thought of reclassification is a biennial stressor for some schools, a complete nonstarter for others.
Through more than 70 years of changes, some schools have changed classifications so many times that they’re about ready to take off their socks to keep the count going. Others are drawing their Thanksgiving hand turkeys with no feathers, because they haven’t even had to start counting.
Same old song and dance
A total of 19 schools have been more or less unaffected by (non-football) reclassification over the past 70 years or so. These include a bevy of 4A schools: Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Laramie, Natrona, Rock Springs, Kelly Walsh, Thunder Basin and Sheridan. Also, 3A schools Buffalo, Douglas, Newcastle and Wheatland; 2A schools Tongue River, Rocky Mountain, Wind River and Wyoming Indian; and 1A schools Farson, Snake River and Ten Sleep have been unaffected by reclassification.
When Class C was restructured — and other classifications followed suit — in 1974, it gave permanent homes to several other schools, including C/1A-ever-since schools Chugwater, Burlington, Kaycee, Arvada-Clearmont, Cokeville, Encampment, Glendo and Rock River. Similarly, Torrington (3A) and Campbell County (4A) found homes prior to the 1974 shakeup, and Green River (4A) shortly after, and have been largely unaffected by (non-football) reclassification over the past 50 years.
The move from the AA-A-B-C to the 4A-3A-2A-1A setup in 1983 moved a few schools around into more settled classifications; six schools (3A Powell and Worland, 2A Greybull and Lusk and 1A Meeteetse and Midwest) have remained in their classifications since that shakeup.
The last big change to classification of programs that affected some of the more popular four-class sports like basketball, volleyball and track came in 1990, when Evanston moved to 4A and Lander and Rawlins moved into 3A. Shortly before that, Wright and Sundance found permanent homes in 2A.
Together, those 41 schools — almost two-thirds of Wyoming’s high schools — have remained unaffected by (non-football) reclassification since 1990.
Living on the edge
However, the 28 other schools currently participating in those sports have all been reclassified at least once since biannual reclassification started in 1991. In those in 32 years and 16 reclassification cycles, Lingle has had to change classifications the most, alternating between Class 2A and Class 1A nine times.
Yep — with nine changes in 16 opportunities, Lingle changes classifications more often than it doesn’t.
Other frequent movers straddle the 2A/1A line right along with Lingle, with one exception: Lovell. Both Lovell (3A/2A) and Southeast (2A/1A) have changed classifications six times in that span, and Upton (2A/1A) has changed five.
Schools with four changes since 1991 are Dubois, Shoshoni, Lyman and Thermopolis, three are Big Horn, Hanna, Guernsey-Sunrise, Saratoga, Star Valley and Kemmerer, two each are Pine Bluffs, Hulett, Mountain View, Cody, Riverton, Big Piney, Burns and Glenrock, and one are Pinedale, Cheyenne South, Jackson, St. Stephens, Moorcroft and Riverside.
The past few years
The reclassification changes mentioned are for the four-classification sports: basketball, volleyball and track. Starting in the 2018 school year, though, the WHSAA started using different classification systems for different sports, with cross country, golf, wrestling and swimming using one system; soccer using another; and indoor track yet another. Over the past three reclassification cycles, several schools have flipped across either the 4A/3A line or the 3A/2A line in a variety of sports.
That will end starting in the fall of 2024, as the WHSAA’s latest decision standardizes classifications in all sports except football.
What might be coming
The new enrollment cutoffs of 700 for Class 4A, 210 for Class 3A and 110 for Class 2A could send some schools into new classifications for the 2024-25 school year. Moreover, the WHSAA board’s decision to standardize classification across all sports except football will mean some schools will change classifications in some sports but not in others — at least the first time through the process.
If current enrollments hold, 13 schools will change classifications in at least one sport:
- Star Valley, Jackson: Up to 4A in indoor track
- Evanston, Riverton: Up to 4A in cross country, golf, wrestling, swimming and indoor track
- Green River: Up to 4A in soccer, cross country, golf, wrestling, swimming and indoor track
- Cody: Down to 3A in basketball, volleyball and track
- Lovell, Glenrock, Thermopolis: Up to 3A in cross country, golf and wrestling
- Moorcroft: Down to 2A in basketball, volleyball and track
- Lingle, St. Stephens, Lusk: Down to 1A in basketball, volleyball and track
Classifications will TENTATIVELY be comprised of:
- Class 4A (15 schools): Kelly Walsh, Natrona, Cheyenne East, Rock Springs, Cheyenne South, Cheyenne Central, Thunder Basin, Campbell County, Laramie, Sheridan, Star Valley, Jackson, Evanston, Riverton, Green River.
- Class 3A (16 schools): Cody, Lander, Powell, Douglas, Rawlins, Worland, Buffalo, Pinedale, Torrington, Wheatland, Mountain View, Newcastle, Lyman, Lovell, Glenrock, Thermopolis.
- Class 2A (14 schools): Moorcroft, Kemmerer, Burns, Tongue River, Wyoming Indian, Big Piney, Wright, Big Horn, Wind River, Greybull, Shoshoni, Pine Bluffs, Rocky Mountain, Sundance.
- Class 1A (24 schools): Lingle, St. Stephens, Lusk, Southeast, Guernsey, Burlington, Saratoga, Upton, Riverside, Cokeville, Snake River, Hanna, Hulett, Midwest, Farson, Dubois, Meeteetse, Kaycee, Encampment, Ten Sleep, Arvada-Clearmont, Rock River, Glendo, Chugwater. (Glendo and Chugwater have not regularly fielded team sports in several years.)
Conference alignments will be set by participating schools.
The WHSAA will receive enrollments from schools over the summer and share them with schools prior to the first of four district meetings in September.
Why is Football always left out of the conversation when it comes to Reclassification? Seems to me if your school is 4A all sports should be 4A if your school is 3A All sports 3A and so on…… Or maybe have a conversation on a new way of Classifying schools…. What if schools where classified every 3 years based on Performance & Number of athletes in the sport. Take the bottom 2 or 3 teams and move them down a classification & the top 2 or 3 teams move up a classification. Based on the last 3 years 2020-2023 the new classifications would look something like this
(Kemmerer & Pinedale moving to 1A 9man for 3 years with the option to stay in 2A)
Lets look at safety.. when a program has close to 100 athletes participating and they play a team in the same classification with only 35 or less participating and winning by scores 74-6, 67-7, 69-6, 61-7 that is a safety issue…… Or let teams petition up or down a classification without penalty if granted….