Note: This is the third of a three-part series examining what Wyoming’s high school sports scene might look like in nine years. For Part 1, click here; for Part 2, click here.

Scenario 1: Difficult days ahead

Welcome to 2023. Wyoming is struggling. Mineral prices are in a constant state of flux, leaving state funding uncertain. The state has responded to the fluctuation with a mandate for the education of its high school students: bigger is better.

With that in mind, the state legislature passed legislation that said any high school smaller than 200 students that has a high school within 30 miles (and within the same school district) must consolidate with that school. The state also passed legislation that said all high schools smaller than 25 students should close and consolidate.

Seven high schools are closed schools in this scenario: Pine Bluffs, Southeast, Lingle, Encampment, Chugwater, Rock River and Glendo. Enrollments of schools would be as follows:

1. Gillette, 2,938
2/3. Kelly Walsh/Natrona, 2,160
4. Rock Springs, 1,901
5/6/7. Cheyenne Central/East/South, 1,534
8. Laramie, 1,319 (with Rock River)
9. Sheridan, 1,136
10. Jackson, 969
11. Evanston, 920
12. Riverton, 911
13. Green River, 905
14. Star Valley, 769
15. Cody, 667
16. Rawlins, 607
17. Powell, 596
18. Douglas, 556
19. Goshen County, 495 (Torrington, Lingle, Southeast)
20. Worland, 454
21. Lander, 426
22. Buffalo, 363
23. West Platte, 344 (Wheatland, Glendo, Chugwater)
24. Pinedale, 343
25. East Laramie, 310 (Burns, Pine Bluffs)
26. Lyman, 255
27. Mountain View, 248
28. Newcastle, 244
29. Lovell, 237
30. Kemmerer, 234
31. Glenrock, 230
32. Big Piney, 206
33. Moorcroft, 196
34. Thermopolis, 179
35. Tongue River, 173
36. Greybull, 162
37. Wright, 161
38. Wyoming Indian, 156 (adjusted)
39. Saratoga, 143 (with Encampment)
40. Sundance, 120
41. Wind River, 119
42. Lusk, 118
43. Big Horn, 117
44. Shoshoni, 117
45. Rocky Mountain, 104
46. Riverside, 86
47. Upton, 80
48. NSI, 76 (exempt as private school)
49. Cokeville, 75
50. St. Stephens, 70
51. Burlington, 68
52. Hanna, 66
53. Guernsey, 64
54. Snake River, 62
55. Dubois, 50
56. Midwest, 49
57. Kaycee, 45
58. Farson, 44
59. Hulett, 38
60. Meeteetse, 29
61. Arvada-Clearmont, 26
62. Ten Sleep, 25

Seven closed high schools in the span of less than 10 years — Wyoming hasn’t seen consolidation at a rate that high since the 1950s. But desperate times called for those desperate measures, and now the WHSAA is stuck cleaning up the mess.

Even with all the changes, the WHSAA stands steadfast with its current alignments for football — an increasing number of medium-sized schools causes some significant reorganization but doesn’t drastically change things statewide.

Football conferences
Class 4A: Gillette, Kelly Walsh, Natrona, Rock Springs, Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Laramie, Sheridan, Jackson.
Class 3A East: Riverton, Rawlins, Douglas, Goshen County, Lander, Buffalo.
Class 3A West: Evanston, Green River, Star Valley, Cody, Powell, Worland.
Class 2A East: West Platte, East Laramie, Newcastle, Glenrock, Moorcroft, Thermopolis, Tongue River.
Class 2A West: Pinedale, Lyman, Mountain View, Lovell, Kemmerer, Big Piney, Greybull.
Class 1A 11-man East: Wright, Saratoga, Sundance, Lusk, Big Horn, Upton, NSI.
Class 1A 11-man West: Wyoming Indian, Wind River, Shoshoni, Rocky Mountain, Riverside, Cokeville, St. Stephens.
Class 1A six-man East: Hanna, Guernsey, Midwest, Kaycee, Hulett.
Class 1A six-man West: Burlington, Snake River, Dubois, Farson, Meeteetse, Ten Sleep.

For all other sports, with fewer schools, Class 3A and 2A go to eight-team conferences, as the WHSAA adjusts the number of 2A schools from 20 to 16 to account for the closure of numerous small schools.

Conferences for other sports
Class 4A East: Gillette, Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Laramie, Sheridan.
Class 4A West: Kelly Walsh, Natrona, Rock Springs, Jackson, Evanston, Riverton.
Class 3A East: Rawlins, Douglas, Goshen County, Lander, Buffalo, West Platte, East Laramie, Newcastle.
Class 3A West: Star Valley, Cody, Powell, Worland, Green River, Pinedale, Lyman, Mountain View.
Class 2A East: Glenrock, Moorcroft, Tongue River, Wright, Saratoga, Sundance, Lusk, Big Horn.
Class 2A West: Lovell, Kemmerer, Big Piney, Thermopolis, Greybull, Wyoming Indian, Wind River, Shoshoni.
Class 1A Northeast: Upton, NSI, Hulett, Arvada-Clearmont.
Class 1A Southeast: Hanna, Guernsey, Midwest, Kaycee.
Class 1A Northwest: Rocky Mountain, Riverside, Burlington, Meeteetse, Ten Sleep.
Class 1A Southwest: St. Stephens, Dubois, Cokeville, Snake River, Farson.

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Scenario 2: What hath solar roadways wrought?

Welcome to 2023. Wyoming is fighting for relevance. Thanks to solar roadways, mineral prices are consistently down, leaving the state’s economic situation in a complete upheaval. The state has responded to the fluctuation with a mandate for the education of its high school students: close it if you can.

With that in mind, the state legislature passed the “3-2-1″ legislation. This legislation said any high school smaller than 100 students must close if it has another high school option within 30 miles, that schools smaller than 200 students must close if there’s another option within 20 miles, and that schools smaller than 300 students must close if there’s another option within 10 miles, even if they’re in separate school districts, up to a cap of 3,000 students in one school. The state also passed legislation that said all high schools smaller than 40 students must close.

In this scenario, 23 high schools close: Lyman (or Mountain View), Tongue River, Wyoming Indian, Wind River, Pine Bluffs (or Burns), Big Horn, Shoshoni, Rocky Mountain (or Lovell), Riverside and Burlington (or Greybull, two of the three will close), Upton, Lingle, Southeast, St. Stephens, Guernsey, Encampment, Hulett, Meeteetse, Arvada-Clearmont, Ten Sleep, Chugwater, Rock River, Glendo. (In this case, Wyoming Indian and Wind River could be combined under the “200” section of the 3-2-1 legislation, but had to close under the “300” section as their enrollment together was less than 300. They were then split to Lander and Riverton, respectively.) Ranked by enrollment, they are:

1. Gillette, 2,938
2/3. Kelly Walsh/Natrona, 2,160
4. Rock Springs, 1,901
5/6/7. Cheyenne Central/East/South, 1,534
8. Sheridan, 1,426 (with Tongue River, Big Horn)
9. Laramie, 1,319 (with Rock River)
10. Riverton, 1,217 (with St. Stephens, Shoshoni, Wind River)
11. Jackson, 969
12. Evanston, 920
13. Green River, 905
14. Star Valley, 769
15. Cody, 696 (with Meeteetse)
16. Rawlins, 607
17. Powell, 596
18. Lander, 582 (with Wyoming Indian)
19. Douglas, 556
20. Bridger Valley, 503 (Mountain View, Lyman)
21. Goshen County, 495 (Torrington, Lingle, Southeast)
22. Worland, 481 (with Ten Sleep)
23. Platte County, 408 (Wheatland, Guernsey, Glendo, Chugwater)
24. Buffalo, 389 (with Arvada-Clearmont)
25. Pinedale, 343
26. North Big Horn County, 341 (Lovell, Rocky Mountain)
27. Weston County, 324 (Newcastle, Upton)
28. South Big Horn County, 316 (Greybull, Riverside, Burlington)
29. East Laramie County, 310 (Burns, Pine Bluffs)
30. Kemmerer, 234
31. Glenrock, 230
32. Big Piney, 206
33. Moorcroft, 196
34. Thermopolis, 179
35. Wright, 161
36. Sundance, 158 (with Hulett)
37. Saratoga, 143 (with Encampment)
38. Lusk, 118
39. NSI, 76 (exempt as private school)
40. Cokeville, 75
41. Hanna, 66
42. Snake River, 62
43. Dubois, 50
44. Midwest, 49
45. Kaycee, 45
46. Farson, 44

Clearly, Wyoming has fallen into shambles by 2023. Obviously, if the state is desperate enough to close 21 high schools in an attempt to save enough money to get through the year, then bigger problems are afoot, too.

Yet, we soldier on with the things that matter. Like football.

The state realizes it can no longer justify five classifications of football, so it uses the same conference structure for all sports. And, of course, we’d continue on with other sports, too — even though Colorado has offered to annex Wyoming to keep Wyoming from dragging down the entire Rocky Mountain region with its struggles, we’re going to continue to play hoops and wrestle and host track meets…:

All-sports classification
Class 4A East: Gillette, Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Laramie, Sheridan.
Class 4A West: Kelly Walsh, Natrona, Rock Springs, Riverton, Jackson, Evanston.
Class 3A East: Rawlins, Lander, Douglas, Goshen County, Platte County, Buffalo.
Class 3A West: Green River, Star Valley, Cody, Powell, Bridger Valley, Washakie County.
Class 2A East: Weston County, East Laramie, Glenrock, Moorcroft, Wright, Sundance.
Class 2A West: Pinedale, North Big Horn County, South Big Horn County, Kemmerer, Big Piney, Thermopolis.
Class 1A East: Lusk, NSI, Hanna, Midwest, Kaycee.
Class 1A West: Saratoga, Cokeville, Snake River, Dubois, Farson.

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Scenario 3: Complete destruction.

Welcome to 2023. Wyoming is nothing more than a memory now. The Yellowstone Supervolcano has erupted, and everything within 300 miles has been destroyed. The state has responded by ducking and covering.

The state legislature has ceased to exist, and the state capitol building has been taken over by force by a pseudo-government of survivalists, anarchists and Ted Nugent. They’ve passed no legislation, but they’ve pulled off an impressive number of martial-law killings.

Still, some localities outside the 300-mile kill zone have survived to form a one-classification, 15-school superconference for all high school sports, as you do. They’ve become self-governing, as the WHSAA office in Casper fell victim to the blast, but they can still have the state football championship at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie — if the wind is right:

Superconference:  Newcastle, Lusk, Glendo, Wheatland, Chugwater, Guernsey, Lingle, Torrington, Southeast, Pine Bluffs, Burns, Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Laramie.

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 2.59.21 PM

Hey — it could always be worse.

–patrick

2 Thoughts on “What if: Wyoming reduces its high school options (consolidation)? (circa 2023)

  1. Grant Holmstrom on July 3, 2014 at 9:16 pm said:

    Great work! All three parts were a good read. Especially the last one :)

  2. Patrick on July 4, 2014 at 7:12 am said:

    Thanks, Grant! I had a lot of fun writing it. :)

    –patrick

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