In October, the Wyoming High School Activities Association held a meeting to discuss new rules and the final steps in adding softball as a high school sport.
Although softball was a huge topic for this meeting, some other sports got attention as well including swimming, wrestling, and football, most of which might experience drastic changes in the 2020-2021 school year.
With softball being finalized, the board also discussed football, which will now have nine man football at the 1A level instead of 11 man. “I love this rule. I think it’s great for teams who have low numbers and have a hard time competing in an 11 man football game,” Athletic Director Tony Hult said. This will not affect 3A and 4A schools as Cody will remain in the 3A West which seems to be a very competitive conference to play in. With the new nine man football, the 2A and 1A levels will be mixed up as some state champions from the 1A 11 man division will take their shot at the 2A level, including Big Horn who seems to be a contender every year no matter the conference they play in and Cokeville, who also makes noise but seemingly can not make a trip down to War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.
In addition to new teams making the jump to the 2A level, one team will move down to the 1A six man division. With their choice to move, Moorcroft will not be able to compete in the playoffs due to the rules of the WHSAA. Although this nine man football league will be something new to watch, the Broncs will remain unaffected by it.
Another sport to get a lot of discussion was swimming and diving. An idea brought up in October will affect state meets only. In previous years, no matter how many swimmers on the same team competed in one event, they could score if they placed. What this means is an entire team could place in the event if they managed to pull it off. The new proposal takes that away, only allowing four swimmers from each team to place. The idea did pass the first reading, and second reading will be finalized later this winter. “This rule is really going to help the historically good and bigger swimming programs for sure,” Hult said. “I wish they could switch some swimmers to different events they can be good at.”
While this idea does seem that it could work for smaller swim programs like Cody, it does pose potential problems. Take Lander for instance, a team that always has large numbers which could mean more experience and multiple state championships. Teams with similar makeup could potentially take advantage of this rule. With this rule, one team could win the state meet by a significant amount of points over a second place team.
Head Fillies Swim Coach Buffy Hourt-Allred wasn’t thrilled at first, but when she discussed it with other coaches, realized it could really be a good thing. “This is all about competition and also it will bring more swimmers to state for a program like us if we meet qualifying times,” she said. Cody swim programs will be looking forward to having more competition at state tournaments where things could get very interesting with competing for points.
Wrestling was the one sport discussed but not finalized due to only one reading. A seeding change idea has been proposed for regional tournaments. The proposal stated that it would take out the criterion of using “returning state placers as the same weight.” This means athletes would not be able to go into a seed that does not represent them for the current wrestling season. Previously wrestlers could get a seed even if they did not wrestler due to conflicts. This means no more freebies for athletes. Simply put, wrestlers will have to earn their seeding. It’s Hult’s belief that it was a coach’s choice to take this idea out for regionals. “I think it’s a good rule to have for this sport,” he said. Wrestlers should be ready for this change because they will have to work harder to earn a top seed at regionals.
These new proposals for Wyoming athletes could potentially change the overall game by increasing the competitive edge. Stay tuned for wrestling updates after the February WHSAA meeting.
Information courtesy of WHSAA and WyoPreps.