Changes will be tough

By: 
Sonja Karp, NLJ Sports Editor
The Wyoming High School Activities Association has once again reclassified Wyoming sports. The previous realignment increased the number of 4A schools from 12 to 16, which was definitely a great thing for 3A. 
 
But, after the reclassification meeting this spring, the number of 4A schools was cut to only 15 when they determined that status would be based on school enrollment rather than on the number of schools in each class.
 
So, going forward, schools who will compete at the 4A level will have enrollment of 700 and up, 3A will consist of schools with enrollment of 210-699, 2A will be from 110-209 and 1A will be the remaining schools.
 
Kelly Walsh is the biggest school in the state with a high school enrollment of 1,996 students and Green River will be the smallest of the 4A schools, with an enrollment of 771 students.
 
For 3A, that means that Cody will drop back down as they come in just under the mark with 626 students, while Thermopolis rounds out the 16 schools in 3A with just 221 students. 
 
Newcastle is fourth from the bottom with 232 wandering the halls, according to WHSAA.
 
There are only 14 teams in 2A, with Moorcroft topping that list with 197 students, and Sundance filling the bottom spot with 122 students.
 
Comparing the disparity from top to bottom in 2A through 4A is like comparing rivers. 
 
The Missouri River is quite a bit smaller than the Mississippi River, however, both are challenging bodies of water with a lot of power. I would equate these to the 4A classification. 
 
Yes, there is a difference of 1,200 students from the bottom to the top, but when you have 771 potential athletes to choose from, you stand a pretty darn good chance of rostering a talented team, and, at the very least, you’re going to have the numbers to compete.
 
When it comes to 2A, there is a difference of only 75 students. That would be like comparing the Cheyenne River to the Wind River — there’s not a whole lot of difference.
 
However, when it comes to 3A, there is a difference of 405 students between Thermopolis and Cody. While that may not seem like much, especially compared to the gap in 4A, in river talk we are looking at the difference between the Colorado River (that carved out the Grand Canyon) and the North Platte.
 
When you only have 220 students to draw from, you are not going to be as competitive as the schools who are looking at pools of 500 to 625. The odds are definitely not in the smaller schools’ favor.
 
And we’ve seen the difference on the sidelines of football games, soccer games, wrestling benches and basketball benches as well.
 
Our poor soccer teams were rostering around 15 players and going up against 30 to 40 players on their opponent’s sidelines. Just having fresh legs gave Douglas and Buffalo the edge in last week’s pivotal contests.
 
Newcastle has always been a small fish swimming in a pretty big pond — or river if you’d rather — but now we are not only adding back another really big fish, but 3A also has the most teams of the top three classifications.
 
I know that Newcastle has produced teams that have competed, but it’s only been sporadically, and let’s be frank, it’s tough to produce a winning program and the attitude that needs to go along with it when you face the level of competition that we do year after year.
 
I know there’s nothing that can be done without completely watering down high school athletics in Wyoming, but it’s pretty discouraging to think about adding Cody back into the mix of 3A competition.

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