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West Valley City Journal

Fall sports will test the UHSAA’s new alignment

Sep 11, 2023 02:31PM ● By Greg James

This fall’s girls soccer season will help show if the UHSAA’s realignment is a good thing. (Photo courtesy of Hunter soccer)

The Utah High School Activities Association approved the final version of realignment last spring. To many local players and coaches, nothing much has changed, but the intent is to improve competition and promote student-athlete success.

Every two years the UHSAA evaluates school enrollment and makes a recommendation of realignment. This is usually a hot topic amongst high school administrators and coaches during this time. Beginning this fall the new alignment takes effect. To an outsider it seems as though nothing has changed—118 team state champions were won last year, and 110 of those teams are participating in the same classifications, but the large West Valley schools have been placed in a new environment. 

The UHSAA’s Region 4 will now consist of Hunter, Granger, Cyprus, Kearns, Taylorsville and West Jordan. This seems familiar, but the classification will be different. 

“We are in a good place,” Hunter soccer coach Bret Solberg said. “In an ideal region, we would play against similar schools and communities.”

The new Region 4 will compete in the 5A classification this fall. In past seasons those region teams rarely found themselves competitive. In 2022-23, not one state championship was won by these schools. In fact, in football, none of the teams advanced past the first round of the playoffs.

Hunter, Cyprus and Granger high schools will now compete against 25 other teams in the 5A classification. If the change will help them find success remains to be seen, but it does keep them away from the fast-growing teams in areas like Lehi and eastern Utah County. 

The other schools in 5A come from Regions 5, 6 and 7. They include schools like Bountiful, Clearfield, Woods Cross, Skyline, Brighton, Alta, Springville and Spanish Fork. 

The UHSAA executives think that the new 5A classification will true up the RPI system used to seed teams in the state playoffs. 

Last season’s football RPI ranked Hunter 24th, Granger 15th and Cyprus 19th. Cyprus’ boys basketball team stood atop the rankings for a good part of the season. Cyprus lost in the semifinals to American Fork. 

“Playing Kearns and Hunter is good for us,” Cyprus head basketball coach Tre Smith said last spring. “They are our rivals, but at the end of the day we want them to be successful. We want our neighbor schools on the westside to be successful and reach their goals.”

Fall sports began in mid-August, and at press deadline, Granger, Hunter and Cyprus football teams are all 1-1. The soccer teams have only played one or two games and volleyball teams are seeing the same results.

American Preparatory Academy in West Valley will compete in 2A Region 16. Their competitors include Freedom Prep, Intermountain Christian School, Merrit Prep, Rockwell, Salt Lake Academy, both Utah Military Academies (Camp Williams and Hill Field), Belmont Classical Academy and Wasatch Academy. Wasatch and Salt Lake academies will compete as independents in basketball and Belmont Classical Academy does not participate in sports, only activities. 

Westside high school sports teams could make an impact in this year’s championships, but it remains to be seen.λ