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Tue, May 21

AIA division realignment proposal sparks critical reactions

The Arizona Interscholastic Association's (AIA) Executive Board on Tuesday approved an initial divisional realignment for all high school varsity sports for 2015-18, and of the five local programs here, the ruling potentially affects Prescott the most.

It should be noted that the AIA has set a 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30, deadline for Arizona schools' athletic departments to submit appeals in moving up or down a division.

Provided there are no appeals, Prescott is slated to go up one division in boys' and girls' basketball, boys' and girls' soccer, and boys' and girls' tennis.

One of the more glaring possible changes for PHS is in boys' basketball, which would move from Division 2 to a proposed 42-team Division 1.

D-1 traditionally encompasses the state's schools with the highest enrollments, although schools in lower divisions are allowed to petition the AIA every two years to move up, often because one or more of their athletic programs are highly competitive.

Prescott boys' basketball coach Adam Neely said the enrollment at several D-1 schools is at least double that of PHS. Prescott has about 1,500 students, while many East Valley schools in Phoenix are easily around 3,000-plus, he added.

"I'm very surprised that they (AIA) would put us in Division 1 for basketball," Neely said. "I guess it shows a little bit of how little they are concerned about rural schools. Clearly we don't have the attendance to cover Division 1, so I'm not quite sure where it comes from. It just doesn't match up."

Other potential changes in basketball include Bradshaw Mountain boys' hoops dropping from D-2 to a 39-team D-3, while Chino Valley would move down from D-3 to a 53-team D-4. Mayer and Bagdad would enter a new 54-team D-5, typically designed for the state's smallest schools.

Bradshaw boys' basketball coach Doug Beilfuss said he has "no idea" how the AIA figured out the realignment and he feels bad for his program and even more so for Prescott's. He added that the Bears and Badgers should remain together in D-2.

"It's just so totally not fair to Prescott," Beilfuss added. "They should be traveling with us. I have no idea why we're Division 3. They (AIA) never ask us anything. We're a rural school, and there's not very many of them, so they really don't care. That's like a punch to the gut. I'd be very displeased if I were a Prescott Badger right now. It's not fair to the kids up north. It's insane."

In girls' basketball, Prescott and Bradshaw Mountain are slated to go up from D-2 to a 35-team D-1. Chino Valley would drop from D-3 to a 48-team D-4. Mayer and Bagdad would move from D-4 to join a new 50-team D-5 of lower-enrollment schools.

Another big change could come in boys' and girls' winter soccer. For the boys, the Badgers would switch from D-2 to a 49-team D-1, while Bradshaw would drop from D-2 to a 53-team D-3.

For the girls on the pitch, Prescott and Bradshaw would both move up from D-2 to D-1. Chino's girls would stay in D-4 among a 15-team field in the fall.

The back-to-back defending state champion Chino boys' soccer team would remain in D-4 with the 26-team division in the fall.

In tennis, the Prescott boys and girls would move up from D-2 to D-1. Bradshaw Mountain's boys and girls would stay in D-2.

What follows is a breakdown (in alphabetical order) for each of the remaining varsity sports for the area teams, including Prescott, Bradshaw, Chino Valley, Mayer and Bagdad, as the realignment proposal currently stands:

• Badminton: Prescott would remain a member of D-1, which includes every one of the state's 62 varsity teams.

• Baseball: Prescott and Bradshaw would stay in Division 2, which would have 59 teams.

Chino Valley would remain in a D-3 that encompasses 52 squads.

However, Mayer and Bagdad would drop from D-4 to a new D-5 with 46 teams.

• Football: Prescott and Bradshaw would remain in D-3, which is where they've been the past couple years. Chino Valley would stay put in D-4. And, as expected, Mayer and defending state runner-up Bagdad will remain in D-6 for eight-man teams.

• Softball: Prescott and Bradshaw Mountain would stay in D-2, and Chino would remain in D-3. But Mayer and Bagdad would drop from D-4 to a new 42-team D-5 with the smaller schools.

• Volleyball: Prescott and Bradshaw Mountain would remain in D-2, like they have been for the past couple years. Chino Valley would stay in D-3, as would Mayer and Bagdad in D-5.

For more information about the AIA's realignment, visit aiaonline.org or aia365.com.

Follow Doug Cook on Twitter @dougout_dc

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