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Basketball playoffs reduce to 32 in 4A; wrestling to get more balance

April 17, 2014 Updated: April 17, 2014 at 9:44 pm
Caption +
Mesa Ridge's Tiffani Jackson (far right) celebrates with Gabby Purnell and the rest of her teamates after Jackson scored the game winning shot in the final seconds of the state 4A girls basketball championship game at the University of Colorado in Boulder on Thursday, March 13, 2014. Mesa Ridge will play in the finals on Saturday in Boulder. Mesa Ridge defeated Pueblo South 40-38. (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett)

AURORA - Qualifying for the 4A basketball playoffs got a lot harder Thursday. Then again, it's what the vast majority of coaches and administrators at that level wanted anyway.

"That speaks to volume about the survey we sent to coaches before last season," Harrison athletic director Dave Hogan said. "The committee puts in a lot of work, and amendments have to be well thought out. Three years ago, we went to 32 teams, and it changed mid-cycle back to 48, but we never finished getting the data to see how it impacted schools."

Thursday at the Red Lion Hotel, the Colorado High School Activities Association held the last of two legislative council meetings of the academic year, voting on several proposals and committee reports before the new 2014-16 cycle begins in August.


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With an 86 percent majority, the legislative council strongly approved changes to 4A basketball, highlighted by a reduction of playoff teams from 48 to 32, as well as establishing home sites for the quarterfinals, which previously had played out in a marathon day at a neutral site at the Denver Coliseum the past two years.

"I think what 5A has going on is perfect, and that was something we wanted at 4A," Sand Creek athletic director Autumn Sereno said. "We looked at the surveys, and we like to do what the state is looking for and to honor that. It'll be nice to not worry about playing a game at 8 in the morning (in the quarterfinals). Nobody every plays at that time, and no one is ever ready for that."

An amendment put forth by the Jeffco League specifically sought to keep the fields at 48 teams, but it was defeated 38-32.

The change was made in hopes of making the tournaments more competitive and reducing travel across the state.

Hogan warned against another knee-jerk reaction once the next basketball season starts.

"I think right now, we're sitting at a point that people are going to look midcycle about making another change," Hogan said. "For me, the answer is in the middle at 40. I'm not a panic person. Let's see what happens."

On that note, wrestling entered new territory by joining football as the only sports to set their own enrollment cutoff. By a convincing 59-13 margin, the legislative council approved a measure to change enrollment numbers to achieve a relative balance, especially in 4A and 3A, along with bolstering numbers in 2A.

With the adjusted cutoffs, lower-enrollment 4A programs, like The Classical Academy, will wrestle at 3A. Coincidentally, TCA just months ago was welcomed to the 4A Colorado Springs Metro League after its non-football enrollment numbers warranted a bump to 4A.

For the next two years, its grapplers will compete for state crowns in 3A, yet wrestle a schedule of mostly 4A opponents.

"For us, it's a benefit," Titans activities director Gary Geiger said. "Being in the CSML, they're going to honor the duals, and go to 3A tournaments to get qualified for state."

Allowing wrestling to adjust its own enrollment numbers, however, could set a precedent on the direction other sports might take in the future.

"This may have other kinds of ramifications," CHSAA commissioner Paul Angelico said.

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