AIA alters course with new alignments

Divisions and sections give way to conferences and regions

RYAN ABELLA/Miner<BR>
Kingman Academy (in blue) and Lee Williams scrum during their game Oct. 9 at Kingman High School. KAHS and LWHS are both appealing their conference placements for the next school year.

RYAN ABELLA/Miner<BR> Kingman Academy (in blue) and Lee Williams scrum during their game Oct. 9 at Kingman High School. KAHS and LWHS are both appealing their conference placements for the next school year.

KINGMAN - The Arizona Interscholastic Association's Division-Section system for the past three years can be safely forgotten at the end of this school year. The AIA legislative council voted several weeks ago to disband the current system that has been in use for the past three years and return to the Conference-Region system beginning in the 2016-2017 school year.

Instead of divisions 1-6 with D-I being the largest, there will be conferences from 6A to 1A with 6A being the largest.

The AIA came out with its initial conference placements Oct. 12 and has begun to meet to review appeals.

Lee Williams High School has been initially placed in the 4A Conference. The Vols' reported enrollment of 1,046 students is the smallest school placed in the 42-team 4A Conference. The largest school is Phoenix Washington with 1,746 students.

Lee Williams is scheduled to have its appeal to move down to 3A heard on Tuesday.

LWHS principal Gretchen Dorner said the school's arguments will include the fact that its enrollment is at capacity and will not increase, that Kingman athletes dilute the talent pool by attending three high schools, that LWHS's enrollment is less than 100 students more than Kingman High, that travel costs could be prohibitive in the 4A, and that its students would miss an excessive amount of school time.

Kingman High and Kingman Academy have both been placed in the 43-school 3A Conference. Kingman reported enrollment of 962, making it the largest school in 3A. The Academy's population is 386, and the Tigers are the fourth smallest. Yuma Catholic, a private school, is the smallest at 330.

Kingman Academy is scheduled to appeal down to the 2A Tuesday. Kingman Academy of Learning district athletic director Michael Perrine said that the No. 1 concern the Academy has is safety on the football field.

"We're one of the smallest in 3A and we would be going up against schools with more depth," Perrine said. "Those are schools who have several hundred more kids in their pool."

Population and girls athletics are other arguments the Academy is expected to bring to the attention of the AIA.

The girls program at the Academy has not been as successful as the boys. While the boys have made the playoffs in football, basketball and baseball, the girls have yet to reach the playoffs in any sport since joining the AIA in 2013.

"I'm hoping to be successful," Perrine said. "It would really ease some of our safety concerns."

The AIA held appeal hearings for the 5A and 4A conferences on Thursday. All of the schools appealing down from 6A to 5A were denied, and only one, Yuma Gila Ridge, was approved to move down from 5A to 4A.

The AIA reported that Gila Ridge was approvedto bring it in line with the other Yuma schools.

Schools denied appeals will have the opportunity to appeal to the AIA Executive Board.