Park City moves to Region 8, team sports to use RPI system
Park City High School may not have gotten its first choice in the Utah High School Activities Association’s 2019-2020 realignment, but after a UHSAA meeting last month, the school got its second choice, along with an automatic trip to the state playoffs in team sports — with every other team in the state.
On Jan. 24, the UHSAA held a meeting in which it would hear appeals from schools unhappy with their realignment designation. Park City High School Athletic Director Jamie Sheetz, alongside Principal Roger Arbabi and Vice Principal Caleb Fine, were in attendance to appeal to be placed in Class 5A’s Region 6. They were presented with the option of joining Region 8 — schools in the Nebo School District, plus Wasatch High School — which the PCHS administration agreed to do.
During the same meeting, the UHSAA Executive Committee gave a presentation on the Ratings Percentage Index method to seed team sports in state tournaments, which essentially creates a point value for each game that is then factored into an overall score for each team.
Every team in a class is then seeded into its own state tournament bracket — as opposed to the current method which seeds the top four from each region.
The system was popular enough for the UHSAA Board of Trustees to ratify the proposal by a unanimous vote for use statewide in traditional team sports starting next fall.
Park City’s inclusion in Region 8 means most of its teams (with the exception of football, which will stay in Class 4A’s Region 11) will compete against old rival Wasatch, as well as Maple Mountain, Payson, Provo, Salem Hills, Spanish Fork and Springville.
Region 8 overall also requires less driving than Region 5, where the Miners were originally slotted in the realignment process.
“I think everybody at the high school is excited about having that as a geographic rivalry, one that was very strong in the past,” Sheetz said of playing Wasatch.
It also means that, while Park City will play against schools with more students, the Miners will also get automatic seeds in the state tournament — something Park City has sometimes struggled with in team sports.
Sheetz said he didn’t think the all-inclusive nature of the RPI system would diminish athletes’ enthusiasm for competing in the playoffs.
“Say you’re the No. 4 seed in a region and you’re assigned to play the No. 1 seed in a region and that No. 1 team happens to be the best team in the state, you’re probably not making it out of there, so you’re essentially just extending the pain,” he said of the current system.
The new system would pit the lowest-ranked teams against each other in the early rounds, with the strongest teams receiving byes.
“Now there’s a good chance that a No. 4 seed plays another team that’s similar to them in record and essentially skill, so the first-round game will be much more competitive,” Sheetz said.
Each team’s ranking will be assembled by MaxPreps based on three categories: winning percentage (40 percent), opponents’ winning percentage (40 percent) and the winning percentage of teams opponents have played (20 percent).
Arizona, Colorado, Idaho and Washington already use the system.
“The decision was based upon feedback received after the last alignment,” said Jon Oglesby, UHSAA assistant director. “That feedback, in conjunction with other changing conditions in competitive equity factors in our state tournaments over recent years, necessitated a change in how state tournaments were seeded. The proposal was well-received by a majority of the state, regarding the choice to adopt an RPI system.”
Sheetz said the new system will alleviate several ranking issues, including having multiple top-ranked teams in the same region (only four of which can make the playoffs), and the possibility of a team missing the state competition entirely due the untimely injury or illness of a player during region play.
Starting this fall, PCHS football team (which is remaining in Class 4A’s Region 11), soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball, softball and lacrosse will move to the RPI system while individual sports like tennis, track-and-field, wrestling and cross-country will use the region-qualifying format. Golf and swimming will use new yet-to-be-announced methods to qualify teams for the state tournament.
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Park City’s dominant girls lacrosse team has been bolstered by the emergence of its freshmen and sophomores.