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Sandy Journal

New UHSAA alignment returns Jordan to 5A

Jan 20, 2021 10:45AM ● By Tavia Dutson

Jordan students cheer on their Beetdigger basketball team in a 2019 game. (Photo courtesy Jason Long)

By Tavia Dutson | [email protected]

On Dec. 9, 2020, the UHSAA Board of Trustees voted on the region and classification alignment for 2021-2023. Jordan High School will return to the 5A classification and join fellow Sandy high school Alta in Region 8. Region 8 will also include five Utah County high schools: Lehi, Mountain View, Orem, Timpanogos and Timpview.

After two years competing in 6A, the Beetdiggers are excited to return to 5A.

“I think it’s a good move for us to go to 5A. Our numbers are going down with some boundary changes so all in all we were happy to see that,” said Jordan athletic director Jason Long.

Overall, the majority of coaches and athletes are ready for the change. UHSAA classifications are based on student numbers, so some sports will be moving into a more difficult region and classification while other sports’ schedules will ease up.

“Our coaches do a good job of understanding that the whole school is moving into this region. We can look at this new region and see how we can continue to grow our programs and showcase our kids’ talents,” Long said. “I think this is a good spot for us to do that.”

One coach excited about the change is Jordan girls’ soccer coach Marli Martin. After competing in 6A for the last few years, she feels that 5A will be a better fit for her athletes.

“I think for us, competing 6A is a little harder. We just don’t get the same number of kids,” Martin said.

In addition to the number of students, many 6A schools have bigger athletic budgets. It can be hard to compete against schools that are able to spend more money on sports.

“As a competitor of course, you always want to compete amongst the best, which 6A is. But it’s also kind of disheartening to get killed by bigger schools that have either more money or more students,” Martin said.

Although there have been rumors of Jordan going independent for football, Long confirms that he is excited about the 2021 football season in Region 8.

“We feel like for football we were able to get a nice mix of games,” Long said. “Our coach feels strongly that our team will adjust well to a more manageable schedule that still includes many challenges.”

As the UHSAA voted on realignment, many Utah coaches called for an end of region play, calling it outdated in the new RPI era. The UHSAA has moved to using a Rating Percentage Index (RPI) to determine which teams advance to the state playoffs. Instead of using region placement, teams are now given a RPI that takes into account difficulty of schedule.

Although Long is supportive of the RPI method, he is glad to see region play is still included.

“I like playing for region championships, it gives the kids another opportunity to achieve something. Instead of just one state champion, there are region champions,” Long said.

Coach Martin is also happy to see that region play is continuing through 2023. She believes that playing the same teams twice in a season gives her team a chance to see growth during the season. She also thinks that building healthy rivalries within the region gives athletes a fun, competitive atmosphere.

One of these healthy rivalries that all Sandy residents can look forward to returning is the Alta vs. Jordan region rivalry. Although it has persisted regardless of classification alignment, both Long and Martin are looking forward to facing Alta as a region opponent.

“Alta is just up the road and I think that makes it fun. Hopefully, we are in a situation next year where we can be back to full student sections for that rivalry,” Long said.

Long is excited to see the return of larger student sections when COVID-19 restrictions are no longer in place. Rivalries are enjoyed by both athletes and non-athletes at Jordan High.

“High school athletics is about two things—extracurricular education for the athletes and giving the other students an experience,” Long said. “That’s something we really missed this year.”

Jordan can look forward to competing with many other nearby schools in the 5A classification. Brighton, Hillcrest and Cottonwood will all be in 5A for 2021-2023.

At the end of the day, Jordan High coaches know that what’s most important isn’t what classification you compete in, it’s about helping students succeed in sport and in life.

“I don’t care which classification we are in, if you can create a program that kids want to be a part of, that they’re proud to be a part of—that’s what’s most important at the end of the day,” Martin said.