By Kevin Cloe

Sun Correspondent

Inching closer to an appropriate enrollment, Wickenburg High School was recently denied in its appeal to move from the 3A Conference to the smaller 2A Conference in several sports for the next two years.

So, barring further appeals, the Wranglers’ athletic teams will compete in the 3A North Central Region against five other schools in most of its sports. Football, however, is not one of them … yet.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association recently announced the realignment of athletic teams throughout the state for the next two-year block (2000-2002) for volleyball, basketball, soccer, baseball, softball and track. The initial realignment for football isn’t scheduled to be announced until mid-January, although in most cases the football realignments are similar to the other sports.

With its campus enrollment declining to 548 students, Wickenburg High is scheduled to compete against Bourgade Catholic (372 enrollment), Camp Verde (553), Chino Valley (776), Fountain Hills (506) and Northwest Christian (449).

In its latest enrollment listings, Wickenburg High was one of the two lowest enrollments among public schools in the 3A Conference. The other lower-enrollment school, Fountain Hills at 506, was originally placed in the 2A Conference but won its appeal to stay in the 3A Conference in order to avoid long trips to 2A schools in the northeast part of the state.

Several other schools in the 3A Conference report lower enrollments but are either private Christian schools or charter schools, which allow for enrollment of students from a wider geographic area.

Wickenburg High School Athletic Director Matt Johnson said he could appeal the denial to the AIA board but doesn’t see a reason to do so.

“The schools we will face are now closer than what we have been traveling to,” he explained.

That means no more three-hour trips to River Valley and two-hour treks to Kingman — unless they are scheduled in non-region contests.

Other teams that usually compete against the Wranglers were affected by the new realignments. Parker (514 enrollment), for instance, will move back up to 3A from 2A and compete in the 3A West Region against Kingman (881), Odyssey Institute of Buckeye (778), Paradise Honors (803) of Surprise, Tonopah Valley (598) and Yuma Catholic (430).

River Valley (508) and Kingman Academy (390) will move down from the 3A West Region into the 2A West Region.

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