Well, the experiment is over. The move to expand to six divisions lasted only three years and has ended with this latest move by the New Mexico Activities Association to contract back to just five classes.
While in regular session Nov. 30, the NMAA board of directors met to approve the realignment and reclassification of athletic teams for the 2018-2020 school-year block.
Realignment and reclassification of schools for athletic purposes occurs every two years, and often changes the dynamics of the respective leagues high school teams belong to. This year, the NMAA voted to eliminate one classification, 6A – combining teams into five classes, and essentially reverting back to a system that had existed for several years. The growth of schools in the state prompted the NMAA to add more classifications through the years, and in 2001, class 5A was created. This was the norm until 2015, when the idea of adding yet another division was carried out and 6A was born.
That change effectively bumped Taos and its traditional cluster of Las Vegas Robertson, West Las Vegas and Pojoaque Valley up from class 3A to 4A. Only Ratón remained in the lower class. Then, during last year’s realignment, the league brought in St. Michael’s and merged with Bernalillo and Santa Fe Indian School in football. Now, Pojoaque and Taos will essentially move up one division – though still identified as 4A – and will face tougher competition. Ratón moves back in with the old, original 3A group.
In most cases, class 4A will include any school that carries an enrollment of 550-1,299 students. Due to this range, no current class 3A schools move up to 4A. Thus, present-day foes like West Las Vegas, Robertson and St. Mike’s slide down to 3A which has range of 235-549 students.
This shift will have a dramatic effect on Taos High School and its respective sports teams given the “size” of the school – compared with its current district opponents.
Due to average size of its student population in the last three years, Taos falls squarely within the class 4A range in all sports. Of the 160 teams listed in the state, Taos High School is considered the 49th largest school with an average of 783 students enrolled (over the past three counting periods). Hobbs High School is the largest school in the state with an average of 2,629 students enrolled and Roy is the smallest school in the state with an average of 8 students enrolled.
Both Questa and Peñasco will remain in class 2A with average student counts of 121 and 104 respectively.
For simplicity’s sake, here is how things will play out next year. Taos will remain a 4A school, but will essentially “move” up to compete with bigger schools. Some examples of the schools that Taos will have to face if they advance to state include: Aztec, Gallup, Del Norte (Albuquerque), Los Lunas, Goddard (Roswell), Highland (Albuquerque), Artesia, Grants and Valley (Albuquerque).
But not in football. For parity’s sake, football will continue to have seven classifications (all the way up to class 6A) and Taos would play in class 4A against a familiar core of teams that include: Portales, Ruidoso, St. Pius X, Kirtland Central and Silver.
For travel’s sake, Taos will have the benefit of remaining close to home when it comes to the teams placed in the new district for all sports (except football). If the division of teams remain the same, the furthest the Tigers would have to venture for a league game would be approximately 230 miles (round trip) to Bernalillo. Otherwise, Española, Los Alamos, Pojoaque Valley and Santa Fe Indian School would be the district teams Taos would face for the next two years.
With regards to the smaller schools, the biggest shift will occur in class 2A football. Given the depletion of personnel and the lack of competitive balance, Questa will play 8-man football in 2018. Otherwise, the district will remain the same – save for Dulce coming in for some sports.
Listed below is the current breakdown of sports and their respective districts. Currently, no number designations have been given to the groupings, and there is still a possibility of changes, as some schools have submitted appeals to the NMAA.
2A 8-man football:
Alamo Navajo, Foothill, Magdalena, Menaul, Mountainair and Questa.
Desert Academy, Monte del Sol, Questa, Rehoboth and Tierra Encantada.
2A basketball, track and field, volleyball and baseball:
Dulce, Mesa Vista, Mora, Peñasco and Questa.
As of press time, Peñasco did not have any designation in the sport of cross-country.
Bernalillo, Española, Grants, Pojoaque Valley, St. Pius, Taos.
4A basketball, baseball, cross-country, track and field, volleyball, soccer, softball, wrestling and track and field:
Bernalillo, Española, Los Alamos, Pojoaque Valley, Santa Fe Indian School, Taos.
Tennis, golf and swimming lists are far more complicated and will require further research.