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Ice hockey goes to two classifications, more measures passed at annual CHSAA legislative council meeting

Several sports have playoffs altered in virtual meeting

SUPERIOR, CO – Monarch High School’s Liam Keeley fights for the puck with JC Carter during a playoff game against Mullen High School on Monday at the Sports Stable in Superior. Monarch won the game.
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The Colorado High School Activities Association held its latest legislative council meeting virtually on Friday and as usual, there were several important developments and amendments to the state bylaws.

One of the more impactful changes was a vote that passed to add a second classification to prep ice hockey in Colorado, which has previously consisted of a single unclassified division, starting with the 2020-21 season. The proposal had failed to pass a vote at previous council meetings and is intended to create a more even playing field for some teams by separating the smaller schools from traditional large-enrollment powerhouses.

Jimmy Dexter, whose Monarch hockey team played in five straight state championship games from 2013-17, said he believes adding a second classification for hockey will have the intended effect.

“Over the years, we’ve gone with numerous things to try to make the league better,” Dexter said. “We keep trying to make it more competitive. I think going 4A and 5A will just make it even more competitive. There’s no reason for the big dogs like Regis and Cherry Creek to play some of these other teams and having games like 10-0 doesn’t do anything for anybody.”

Among the other influential changes, Classes 5A and 4A basketball will now employ a new, more robust system for seeding for the postseason tournaments. Previously seeded exclusively on RPI, the state tournaments for Colorado largest classifications will now be seeded on three criteria – RPI, MaxPreps rankings and the CHSAANow.com coaches pool.

“I wholeheartedly think this is a positive step in the right direction,” Frederick boys basketball coach Enoch Miller said. “I think the RPI is valuable and it works in a lot of situations. But there are some circumstances that having more criteria and a human factor can be really important.”

Class 2A baseball will now adopt a similar postseason system as the larger classifications, with a 32-team regional bracket followed by an eight-team state tournament. Multiple changes were also made to clarify the details and consequences outlined in the transfer rule, as well as well as changes to the alignments for multiple sports and the timing of the state championships for boys swimming.

In 5A football, all playoff games will now be hosted by the higher seed throughout the state tournament. Class 1A girls volleyball will now have established game minimums for postseason qualification and will switch from a district to regional format.

New sports (boys volleyball and girls wrestling) established parameters for their inaugural seasons. Girls wrestling will use the same weight classes it did during its pilot season and boys volleyball will have a single classification for spring of 2021, its first sanctioned season.

For boys lacrosse, both 5A and 4A will expand their postseasons from 16 to 24 teams starting in 2021 while a second classification will be added for girls lacrosse. Class 2A soccer will also expand the playoff field from 12 to 16 teams, and 3A softball will expand the regional round to 32 teams.

Stricter penalties were added for coaches who get ejected to make the level of suspensions consistent across all sports. Now, a first ejection will be penalized with a suspension equal to 10 percent of the sport’s season. A second ejection will be met with a 20-percent suspension.