Let’s see — when the Arizona Interscholastic Association did away with the former conference/region configuration and replaced it with a division/section alignment a year ago, the reasons given were the new arrangement would save transportation money, cut down on travel time and limit student athletes’ time out of class.
Sounds reasonable, but let’s check it out.
For the upcoming Division III basketball tournaments that both Payson High teams could be competing in, first-round games are on Feb. 14 at “a site to be determined,” the AIA tournament bracket shows.
So who knows where that will be? Possibly the home site of the highest seed which would mean half of the tournament’s 24 teams would not have to travel.
But the other half might have to travel great distances and possibly incur expenses of an overnight stay.
For example, what if Payson and Rio Rico were to meet in the first round and Rio Rico is the home team?
That would mean Payson would have to make about a 500-mile round trip on a Tuesday, possibly missing a full day of school.
If Payson would win, the team would travel the following Friday to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff for a second-round game.
Most likely, players would miss another full day of school.
If Payson wins, the teams travel the following Monday, Feb. 20, to Prescott Valley to play a quarterfinal game at Tim’s Toyota Center.
Unless the Longhorns were involved in the 7:15 p.m. game, more school would be missed.
A quarterfinal win would send Payson to the final four to be played Feb. 24 at Jobbing.com Arena in Glendale.
If the Longhorns played in the 4:30 p.m. game, it would be another day the student athletes would be out of the classroom.
The state championship will be played 6 p.m. or 8 p.m. at Jobbing.com. on a Saturday which means no class time would be missed.
In the course of the 11 days of the tournament, it’s possible a team would travel to four different Arizona cities — a home site of a higher seeded team, Flagstaff, Prescott Valley and Glendale.
And of the five tournament dates, four of them are school days.
Keep in mind, Payson High School’s travel and time out of class would be less than that of other schools such as Page, Many Farms or Benson because of our town’s geographical location in the middle of the state.
It’s tough to understand how the Division/Section configuration is more frugal than the former conference/region alignment — especially for postseason tournaments.
If the Payson High basketball teams qualify for the D-III state tournament and reach the finale, they might want to adopt Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” as a spirit song.
State’s best wrestling programs
About five months ago, an article appeared on an online blog entitled “Arizona’s best high school wrestling programs.”
In it, the top seven schools with the most state wrestling championships since 1985 were ranked.
Of course, Tucson Sunnyside was ranked first, having won 24 titles, 15 under coach Bobby DeBerry.
Payson, with eight championships, is the state’s second ranked wrestling program. “Every title came under coach Dennis Pirch, including five straight 3A titles from 1996-2000. Other titles were in 1994, 1993 and 1989. School has finished second six times,” the article says.
A pair of our neighbors are also listed in the rankings: Mingus is fourth with five titles and Heber Mogollon is listed with two titles.
Payson Soccer Training
Join Coach Javier to learn soccer skills at 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. This is a free, volunteer program, with no town or club affiliation. It is open to all third- and fourth-grade children. Bring: ball, shin guards and cleats.
For more information, contact Coach Javier at (928) 978-4823 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.