Changes ahead for playoff qualification and tourney venues
Starting this coming fall, the Oregon high school sports landscape is going to look a little different and not just because of the classification changes that have been discussed in previous editions of the News-Times.
A quick recap: The Pacific Conference will be dissolved after this spring, and Forest Grove will join the Central Valley Conference, comprised mostly of Salem-area schools. Banks and Gaston will remain in the Cowapa and Northwest leagues, respectively.
Adding to this falls coming changes are adjustments to state playoff qualifications. Last Monday in Wilsonville, the OSAA Executive Board approved a final set of recommendations from its State Championship Committee.
Dating back to March 2013, that championship committee met multiple times to develop those state playoff policies and procedures. Given those changes as well as those to classifications, the Oregon high school sports scene will certainly look a bit different than it does currently.
Not all of the recommendations are listed below, but the following are some of the most pertinent and significant adjustments for our area high schools.
Among the most notable changes are those to the big-school state tournament venues for basketball. Boys and girls will still play together in Class 6A and 5A, but the Class 6A competitions are moving from the Moda Center to the Chiles Center at the University of Portland, and the Class 5A tournaments are going from Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene to Gill Coliseum in Corvallis.
Given the Class 5A shift, the 4A tournaments also needed a new location. The old Class 3A and current Class 4A tournaments have a long history at Gill Coliseum, but starting next winter, the best Class 4A boys and girls teams will play at Hillsboros Liberty and Century high schools.
Here are some of the other adjustments:
Football: In Class 6A, the 32-team bracket is still in, but play-in games are out. Four teams from each of the six conferences will automatically qualify for the playoffs. The final eight spots will go to the top-ranked nonqualifying teams based on the OSAA power rankings.
In Class 4A, the seven league winners and the top-ranked runner-up will automatically qualify. The final eight teams will be determined by play-in games.
In Class 2A, the top two teams per league will make the 16-team playoff field. How the other four spots should be allocated will be determined annually at the OSAA Executive Boards September meeting.
Soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball: As with football, 6A brackets will be made up of 32 teams and four teams per league will automatically qualify. Four more spots will go to the top-ranked nonqualifiers. The final four spots will be decided in four play-in games, to be contested by the remaining eight highest-ranked teams.
In Class 2A basketball and volleyball, Districts 4 and 5 will advance two teams. The other four districts will qualify three teams each.
For baseball and softball, teams will be pooled into either seven (baseball) or six (softball) special districts. The number of spots given to each district will be determined each September.
Cross-country: In 6A, three teams per district meet instead of two will advance to the state meet, as will any top-10 individuals on teams that do not qualify. Under the current system, the four fastest runners on nonqualifying teams advance.
Swimming: In Class 6A, state fields will be expanded from 16 entries per event to 20.
Wrestling: In Class 4A, the top four finishers per weight class in three special districts will advance to the state meet. A fifth qualifier will rotate among these districts. The top three finishers per weight class in Special District 4 will also advance.
Golf: In Class 6A, district tournament team champions and the first- and second- place individuals will automatically advance to the state tournament. The second- through fourth-place teams and third- through seventh-place individuals will move on to another qualifying tournament. Top-two teams and top-five individuals at these tournaments will also move on to state.
For Class 4A boys, top-two teams in all four special districts will advance, along with the third-place squads in Special Districts 1-3. Top-five individuals on nonqualifying teams will also move on. For girls, top-three teams and top-five individuals on nonqualifying teams will advance from all district tournaments.
Track and field: In Class 6A, for relay events, the automatic qualifying standard any athlete who hits that mark in a district meet final automatically advances to state will change from the four-year average of third place to the five-year average of fifth place. The individual standard will change from the four-year average of fifth place to the five-year average of fifth place. Fields will accommodate up to four wildcard entries instead of the current two.
For Class 4A, the automatic qualifying standard in all events will shift from the four-year average of third place to the five-year average of fifth place.
For a complete list of the adopted changes, visit the OSAA web site at osaa.org.