NMAA votes to keep Santa Fe in 4A

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Athletics: Demons win an appeal to prevent them from moving back to 5A

By Mike Cote

District 2-4A will remain intact for the next two-year block of time, the New Mexico Activities Association determined Wednesday.
Santa Fe High School will keep its status as a Class 4A team and will remain in the district along with Los Alamos, Bernalillo, Española Valley and cross-town rival Capital, the NMAA determined at its Board of Directors meeting.
The NMAA is the governing body of most interscholastic prep sports in the state and determines the districts in which its member schools compete.
When enrollment figures came out during the summer, it was determined by the NMAA that Santa Fe had surpassed the threshold of Class 4A enrollment, currently 1,650 students. Beyond 1,650 students, teams move up to Class 5A.
Santa Fe’s athletic department appealed the move back to 5A at the NMAA’s board meeting this summer, but its appeal was denied.
The crux of Santa Fe’s appeal had to do with an outreach program administered by Santa Fe Public Schools which includes dozens of non-traditional high school students, including pregnant women. Santa Fe officials made the case to the NMAA that those students weren’t specific to Santa Fe High.
A move by Santa Fe out of 2-4A would’ve proven problematic for the rest of the district in terms of scheduling, Los Alamos athletic director Vicki Nelms said.
“All we’d been told is that we’d just be a four-team district,” Nelms said in the event that Santa Fe would return to Class 5A. “Our schedules are set within the district. We have a good group of athletic directors and they work well together.”
The biggest problem would’ve occurred for scheduling boys and girls soccer. Española Valley dropped both boys and girls soccer before the 2008 season and, with the absence of Santa Fe, would’ve made 2-4A just a three-team district.
Nelms said some contingency plans were in place between Los Alamos and the other district teams in the event Santa Fe’s appeal was turned down a second time.
Hilltopper softball manager Roger Anaya said he was happy to see Santa Fe remaining in the district.
“I’m excited they’re going to stay. That helps our district,” Anaya said. “In softball, they were competitive last year and they will probably stay competitive for the next few years. That makes the district stronger.”
Santa Fe moved into the district just before the 2010 season after dropping below the Class 5A threshold in enrollment, but with some of its student outreach programs counted toward its enrollment from last year’s official count, Santa Fe’s total student body was placed at 1,662.
Santa Fe had been scheduled prior to Wednesday to move into District 1-5A along with Cibola, Rio Rancho, Cleveland and Volcano Vista.
The previous decade-long stint in Class 5A was abysmal for the Demon programs, which was placed in District 2-5A along with La Cueva, Manzano, Sandia and Eldorado. Virtually all of Santa Fe’s athletic teams struggled in 5A. In 2009-10, the Demons qualified just two teams for the postseason.
In 2010-11, Santa Fe’s fortunes hadn’t changed drastically in Class 4A. It qualified for the postseason in just two team sports, boys and girls basketball, and won just one district title, in wrestling.
With all the speculation as to the Demons’ fate for at least two more academic years, Nelms said she’s happy to see the Demons staying put.
“I’m glad it’s been decided,” she said. “I’m glad we can go forth and take care of the next two-year block. Then we’ll see what the NMAA’s going to do after that two-year block.”
In other action by the Board of Directors, it voted not to eliminate eight-man football for the time being. Just 11 schools play eight-man football in the state, none having an enrollment of more than 125 students.