Parker Skidmore won 39 varsity wrestling matches this season as a freshman at Gilbert Higley High School. But thanks to a recent Higley school board decision, there was some doubt as to whether Skidmore would get to wrestle on varsity next season.
Skidmore is one of the current Higley freshmen who will be required to attend the district’s second high school, Williams Field, which opens this fall.
The Higley school board recently set the school boundaries for the new school and will not allow any exceptions to those who want to stay at Higley High, including Skidmore and fellow freshman wrestler Heath Boers (36 wins this season), who each placed fourth at the 4A Division II wrestling championships.
“They are going to mandate that they go (to the new school) because they have to open with enough students,” Dale Skidmore, Parker’s father, said. “I spoke to the board and asked them specific questions and what they were saying at the time is they are going to have freshmen and sophomores and no varsity programs.”
Dale Skidmore’s concern stems from questions surrounding what sports at the new school will compete in varsity competitions and what sports won’t. For students at Williams Field and Chandler’s new high school, Perry, which also opens in the fall, there will be a mix of varsity and non-varsity competition.
“It looks like we’re going to have a varsity wrestling schedule,” said Higley district athletic director Brent Rincon. “When you open a new school, you split kids. These kids (Boers and Skidmore) are beyond just participants. They have competed at the highest levels afforded them and they’ve done well. We want to see them continue to compete at the varsity level at Williams Field next year.”
Dale Skidmore said if varsity wrestling was not part of the program at Williams Field next year, he would consider having Parker transfer, but he would much rather stay in the Higley district.
“First, we need to know what we can do,” Dale Skidmore said. “It’d be sad that they have to go to a different school just so they can wrestle.”
At Williams Field, the sports with individual-based competitions will compete as varsity and be eligible for regional and state competition.
Those sports are swimming, cross country, wrestling, golf, tennis and track and field. At Perry, principal Dan Serrano said his school will field varsity teams in all of those sports, as well as badminton and boys volleyball.
In team sports like football, girls volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball, both schools will field teams that play junior varsity and freshman schedules.
The next big move for both schools is their conference and region placements. In March, the Arizona Interscholastic Association is scheduled to make on-site visits to both schools and then approve their entrance into the AIA.
They will then place them in a conference, most likely the 4A for both schools, and then put them in a region. Both Rincon and Serrano said they would like to be placed in the 4A-II East Sky Region, which will consist of Phoenix Arcadia, Scottsdale Coronado, Higley, Queen Creek, Chandler Seton Catholic and Tempe.
“Schedules are being put together now and we’re asking the East Sky to include us,” Serrano said. “But until we’re placed in a region, nothing’s a sure thing.”