The playoff picture for the next time block continues to be a little murky, but things seem to be getting closer to a final recommendation by the State Championship Committee to the Oregon School Activities Association's Executive Board.

The playoff picture for the next time block continues to be a little murky, but things seem to be getting closer to a final recommendation by the State Championship Committee to the Oregon School Activities Association's Executive Board.

While the six classifications are still looking into the committee's desire for a "play-in" model for playoff games in team sports, as well as trying to develop a power rating for such playoffs, a few issues became clearer in individual sports with the release of information from the March 15 public meeting.

One of the biggest changes by the committee was spurred on by the Executive Board itself, which expressed "serious concerns" about the regional qualifying format the committee had suggested for individual sports. Given the potential costs — financially and in lost class time — the Executive Board said it cannot support any proposal that would include the addition of a regional qualifying event, which would've been squeezed in between districts and the state championships.

The committee revised its approach to establishing qualifying methods in individual sports and now suggests hybrid leagues be combined with schools of the same classification to form special districts. The regular and special districts would then be allocated a predetermined number of qualifiers to the state championships.

As with before, that change will affect the bulk of the schools here in Southern Oregon.

At the 6A level, the Southern Oregon hybrid schools of Crater, Grants Pass, North Medford, Roseburg and South Medford would join the Midwestern hybrid's 6A schools Sheldon, South Eugene and Thurston in a special district.

At the 5A level, the Southern Oregon hybrid schools of Ashland and Eagle Point would join the Central Oregon hybrid's 5A schools Bend, Mountain View and Summit in a special district.

The only other new combination special districts for lower classifications would be the 3A Southern Oregon hybrid schools (Cascade Christian, Illinois Valley, Lakeview, Rogue River and St. Mary's) with the 3A Sunset hybrid schools (Bandon, Coquille, Myrtle Point and Glide) in state qualification for track and field.

For cross country and golf, the top two teams and top seven individuals from each district will advance to the state championships at the 6A level. That number drops to the top five individuals from the 5A to 3A/2A/1A levels.

In swimming, the district champions in all events will advance, plus any athlete or relay team achieving the established qualifying standard for an event. Open lanes will be filled by wildcard entrants, up to a maximum of 16 competitors at the 6A level and 12 for the smaller classifications.

In wrestling, the top two placers in each weight class at the 6A, 5A and 4A levels will advance to the state championships.

In 6A wresting, one additional qualifier per weight class in four leagues will also advance, with the additional qualifiers rotating between the six leagues/districts. There will be a 16-person bracket with the top six wrestlers placing.

At the 5A level, one additional qualifier per weight class will be allocated in leagues/districts containing eight or more schools to form a 14-person bracket where the top six become state placers. Since Ashland and Eagle Point will be in a five-team special district, this added spot won't be available.

There are no additional qualifiers for the seven leagues/districts at the 4A level for a 14-person bracket, while the top three wrestlers advance in the 3A special districts.

In track and field, the top two athletes in each event will qualify for the state championships regardless of classification, and the rest of the field will be filled out through qualifying standards.

Tennis representatives are still devising a plan for state qualifiers in that sport.

As it relates to team sports, the most notable decision made by the committee was to maintain the current format used in basketball and volleyball that includes eight teams per sport advancing to a double-elimination state tournament. There had been talk of changing the tournaments to single elimination at the final sites, but that doesn't appear to be something the OSAA is interested in at this time.

At the 6A level, the committee's plan is to have 32 of the 44 teams advance to the state playoffs and that all "play-in" contests prior to the formation of the OSAA championship bracket will count toward OSAA participation limitations. At the 5A level, 16 of the 37 teams will advance, while 16 of the 43 4A teams will advance.

State allocations at the 3A, 2A and 1A classifications will stand at 16 per level, with local schools essentially looking at two spots per sport.

As for the power rating system, the committee has recommended that the Oregon Athletic Directors Association and the Oregon Athletic Coaches Association select three representatives each to serve on a sub-committee to define the parameters involved in developing such a system for all team sports at all classifications.

The State Championship Committee plans to meet again April 5 in hopes of making a final recommendation to the OSAA's Executive Board.

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NORTH MEDFORD HIGH earned the only first-place finish among the winter sports teams, according to the recently released Dairy Farmers of Oregon academic all-state listing.

The Black Tornado boys basketball team posted the top mark among the Class 6A schools with a 3.73 grade-point average. The top mark among all the high school boys basketball teams in the state was set by Class 4A Scappoose, which boasted a 3.87 GPA.

Along with the distinction of the highest placement, North Medford also was the most decorated of all the local schools with four teams finishing among the top 10. The Tornado's girls basketball team tied for fourth with a 3.72, while members of the girls swim team placed seventh at 3.70 and the wrestling team was ninth at 3.21.

Also at the 6A level, South Medford earned recognition in three sports, with the girls swim team tying for fifth (3.72), the wrestling team placing sixth (3.34) and the cheerleaders tying for 10th (3.35).

Among 5A programs, Crater earned the highest honor after its wrestling team was third with a 3.34 GPA. Ashland's girls basketball team placed seventh (3.69) and the boys swimming team was ninth (3.53), while Eagle Point also had a pair of top-10 finishes with its boys basketball team (seventh at 3.53) and wrestling team (tied for 10th at 3.03).

Phoenix's boys and girls basketball teams were also honored, with the boys team placing eighth among 4A schools with a 3.48, while the girls were ninth at 3.56.

In the 3A ranks, Cascade Christian's boys basketball team was fifth at 3.58, while Rogue River's cheerleading squad was seventh at 3.60.

St. Mary's garnered three honors after its boys basketball team tied for fifth at the 2A level with a 3.54 GPA, its girls basketball team was seventh (3.69) and its dance team tied for third (3.45).

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com