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With all eyes on postseason officials, state has careful system in place

Feb 19, 2014 - By Randy Tucker, Sports Writer

It's a question heard often at culminating events in Wyoming prep sports, and most likely nationwide as well:

"How did he get picked to officiate a regional tournament?"

While coaches sometimes have concerns over who is officiating their tournament contest, parents and fans spend even more time second-guessing which official should or should not be working a big game.

Wyoming High School Activ-ities Association assistant commissioner Trevor Wilson is aware of the concerns. He has developed a comprehensive system combining evaluations and coach voting to determine which officials go to which tournament.

"Fifty percent of the votes for officials are assigned by using our evaluation process," Wilson said. "If an official is a post-season referee from the year before, we evaluate that official once during the season."

Officials who do not have post-season experience are evaluated twice during the regular season.

There are 14 evaluators working statewide in Wyoming. Officials are evaluated on mechanics, rules and general conduct during games.

"We try not to use the same evaluator for the same official twice in one season, "Wilson said.

The formula for selecting officials starts with the evaluator ratings, but 30 percent is derived from coach votes.

"The remaining 20 percent says 'WHSAA office,' but it's a combination of both the evaluations and the coaches' votes that we use to determine official assignments," Wilson said.

One area of concern for the WHSAA is which officials get assigned to which regional tournament.

Beginning next Monday, "pigtail" games take place across the state in Class 1-A and 2-A, with four different eight-team regional tournaments in boys and girls divisions beginning the following Thursday.

At the same time, the final regular season games for Class 3-A and 4-A are being played.

"We try to balance out each regional with those officials, but there are only so many officials and a lot of tournaments to cover," Wilson said. "We try to do the best we can with their votes."

Lander and Riverton host the Class 1-A and 2-A West regionals next weekend, and a dozen officials have been assigned to both venues.

In the past, officials sometimes were called on to work games at both sites, but it can be tough to schedule.

"We won't have any crossover, "Wilson said. "1-A stays in Lander and 2-A in Riverton. They'll stay

there the entire three days. "We try to have schools get an official just once, but the odds are that they'll see a school twice."

Selections already have been made. Officials are assigned tentatively, pending verification at the WHSAA office that they will be available to work the tournaments.

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