by nathan oster
Greybull High School athletes were up early Monday morning, taking advantage of the day’s first light and the dawn of the fall sports seasons.
While there will be some intra-squad action this week to break up the monotony of practice, the football and volleyball Buffs will see their first official action of the season on Friday, Aug. 26.
The gridders open with a Week 0 game in Shoshoni, while the netters will be in Lovell and Cowley that day and Saturday, Aug. 27, competing in the North Big Horn County Invite.
The landscape has changed slightly for both teams since last year.
In volleyball, as well as in boys and girls basketball and track, Lovell has returned to the Class 2A Northwest Conference, joining the Buffs, Rocky Mountain, Riverside and Shoshoni.
Thermopolis, a member of the conference last year, has moved up to 3A. So, too, has Lyman. Glenrock is the other school on the move, dropping down into 2A to become part of the Southeast Conference.
With Lyman moving up, the 2A Southwest is back to having four just teams: Big Piney, Kemmerer, Wind River and Wyoming Indian. On the other extreme, the 2A Northeast now includes six teams: Big Horn, Moorcroft, Sundance, Tongue River, Wright and new entry Upton, which is moving up from 1A.
Nolan Tracy, activities director at GHS, said the change that will impact the Buffs the most is the return of the Lovell Bulldogs. The two teams didn’t play each other in basketball last year; this year, they will play at least twice.
The makeup of the conferences will last for at least two school years. “After that, there’s probably a good chance it’ll change again,” said Tracy. “I don’t think Thermopolis has a lot of kids in the younger classes, whereas I think Lovell does.”
The football landscape has changed in one very significant way this year in south Big Horn County, as Greybull is the only one fielding an 11-man team. Burlington began the transition to 6-man football last year and Riverside has followed suit this year.
The Buffs remain in the 2A West and will have conference games at home against Lovell, Lyman and Pinedale and on the road at Kemmerer, Mountain View and Big Piney.
The Buffs also play a Week 0 game at Shoshoni and have non-conference games at home against Thermopolis and at Burns in late September.
Tracy said there is a push statewide to cut down on transportation costs associated with activities. That push began after the schedules had already been set for this year, but will likely result in some changes starting next school year.
The state has been responsible for football scheduling, and the non-conference game in Burns, which is so far away that it will require the Buffs to spend a night in a motel, is an example of the type of trip that may not happen in future years.
Tracy said he and other activities directors gathered this summer to discuss possible ways to cut costs. One idea was for small teams — an example would be the Riverside and Greybull track teams, if they were both small —sharing a bus for trips to track meets in other parts of the state.
“I don’t know if it’s feasible, but it’s something that was discussed, since there aren’t that many meets around and teams usually end up in the same place,” said Tracy.