AIA approves fifth division for Track, true state champions

Contributed File Photo/Courtesy Tabor College: Ex-Morenci three-sport athlete Aaliyah Manuz clears a hurdle for Tabor College in 2019. Under the new track & field guidelines, Manuz could have competed against athletes from bigger schools throughout the state for bragging rights.

By Jon Johnson

PHOENIX – Under the new track rules for high school, an athlete from a small rural school could compete against an athlete from a 6A urban school in the same event to see just who is the best in the state. 

That’s because come the spring, there will be a new division in track & field for the 1A and 2A conferences and every athlete will have the shot to become a true state champion. 

The Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) recently approved a fifth division for track & field, which will incorporate all schools in the 1A and 2A conferences. The rest of the divisions will be populated with each conference’s worth of schools. 

With all that in place, the AIA will hold division championships the first weekend in May. The two-day meets will feature preliminary running events on Friday, with the championships held on Saturday. The field events will be held on both days with distance races likely held on Friday. 

The athletes with the top 18 scores in each event at each division championship qualify for the state championship the following weekend, which will follow the same format. 

What that means is each individual and team champion at the division meet will receive banners, trophies, and medals as the best in their divisions in the state. The same accolades will be awarded the following week to the overall state champions. So, it is likely that some athletes will be both the division champion and the state champion.