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South Valley Riverton Journal

Mountain Ridge athletics prepare for jump to 6A in realignment

Jul 08, 2021 12:57PM ● By Josh Martinez

Mountain Ridge High School opened in 2019 and has competed at 5A during its first two years. Starting this season, it will play in 6A. (Josh Martinez/City Journals)

By Josh Martinez | [email protected] 

A new era is starting at Mountain Ridge High School.

MRHS athletics will join the rest of Jordan School District in 6A after the school spent its first two years of existence at 5A. The Sentinels will be part of Region 3, which includes Bingham, Copper Hills, Herriman, Riverton and West Jordan high schools.

This move comes as part of the Utah High School Activities Association’s 2021–23 realignment. Classifications are based on school enrollment data with 6A, including the most populated schools.

Mountain Ridge Athletic Director Sam Rogers said while he and the coaches are excited about this change, he’s also seeing, more importantly, a level of commitment from the student-athletes.

“I just have the impression that our kids believe in themselves, believe in their coaches and they’re not going to go into any game with the idea that they can’t win,” he said. “I’m just really seeing this big boost in confidence in all of the athletes.” 

Mountain Ridge heads into 6A with a good mixture of performances at 5A. Last season, some sports such as lacrosse and boys soccer had great seasons, while others such as girls soccer and football had middling to struggling seasons.

Still, many of the teams have seen improvements over their first two years, while the spring sports bounced back from a pandemic-shortened season in 2020. Rogers credited that to a larger student body and more athletes trying out for teams.

As the Sentinels move up to 6A, Rogers said there has been a mixed reaction from coaches. Some, he said, believe the move will help their sport while others are nervous because the new region will be tougher.

Mountain Ridge football coach Mike Meifu said he doesn’t see much of a difference as his team heads into 6A. 

“The level of competition we’ve been playing against, there’s really not a whole lot of difference,” he said. “We were in a really good region before and so yeah, we’ve got some really good teams in our region just like we did a year ago. So that’s not really a big deal.”

The new region will also bring a closer proximity of opponents. Much of Mountain Ridge’s previous region played in Utah County with many schools in Provo or Orem. The new region will feature schools at most 11 miles from Mountain Ridge.

The shorter bus ride, Rogers said, will help in mental preparedness ahead of games because he noticed some players getting mentally fatigued after spending an hour on the bus before region games.

Furthermore, the closeness will help shore up the natural rivalries between schools because communities are close and Region 3 being only Jordan School District schools.

“I think that’s huge for not only the athletes but also the general student body,” Rogers said. “They get excited about facing these other schools. Everybody knows other kids from other schools so it makes it a lot more fun for them.”

Rogers said he is predicting larger crowds for games because the schools are closer, meaning the community may get involved in the rivalries. 

That excitement isn’t only one way. Bingham softball coach Mikki Jackson said she knows next year’s region will be tough because not only does it have good teams such as 6A champion Riverton, but Mountain Ridge will be joining after finishing second in state at 5A.

Meifu said there are many benefits to close region opponents in his sport as well.

“I think that’s the good part about football,” he said. “Having those city rivalries and those sorts of things, I think that’s extremely important. We’re really fortunate to be in that situation.” 

While there are many benefits, there are some challenges. Rogers said he’s noticed some kids fall into the mentality that certain schools will be tougher solely because of reputation.

Other challenges he sees are some schools in the region are excelling in their sports so it will take a new school like Mountain Ridge a few years to catch up. Still, Rogers said he believes it won’t be long before the Sentinels can compete with anyone in any given sport.

Despite all of that, Rogers said the future is bright, and he is excited about all that will come this next season.

“This year is going to be a lot of fun, especially for us,” he said. “We’re continuing to grow. The number of kids that are coming out and trying out for sports and camps and clinics is astounding.”