Marysville Pilchuck’s Brady Phelps (rear) fights Garfield’s Kendall Munson for the ball during a quarterfinal game at the Hardwood Classic on March 5, 2020, in Tacoma. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Marysville Pilchuck’s Brady Phelps (rear) fights Garfield’s Kendall Munson for the ball during a quarterfinal game at the Hardwood Classic on March 5, 2020, in Tacoma. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

WIAA extends state seeding committees to all team sports

All team sports state tournaments will now use the same seeding process as football did in the fall.

By Nathan Joyce / The Seattle Times

Two years ago, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association decided to try an experiment on how it would seed the state football tournament.

For the first time, it decided to use a human element, rather than a team’s place at its district tournament or using a system such as the Rating Percentage Index (RPI). It formed committees, mostly made up of coaches and athletic directors, who decided which team deserved which seed, or ranking, for the tournament.

“That got great reviews from the people involved,” WIAA sports information director Casey Johnson said Monday.

Friday, the WIAA Executive Board voted to extend the state seeding committees to all team sports. In the fall, that means, football, girls soccer and volleyball. In the winter, basketball will no longer use RPI to seed the state tournament, and will have separate committees for boys and girls. And in spring, it will apply to baseball, softball and boys soccer.

While some of the details will still need to be worked out, the members of the committees will primarily be nominated from league presidents and district directors. Each classification in each sport will have its own committee. Just how big the committees will be, and how they might meet, is still under consideration, but the football committees had 7-9 people and met at WIAA headquarters in Renton.

Eli Sports Network first reported the news Friday.

District tournaments, which still decide which teams qualify for state, for each sport generally end the Saturday before the state tournament, so the committees will meet Sunday and decide where the 16 teams that qualified will fall on the bracket.

In most sports, seeding at state was decided by where a team finished at its district tournament. But upsets at districts could lead to early-round matchups at state against teams favored to win the title, frustrating coaches, players and fans.

In 2016, the WIAA started using RPI to seed the state basketball tournaments. But that’s been questioned as well as O’Dea won the Class 3A state title in 2019 as a No. 11 seed and King’s won the Class 1A state title in March as the No. 14 seed.

RPI will still be in place, and expanded to more sports, but it will be used for informational purposes.

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