The college athletic landscape is going to change in a year’s time.
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Eight schools in the Pacific 12 Conference – including the University of Colorado-Boulder – are leaving for other league lineups. The Big 10 Conference has 14 schools this year. The University of Colorado is leaving for the Big 12 Conference, which also has 14 member schools for this coming school year.
It also prompted some ex-area high-school athletes to discuss the realignment in general and travel issues in particular. As an example, the Big 10 Conference will stretch from coast to coast, with teams like the University of Southern California traveling all the way to Rutgers University in York.
Bryce Conover, former Frederick High School athlete, didn’t think travel would be too harsh.
“Flying saves tons of time,” he said. “There are thoughts about jet lag and stuff of that sort. But then again, I don’t think travel will be an issue.”
Another former Frederick athlete, baseball player Chase Prestwich (he also pitched at Brighton High School), said travel takes a toll.
“It’s just a lot more taxing on your body,” said Prestwich, who toils at Northwestern State University of Louisiana. His team had to travel to Oregon for a four-game series in March. “You usually don’t get there in time to adjust to altitude or time zone changes. To do longer trips like that, you may have to leave very early in the morning or at night, which can hurt your sleep a little bit. Which is important when you're getting ready to face an opponent.”
Ashton Buckalew, who played football at Prairie View High School in Brighton and is starting his sophomore year at Ottawa University, said travel “does seem to be a difficult situation.”
“But I also believe that it does get the guys that are looking to play at the next level better prepared, as well as kind of a sneak peek at what the next level looks like,” he said.
Conover, who plays football at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, had his share of travels this past season. The Mountaineers play an NCAA Division II schedule, and plane rides aren’t an option.
“I just put on my music and relax,” Conover said.
Like Conover, Prestwich said travel doesn’t bother him.
“Yeah it’s crazy. But thankfully, it doesn’t affect me much,” he said. “But traveling more will definitely be an adjustment for some athletes. We went all the way to Oregon to play last year, and the trip wasn’t easy.”
The college conference shake-up drew the attention of two Cherry Creek football players – both seniors – at the Colorado High School Activities Association media day Aug. 14 at Emplower Field at Mile High.
“It’s a process,” said Hayden Treter. “To us, it’s a selling point. It’ll be time to play better teams.”
“It’s a good opportunity for us to learn,” added his teammate, Angelo Petrides.
Conover is not a fan.
“I hate realignment. I think it takes away the old traditions and rivalries,” he said. “All the moves may negatively affect college football. But that’s for the future to decide.”
Buckalew approved of CU’s choice to return to the Big 12 Conference.
“It’s beneficial for CU putting them in a conference that will not only be a better fit for the team but as well the potential CU had with stellar athletes and the big coaching change (Deion Sanders is the Buffs’ new boss),” Buckalew said.
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