The world of high school sports constantly changes.
Athletes and coaches come and go, but the trends are what shapes high school sports well into the future.
These are five stories to watch in 2017 for high school sports in the Mid-Valley:
Three-peat for South Salem girls basketball?
Can South Salem’s girls basketball team continue its domination of Class 6A and win a third straight state championship?
The Saxons have the most talented player in the nation in senior Evina Westbrook and some experienced players back, but it takes more than talent to win a state championship.
South Salem got off to a 0-2 start to the season, but has come back well and has a lot of development to do to win again.
The OSAA’s Classification and Districting Committee will make its final recommendation for the 2018 through 2022 four-year time block in September.
Will there be six classifications or five in the new alignment and will the Salem-Keizer Public Schools end up in a league with Bend schools?
How about new sports?
There are several emerging sports on the brink of being added by the OSAA like water polo, girls wrestling and lacrosse, but will the organization add a sport for the first time in decades?
Sports like water polo and girls wrestling have the numbers necessary to be added by the OSAA, but it’s been so long since a new sport has been added that it would be a surprise.
Will the trend toward specialization of high school athletes continue?
Top athletes are choosing to focus their attention toward one sport, and the three-sport athlete has become rare.
Studies have shown that multi-sport athletes are more successful in the long run, but athletes are increasingly choosing to play one sport year round.
A decline in contact sports?
Will the participation of high school athletes in contact sports such as football, soccer and basketball continue to decline?
Concerns over injuries have athletes trending toward non-contact sports, but the contact sports still draw the most attention and get the headlines.
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com or Twitter.com/bpoehler