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Twin Bridges running back Wesley Harshbarger will bring speed and power to the Falcons' lineup this season.

Al Balderas, The Montana Standard

A number of realignment and rules changes were announced for winter and spring sports, as well as the 2016-17 school year, at a recent meeting of the Montana High School Association's Executive Boards.

The biggest change to come from the announcement was the Twin Bridges football team leaving the Southern C 8-Man Division for the Western C 8-Man Division.

Twin Bridges went 8-0 this past regular season in the Southern C, and advanced to the semifinals in the 8-Man playoffs.

The move to the Western C also potentially brings an end to the historic Twin Bridiges/Ennis rivalry in football, a game that often decided the Southern C champion in recent years.

While Twin's move to the Western C has been approved, the final division alignments have yet to be finalized due to five new teams making the jump fro 6-Man to 8-Man football next season.

The five teams make the jump are Hobson/Moore/Judith Gap to the Southern C, Box Elder to the Northern C, Lone Peak to Southern C, Stanford/Geyser/Denton to Southern C and Westby/Grenora to the Eastern C.

With five teams jump from 6-Man to 8-Man, just two teams made the reverse move, with Noxon and White Sulpher Springs being reassigned to the 6-Man field.

One other piece of football news to come from the meeting was the rule change stating that a player must now have 10 days of practice to be eligible to play in a game, down from 12.

The other big news out of Class C was the approved realignment of the Western divisions for basketball, track, and volleyball for next season. 

In the move, District 12-C shrinks to seven teams, with Drummond and Philipsburg coming over from 13-C to join Ennis, Harrison, Lima, Sheridan, Twin Bridges.

In Class B/C tennis, Jefferson and Whitehall will move to the Southeast Division, along with Lone Peak and Townsend, while Anaconda will play in the South with Granite, Loyola Sacred Heart, and Valley Christian.

Another change to tennis for the upcoming season is the rule that an individual is now permitted to play on only 12 days of competition, excluding MHSA sponsored tournaments, with two day tournaments counting as two days of competition.

In softball, games may now end after three inning of play if either team is leading by 15 runs or more, and both coaches agree to end the game.

In swimming, athletes must now compete in at least two meets during the regular season in order to be eligible to compete at the state meet. Athletes also must post a qualifying time in their specific event at an MHSA sanctioned meet during the current season to qualify for the state meet.

Starting in 2016, wrestling will waive the five bout per day maximum at Class AA seeding tournaments and Class A Divisionals.

The finalization of these rules and realignments is expected to be finalized in January.

For more information on these as well as the complete list of changes for the spring season and the 2016-17 season, visit www.mhsa.org.

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