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OPINION: After moving to 6A, Lehi has epitomized “The Little Engine That Could”



As I watched Lehi’s baseball players celebrate their 6A state championship Saturday night, I thought how fitting it was to be ending the 2023-24 sports campaign for the Pioneers that way, culminating a year of defying expectations.

Lehi was classified as “on the bubble” between Class 5A and 6A during last year’s realignment considerations. Eventually the school was assigned to 6A, at first in Region 2 and then, a few weeks later, moved unceremoniously to Region 3.

Lehi has fewer students than any other 6A school, and also less than many that are now assigned to Class 5A.

According to the Public School Review, Lehi’s 1,807 students places it 46th in size among Utah secondary schools, though these numbers are not adjusted for differences in how many grades are included in each institution.

When considering reported enrollments for schools which include only grades 10-12 like Lehi has, Copper Hills is the largest, with 2,869.

In Region 3, Lone Peak is listed at 2,457, Westlake 2,456, American Fork 2,376, Skyridge 2,364 and Pleasant Grove 2,146 – all of them with hundreds more students than Lehi.

Making the jump from 5A to 6A? Smallest school in the class? Placed in tough Region 3? Expect lots of losing the first year, the “experts” said.


While some programs have certainly struggled to make the adjustment, those that were successful at the 5A level have mostly done as well or better since the move up, contrary to all predictions.

Let’s look at what happened with just the marquee boys sports this year, where Lehi’s perceived disadvantages could certainly have been expected to show up.

The young football team wasn’t even in the conversation when the season started in the fall, but the Pioneers didn’t care. They won all five of their preseason games.

They were embarrassed by American Fork in the region opener and lost to Skyridge without their starting quarterback, but then went on to win five more games before falling to eventual champion Corner Canyon in the state semifinals, ending with a 10-3 record.

The boys basketball team got a little more respect because of the coach and returning players, but even after tying for the Region 3 title with preseason favorite American Fork – who the Pioneers defeated in both league meetings – they were not expected to beat either Herriman or Corner Canyon in the playoffs.

They did both in spectacular fashion and claimed Lehi’s first gold trophy in Class 6A.

Enter the baseball team. The Pioneers took their lumps during the regular season and were unranked in the Top 5 coming into the playoffs.

However, all they did was go 7-1 in the tournament on their way to winning the championship, coming from behind in late innings three times to win playoff games, including during the thrilling finale.


Interestingly, the last opponent for the baseball team was also the Chargers, who had made an unexpected run of their own in the tournament.

So, the final matchup in all three of these sports turned out to bewith Corner Canyon, which has enjoyed a well-earned reputation for athletic success in recent history. Final score for this school year in these three high-profile sports: Pioneers 2, Chargers 1, an astonishing achievement all by itself.

Although the girls teams didn’t win any titles this year, the Pioneers also represented well most notably in softball, basketball, track and swimming. 

Besides all that, the Lehi crowd contingent was consistently larger than those attending from other schools in contests of all kinds, showing the high level of support from the community for school activities – and perhaps contributing materially to Pioneer successes.

The beloved children’s book by Watty Piper cited in the headline says it best: In this first year of Class 6A competition, Lehi truly was “The Little Engine That Could.”

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