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home : sports : sports   October 19, 2014

7/1/2014 10:56:00 AM
Bell: Winners and losers of IHSA reclassification

Jared Bell
Sports Writer

The IHSA released its reclassification for the 2014-15 school year June 19 and, as always, there were area athletic programs who were happy, those who were mad and some who just didn’t care.

Princeton volleyball was the lone local program to drop in class as it went from Class 3A to 2A, while St. Bede boys basketball as well as both the Putnam County boys and girls basketball teams were all bumped up from Class 1A to 2A.

Just as I’ve done the past few summers, I put together a list of five winners and five losers from the IHSA reclassification.

Loser — 2014-15 Putnam County boys and girls basketball teams. While PC graduated a talented senior class — both boys and girls — each squad still has enough returning talent to compete for a Class 1A regional title, but will it have enough talent to compete in 2A next season? Likely not.

The girls basketball program will still likely finish above .500 next season and I expect the boys will, too, but the simple fact is it’s easier to win a 1A regional than a 2A regional.

No matter what, you’d rather be 1A than 2A, and both PC squads could be 2A for at least a few years.

Winner — 2013-14 Putnam County boys and girls basketball teams. Can you imagine if PC was moved up to Class 2A last year? Wow, there would’ve been outrage in Putnam County.

The PC community was incredibly supportive and hopeful for last year’s boys and girls basketball teams, both of which had been building the last couple of seasons for last year’s playoff runs that saw each win a regional title and advance to a sectional final.

While you do feel bad for future teams being punished for past success, you’re thankful that both teams were able to compete in 1A last year instead of seeing talent wasted by competing in a more difficult class as neither likely would’ve won a 2A regional last season.

Loser — Ottawa. In the last two years of the reclassification, no area school has been impacted as much as Ottawa .

And this year was particularly gut-wrenching.

After being bumped from Class 3A to 4A last year, the volleyball, girls basketball and boys basketball teams combined to win one postseason game, while the newly-minted 3A boys and girls track and field squads were unable to advance anyone to state — a rare occurrence.

The hope this year was — after seeing the school’s enrollment drop by nearly 20 students — at least the boys and girls basketball teams would drop back to 3A.
However, both programs ended up stuck back in 4A by one stinking kid. Now, both teams will be the smallest school in Class 4A and could be in line for another short postseason.

Maybe winner — Area class 2A boys basketball teams. While local 2A boys basketball teams such as Hall, Princeton and Bureau Valley were not directly impacted by reclassification, you’d have to think they are happy with how things fell.

Yes, adding St. Bede and Putnam County to 2A will deepen the competition for a regional title, but adding the two will hopefully and finally bump Seneca out of the regional as the Fighting Irish have won back-to-back regional titles over local competition.

While adding SBA and PC to 2A isn’t ideal, it has to be better than dealing with the annual postseason regional headache of Seneca.

Loser — Marquette volleyball, girls basketball and baseball. While a non-boundary school able to recruit student-athletes, there’s just something that bothers me about Marquette volleyball, girls basketball and baseball being in Class 2A.

It just seems wrong that a school with 186 students is competing in 2A.

I get the idea behind reclassification, but why punish a school that small and its athletes? It just seems unfair.

Winner — Marquette boys basketball. Despite not being directly impacted by the reclassification, the Crusaders are by far the biggest winner this year.

Marquette is a winner because it saw Class 1A rivals Putnam County and St. Bede move up to 2A, which means two of Marquette‘s stiffest postseason challenges are no longer an issue.

After the youthful Crusaders gained a year of experience last season, the regional for now-experienced and battle-tested Marquette looks so much easier.

Now the Crusaders just have to hope the IHSA doesn’t shift around the regional assignments and send it north or east.

Loser — 2015-16 Marquette boys basketball and beyond. Marquette‘s volleyball, girls basketball and baseball programs are Class 2A because all have won a regional title in the last six years.

Its boys basketball and softball teams are Class 1A because they have not.

While Marquette boys basketball is in a good position for next season, if it wins a regional title next year the Crusaders will likely be placed in Class 2A for six seasons, so while the 2014-15 reclassification is a good thing for Marquette, it could have a long-term negative impact of one good season for six years of difficult draws.

Winner — Football and tennis. Annual winners on this list, both sports don’t really care about reclassification because neither were impacted.

Football classes will be determined after all 256 playoff teams are decided next fall, while boys and girl tennis only has one class.

Loser — Princeton volleyball. Yes, you read that correctly. Despite dropping in class, the Tigresses are losers.

Over the past two seasons, Princeton has had talented teams and squads that I think would have won regional titles and realistically could have won sectional titles if in Class 2A.

Instead, the talent was wasted in Class 3A, where the Tigresses never won a postseason game.

Getting back to 2A is a good thing long-term for PHS, but next year’s team will be hit hard by graduation and is likely to struggle with all the inexperience.

It’s a frustrating spot for PHS — when it was good and able to compete it was 3A, but now that it’s 2A it may not be able to take advantage of dropping down.

Maybe winners — Local class 2A volleyball. Much like Class 2A boys basketball, St. Bede, Hall and Putnam County have to be happy that Princeton is back in 2A.

While the Tigresses were perennial contenders in 2A before being moved up, their reappearance in 2A may provide the area with enough teams to bounce Fieldcrest and El Paso-Gridley out of the regional.

Why does that matter? Because Fieldcrest and El Paso-Gridley have played each other for the regional title the past two years, eliminating other local teams on their way to the regional final, so if they are indeed bumped out of the regional, it’d be a huge relief for area 2A volleyball teams.
Jared Bell is a NewsTribune Sports Writer. He can be reached at 220-6938, or at Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.

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