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home : sports : today's n-t sports   May 22, 2015

6/25/2013 10:04:00 AM
Bell: Winners and losers of classification


Jared Bell
NewsTribune Sports Writer



The summer’s annual musical chairs — also known as the IHSA reclassification — concluded two weeks ago when the IHSA announced its new classifications for the 2013-14 school year.

This year’s announcement was met with far less fanfare and outcry than the past two years, but as always, the new classifications helped and hurt area programs.
Just as I did last summer, I put together a list of five winners and five losers from the 2013-14 reclassification.

Winner — St. Bede boys basketball. Is there a more obvious winner than the Bruins? St. Bede fell from Class 2A to 1A next season because it has not won a regional in the past six years and had the multiplier waived.

Yes, the team did lose practically its entire roster — SBA returns just one player — but the Bruins have an extremely talented group of to-be juniors and sophomores moving up to varsity next season.

St. Bede should reload — not rebuild — and being 1A will do nothing but help its chances to advance deep into the postseason.

Loser — Marquette baseball. Say what you will, but the Crusaders were by far the biggest loser of last year’s reclassification.

A traditional 1A powerhouse, Marquette was bumped to 2A this spring and into a loaded regional it hosted that also featured top-seeded St. Bede and No. 2-seeded Hall.

The Crusaders upset Hall to advance to the regional final — where they fell to St. Bede 2-1 — but let’s be honest, if Marquette was 1A last season, there’s a very real and likely chance the Crusaders would have been the local team that made a deep postseason run instead of Putnam County.

Winner — Putnam County boys basketball. A repeat winner from last year’s list, the Panthers remained 1A after they were bumped to 2A in 2011-12 and then dropped back down last season.

Even though PC will lose key players to graduation, it returns some top talent and should have a better opportunity to advance in the 1A postseason than 2A.

If you don’t believe me, ask the one-and-done 2011-12 2A team and the regional champion 2012-13 1A squad.

Sort of losers — Putnam County and Henry boys basketball. The area’s top two 1A boys basketball teams last season should both have talented squads again next season.

However, depending on postseason geography, having the St. Bede roadblock in 1A instead of the Bruins in 2A will make a postseason run even harder.

Winner — Class 2A boys basketball. Yes, I’m still stuck on basketball. St. Bede should be pretty good next year, even though it likely won’t be as good as it was this season.

However, here’s the thing: It was likely to be the best 2A team outside of Fieldcrest, so seeing the Bruins drop to 1A has to be a welcomed sight for Hall, Princeton and Bureau Valley . For those schools, it’s just one less 2A team to worry about.

Loser — Putnam County volleyball. Putnam County currently has the area’s most successful all-around female athletics program.

Last school year, girls basketball and softball won 1A regional titles while the girls golf team advanced to sectionals as a team. The one program which didn’t? The 2A volleyball program.

The only 2A sport in the school, the Lady Panthers should be one of — if not the best — small-school volleyball teams in the area, but being 2A — and potentially facing Fieldcrest or El Paso-Gridley in the regional — could be crippling to their postseason dreams.

Sort of winner, sort of loser — Princeton volleyball. The Tigresses are sort of winners and sort of losers in this year’s reclassification.

Likely to be the best small-school team this season, Princeton instead remained with the big schools in Class 3A, where it will likely have trouble competing.

However, on the bright side, the school’s enrollment declined and is expected to fall in the future, which would move the Tigresses closer to 2A.

Even though PHS is 3A this season, it could be 2A again in the next year or two as it is the fourth smallest 3A school.

Loser — Ottawa basketball, volleyball and track and field. I’m not one to always offer sympathy, but my condolences go out to the largest school in our coverage area.

Ottawa — a school of 1,425 students — was bumped to 4A in volleyball in addition to both boys and girls basketball as well as 3A in both boys and girls track and field.

All will have a far more difficult time competing in the state’s largest class.

However, what hurts most is rebuilding volleyball, solid boys basketball and perennially-strong girls basketball were all just four students above the 3A/4A cutoff, while both boys and girls track and field were five students above the cutoff. Ouch!

Ottawa has had the area’s most successful athletic season this year. That may not be the case next year.

Winner — Ottawa baseball and softball. While five Ottawa programs were bumped to the state’s largest class, baseball and softball were spared and remained in 3A.
Neither won a regional title last spring, but both improved and will only benefit from remaining 3A.

Loser — Putnam County/Hall wrestling. The second-year wrestling-only coop was hit the hardest as it was bumped from 1A to 2A in the IHSA’s three-class wrestling format.

Yes, the program will benefit from a conference schedule next season as Hall enters the Three Rivers Athletic Conference, but the team has struggled to compete in 1A postseason the past few years and it will be even harder in 2A.
Class 2A will be rough for the still-developing new program.

Jared Bell is a NewsTribune Sports Writer. He can be reached at 220-6938, or at sports@newstrib.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.












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