LANSING—School classifications for the 2013-14 school year were announced last week by the Michigan High School Athletic Association. While both West Iron County and Forest Park remain in their long-time enrollment classes—West Iron in Class C and Forest Park in D—both are affected indirectly by other schools.
The MHSAA bases its classifications on the second semester count date, Feb. 13. After that, the member schools are ranked in order of enrollment and then split into four equal groups. From largest to smallest, they are Class A, B, C and D.
For next year, there are 756 tournament-qualified member schools, with 189 in each class. In 2013-14, schools with 893 or more students are in Class A; 892 to 429 are Class B; 428 to 207 are Class C; and 206 and below are Class D.
West Iron’s 2012-13 enrollment was 270. Forest Park’s was 164.
In the U.P., the big changes are Houghton and St. Ignace. Houghton moves up from Class C to Class B, and St. Ignace, which moved down from C to D for 2012-13, moves back up to Class C in ’13-14.
Another change is that Stephenson moves down from Class C to Class D next year.
The classifications are mostly used for basketball and girls volleyball. The classifications are also used in football to determine playoff points, though the playoff field is divided into eight equal divisions by enrollment.
Looking at the changes from an Iron County perspective:
--Houghton’s strong girls basketball program won’t be eliminating the Wykons again at next year’s regionals. That’s what the Gremlins did in 2011 and again this year. However, with St. Ignace back in Class C, the field will still be plenty tough. The Saints eliminated West Iron at the 2012 regionals.
--Football wins over Class B Houghton would count more when West Iron’s playoff points are calculated next fall.
--St. Ignace’s girls basketball team ended the Forest Park girls’ season this year, but the Class C Saints won’t stand in FP’s way in 2013-14, Lexi Gussert’s senior year. The undefeated Saints won the girls Class D championship recently.
--Ripple effects when district tournament fields are decided, due to the Houghton and Stephenson moves. For years, the Eagles have been one of the “usual suspects” in West Iron’s Class C district tournaments, with Iron Mountain and Norway. Now that the Eagles are in Class D, the Wykons may see Ironwood instead. The Red Devils, for many years a West Pac Conference rival, now play in Wisconsin’s Indianhead Conference.
--With one more Class D team in the south-central U.P., Forest Park could be moved to a different basketball district. But since all four boys districts in the central-western U.P. region had six teams this year, it’s more likely that one school (Munising? Engadine?) gets moved to the eastern U.P.-northern L.P. region, where no district had more than five teams.
Time will tell. It’s all speculation. But with winter weather not yielding an inch and the start of outdoor sports maybe a month away, what else is there to write about?