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U.P. schools reclassified

EAST LANSING — Classifications for Michigan High School Athletic Association elections and postseason tournaments for the 2020-21 school year have been announced – including football divisions determined preseason for the first time since 1998 – and with enrollment breaks for postseason tournaments posted to each sport’s page on the MHSAA Website.
    Four U.P. schools were affected by the new classifications. Menominee will move down from Class B to Class C, while Painesdale Jeffers will move up from Class D to Class C.
    Additionally, the Pickford 8-man football team will shift from Division 2 to Division 1 and the Westwood girls tennis team will play in Division 1 after winning the Division 2 title the last four seasons.
    Classifications for the upcoming school year are based on a second semester count date, which for MHSAA purposes was Feb. 12. The enrollment figure submitted for athletic classification purposes may be different from the count submitted for school aid purposes, as it does not include students ineligible for athletic competition because they reached their 19th birthday prior to Sept. 1 of the current school year and will not include alternative education students if none are allowed athletic eligibility by the local school district.
    All sports’ tournaments are conducted with schools assigned to equal or nearly equal divisions, with lines dependent on how many schools participate in those respective sports.
    For 2020-21, there are 752 tournament-qualified member schools. Schools recently were notified of their classification, and sport-by-sport divisions were posted to the MHSAA website on April 20. MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said schools may not subsequently lower their enrollment figure. However, if revised enrollment figures are higher and indicate that a school should be playing in a higher division, that school would be moved up.
    Football will undergo a significant classification change for the 2020 season, with teams in both 11 and 8-player assigned their divisions before the season for the first time since 1998; from 1999-2019, divisions for the 256-team 11-player field (and later the 8-player tournament) were determined after the regular season.
    A hard enrollment limit also will take effect this fall for teams to be eligible for the 8-player tournament – all schools with 215 or fewer students are eligible for the 8-player playoffs if they play that format during the regular season.
    Note: MHSAA Finals in five winter sports and all spring sports were canceled in 2019-20 due to COVID-19.