March 19, 2009

Three-class system proposed for high school basketball, volleyball

A possible new era in high school boys and girls basketball as well as volleyball could be on the horizon as the North Dakota High School Activities Association introduced its new three-class system proposal last month.

Under the three-division plan, schools with nine through 12 enrollments of 400 or greater would be Class AA, the next 32 schools less than 400 would be Class A and the remaining schools would be Class B.

Both Hazen and Beulah would be pitted in Class A according to the projected numbers. Although the idea of a three-class system is not new, both Hazen Athletic Director Brad Foss and Beulah Athletic Director Mitch Lunde see potential in the new system.

The drop in enrollments is causing such a discrepancy between large schools and smaller schools inevitably causing change in athletic dynamics in North Dakota. The current situation leaves small towns, such as Center-Stanton with 78 students competing against towns such as Valley City at 381. Valley City would move into Class B under the current system next year.

"To say that 400 is the right number or where anyone belongs is tough to decide but what this plan does is maybe put these smaller enrollment schools in an opportunity to compete for a State championship," Lunde explained.

Beulah, Hazen and the schools in the middle don’t have a place to go. With current seventh through 10th grade enrollments Beulah at 262 and Hazen at 244 are too small for the true Class A division. On the other hand being toward the top of a smaller enrollment division may not be a good fit either.

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