IHSA classification changes affect how teams do business
Corey Jenkins had his schedule set.
The Genoa-Kingston boys basketball team, a Class 2A team ever since the IHSA went to the four-class system in 2007-08, had its normal schedule in place for the upcoming season, when the IHSA made several changes at its June 11 Board of Directors meeting.
The board approved a recommendation to accept new classification cutoff enrollments for the upcoming school year, which include moving to a straight 25 percent breakdown of schools per class in all four-class sports (boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball). The result was a dramatic shift in enrollment cutoffs for each class and mixed reviews of the move by area coaches.
At 621 students, Genoa-Kingston finds itself at the bottom of Class 3A in baseball, softball and boys and girls basketball, six students above the Class 2A cutoff.
DeKalb also has been moved up to Class 4A from 3A in baseball and softball. DeKalb remains in Class 4A in boys and girls basketball and volleyball. DeKalb moves up from Class 2A to 3A in boys and girls soccer, wrestling and boys and girls cross country. To round out the local schools, Indian Creek now is in Class 2A for girls volleyball.
But for the Cogs, it’s a big change that especially affects scheduling. In sports with four classes, the Class 2A and 1A state tournaments begin a week before the Class 4A and 3A tournaments. With an extra week to prepare, the IHSA’s change may affect everything, including start dates and what the Cogs do in that week before the Class 3A state tournament.
“We’re going to have to find a game somewhere and try and plug it in there,” Jenkins said. “More likely down the road, if we stay [in Class 3A], we’re going to have to drop a few of the smaller schools we have on our schedule and schedule a Sycamore or a Hampshire and get them on there to get us ready.”
Jenkins said although the playoffs are now a tougher road for the Cogs, it wouldn’t change G-K’s philosophy on offense or defense because the opponents are bigger schools.
But with the third change to how classes are divided in the past six years, Jenkins said he has mixed feelings on the IHSA’s decision, adding that he’d rather see a return to two classes for basketball instead of four.
“I think you see a better quality of basketball. (I have) mixed feelings. I know the four classes definitely gives more opportunities to advance,” he said. “But with what they’ve done recently with this enrollment and this change, it doesn’t make sense.”
G-K softball coach Mike Lauer said the move up would be another challenge for the Cogs, but with Class 3A powers Marengo and Burlington Central already in their division in the Big Northern Conference, not much tweaking would need to be done to the schedule.
“I doubt we change a whole lot,” Lauer said.
For DeKalb, it’s another year, another class switch, though now the classes appear to be more permanent with enrollment cutoffs dropping by dozens and sometimes hundreds of students depending on the sport.
The DeKalb softball team is back in Class 4A, the fourth straight year the Barbs have switched classes.
“It has happened to us, a lot, actually, since I’ve been coach,” DeKalb coach Jeff Davis said. “I have scheduled us with a lot of teams in the Upstate Eight. Come tournament time in Class 4A, we usually go to Streamwood or South Elgin. And I also schedule some Rockford teams, which are all Class 4A as well, in case we get shoved up north. Our schedule is put together to try and help us out with that situation.”
Davis said he liked that the Barbs moved back up for one specific reason.
“Kaneland, DeKalb, Sycamore, Rochelle, we beat up on each other all year,” he said of the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference foes. “The last people we want to see in a regional is each other.”
The following local schools have moved up a class for next year’s state tournament, per the IHSA’s 25 percent class balance rule:
From Class 3A to 4A: DeKalb baseball, softball
From Class 2A to 3A: Genoa-Kingston baseball, softball, boys and girls basketball
From Class 1A to 2A: Indian Creek volleyball
From Class 2A to 3A: DeKalb boys and girls soccer, boys and girls cross country and wrestling