Sabers will remain in Class 2A
CHAMPAIGN — St. Thomas More’s girls’ basketball team earned a victory Monday without playing a game.
The Sabers learned they will have the opportunity in 2015 to defend their Class 2A state championship.
Days before STM reached the 2A title game in March for the second consecutive year, the IHSA announced implementation of a policy that would move a non-boundaried (or private) school up one competition class if it earned — among other criteria — two state trophies within a four-year span.
The original edict meant STM would be in Class 3A for one sport — girls’ basketball — for the upcoming school year based on what was called a success factor.
After a Monday meeting with its board of directors, the IHSA decided to delay the plan until the start of the 2015-16 school year.
“We’re real happy with it,” STM Principal Ryan Bustle said. “We think it’s the right thing to do because it’s a policy based on inequality. If you’re going to do it, you have to make the ruling for all those affected (including boundaried, or public, schools).”
Surprisingly, not all of the Sabers’ returning basketball players are jumping for joy at the news.
“I don’t agree with it,” senior-to-be Liz Bristow said. “I want more competition for our team. We can do damage in 2A, but we can do damage in 3A. It would have been a lot of fun.”
Bristow said her teammates had no inkling that a revision of the policy was in the works.
“None of us had any idea,” Bristow said. “We didn’t know it was even in question.”
The definition of inequality is what makes the subject a touchy issue. St. Joseph-Ogden boys’ basketball coach Brian Brooks, who is also the school’s principal, is aware of the divergent perspectives.
“What the public schools are looking for is a way to level the playing field somewhat,” Brooks said. “It’s apples and oranges when you compare boundaried and non-boundaried schools, which have a 30-mile radius they can draw from.
“It’s not that one way is right and one is wrong, but there’s a difference.”
Based on principles, Brooks isn’t an advocate of the formula used to determine which schools would be reclassified.
“It’s tough to penalize anyone for being successful,” Brooks said.
IHSA executive director Marty Hickman estimated that the original plan would have affected about 3 percent of the state’s high schools.
Among area programs, the only other one that would have been affected by the original ruling was Schlarman volleyball. The Hilltoppers won three regional titles in Class 1A during the past four years, including back-to-back sectional crowns. The school will now remain in 1A next fall.
“It’s not too much of a surprise,” Schlarman volleyball coach Heidi Crane said. “I didn’t know what it would take to implement the decision.”
The Hilltoppers play in a conference with several Class 2A schools and also face bigger schools in several of their regular season tournaments.
“In some ways, it wouldn’t be too different (to be in 2A),” Crane said. “We play 2A schools, so it wouldn’t be too drastic.”
Other area schools, however, also will be affected by the decision. For example, in wrestling, Lombard Montini has won seven consecutive Class 2A state titles but will remain in that division for at least another year, meaning schools such as Centennial, Champaign Central, Danville, Mahomet-Seymour, Rantoul, Urbana and Westville/Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Salt Fork will again need to go head-to-head against Montini during the postseason series next February.