Wapahani volleyball coach Mike Lingenfelter responded with a “Wow” in a clearly irritated tone Friday as he digested how with one vote the IHSAA Executive Committee potentially rocked the volleyball landscape in East Central Indiana.
The Executive Committee voted 16-2 in favor of adopting a measure for a two-year tournament success factor in all team sports that utilize a multi-class system (baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball and volleyball).
On a sport-by-sport basis, each team will tally one point for a sectional championship, two points for a regional championship, three points for a semistate title and four points for a state title. Any team that scores six points in a two-year span moves up in class for the next two-year cycle.
The first cycle for the new measure is the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years. The only two sports with area teams potentially impacted in the next cycle by this measure are volleyball with three defending state champions and softball with two regional champs.
“I think it’s really centered on football private schools and really setting up some parity there,” Wes-Del volleyball coach Biff Wilson said, “and I think we all just got caught up in the crosshairs.”
Parochial, or private, schools accounted for four of the five state football champions and two of the four boys basketball state winners this past school year.
“What I find interesting about it is they’re not even willing to consider separating parochial from public,” Yorktown volleyball coach Stephanie Bloom said. “I’m not sure parochial and public schools are on an even playing field. I think it’s interesting they’re concerned with one school dominating, but they’re not concerned with separating those types of schools.”
The Yorktown (Class 3A), Wapahani (2A) and Wes-Del (A) volleyball teams all won state championships last year, which means they enter next season with four points already accrued. If those three teams so much as win a regional title in 2012, they will be bumped up a class for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.
Both Wes-Del and Yorktown graduated a wealth of talent, so for either to win a sectional title, let alone a regional title, will be a significant challenge. Wapahani, however, will be loaded and the favorite to repeat as Class 2A state champion. If the Raiders live up to expectations, they will be a 3A program for the following two seasons and will possibly be grouped then in a sectional with Central, Delta and Yorktown.
“The 3A is so tough around our area,” Lingenfelter said. “… You could be looking at a 3A sectional with Yorktown, Delta, Central and either Burris or Wapahani. That’s where it really impacts your community. You’ve got four teams that would be in the top 10 of the state overall possibly, and three of them are going to go home after sectional. That’s amazing.”
IHSAA Sports Information Director Jason Willie said a team that is bumped up in class would remain in that class only for a two-year cycle unless the team opts to stay in that class when the new cycle starts. For example, if Wapahani moved up to 3A in volleyball and failed to accumulate six points in the next cycle, the Raiders would then drop back down to 2A. But if Wapahani tallied six points as a 3A, the Raiders would then be in 4A for the following cycle.
Lingenfelter referred to the new measure as the “Burris rule.” The Owls won 14 consecutive Class 2A state titles before Wapahani snapped their streak last season.
Burris coach Thanh Harnish expressed the same shock as Lingenfelter that the measure passed.
“They might as well just go to one class — one championship,” Harnish said. “If that’s the way it’s going to be, eventually if all of us continue to be strong, we’ll all end up being together.”
The IHSAA Executive Committee shot down a proposal from football coaches that sectionals be seeded in that sport. Bloom said sectional seeding holds merit for volleyball. She pointed out that six of the top 10 teams in Class 3A last year were divided between two sectional sites.
What concerns Bloom most about the new measure is how it affects her scheduling strategy. The Yorktown coach loads up her schedule each year with the best Class 3A programs to prepare her team for what looms in the state tournament. Wilson follows the same strategy by scheduling top Class A programs for his Warriors. Neither wants to be in a situation where they move up in class and then play a schedule chock full of teams from a lower class in the following season.
“The hard part about that is you don’t change your schedule every single year,” Bloom said, “so I don’t have an opportunity to give my kids an opportunity to look at potential 4A state contenders, because we don’t have room in our schedule. People can’t mix and match their schedule every single year.”
All of the volleyball coaches cited the cyclical nature of high school sports, especially at schools with smaller enrollments, as reasons they are concerned about the new measure. Winchester boys basketball is a prime example. Tyler Koch, Brock Morrison and company led the Golden Falcons to back-to-back Class 2A state finals in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons. Winchester has won a regional title and three sectional championships in the four seasons since, but it hasn’t put a 2A state championship caliber team on the court, let alone 3A, since Koch graduated in 2009.
“Everybody rotates in cycles,” Lingenfelter said. “Now you’re penalized for having a good cycle, and you’re tortured during a bad one. If people are saying that people are recruiting now, people are going to have to go out of their minds. They’re going to have to recruit like crazy. That way when you have a bad cycle you can still stay adrift. Let’s say Wes-Del has a bad cycle and now they’re with Burris and (Wapahani in 2A). That’s brutal.
“I don’t agree with it. I don’t agree with anything that goes in a two-year cycle. I think it’s going to promote an awfully lot of things that you don’t want promoted.”
IHSAA approves sixth football class
The IHSAA Executive Committee approved a portion of an Indiana Football Coaches Association proposal to expand to a sixth class for the football state tournament beginning in the 2013-14 school year. The current Class 5A will be split in two with the 32 schools with the largest enrollment moved up to 6A.
The measure will have no impact on the 12 football programs in East Central Indiana. None of them play in a class larger than 4A.
The IHSAA Executive Committee voted down a proposal to seed sectionals and a proposal for a four-year tradition factor as opposed to the two-year measure that passed by a 16-2 vote.
Girls basketball state finals staying put
The IHSAA Executive Committee unanimously approved (18-0) a proposal to return the girls basketball state finals to the Hulman Center in Terre Haute, Ind. The one-year contract states the four class state championship games will be played March 2 in that venue. The Hulman Center hosted the girls basketball state finals last season.