It’s probably too soon to tell, but a pair of changes enacted by the Indiana High School Athletic Association could be a big benefit to Columbus schools.
The big news coming from Indianapolis last week centered on the IHSAA adding a sixth class to its football tournament. Class 5A as it is now essentially was being divided in half beginning in the 2013-14 school year. The 32 largest schools will become 6A, and the next 32 biggest will stay in 5A.
That could be good for Columbus East and good or bad for Columbus North.
North is ranked 32nd in enrollment, which means it could be the smallest school in Class 6A. Or, if schools below continue to grow, the Bull Dogs could be one of the largest in 5A.
East is in a little more interesting situation. The Olympians are currently the 66th-largest school in the state, making them one of the biggest in Class 4A.
The interesting factor that may come into play lies in another facet the IHSAA added to class sports — the success factor. Teams earn one point for a sectional title, two points for a regional, three for a semistate and four for a state championship. If a team accumulates six points in a sport during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years, it moves up a class in that sport.
East has been to the football semistate four times in the past eight years, falling to Indianapolis Roncalli in 2004 and Indianapolis Cathedral in 2006, 2008 and 2011. Cathedral, with its 4A state title last fall, already has four points, so if the Irish win at least a regional this season, they would move up to 5A next year.
The absence of Cathedral in 4A would make the Olympians’ path to the state championship easier unless defending 3A state champion Indianapolis Chatard wins at least a regional and moves up to 4A.
East, at No. 18 overall, was the second highest-rated 4A team in the Sagarin Ratings last year behind No. 4 Cathedral. Chatard and North were tied at No. 12.
Another change that didn’t garner as much statewide attention came with the realignment of the boys and girls cross-country tournament beginning this fall. No longer will North and East go through the Carmel Semistate to get to the state finals. If they advance that far, they’ll go to the Brown County Semistate.
While Carmel is widely regarded as, by far, the toughest of the four semistates, it hasn’t been a problem for the Bull Dogs. They’ve won three consecutive boys semistate and state titles and the boys and girls have each advanced to state five years in a row.
North, however, lost the nucleus of those teams to graduation and could be rebuilding this fall. The Bull Dogs lost their top four boys runners and six of the top eight girls runners and may have had a tougher time making it out of Carmel this fall. But going through Brown County, which is generally regarded as the weakest of the semistates, North should continue to make annual state finals appearances; and if East can return to its running heyday, it could challenge for state berths.
It should be an exciting fall for local cross-country teams and exciting 2013 for local cross-country squads.
Ted Schultz is a sports reporter for the Republic. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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