Archive for Thursday, September 29, 2005

Lansing High sports to stay in Class 5A

Football will join other sports in larger classification in 2006 and 2007

September 29, 2005

Lansing High School's sports teams - with the exception of football - will compete in Class 5A postseason activities again this year, the Kansas State High School Activities Association announced Tuesday.

LHS officials knew it was possible that the school might drop back to Class 4A because Lansing was the smallest 5A school last year. Still, most believed the likelihood of that happening was slim.

"From what other schools were talking about regarding their enrollment, I thought we'd be 5A again," said Gary Mattingly, LHS activities director.

Schools are classified based on their enrollment of sophomores, juniors and seniors. Based on those numbers, Lansing will be the smallest 5A school again this year. It listed 522 students in grades 10-12. The next smallest 5A school is Paola, with an enrollment of 526. The largest 4A school was Augusta with 511 students.

Mattingly said that although Lansing's enrollment numbers have been on the rise in recent years, he wouldn't rule out the possibility of the school returning to 4A in the future.

"It just depends," he said. "We're growing, but other schools are being shifted in above us. When they grow and move ahead, that changes everything. We could stay borderline 4A-5A for a while."

Although Tuesday's announcement didn't change anything for LHS sports teams this year, it will shake things up for the football team next year. The KSHSAA uses a different classification method for football. Instead of using enrollment figures from grades 10-12, it uses enrollment figures from the freshmen, sophomore and junior classes to classify football. Football classifications are set in two-year intervals. Based on the new numbers, Lansing registered 552 students, making it the smallest 5A football school for the 2006 and 2007 seasons. Bonner Springs was the next smallest 5A football school with 562. The largest 4A footballs were Paola and Pittsburg with 547 apiece.

LHS football coach Bill Pekarek said he knew it was possible that his team could move to 5A, but he said he'd prefer to remain in 4A.

"We know we started with about 80 more students than we had last year and we were close (to moving up) last year," he said. "We were hoping somebody might be larger than us, but it didn't happen that way."

It's possible that the rise in class might not change much for the football team, however. Currently, the Lions play Kaw Valley League foes Basehor-Linwood, Piper and Bishop Ward in 4A district play.

KVL schools Bonner Springs and Mill Valley both are 5A in football, so there's a chance Lansing could be paired with them and one out-of-league school for their 5A district next year.

"That's what we're hoping for," Pekarek said. "Those are people that we're already playing, so it's not going to make it that much different if they're in our district."

There is a chance the Lions' schedule could receive a serious shakeup if Bonner and Mill Valley are placed in a different district, though.

"We could play in a completely different 5A district and maybe end up going west of Topeka or something like that," Pekarek said.

Pekarek said next year's district assignments would be handed out on Wednesday at the scheduling meeting in Salina.

Facing the reality that Lansing is growing and enrollment numbers were rising, Mattingly said the school had taken steps to prepare for playing larger schools. Part of that preparation has been beefing up schedules in recent years. In addition to playing 5A league foes Bonner and Mill Valley, Mattingly has arranged for Lansing's teams to play bigger schools. For example, last spring the girls' soccer team played defending 5A state champion Shawnee Heights and Class 6A school Olathe Northwest. Also, the volleyball team played 6A foe Shawnee Mission West earlier this year and will face powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas later this season.

"We've added some tougher competition in volleyball and other sports because you never know what class you might be," Mattingly said. "You've got to plan for it just in case."

MOVERS AND SHAKERS

A handful of schools changed classifications for this year. Blue Valley and Wichita-Haysville Campus jumped from 5A to 6A this year, and Emporia and St. Thomas Aquinas dropped from 6A to 5A.

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