By Lenny C. Lepola
For The Gazette
An press release issued by Tim Stried, Director of Information Services with the Ohio High School Athletic Association, caused a stir statewide earlier this month.
Stried wrote that the OHSAA board of directors approved new divisional assignments last Thursday based on updated school enrollment figures that do not include charter school, community school and STEM school students in the public schools where they reside.
Divisional assignments for the next two-year cycle had originally been approved in June, but at its meeting last Thursday the board reversed an earlier decision to include those students in public school enrollment counts, resulting in a recalculation of divisional dividing lines based on the updated enrollment figures.
Enrollment numbers of eligible boys and girls in school districts, using grades 9, 10 and 11, is completed by the OHSAA every two years to determine statewide divisional alignments in public school athletics.
On Monday, Big Walnut High School athletic director Brian Shelton issued a statement with new division assignments for Big Walnut athletic teams using the OHSAA’s adjusted numbers — boys 388, girls 329.
“The recent changes by the OHSAA had a big impact on many of our sports because we’re so close to the cutoff lines,” Shelton said. “Football, volleyball, girls basketball, and softball were all impacted by this decision.”
In fall season sports, as per the new divisional assignments, Big Walnut football and girls soccer are Division II; boys soccer, volleyball, golf, boys and girls cross country, and girls tennis are Division I sports.
Shelton said all 2015-16 winter sports at Big Walnut are now Division I — boys and girls basketball, swimming, wrestling, and bowling. Gymnastics is still in question, but will probably be D-I.
During the 2016 spring season Big Walnut’s only Division II team will be softball; baseball and boys and girls track will be DI, and boys and girls lacrosse will probably be Division I.
“The numbers were close,” Shelton said. “We’re living on the edge. Any OHSAA divisional adjustment has a big impact on us. Girls soccer and softball both remained Division II by one girl; girls basketball became Division I by one girl.”
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093