Tuesday, March 20, 2007

High School League Redraws Sections

Also in our "somewhere in the pile on our desk" department ...

... is news that the Minnesota State High School League has redrawn its state-qualifying sections for next school-year and beyond. Section assignments were determined, the MSHSL explained, by school enrollment and activity classifications, and by using these methods to determine classification.

You can check out the groupings for each MSHSL sport by clicking here. (You can even see maps!) There's been an interesting discussion of the implications of the changes in cross country on Dyestat's Minnesota forum.

Half Way There?

Last fall, I wrote this "Editor's Comment" in Minnesota Running & Track about problems I saw with the MSHSL's State Cross Country Meet qualifying system. Basically, I saw the MSHSL's 16-team, two-from-each-section, formula as unfair to too many good teams which often cluster in strong sections.

It is true that the newly redrawn sections, had they been in force last year, would have resulted in a more representative State Meet in the especially problematic Boys Class AA division. Last year, you'll remember, only seven of the top thirteen teams in the final coaches' poll in Boys Class AA made it to State.

Using a quick-and-dirty method whereby ranked team's beat unranked teams (based on the post-section-meet polls) in the redrawn sections, 10 of the top-13 ranked teams teams make it to State through the new sections. Wayzata (#4), Roseville (#10), and Burnsville (#11) moved on in the new qualifying environment.

-- Wayzata made it because they were 2nd in a Rosemount-free 6AA.

-- Roseville qualified in a Mounds View-less 4AA

-- Burnsville moved on behind Rosemount from their new 3AA neighborhood.

No ranked teams that made it to State in 2006 would fail to advance with the new section alignment.

Still on the outside looking in, however: #5 Hopkins, #8 Edina, and #13 Moorhead.

-- Hopkins ends up 3rd in 6AA -- behind Eden Prairie and Wayzata -- despite the #5 state ranking.

-- Ditto Edina -- 4th in 6AA despite being the state's #8 in the poll.

-- Moorhead, at #13, still finishes behind Brainerd and Alexandria in an unchanged-at-the-top 8AA.

So, the fundamental problem still lurks ... If you're a really good team (like Hopkins and Edina in "virtual 2006") in a super-good section (like 6AA in "virtual 2006") you can still get left out of State when you deserve to go.

I think the MSHSL still needs to find a way to offer spots on the starting line at State to strong teams from demonstrably strong sections who are still likely to be left out of the most important meet of the season despite the new sectional changes.

The best teams in the state deserve the best from the MSHSL.


Chad said...

What about a handful of "at-large" bids?

Charlie said...

As I offered in that old MnR&T column, I think some sort of committee-chosen "at large" entries into the meet or a system whereby strong sections can earn extra teams for themselves by virtue of their finishes at the previous years' State Meet would be an answer. Neither is perfect; both are better than what we have. Also, with only 16 teams on the State Meet starting line as is, you could add those extra teams without taking anything away from the weaker regions who would be likely to fight the move if it meant losing teams slots.