Right where they belong

Jeff Gilliland

Jeff Gilliland

Back in June, I wrote a column complaining about how unfair it seems that Hillsboro High School athletes in sports like soccer, golf, and track and field have to compete in Division I, where some schools have four times the number of athletes that Hillsboro has.

I mentioned that I asked Tim Stried, director of information services for the Ohio High School Athletic Association, around that time if the OHSAA had considered the plight schools like Hillsboro find themselves in when trying to compete in Division I. I also said Hillsboro often finds itself right on the dividing line between Division I and Division II. But that is not entirely accurate, especially when it comes to girls sports.

On Aug. 13, the OHSAA Board of Directors approved new divisional assignments 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 August meeting the OHSAA reversed an earlier decision to include those students in public school enrollment counts, resulting in recalculation of divisional dividing lines based on the updated enrollment figures.

As I got to looking at the new figures, it was interesting to see the new figures for Highland County’s five public schools. Those figures are based on the enrollment of students with athletic participation opportunities in grade 9, 10, and 11 as of Oct. 31, 2014.

Here are the local figures on the boy’s side of the ledger: Hillsboro 281, McClain 225, Lynchburg-Clay 134, Fairfield 96, and Whiteoak 77.

And on the girls side: Hillsboro 324, McClain 204, Lynchburg-Clay 132, Fairfield 96, and Whiteoak 69.

Why Hillsboro has so many girls in what would now be grades 10, 11, and 12, I have no idea. But for some reason Hillsboro is the only Highland County school with more girls (as of last October) in grades 9-11 than boys – and it’s a lot more.

Hillsboro had 120 more girls than McClain, the next largest school. The 120 are more than all the girls at Fairfield or Whiteoak, and nearly as many as Lynchburg-Clay.

Is there something in the water?

I don’t know about that, but I do know that according to the new numbers, my criticism of the OHSAA for placing Hillsboro in Division I in some sports was pretty much unfounded.

For instance, in girls volleyball there are four divisions. Schools with 181-326 girls in the respective grades were placed in Division II. That means that if Hillsboro had three more girls, it would be Division I in volleyball.

Let’s take a look at the specific sports I mentioned back in June.

In girls soccer, there are three divisions. Any school with 330 or more girls is in Division I, so once again Hillsboro barely qualifies for Division II.

In girls golf, there are two divisions. Schools with 273 or more girls are in Division I, so with 324 Hillsboro is solidly a Division I school.

In girls track and field, there are three divisions. Schools with 287 or more are in Division I, so once again Hillsboro is clearly a Division I school.

And, consider this, if Hillsboro had four more girls, it would be Division I in basketball; and if it had one more girl it would be Division I in diving and swimming.

After reviewing those numbers it seems the OHSAA’s cutoff lines have been very kind to Hillsboro.

The boys lines are a little different.

Football is the only OHSAA sport with seven divisions. Yeah, I know, seven state champions in the same sport seems a bit unnatural, doesn’t it? But a year or so ago the OHSAA recognized that some schools in Ohio are really big, and it wasn’t fair to have them compete in the same division with other schools. So, the OHSAA has 72 football schools in Division I; 107 schools in Divisions II through VI; and 109 in Division VII.

There’s also the argument that there should be completely different divisions for the Catholic schools, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Let’s get back to the boys side of things and see where Hillsboro falls in the previously mentioned sports.

In boys golf, there are three divisions. Schools with 272 or more boys are Division I, so Hillsboro, with 281 in the respective grades, is in Division I. That seems somewhat fair, until you consider that at least one school has more than 1,100 kids in the respective grades, and others are near that number.

In boys soccer, there are three divisions. Schools with 342 or more boys are in Division I, so Hillsboro is a solid Division II.

In boys track and field, there are three divisions. Schools with 293 or more boys are in Division I, so Hillsboro gets to drop back to Division II there.

If you’re interested in more of the figures, you can find all the division breakdowns at http://www.ohsaa.org/members/sptdivis15.htm.

I still think it would be more fair, especially in the more individual sports, if the divisions were divided by the number of student-athletes in each sport, rather than the number of schools. But, there’s the fact that even in the more individual sports like golf, wrestling, tennis, and track and field, teams still compete for team championships. So, in that case, I guess that dividing the schools by the number of them in each division might be the way to go.

What all this nonsense means I really don’t know. And where in the world did all these Hillsboro females come from? But I can tell you this. Numbers don’t lie. So face it all you Hillsboro fans, myself included, who have complained about your Indians being lumped in Division I. Looks like Hillsboro better pull its big boy pants on because the numbers say the Indians are right where they belong.

Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.

Jeff Gilliland
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