MHSAA reclassification pushes Fruitport to Class A

If Nicole Bayle and the Fruitport volleyball program win their third-straight state championship next fall, the Trojans won't be hoisting a Class B trophy.
Nate Thompson
Mar 28, 2012

That’s because Fruitport was recently reclassified by the Michigan High School Athletic Association, meaning the Trojans will move from Class B to Class A for the 2012-13 school year in “traditional classified sports” — those designated as Class A, B, C, or D — such as volleyball and boys and girls basketball.

Fruitport athletic director Ken Erny said the Trojans will move up despite its district losing 10 students from last season’s student count.

Fruitport dipped from 939 to 929 in counts that were held in February 2011 and 2012.

“Unfortunately, there were about 20-25 schools who dropped right behind us,” Erny said. “It’s a pure indication that student numbers across the state are spreading out.

“It wasn’t a great surprise (that we’re now in Class A), but we thought we could still have a chance at remaining at B,” he added.

The new cutline for the Class A classification for 2012-13 is 911 and above. Fruitport was above that mark by just 18 students.

Erny said that in 2002, the cutline for Class A was 1,026 students. The last time Fruitport was pushed up to Class A was in the 1996-97 school year, when the Trojans were just one student above the cutline.

Another school that will be affected by next year’s reclassification is Muskegon Heights, which will move from Class B to Class C. That switch could have huge ramifications in boys basketball, where the Tigers have dominated the Class B district for more than a decade. Schools such as Spring Lake, Whitehall, Orchard View or Oakridge now have an opportunity to end their district title drought next winter.

“Of course the year that Heights moves out, so do we,” Erny joked.

Instead, Fruitport and its basketball teams could very well end up battling schools in the district tournament like Grand Haven, or Muskegon-area schools Muskegon High, Reeths-Puffer and Mona Shores.

Erny said district assignments typically aren’t decided until after the summer by the MHSAA.

In volleyball, Fruitport must replace three seniors who earned all-state honors a year ago – setter Lauren Hazekamp, outside hitter Bre Geile and defensive specialist Amber Carmean — so making a jump to Class A only makes a third-straight title run that much more challenging.

“But (winning in Class A) would add to the aura of it all,” Erny said. “They obviously play a lot of those bigger schools already. Now they’re going to see them in the postseason.”

Erny said he expected Fruitport’s athletic teams that compete in divisions — such as football and soccer — would remain unchanged.

At Spring Lake, varsity boys basketball coach Bill Core isn’t sorry to see the Tigers of Muskegon Heights drop down a class.

“In my 11 years, we’ve lost to Heights in the district seven times, and they’ve made it to the Breslin four of those years,” Core said. “In fact, they’ve won the district all 11 years I’ve been here. I’m not saying it’ll be a cakewalk now, but I don’t care where they send us, it won’t be like having Muskegon Heights in our district.”

Core leaned of Heights’ move at an all-area basketball meeting last week.

“Bill Andree from Fruitport came in and looked at me and said, ‘Hey, we’re not in your district anymore. We’re moving up to Class A,’” Core said. “Then he said, ‘Heights isn’t in your district anymore, either. They’re moving to C,’ and I said, ‘What?’ I had a big smile on my face and a couple coaches were patting me on the back.

“I’m not going to lie; there’s obviously some excitement that they’re moving to a different class.”

Core said he went home and immediately e-mailed Lakers’ volleyball coach Sarah Bulthuis and told her about Fruitport moving to Class A.

“They’ve had a tough district every year with Fruitport in it,” Core said.
 

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