Clay Battelle, Local Sports, Morgantown, Preston, Sports, Trinity Christian, University

Preston in AAAA, Trinity down to A after WVSSAC reclassification

MORGANTOWN — On December 20, the WVSSAC approved the implementation of a four-class system for the sports of football, boys’ and girls’ basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, and cheerleading.

Boys’ and girls’ basketball has been four classes for multiple years, but will also feel a change as the SSAC has also announced the reclassification of schools within the state.

With the four-class system will also come realignment, with some schools moving up to a higher class and some dropping down to a lower one.

The factors of the scoring system that was used to determine each school’s class were broken down into three categories: location, enrollment and economic. Location and economic scores made up 10% each (20 total), while the enrollment number of each school made up 80% of the score.

Morgantown High School was the highest-rated school on the list with a total score of 94.6. This was determined by an enrollment score of 1.00 (scaled 0.00-1.00), a location score of 0.99, and an economic score of 0.47. For a school like MHS, its classification didn’t come with any shock or question. With the highest enrollment numbers and being located in one of the busiest cities in the state, it wasn’t a surprise the MHS was in Class AAAA or even at the top of the list.

“We are where we thought we would be,” MHS athletic director John Bowers said. “Any way we can close the enrollment mark from top to bottom in each class is a good thing. Hopefully scheduling AAAA schools will be a reality for us.”

For one of the schools with the smallest enrollment in the state, Trinity Christian, the realignment will see it drop from Class AA to Class A when the implementation takes effect at the beginning of the 2024-2025 school year. With less than 100 students, Trinity AD and boys basketball coach Codey Horton said he proposed for TCS to move to Class A as early as April of this year, and is happy to be able to take on a new challenge.

“We have 80 kids, and for some sports like basketball and soccer, we’ve been blessed to be competitive, but for other sports like track and cross-country, it’s difficult,” Horton said. “It’s a big morale booster for our athletes also. I talked to the SSAC back in April to try and move down before the reclassification because we were at 70 kids and there were a lot of variables. I was able to give my two cents then.”

While MHS, University and Preston will all remain in Class AAAA, they may all be affected by schools within their sections and region. For example, Bridgeport High School will drop down to Class AAA from Class AAAA, meaning UHS and Preston will have a different team joining them in their section in Region 1.

When it comes to Preston County, the SSAC scored PHS with a 61.2 total score (0.61 enrollment, 0.70 location, 0.52 economic) to remain in Class AAAA. Preston High School is the only high school in the entire county of more than 600 square miles. PHS athletic director Mitch Channell says that he is slightly disappointed in the decision.

“We were told that they (SSAC) were doing everything to keep schools like us (rural, spread out, low socioeconomic score) from being in the same classification as the larger schools. We correlate more closely to the bottom of AAA than we do to the top of AAAA. The WVSSAC did not speak to me nor ask for my input, and I believe several schools were unfairly placed, both for their benefit and not.”

Clay-Battelle will remain unchanged in Class A, but like the local schools in Class AAAA, may see some change in its section and region.

The new four-class system will begin to take effect in the 2024-2025 school year.

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