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Marion, Goessel athletics join Hillsboro in 2A

Staff writer

Marion and Goessel high schools have a chance to test the myth that schools at the top of their athletic classifications dominate the schools at the bottom.

Marion has a history of going back and forth as one of the largest 2As or one of the smallest 3As.

“If you go up and look at the banners in the gym, we’ve been 2A off and on for several years,” said Tod Gordon, MHS principal and athletic director.

Marion dropped from 59th largest of 64 3A schools to second largest of 64 2As for all sports but football this academic year.

Goessel grew, moving up from ninth largest of 97 1A schools to 55th of 64 2As.

“It’s going to be more challenging, there’s no question about that,” said Brian Lightner, Goessel athletic director and cross country coach. “We’re now competing against schools that are a lot larger than us. We’ve usually been one of the larger schools in 1A, and now we’re one of the smaller schools in 2A. We have the numbers to put us in that classification, so that’s where we’ll compete and we’ll try to do the best and we’re here for the kids most of all.”

Hillsboro, which was the largest 2A school a year ago, moved to the third largest.

Two other schools in Marion County, Peabody-Burns and Lost Springs-Centre, remain 1A.

School classifications depend upon the number of high school students. Marion has 154, Hillsboro 152, Goessel 97, Peabody 81, and Centre 68. This year’s cutoff for the top of 2A was 156 students and 92 for the bottom.

The contest to watch will be 2A sub-state volleyball in Marion, which will include Marion, Hillsboro, and Goessel, as well as nearby schools Canton-Galva and Herington, among others.

Marion lost to the eventual state champion is last year’s 3A sub-state. While Hillsboro has had success in 2A, Goessel finished third last year after winning the 1A state tournament the year before.

Gordon said moving down a classification is better for students.

“You’d like to think it means, being at the top of a class versus at the very bottom of a class, it’s going to be better for kids,” Gordon said. “We’ve been kind of stuck on the bottom of 3A for quite a few years now, and Hesston as an example is 260 kids, and when you have basically 100 less kids, it does make a difference. I think that’s a good thing, we’re going to be the top school basically as far as size in 2A, and I think that can only be good.”

Lightner said Goessel has had three state champion teams in the last three years: volleyball, cross country, and scholars bowl. The classification change does not affect league competition, but it means Goessel will compete against schools with more than 1.5 times as many students.

“It will be more competitive and we’ll have to play at a higher level, but I have confidence in the coaches here that they will get the kids ready for what they’ll compete against,” he said. “And if we’re able to make it to state again, that’s great, and if not, we’ll hope the kids learned those lessons along the way about perseverance and hard work and communication.”

He said lessons learned, not athletic success, are most important to Goessel’s programs.

“So if we can be successful in the postseason, that’s great,” Lightner said, “but we want our kids to have a good experience and grow as individuals and grow as young adults and develop the skills that they need after high school most importantly.”

Last modified Oct. 5, 2017

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