5A to 4A: What it’s meant

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5A to 4A: What it’s meant

Maurice Strickland carries the ball as the Panthers play new competitor Arkansas High in a rain-delayed Saturday game.

Maurice Strickland carries the ball as the Panthers play new competitor Arkansas High in a rain-delayed Saturday game.

Maurice Strickland carries the ball as the Panthers play new competitor Arkansas High in a rain-delayed Saturday game.

Maurice Strickland carries the ball as the Panthers play new competitor Arkansas High in a rain-delayed Saturday game.

Koesha Davis, Journalist

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With MHS golf, swim, and basketball teams competing at state, the question is this: Has the switch from 5A to 4A helped or hurt?

At the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, Magnolia experienced a change in conference classification for all sports except football. Before the change, MHS was Class 5A in conference, but now Magnolia is Class 4A. Players and coaches say the change has been noticeable but not difficult.

The Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) runs high school sports in Arkansas. AAA was responsible for making Magnolia shift from 5A to 4A. Coach Trey LaValle, the assistant football coach, explained, “AAA decided on this 5A to 4A change because of population and school size.”

LaValle added that AAA organizes the conference classifications of each school by rank in order to ensure that each class has consistent numbers. Class 4A consists of a group of 48 Arkansas schools that are about the same size. Due to the size of the Panther football team, LaValle said it was not necessary for football to drop down to 4A with the other sports because the football team is too large for the Class 4A standards. Even staying 5A, the change did affect the Panthers’ schedule of competitors.

However, most MHS sports teams have had to play new teams that are 4A. For example, in volleyball Magnolia this year was in the 4A-West conference along with Arkadelphia, Camden, Bauxite, Fairview, Malvern, John L. McClellan, Mena, and Wilbur Mills. Some of the teams MHS had never played before.

Asked what it was like no longer playing in 5A, Brittany Yates, senior volleyball player, said, “It was a bit different, and the competition was different, but I think we adjusted well and played well as a team.”

For football, Magnolia played in the 5A-South conference this year, but all other sports competed in the 4A-8 conference with Crossett, Camden Fairview, Monticello, Hamburg, Star City, and Warren. Some of those teams were new competition.

Some athletes and teams said they have had to adjust to an extent, but some said they did not feel like there was a difference at all. Bradasha Chappel, senior basketball player, said, “There’s no difference between the two because they still come out and play hard just like the teams in 5A.”

Thomas Stough, senior cross country runner, said, “When it comes to running cross country, the only thing that matters is you and your own time, so the 5A to 4A change only changed the number of people and nothing else.”

Other athletes have just had a positive attitude about the change. Daniel Reyes, senior tennis player, said, “I felt alright about the change, and we went above and beyond and won district this year.”

Golfers competed at state, girls individually and boys as a team, and men’s swimming brought home the state championship earlier this week. The Lady Aquatic Panthers earned runner-up status, placing second at state.

The destiny of men’s basketball is still unfolding, as the 4A State Tournament opened today in Panther Arena with the Panthers set to claim home-court advantage at 2:30 p.m., Feb. 28.

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