Magnolia, Tyler Consolidated Dropping to Class A

WHEELING – Change in life is inevitable, but there are certainly ways to steer it in the desired direction. That’s the situation as the new West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission classifications were released Wednesday by the organization.

Locally, only two schools – Tyler Consolidated and Magnolia – are affected, as each saw its numbers decrease to the extent they are now classified as Class A schools, rather than Class AA, where the duo has resided for years.

The numbers, which are based off grades 9-12, show the Blue Eagles as the second-largest Class A school with 421 students, while the Silver Knights are fifth with 415.

It would seem as though Magnolia has a tough decision ahead. SSAC rules allow schools to ”play up” a classification if they so choose, but they must do so in all sports.

”The administration has been looking at this and (knew) it was coming,” Magnolia principal Kathi Schmalz said. ”I’m going to have a meeting, of course a very structured meeting, with our coaches and we will weigh the pros and cons.

”I talked to coaches who have given pros and cons on this issue, and everybody makes sense.”

Schmalz said Magnolia has been a Class AA school as long as she can remember, and noted the school has done just fine recently in athletic endeavors, despite decreasing enrollment.

”We’ve been able to go out and take on the bigger AA schools and even some AAA schools, and have been a contender just about everything we’ve done,” Schmalz said. ”We’ve never backed down from a good challenge.”

Schmalz also noted that this is, of course, a 2012 classification, so there is some time to evaluate everything. How much, though, she admitted to not knowing.

”Magnolia produces a really strong-minded athlete here,” she said. ”We love to take on the big dogs, and we rise to every challenge.

”It is for four years. Whatever we decide to do, we’re there for four years.

”We have to look down the line at the number of students we have coming up, and we’re not exactly having a population boom here.”

Right down the road at Tyler Consolidated, Athletics Director Ryan Walton simply sees it as the hand that has been dealt. What he’s most worried about is the scheduling aspect of things at this late date.

”Right now, the big thing is getting our football schedule taken care of,” he said. ”Where we’re at, Magnolia is still on the schedule and we’re trying to pick up some schools local to the county.

”We still have Ritchie County and Oak Glen is still on the schedule. It’s always a haul. With the number of kids that we have, we’re going to play with what kids we have.”

Another concern Walton has, it what happens during playoff time in sports outside of football?

”It will be interesting to see where the sectional and regional shake out,” he said. ”I have no idea where they’re going to put us.”

There was a lot of movement elsewhere, however. Most notably in terms of a local perspective, Point Pleasant, the top-ranked Class AA football school which plays host to Oak Glen on Saturday, will be a Class AAA school next year.

Others moving to Class AAA are Oak Hill, a perennial boys’ basketball contender, and Shady Spring.

Dropping from AAA to AA will be Bridgeport, which has fluctuated the last three times the state has been reclassified, North Marion, East Fairmont, Fairmont Senior, Nicholas County and Philip Barbour.

Greenbrier West and Sherman join Magnolia and Tyler Consolidated as those moving to Class A.

Always a concern of those outside the area, Wheeling Central (242) is almost right in the middle of Class A, with just five more kids than Cameron (237).