The past couple of years, coaches and student-athletes at Bishop Seabury Academy had grown to understand how their programs stacked up against their peers in Class 1A and what to expect from their competition in the postseason.
As of this week, though, the Seahawks will have to start familiarizing themselves with a different group of schools, because Seabury’s enrollment increase this fall kicked the small private school up to the 2A level.
The sports most affected by the change are those that had competed exclusively against 1A competition in the postseason — basketball, cross country, golf and volleyball. Sports such as soccer, tennis and swimming still will compete against a group of schools from various classes in the postseason. The football program, just rebooted this fall, has yet to play a full season and participate in postseason play.
Athletic director Eric Nelson said everyone involved in Seabury athletics is excited about the change.
“We wanted to be 2A, and we feel that being competitive over the last few years is one of the reasons the school has grown,” Nelson said.
Last fall, Seabury’s girls cross country team won the 1A state championship. In the following winter season, the Seahawks’ boys basketball team advanced to the 1A Div.-1 state tournament. In the spring, the girls swimming team took fifth at 5-1A state.
For the Seahawks now competing in the 2A playoffs, Nelson expects a slight increase in difficulty.
“I think the difference between 1A and 2A is primarily in the depth of the teams that we play,” Nelson said. “I think the athletes at 1A are as good as the ones in 5A or 6A, but there are usually fewer of them, and the bench isn’t quite as strong.”
The cross country teams will be the first at Seabury to have their depth tested since the school’s fall enrollment of 106 bumped it into the 2A range (101-158). In 1A, only a team’s top four runners figure into team scoring, but the fifth runner also counts for scoring in 2A. Seahawks coach Christi Douglas said she isn’t overly concerned with the impact of the change.
“We know the competition is different,” she said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that all the teams are better.”
Douglas said she hasn’t yet discussed winning a 2A state title with the girls who won the 2011 1A championship.
“The goal is to get to state — both the boys team and the girls team — and then once we’re there to have the best race we can have,” Douglas said.
Seabury boys basketball coach Ashley Battles, whose team lost to eventual 1A Div.-1 state champion Ashland in the first round of state, said the move to 2A shouldn’t be too much for the Seahawks.
“I think the perception is that 2A is better than 1A and 3A is better than 2A, but in basketball you only have five guys on the floor at any given time anyway,” Battles said. “It doesn’t affect us as much.”
The Seahawks routinely play against schools from various classes, and this winter’s schedule, Battles said, will include a number of 4A programs, so Seabury shouldn’t be overwhelmed in the postseason.
“The teams that make it to state, I don’t care if you’re 1A, 2A or 6A, they are legitimate teams,” Battles said, pointing to Seabury’s experience at the 2012 state tournament. “Ashland would’ve beat 90 percent of the teams that we played last year, if not all of them.”