Two Notre Dame sports will change classes
Colton Kelly wrestles at 195 pounds, during a match with Maine South's Mike White. The Notre Dame wrestling program is moving up to Class 3A this season after competing in Class 2A last season. | Vincent D. Johnson~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 6, 2012 11:42AM
NILES — A year after the Illinois High School Association reclassified several Notre Dame sports teams, only two Dons sports are scheduled to change classes during the 2012-13 school year.
In mid-June, the IHSA posted its list of enrollments and classifications for the upcoming year. According to the information on the association’s website, the Dons wrestling team will climb to Class 3A, where the largest schools compete, after competing last year in the 2A tournament.
Conversely, Notre Dame’s track team will drop down to 2A from 3A.
Notre Dame athletic director/football coach Michael Hennessey maintained all last year that Notre Dame accepts any IHSA changes, and the school never asked to be grouped with smaller schools in the postseason.
“We’ll say it again: It really doesn’t matter,’ ” he said. “(The IHSA) is going to dictate certain things and there is not a whole heck of a lot we can do but abide by it.”
In 2011, the IHSA revised its private-school multiplier system, deciding that some private schools would be classified not simply by enrollment figures, but by their successes or failure on the field. This waiver was designed to give programs a better chance of winning postseason championships.
Hennessey said his understanding is that classifications this year are based strictly on enrollment. For 2012-13 school year, Notre Dame is listed at 1,604.
In previous years, Notre Dame had been grouped almost exclusively among the larger schools. The IHSA “multiplied” the enrollment of the all-male private school to provide a better reflection of how it compared to co-ed public schools.
Last year, several Notre Dame teams dropped in class, due to lower enrollment and lack of success — winning regional titles or first-round football playoff games — during the previous five years.
The baseball went from 4A to 3A and soccer, wrestling and cross country were placed in 2A. Oddly enough, the Dons wrestling team was coming off a Class 3A regional title. Notre Dame went on to capture a Class 2A wrestling regional title this winter. Additionally, eight wrestlers advanced to the Class 2A state meet.
Head wrestling coach Augie Genovesi said the Dons might have registered comparable success in 3A.
“I think five of those eight would have gone down (in 3A), possibly all eight,” Genovesi said.
The coach said he’s happy to move back to 3A, but said there are plenty of tough matches in Class 2A postseason.
“You want to compete at the highest level,” he said. “When kids are wrestling for a state championship, whether it’s 2A or 3A, the kids are just as good. It would have been a pretty good dual meet to see the 2A champ face the 3A champ. It would be very competitive. Class 2A is competitive, it’s just not as deep.”
Wrestling and basketball are the two sports at the school that don’t qualify for a waiver and will play in the biggest class. Track was in that category last season, but now joins cross country in Class 2A.
Notre Dame baseball coach Nelson Gord said the switch in policy makes sense, because talent ebbs and flows and it’s difficult to group teams based on wins.
“In high school, it’s hard to predict the future of one program because every year the talent pool shifts,” he said. “You may have a strong group one year, (the program) gets bumped up, and then the group behind them is not so strong.”
Hennessey, meanwhile, said he would like to see teams placed in a class, and remain there.
“It should be something that’s steady, not something that fluctuates,” he said. “You should just be in a certain area (class), unless there is a devastating growth or decrease in enrollment.”
Hennessey’s football team plays in the East Suburban Catholic, one of the state’s most demanding conferences. Just reaching the state playoffs, which Notre Dame has done for six straight seasons, is a significant achievement. The coach said the schedule prepares his team to face any playoff opposition.
“If we’re 6A, or they move us again (in the future) and we’re fortunate enough to get in (the playoffs), we’ll play whomever they put us against,” he said