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MSHSL alignments please B-G-MR, TRF athletic progams

Bigger isn't necessarily better. At least not when it comes to high school sports alignments. Minnesota recently completed its new section assignments for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. Programs are assigned to classes based on enrollments...

Bigger isn't necessarily better.

At least not when it comes to high school sports alignments.

Minnesota recently completed its new section assignments for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. Programs are assigned to classes based on enrollments.

Two area schools facing big changes are Thief River Falls and the Badger-Greenbush-Middle River co-op. In both cases, they're going from larger- to smaller-school divisions.

Thief River Falls will switch from Section 8AAA to 8AA in both boys and girls basketball, while its football program goes from 8AAAA to 8AAA.

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Badger-G-MR will switch from 8AA to 8A in boys and girls basketball.

"We're certainly pleased with the changes,'' B-G-MR athletic director Michael Underwood said. "I think it will give us a more competitive balance with the teams we'll be playing. We'll be playing similar sized schools and communities.''

Thief River Falls athletic director Mike Biermaier said geography is the biggest reason the Prowlers are looking forward to changes in basketball. In 8AAA, the Prowlers were aligned with schools such as Alexandria, Sauk Rapids, Sartell-St. Stephen and Little Falls. In 8AA, the competition is closer-Roseau, Warroad, Crookston, East Grand Forks Senior High, Bagley and others.

"We can travel to a lot of playoff games in an hour to an hour-and-a-half,'' Biermaier said. "Fans are more willing to make that drive than for a three-hour one-way drive that we could have in 8AAA.

"And we've played a lot of those 8AA teams. We've had good, competitive games. Now it ups the ante by becoming section rivals.''

From a competitive standpoint, Biermaier isn't sure there's a big difference between 8AA and 8AAA. Section 8AA girls basketball champion Roseau was undefeated and state champion; Biermaier said the Rams would have been one of the favorites had they been in 8AAA.

"Perham and Breckenridge would have been very competitive in 8AAA boys, too,'' Biermaier said. "There are really good teams in 8AA. And there are more natural rivals for us.''

But Underwood sees the switch from AA to A as being an advantage competitively for the Gators programs.

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We don't have the depth and the athletic talent pool that larger schools have,'' Underwood said. "Any time you have more kids to choose from, chances are you'll find more kids who are skilled and athletic.''

Biermaier does see enrollment numbers as a factor in football.

"On the football side, absolutely, we should be more competitive in 8AAA,'' Biermaier said. "I'm not saying we'll win a section title. But a lot of football comes down to numbers.''

Neither Underwood nor Biermaier knows what the switch from larger-school to smaller-school classifications will mean as far as win-loss records for their affected teams.

"Only time will tell,'' Underwood said.

New alignments

Here are changes in Section 8A and Section 8AA team assignments for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years in Minnesota. For teams leaving Section 8, their new assignments are in parenthesis.

8A baseball-In: Mahnomen-Waubun; out: Cass Lake-Bena (5A), Laporte (5A).

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8AA baseball-In: Pequot Lakes, Staples-Motley, Wadena-Deer Creek; out: Mahnomen-Waubun (8A), Pelican Rapids (6A).

8A boys and girls basketball-In: Badger-Greenbush-Middle River; out: none

8AA boys basketball: In: Thief River Falls, Osakis, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle; out: Badger-G-MR (8A), Frazee (6A), Pelican Rapids (6A).

8AA girls basketball-In: Thief River Falls, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle; out: Badger-G-MR (8A), Pelican Rapids (6A).

8AA boys and girls cross country-In: Foley; out: Willmar (2AA).

Section 8 9-man football-In: Lake of the Woods; out: Win-E-Mac (Section 6 9-man).

8A football-In: Cass Lake-Bena; out: Lake of the Woods (Section 8 9-man).

8AA football-In: Roseau; out: none.

8AAA football-In: Thief River Falls, Staples-Motley; out: Roseau (8AA), Aitkin (7AA).

8A boys hockey-In: None; out: Northern Lakes (5A).

8AA boys hockey-In: Monticello-A-ML; out: none.

8AA girls hockey-In: None; out: River Lakes (6A).

8A softball-In: Mahnomen-Waubun; out: none.

8AA softball-In: Pequot Lakes, Perham, Wadena-Deer Creek, Ottertail Central; out: Mahnomen-Waubun (8A), Frazee (6A), Pelican Rapids (6A).

8A girls swimming-In: None; out-Staples-Motley (6A).

8A boys and girls track-In: Rothsay; out: none.

8AA boys and girls track-In: Foley; out: none.

8A volleyball-In: Waubun; out: none.

8AA volleyball-In: Detroit Lakes; out: Barnesville (6A), Wadena-Deer Creek (6A).

8A wrestling-In: Fosston-Bagley; out: Dilworth-G-F (8AA), Park Rapids (8AA).

8AA wrestling-In: Dilworth-G-F, Park Rapids, Pierz; out: Fosston-Bagley (8A), Bemidji (8AAA), Ottertail Central (6A), Bertha-Hewitt-V-PP (6A), MAHACA (3AA).

No changes-8A boys and girls cross country; 8A boys and girls golf; 8AA boys and girls golf; 8A boys soccer; 8A girls hockey; 8A boys and girls tennis; 8AA boys and girls tennis.

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