PIERRE — Andes Central/Dakota Christian, Bon Homme, Hanson and Sanborn Central/Woonsocket moving up from Class B to Class A for most sports is among the major changes to the South Dakota High School Activities Association’s classification process for 2021-22.

Those moves affect boys and girls basketball, track and field and volleyball and the SDHSAA Board of Directors approved all classifications and regions on first reading during their meeting on Wednesday.

In all, eight schools are moving up from Class B to Class A, with two schools — Aberdeen Roncalli and Miller — moving down from Class A to Class B. Schools with more than 90 students for average daily membership, or ADM, are slotted into Class A, while schools with fewer than that mark are placed in Class B.

The jumps in class could be temporary if schools had a one-year jump in enrollment because the SDHSAA has made 2021-22 a one-year classification cycle to better align with neighboring states’ realignment periods. The reclassification period will take place again next year, with new classes drawn for 2022-23 and 2023-24.

Andes Central/Dakota Christian's Mackenzie Muckey drives through the Kimball/White Lake defense during a Region 6B semifinal basketball game Feb. 25 at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Andes Central/Dakota Christian's Mackenzie Muckey drives through the Kimball/White Lake defense during a Region 6B semifinal basketball game Feb. 25 at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)

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Hanson (95.556) and Bon Homme (95.443) have the second and third-highest ADM figures among the new schools joining Class A, only behind Dupree (96.832). Together, Sanborn Central and Woonsocket have an ADM of 93.099, while Andes Central and Dakota Christian have an ADM of 92.652 as a co-op.

Bon Homme is the only one of those four schools/teams that has a recent history in Class A, which is where they were classified until two years ago.

SDHSAA Assistant Executive Director John Krogstrand said there has been more movement than normal, particularly with schools from B to A. SDHSAA Executive Director Dan Swartos explained that the region alignment process includes drawing the regions based on a blank map with dots representing the schools, with the attempt of removing towns or school names to treat regions as fairly as possible.

Region 5A, which is centered in the Mitchell area, will now include ACDC, Bon Homme, Hanson, Mount Vernon/Plankinton, SCW and Wagner. Currently, Region 5A has just six teams and because of the new schools coming in, three current members are moving out. Madison and McCook Central/Montrose will join Region 3A with Baltic, Dell Rapids, Garretson, Sioux Falls Christian, Tri-Valley and West Central. Parker is also currently in Region 5A and will move to Region 4, joining the Class A schools in the southeast corner of the state.

Another key change in Class A is moving Winner from Region 7 to 6, where they will be part of an eight-team region that includes Chamberlain, Cheyenne-Eagle Butte, Crow Creek, McLaughlin, Mobridge-Pollock and Stanley County, along with Class A newcomer Dupree.

Other Class B teams moving to Class A in basketball and volleyball include Deubrook Area, Elkton-Lake Benton and Great Plains Lutheran, all moving into Region 2A.

Krogstrand pointed out that most current regions in Class A are six or seven teams and the newcomers to the class will create more seven- and eight-team regions.

The trickle-down impact to Class B includes Bridgewater-Emery and Canistota moving from Region 5B to Region 4B, joining Chester Area, Colman-Egan, Dell Rapids St. Mary, Ethan, Howard, Mitchell Christian, Oldham-Ramona/Rutland and Sioux Falls Lutheran.

Region 5B for next season will include Alcester-Hudson, Centerville, Freeman, Freeman Academy/Marion, Gayville-Volin, Irene-Wakonda, Menno, Scotland and Viborg-Hurley.

Region 6B sees one new school, with Wessington Springs moving from Region 3B. That alignment will now include Avon, Burke, Colome, Corsica-Stickney, Gregory, Kimball/White Lake, Marty, Platte-Geddes and Tripp-Delmont/Armour. Lyman remains in the 10-team Region 7B located West River with no changes.

The other major change is in Class AA with Sioux Falls Jefferson starting classes in fall 2021, that division climbs to 19 schools now in most sports and to 15 schools in gymnastics.

Canistota/Freeman's Isiah Robertson makes a cut while following his blocker Collin Helma on Howard's Lane Miller during a Class 9A semifinal football game on Friday in Howard. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Canistota/Freeman's Isiah Robertson makes a cut while following his blocker Collin Helma on Howard's Lane Miller during a Class 9A semifinal football game on Friday in Howard. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Three-time defending champion Canistota/Freeman moves to Class 9AA football

With new lines being drawn in 11-man football and being discussed for most of the last two years, Wednesday’s approval of alignments was a formality.

The biggest area change comes in Class 9AA, where three-time defending champions Canistota/Freeman will move up from Class 9A. The co-op played in Class 9AA for one year in 2016 and dropped to 9A in 2017 and won three championships as the Pride in 2018, 2019 and 2020. They will be placed in a region with Garretson — which is moving from Class 11B to 9AA — Chester Area, Hanson and Viborg-Hurley. Bon Homme, Lyman, Parkston and Platte-Geddes would join Stanley County (which is also moving from 11B) and White River in 9AA Region 3.

Class 11AAA will include nine schools from the Sioux Falls and Rapid City metropolitan areas with the inclusion of Sioux Falls Jefferson. In Class 11AA, Aberdeen Central and Watertown move down from 11AAA and Tea Area joins from Class 11A to make an 11-team class that includes Mitchell.

The new Class 11A division includes 15 teams with Chamberlain now back in 11A after six years out of what has traditionally been that division. The Cubs played in Class 11A from 2011 to 2015 before moving to Class 11B. Belle Fourche, Canton, Custer, Dakota Valley, Dell Rapids, Lakota Tech, Lennox, Madison, Milbank, Sioux Falls Christian, Sisseton, Tri-Valley, Vermillion and West Central make up the rest of 11A.

Class 11B has 29 teams in it, up five from the 24 teams in the class for the 2020 season. Newcomers include Baltic, Clark/Willow Lake, Dakota Hills (which is a co-op of Wilmot, Waubay and Summit), Deuel, Hill City, the newly formed co-op of Menno and Scotland (which intends to play as Jim River), Parker, Rapid City Christian and Tripp-Delmont/Armour/Andes Central/Dakota Christian. TDAACDC will move up from Class 9A, while Scotland/Menno’s appeal to stay in Class 9AA was denied earlier this year.

Other area teams remaining in Class 11B include Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan, McCook Central/Montrose, Mount Vernon/Plankinton, Wagner, Winner and Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central.

The rest of the nine-man classes will look similar to recent years for area teams. Howard will stay in Class 9A and will be grouped with Colman-Egan, De Smet, Oldham-Ramona/Rutland and Wolsey-Wessington in Region 2. In Region 3 of 9A football, Burke, Centerville, Gregory, Irene-Wakonda and Kimball/White Lake will comprise a region.

In Class 9B, Region 2 will include Alcester-Hudson, Avon, Corsica-Stickney, Dell Rapids St. Mary, Gayville-Volin and Sioux Falls Lutheran, while Region 3 will include Colome, Jones County, Potter County, Sully Buttes and Sunshine Bible Academy.