MHSA Approves Classification, Conference Changes

Great Falls Central will drop to Class C, East Helena will swap conferences and West Yellowstone will join 6-Man football


BILLINGS — Great Falls Central will drop from Class B to Class C, the Montana High School Association decided during its executive board Zoom meeting on Monday.

Great Falls Central athletic director Jaime Stevens cited decreasing enrollment as the reason to move down. The Mustangs have teams in boys and girls basketball, boys and girls cross country, 8-Man football, boys and girls golf, softball, boys and girls track and field, volleyball and wrestling.

The MHSA also approved motions for Harlem to drop from Class B to 8-Man football and West Yellowstone to go from 8-Man to 6-Man.

Among multiple conference realignment decisions was the MHSA’s approval for East Helena to switch from the Southeast A to the Southwest A for every sport except soccer. The Vigilantes mainly wanted to change conferences because Helena is closer to more Western schools than Eastern ones, East Helena superintendent Ron Whitmoyer said during the meeting.

Last month, the MHSA postponed the start of winter sports because of the coronavirus pandemic. The first day of practice will be Dec. 7, swimming and wrestling can begin competition on Jan. 2 and basketball can start playing games on Jan. 5. No multi-team events will be allowed, and postseason sites/formats for wrestling and swimming are to be determined. The usual all-class state wrestling tournament in Billings might be split into separate sites. Fan attendance at regular season events will be determined by schools in consultation with local health departments.

On Monday, MHSA board members discussed other states’ approaches to winter high school seasons and mentioned the likelihood that the recent record numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations will increase the next couple months.

The MHSA will monitor Montana’s COVID situation as winter seasons get set to begin.

“Getting through the holidays is important,” MHSA executive director Mark Beckman said during Monday’s meeting.

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