The Montana High School Association (MHSA) Executive Board approved a reclassification of Bigfork High School from Class B to Class A for athletics at its April 12 meeting. The change will go into effect in the 2023-2024 school year.
“People knew it was coming. Our numbers have been going up so it’s been a conversation over the last few years,” said Bigfork Activities Director Matt Porrovecchio. “But until MHSA made the final say it wasn’t solid and concrete. Now it’s real and we’ve got a year to prepare.”
The move will put the Viking and Valkyries in direct competition with the Flathead Valley’s two other Class A schools, Columbia Falls and Whitefish. Currently the Bigfork soccer program competes at the Class A level while the girls swim team is the only Class B school that competes in the Class A-B division at the state swim meet.
In 2021 and 2022, Bigfork’s swim team had podium finishes at state, while both of the school’s soccer teams qualified for the state tournament as No. 3 seeds from the conference.
MHSA Class A enrollment ranges from 301 to 800, after the MHSA board voted for a slight adjustment in November. According to data from the Office of Public Instruction, Bigfork’s 2021 spring enrollment was 310, and classification changes are based on two consecutive years of enrollment figures.
Bigfork was previously a Class A school from 1996 until the fall of 2009, when it was reclassified to B. In 2017, both Libby and Ronan were bumped up to Class A, and along with Browning, Polson and both Flathead Valley schools, make up the Class A Northwest Conference for all sports (soccer is technically called the “northern division”) except swimming and cross country.
“In the end, we’ve been competitive in Class A before, we’ve been competitive in Class B and we’ll continue to be competitive,” Porrovecchio said. “Regardless of classification, the aim is the same. You put great coaches with great kids and hope they have valuable experiences. We want our kids to be competitive, but ultimately we want them to be better young adults when they leave.”
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