All Leavenworth athletics, save for football, are reclassified to 5A effective immediately.
Thursday marked the end of an era in Leavenworth sports, as well as a new beginning.
As of two days ago, all Pioneer athletics except for football are no longer in class 6A, but now 5A. The change, handed down from the Kansas State High School Activities Association, is effective immediately.
"We are very excited about being in a classification of schools closer to our class size," said Shawn Terry, Leavenworth's athletic director. "It's going to move us into a closer and more competitive district and regionals such as the Topeka, Emporia, Kansas City regions."
The driving force behind Leavenworth's demotion is the school's enrollment, which currently stands at 1333. That number is the highest in 5A, yet was the lowest in 6A. The Pioneers were the only local school to be reclassified and presently, the move will have no effect on its status within the Sunflower League.
"If you compare it to the EKL (Class 6A Eastern Kansas League), there are several 5A schools in that league," Terry said. "Shawnee Mission South, who is in the Sunflower League also, was sent to 5A as well."
As far as scheduling goes, not much will change for the foreseeable future except postseason play. That will have ramifications pretty quickly for girls' golf and tennis, which have regional play in the upcoming weeks.
"It really has no effect on our schedule until the last five games of the year," LV basketball coach Larry Hogan said. "We still play in what is considered one of the best leagues in the state. Our tournaments are top quality competition — the best we can find. The 5A competition will be very challenging and we are looking forward to the new challenges."
Football is not included in the move as the sport has its own reclassification schedule. Another product of the shift is that now Leavenworth and Lansing are both in the same class, which could lead to more events between the two rivals.
However, while both schools are open to the idea, scheduling conflicts and commitments will still be obstacles to overcome.
"If there is an opening, we would like to schedule with them," Lansing athletic director Gary Mattingly said, "but due to both of us being in different leagues, it becomes tough to work out across the board. We are definitely open to it."
Terry reinforced those beliefs.
"Pure scheduling issues get in the way, but we are open to playing anybody," Terry said. "My philosophy and my coaches are right there with me, if you are going to see the team in the postseason, why not play them before then. If you can beat them once, you can beat them twice."