STEPPING UP: My Take: Class demotion’s effect on Washington athletics

Published 10:29 am Wednesday, April 16, 2014




The North Carolina High School Athletic Association goes through an intricate, analytical process of assessing and realigning high school classes and conferences every five years. The committee takes a virtual snapshot of a school’s enrollment at a single point in time, and determines the school’s class and conference placement accordingly.

In November 2011, the NCHSAA locked its virtual camera on Washington High School during the reclassification process, determining that the Pam Pack fit the characteristics of a high-Class 2-A school, rather than the low-Class 3-A profile. The verdict? From 2013-2017, the Pam Pack would be forced to leave the 3-A Coastal Conference for the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference.

It could have been a large graduating senior class or maybe even a diluted freshman class. Whatever the case, Washington returned to 3-A form shortly after the NCHSAA’s enrollment snapshot, making the Pam Pack one of the largest 2-A schools in the state.

Across most sports, the level of competition usually positively correlates with the class. Being one of the largest 2-A classes on paper, Pam Pack athletics should be primed for a historic four years, before they likely return to Class 3-A in 2018.

So, in their first almost full year in the new class, have they underachieved, met or exceeded expectations?

The football team, under head coach Sport Sawyer, seems to have mirrored its 2012 success in 2013. After finishing second in the Coastal with a 5-2 record (10-4 overall), the Pack posted a 12-3 record and won the Eastern Plains with a perfect 5-0 mark last fall. Their only losses came against 3-A Havelock, who won the Coastal in 2012, 3-A West Craven and T.W. Andrews in the semi-finals of the state championships. With the current level of competition being lower than the previous year, the argument can be made the team met or maybe even slightly exceeded expectations.

The men’s soccer team had the biggest turning around, posting an 18-2-2 record after a mundane 2012 campaign in the Coastal.

This spring has told a very similar story, thus far.

The Pam Pack softball team has rolled over the majority of the challengers in its path, with its only 2-A blunder coming against Beddingfield in a one-run game.

For the boys, baseball is a different animal. Class does not necessarily correlate with aptitude. You can find teams of equal talent in the NCISAA, 1-A, 2-A and 3-A, so the Pam Pack’s struggles on the diamond are difficult to calculate.

But no squad has been as dominant as the girls soccer team, which has beaten every Eastern Plains opponent by the nine-run mercy rule. A team that went just 8-11-2 last season is now 13-2.

Should the Pam Pack, who seem to have benefitted from the move, be in Class 2-A? Probably not. However, if these teams improve and build at a standard rate, don’t be surprised if the Pack rack up multiple state championships by 2018.