Hawks Prepare to Join 4A

As Population Grows, Urbana Athletics Faces Changes

Tim Rivard


As many students already know, as Urbana’s student body grows, next year we are required to join the 4A classification once again. The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) includes nearly 200 high schools and serves over 100,000 student-athletes competing in 23 different sports; in order to keep everything organized, these schools are divided into four classifications based on size: 1A, 2A, 3A, and 4A (listed in ascending order). There is an exception to this rule; if a (public) school does not offer 50% of sports in which a state champion is determined, then the school’s enrollment is not taken into account. The school would then be classified according to other factors such as availability of sports.

In recent years, Urbana has been part of the upper tier of the 3A classification. Now however, Urbana has surpassed the maximum student body count allowed in the 3A classification. This means that next year, Urbana will officially join 4A (top 25%). For many students-athletes this may come as a serious threat to championship goals, as the 4A classification is generally considered to be more competitive. Urbana will go from being one of the biggest schools in 3A to one of the smallest in 4A; this means that Urbana will now be competing against schools with much larger student bodies. A larger student body can be a huge advantage for one simple reason; statistically, the larger the population a team is drawn from, the higher the chance of selecting skilled athletes. This can be especially important in sports like Track & Field where a diverse combination of athletes is required to be successful (sprinters, distance runners, hurdlers, jumpers, pole vaulters, etc.) On the other hand, the future for Urbana athletics may not be so bleak as the Hawks have found success in 4A before. In 2010, before Coach Hines stepped up as athletic director, he coached Urbana football to a 4A state title; in fact, the Hawks went undefeated that entire season.

While Urbana moves up in classification it will have to say goodbye to some traditional rivalries. Both Oakdale and Linganore have been with Urbana in 3A for some time, however as of next year the Bears will belong to the 2A classification, and the Lancers will remain in 3A. This does not mean that Urbana will no longer play these teams, it simply means that Urbana will not be competing with them for the state or regional titles. Regular season games as well as county championships will be, for the most part, unchanged.

Athletes and coaches alike have mixed feelings about the transition. Senior Joseph Danner (Cross Country/Swimming), predicts that while “some sports like Cross Country will be very affected, others such as soccer will not be.” Becky Hackett, girls Varsity Basketball coach, said, “It’s going to be a jump; 4A schools certainly have an advantage with a larger student population.” Hackett, however, remains optimistic about the girls’ chances. “We are going to train harder than ever,” she said. She plans on adding some new opponents to the regular season schedule and is excited to see how Urbana fares against much larger schools.

Only time will tell how Urbana will handle going from being one of the biggest schools in 3A to one of the smallest in 4A.