Schmitz races in Class 2A section meet

Hutchinson distance runner Isabelle Schmitz leads a pack of Class 2A track athletes during a race in the 2019 section meet. Beginning in spring 2022, Schmitz and Hutchinson will still be competing in Class 2A, but many of their current section rivals won’t be as track and field moves to a three-class format.

Minnesota high school track and field is going to be different next year, and now we know a little more about how that will look.

Back in October 2019, the Minnesota State High School League approved adding a third class to track and field beginning in spring 2022. What was unknown, however, was how the three classes would be split up. At its meeting Thursday, the MSHSL finally shed light on how the three classes will be determined.

Track and field will follow the same classification format as wrestling. Class 3A will be the 64 largest schools by enrollment. Class 2A will be the next 96 largest schools, and Class A will be the remaining schools. By this format, Hutchinson, with an enrollment of 867, according to the MSHSL’s 2020-21 classification, will be a Class 2A team. That’s a major change from past years as the Tigers have always competed in the largest class.

"We are looking forward to the addition of a third class in track and field,” Hutchinson activities director Thayne Johnson said. "It will level the playing field for our kids being able to compete against schools that are a similar size.”

Under the current enrollment numbers, Hutchinson would be the 27th largest school in Class 2A. The largest would be Waconia with an enrollment of 1,228, and the smallest would be Plainview-Elgin-Millville with an enrollment of 409. Other local schools that would be in Class 2A included Dassel-Cokato, Litchfield, Glencoe-Silver Lake and most if not all Wright County Conference teams. These numbers could change depending on enrollments, which the MSHSL looks at biennially for reclassification and section assignments.

Hutchinson should know more later this year when competitive section assignments for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years are announced, but it already knows for sure that this spring will likely be its final year competing in the section tournament against teams such as Waseca, Chaska, Chanhassen and Shakopee.

Hutchinson boys coach Scott Marshall said the new three-class format will more closely match the True Team formate that the Minnesota Track Coaches Association has sponsored for years.

"I am looking forward to the three class system,” he said. "It will give more students a chance to qualify for the state track meet, which is a great accomplishment for them.”