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'Boro still faces challenges in new class system

As one of the southern-most schools in Pennsylvania, Waynesboro is geographically land locked.

The idea of switching divisions in the Mid Penn Conference might be an enticing one in order to be able to play larger schools. But it's a tough one when athletic directors, coaches and players start to think about travel time and expenses.

This is nothing new to the Indians and Maidens. But under the new PIAA classification system, the 'Boro might have it even tougher, especially in a pair of girls sports.

Waynesboro is used to being in a class larger than the rest of the MPC Colonial Division. The disadvantages were obvious to last year's football and wrestling teams, which finished one spot out of a district playoff berth despite having records above .500. Strength of schedule is what brought those teams down. Forty-five percent of the District 3 power rankings are based on a team's opponent weighted win percentage.

Now, Waynesboro's girls basketball and softball teams are going to have an even tougher go of it - both will be in 6A. In girls hoops, the Maidens will have four 5A and two 4A divisional opponents, while the softball team must play three 5A and two 4A Colonial teams. In girls and boys soccer, Waynesboro is also the only team in the Colonial in the highest classification (4A).

"I feel like it's a huge disadvantage to our program," softball coach Aaron Burke said. "I think we reached the 6A plateau by like 15 girls, which includes cyber (enrollment) and all. We're just going to have to get with our athletic director and try to schedule non-conference 6A schools. We're gonna have to go up to the Harrisburg area."

Girls basketball coach Allison Steiger said, "I mean, good grief. We're obviously not in the right division in the Mid Penn to be playing these schools. It's frustrating, too, because if things were laid out like the boys, we would be a division lower. The girls and boys numbers are not the same, and I don't understand the rationale behind that."

Due to the cutoff numbers, Waynesboro's football, baseball and boys basketball teams will jump only to 5A.

"Bottom line is it's going to come down to wins and losses," 'Boro athletic director Eric McIlquham said. "From a geographic standpoint, we're kind of locked into where we are. It would be hard for us to switch into the Commonwealth, for instance, but we're going to put our best foot forward to win every game that we can."

McIlquham also said he has made strides during his time as AD trying to schedule larger non-conference opponents. For instance, the football team has added 6A Red Lion to its non-league schedule.

Unlike previously, Waynesboro isn't the only area team in this boat. Greencastle's baseball team has bumped up to 5A, and will compete with Waynesboro (5A) and four other 4A schools in the Colonial.

"This is what Waynesboro has dealt with for years," G-A coach Eric Shaner said. "The Mid Penn has to do something to take care of its teams come district time. Not that I'm begging to play Red Land twice or anything, but you gotta stack your schedule, power-ranking wise, to get into districts. And you've gotta win, too. It's a delicate balance."