BILLINGS — The Montana High School Association’s executive board approved several recommendations and finalized classification realignment Monday during its annual meeting in Butte.

With the impending departure of Belgrade from Class A to Eastern AA for the 2019-20 academic year, the board gave final approval for movement in the Eastern Division of Class A, which will be comprised of Northeast and Southeast conferences.

Miles City, Glendive, Sidney, Lewistown and Havre will make up the Northeast Conference, while Billings Central, Laurel, Hardin, Livingston and the new East Helena and Lockwood high schools will make up the Southeast.

East Helena and Lockwood will compete at the varsity level only in wrestling, track and field, golf and tennis for 2019-20.

Meanwhile, the board also signed off on Class C football reshuffling, which includes Harlowton-Ryegate, Box Elder and Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap all dropping down from 8-Man to 6-Man. Ekalaka and West Yellowstone are moving up from 6-Man to play 8-Man football, and Thompson Falls is dropping down from Class B to the 8-Man ranks.

The Western B will also undergo board-approved changes. Arlee, currently in District 14C, is moving up a class and into District 6B next season, which will push St. Ignatius from 6B into District 7B.

The board approved a makeover to the Eastern C division for volleyball, as well, in which District 1 will absorb District 3 to add Brockton, Lustre Chrstian, Saco-Hinsdale-Whitewater, and Scobey.

In other business, the board announced that “football classification will be organized on a two-year basis to align with reclassification of schools” based on specific enrollment figures: 1-65 for 6-Man, 65-130 for 8-Man, and 130-plus for 11-man.

For schools petitioning to play at a level below the required enrollment, the board said it will apply the following criteria: For a Class B to 8-Man move enrollment cannot exceed 140, and for an 8-Man to 6-Man drop it cannot exceed 70 — unless the petitioning school can show that its roster size is near or below the average of its current classification and that success might come easier at a lower level.

The executive board also announced that it will appoint a committee to study the possibility for the MHSA to add girls wrestling as a sanctioned sport. The committee is to report its findings at next year’s meeting.

MHSA service citations were given to Billings Central activities director Richy Powell and Belgrade AD Rick Phillips. The Mildred Adams Award was given to Pat Powers, the activities secretary at Butte High School.

Retired MHSA business manager Janie Holmes, retired Montana Officials Association coordinator Theresa Stanisich, and retiring MHSA legal counsel Jock Anderson all received the James C. Haugen Meritorious Service Award.

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