Bald Eagle Area’s wrestling program has decided to move down a classification — from Class 3A to Class 2A — for two years, starting with the 2018-2019 season, the school confirmed Thursday.
The Eagles can re-evaluate in two years whether to remain in the lower classification. They will still compete in Class 3A this season.
“It boils down to, for now, we just thought it would be a decision that might open up some more doors and opportunities for our team,” second-year head wrestling coach Ron Guenot said. “It’s hard to say; you don’t have a crystal ball — I wish we did — but we’ll see how it goes.”
With the move, that would now mean that eight wrestling teams in District 6 will be in Class 3A. Twenty-eight will be in Class 2A.
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BEA is a Class 2A school that, for years, has been competing above its classification. Historically, it’s fared well — winning 10 straight district titles in the 1990s and three straight District 6 championships from 2004-2006. But it hasn’t won since then.
Guenot understands there are fans in the community who will still oppose the move. A short time ago, the head coach counted himself among those who felt it was Class 3A or bust. But, as he spent more time with the team, he said he realized this would be best.
“You look, and we have about 23 kids out — that’s 10 percent of our enrollment,” Guenot said. “You look at Easton; if they had 10 percent of their boys try out, they’d have about 100 kids on their team. We’re competing against schools that are three, four, five times larger than us.”
Guenot said he spoke to a handful of coaches and discussed this with his team before moving forward. He pointed out there’s still plenty of talent in Class 2A — Penn State national champs Zain Retherford and Jason Nolf were both from the smaller classification — and he said BEA won’t change its mentality.
“I know that I can tell everybody that our goal is to win championships,” Guenot said. “We had a historic run there as a triple-A team and, hopefully, we can do that in the double-A realm — if we decide to keep that.”