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Lakes track teams are now running uphill

Lakes High's mascot will still have plenty cheer about during next basketball seasas Eagles remaClass 3A team both boys girls

Lakes High's mascot will still have plenty to cheer about during next basketball season as the Eagles remain a Class 3A team in both boys and girls hoops. | SUN-TIMES MEDIA FILE PHOTO

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Waukegan — 4,375 (up 94 from last year)

Warren — 4,292 (down 152)

Stevenson — 3,857 (down 177)

Zion-Benton —2,358 (down 379)

Mundelein — 2,129 (down 29)

Lake Zurich — 2,065 (down 35)

Highland Park— 2,028 (up 28)

Round Lake — 1,994 (up 74)

Libertyville —1,985 (up 10)

Grant — 1,841 (up 20)

Deerfield — 1,676 (up 31)

Lake Forest — 1,656 (down 43)

Grayslake North — 1,533 (down 22)

Lakes — 1,421 (up 24)

Grayslake Central — 1,405 (up 33)

Carmel — 1,346 (down 18)

Carmel/multiplier — 2,220 (down 30)

Antioch — 1,304 (down 46)

Wauconda — 1,301 (down 5)

Vernon Hills — 1,298 (down 67)

North Chicago — 805 (up 30 from last year)

Updated: July 18, 2013 6:31AM

This is what is called relaying bad news.

In each of the last two years, the 3,200-meter relay team at Lakes High School has won the Class 2A title in the event at the state girls track meet.

And when the Eagles won last month, they did so with four girls who all will be back at Lakes High School in August.

But after beating all comers in their class at state in each of the last two years, Lakes was literally run off the 2A track a couple days ago when the IHSA announced school enrollments and sports classifications for the coming school year.

For Lakes’ track program, the numbers were horrible. In both boys and girls track, the Eagles went from being one of the biggest schools in Class 2A to the very smallest school in Class 3A.

Which means, instead of competing in sectional competition against schools like Grayslake Central, Vernon Hills, Wauconda, the Woodstocks, Richmond, etc., the Eagles now will be lumped together with Warren and Stevenson and all the Central Suburban League schools and all the Mid-Suburban League schools.

The result? There will be no three-peat at state in the 3,200 relay for the Eagles next May.

The difference between 2A and 3A in girls track at the state level? In May, Lakes won the 3,200 relay in a time of 9:27. That time wouldn’t have medaled in Class 3A, and the Eagles would have finished 22 seconds behind the 3A state champ.

In the long jump last month, Lakes’ sophomore sensation Brittani Griesbaum placed fifth in Class 2A with a leap of 17-10.5. In Class 3A, she wouldn’t have medaled with that jump.

In boys track at state last month, the difference between 2A and 3A results wasn’t as stark, although Lakes finished fourth in the team competition at EIU last month and that isn’t going to happen in 3A next year either.

If there is a silver lining in this cloud, it’s that Lakes remained in Class 3A in the four-class sports of boys/girls basketball, baseball and softball. So, the Eagles will remain a postseason factor in those sports. In fact, Lakes will be the biggest 3A school in all those four-class sports.

Football, of course, isn’t affected by any of this. Lakes has been 6A in that eight-class sport and surely will be 6A again when it makes the playoffs again this fall.

Lakes becomes the second area school in as many years to get crushed by enrollment classifications.

Last year, Grayslake North moved up a class in every sport, including up to 4A in the four-class sports. That moved killed the Knights’ postseason chances in boys and girls basketball — a fate Lakes has avoided for at least another year.

Note that while Grayslake North plays with the big schools in all sports, is sister school, Grayslake Central, plays “down” a class, so to speak because it’s smaller.

That same situation applies with Lakes and its sister school, Antioch. Antioch remains in the smaller class in every three- and four-class sport.

Other notes regarding school enrollments and classifications:

■ In terms of enrollment for sports, Waukegan has passed Warren and now is the largest high school in Lake County. Stevenson and Zion-Benton are 3-4. That said, Waukegan actually operates as two four-year high schools, with their sports teams combined, as there are freshman/sophomores/juniors/seniors at both Waukegan campuses. Warren splits its campuses into freshman/sophomores and juniors/seniors.

■ The biggest high school in the state in terms of athletics is Morton out of Cicero/Berwyn with a number of more than 8,000. But that’s deceiving in that there are two separate four-year high schools — Morton East and Morton West — but they combine their teams for all sports and play as “Morton.”

■ As a Catholic school, Carmel is subject to an enrollment multiplier that makes the Corsairs play up a class in most sports. However, the IHSA grants multiplier waivers for schools that are not successful in certain programs.

Next year, Carmel will get to use a waiver and play Class 3A instead of 4A in both boys and girls basketball.

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