Written by: Elyssa Hawkins
Earlier in the week, frequent site visitors got the chance to get a first look at the update on Sectional Hosts for the IHSA Water Polo play-offs. This year’s sites were announced as follows: Buffalo Grove, Fenwick, Glenbrook North, Lincoln Way North, Lyons, Neuqua Valley, Schaumburg, and St. Ignatius.
Now, if you were reading through that list carefully, you would have noticed some subtle changes.
- All sites have been announced versus the traditional seven, and one “TBA Site” which always ends up being hosted by Stagg.
- Stagg is not hosting a site (however there will still be one school with a shallow-deep pool hosting which is Schaumburg)
- Mundelein will not be not hosting this year as they have had in year’s past. (These duties have been taken over by Buffalo Grove)
- Two schools in the MCAC will be hosting sectionals (Fenwick and St. Ignatius), and
- Fenwick AND Lyons will be hosting
That’s right: The Friars and the Lions will not be facing off in sectionals this season.
Which brings us to the next question: What does this mean for relocating schools who have participated in the Fenwick/Lyons/York Sectional?
While it would be reasonable to have the majority of schools within the Chicago area fall in line to play at Fenwick, then why on earth did Hinsdale Central and South still have to travel all the way out to Aurora to play in the Metea Valley Sectional (a 25 mile/30 minute drive) when they could have easily gone to Western Springs (a 3 mile/10 minute drive) in 2014?
While I had questioned why St. Ignatius still should have hosted a sectional at UIC if they were going to play the championship game at Fenwick, would having both schools hosting make much of a difference on where the championship match will be? Probably not.
From a geographic standpoint, this would be concerning because now coaches who organize their schedules to play against their sectional foes may not be seeing these teams come May.
For example, if Hinsdale Central ends up in the Lyons Sectional, then what was the point of playing against St. Charles East if they won’t see each other in Sectionals? Or now that Stagg is not hosting a sectional, will Bremen, Sandburg and Mother McAuley even be facing off one another for the State berth in 2015?
In this new lineup, there is a possibility that Stagg will join the Lyons Sectional and we could foresee the two facing off in a rematch to earn the State berth. On the plus side, both boys and girls teams at York High school could be playing in the same sectional for the first time since the Dukes hosted in 2012.
However, if there is one thing that needs to be taken away from this change, it’s this: the IHSA is making changes, well worth waiting for. On Facebook, there has been a growing group demanding for a seeded State Tournament but also for a new way in organizing Sectional Host Sites. And it seems, they’re finally listening, and not forcing too many top teams to play one another.
While there are still top ranked schools that will eventually face on another, I would find it to be a much more entertaining playoff tournament if those top teams played each other for the State Berth, rather than the two games that occur the day before.
While the IHSA is still a long way off from organizing the dream Sectional and State Championships (you know, one where each Sectional champion is placed in a seeding format), there is much to be said about the changes in 2015. There is a new way for teams to get their golden ticket punched in, which will make for an even more exciting State Tournament to watch come May.
Until then, good luck to all teams. Be sure to check back to illpolo.com for more sectional updates. Team assignments will be coming up soon, and only then will players, coaches and fans alike be able to get an idea of how much to expect from the unexpected.