GHS wins appeal to stay in Class 6A
Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 4:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 4:37 p.m.
A month after the Florida High School Athletic Association tentatively moved it up to Class 7A in football for the next two seasons, Gainesville High received news Wednesday it will stay in 6A.
The FHSAA accepted the Hurricanes' appeal, which school administrators submitted two weeks ago, to stay in 6A. The organization is scheduled to release its final district assignments in football for 2013 and 2014 Thursday.
Originally, Gainesville was pencilled in to play in District 2-7A, which included three Tallahassee schools in Lincoln, Chiles and Leon, as well as city-rival Buchholz. The reason was because the school's population (1,935) topped the 7A minimum (1,872) by 64 students or 3.4 percent.
Gainesville athletic director Cindy Boulware credits football coach James Thomson with outlining the significant costs the school would incur in travel, as well as the instructional time taken away from student-athletes. A round trip to Tallahassee from Gainesville is 301 miles and nearly five hours driving time.
In their current District 5-6A, the Hurricanes compete against two Ocala-area schools in Vanguard and Lake Weir and two Citrus County schools in Lecanto and Inverness Citrus. The longest trip, to Inverness, would be about 2 1/2 hours.
“James Thomson wrote it up as far as the mileage and all, and we did our comparison to schools we have been traveling to in 6A,” Boulware said. “It would double the mileage, and our principal (David) Shelnutt was concerned about how the student-athletes would miss a great deal of instructional time.”
Last season, the 'Canes set a school record for wins en route to playing for their first state title in 32 years, losing the 6A crown to Miami Central. The Rockets will be moving up to 7A.
“We would have had to spend twice the money and would have had three teams from Tallahassee instead of three teams from the Ocala area,” Thomson said. “We were only a few students over the 6A maximum and the ends really didn't justify the means.”
Buchholz, the largest high school in the area, has an enrollment of 2,175, 240 more than GHS.
“When you present the facts and talk about the loss at the gate, which there would have been, they realized that,” Boulware said. “There are a lot of schools struggling across the state with attendance. I was really glad we won it.”
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