UIL releases district realignments

Posted 2/4/20

The University Interscholastic League (UIL) released their 2020-2022 district reclassification and realignments Monday, giving football, basketball and volleyball teams across the state a new path to success moving forward.

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UIL releases district realignments

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The University Interscholastic League (UIL) released their 2020-2022 district reclassification and realignments Monday, giving football, basketball and volleyball teams across the state a new path to success moving forward.

Madisonville football will now compete in 4A District 10 (Div. 2) along with Carthage, Jasper, Center, Rusk and Shepherd. Basketball and volleyball will compete in 4A District 18 along with China Spring, Mexia, Robinson, Waco-Connally and Waco-La Vega.

“There were scenarios that could have sent us in any direction, and you could have made sense of them all,” said Athletic Director Rusty Nail. “Our travel budget is definitely going up, especially when they send volleyball and basketball north of Waco and football to East Texas. With where we sit geographically, we were always going to travel.”

One of the biggest surprises from the football realignment is that the Mustangs will compete in a district with Carthage, who went 16-0 in 2019 and won the 4A Div. 1 State Championship (a higher division). With most of their returning players coming back and a lower classification, Carthage will be the clear favorite to win the district in 2020.

“This one threw us for a loop for sure,” said head football coach Russell Urbantke. “The shock was Carthage and Jasper. The big thing is junior high and JV games on Thursday nights. We will have to leave very early to get those kids to a game in Carthage. We were just not expecting that, so it was definitely a scramble. There is always a lot of anxiety heading into that morning because no one really knows what (the UIL) is going to do.”

Urbantke and his coaching staff will begin preparing for the new teams in district in preparation for the fall season. It will present new challenges, but also removes Madisonville from one of the most competitive districts in the state from the last two seasons.

Coach Chris Reid and the Madisonville men’s basketball team will also be in for a competitive slate over the next two years.

“Obviously, we were put in about as competitive of a 4A basketball district that you could be put in,” said Reid. “I would venture to say that four of those schools are potential top-25 teams next season. It is what it is, we do not have control over it. We need to just work hard, compete and get better.”

Madisonville’s alignment prospects are always somewhat murky because of their specific location. MHS is one of the lone 4A schools in the area, surrounding them with programs either above or below their classification.

Both basketball programs will have to travel to Waco for the majority of their road district matchups.

“The main concern comes from a time and academic standpoint,” said Reid. “It is just a really tough situation. We are kind of an oddball geographically.”

“The district alignment was a pretty tough change for us,” said head women’s basketball coach Shana Taylor. “Traveling to Waco frequently will make for some tough mornings.”

Madisonville volleyball will compete against the same opponents as they prepare to take the court again in the fall with the majority of their main contributors returning.

“From a volleyball standpoint, our district just got tougher,” said head coach Kristen Hooten. “I feel like our strong senior leadership will help us adjust to the new district.”

The North Zulch Bulldogs, who will now compete in 1A, also learned their new district opponents for basketball and volleyball. The programs will now compete in eight-team districts for the next two years.

Both men’s and women’s basketball teams will compete in 1A District 29 with Bartlett, Buckholts, Calvert, Dime Box, Fayetteville, Richards and Round Top-Carmine.

“Travel, travel and more travel,” said North Zulch Athletic Director and men’s head basketball coach Matt Kirschner on the realignment. “Basketball wise, that was about the worst case scenario I could see. I never thought we would be in an eight-team district, but the travel is also big for us. Most of our drives next year are over an hour and a half. It is not an easy district, either.”

While the travel is obviously an issue, North Zulch will now primarily compete against schools of similar size.

“The fact that we will now be on comparable enrollments with all of the teams we play will be huge,” said head women’s basketball coach Michael Stenseth. “We are sitting here right now with schools that are twice as big as us. If they are twice as big as us, there is a better chance they will find another player or two.”

The North Zulch volleyball team, meanwhile, will compete in 1A District 22 against Centerville, Hearne, Iola, Jewett Leon, Mumford, Normangee and Calvert.

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