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Bertie prepares for 2-A move

WINDSOR – When Bertie High School’s softball team fell in the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs, it marked the end of an era.

The Falcons, who have been a member of the 3-A ranks of the NCHSAA for more than 20 years, completed their run in that classification. When the fall season comes, the Falcons will be members of the 2-A classification for the first time in school history.

While the move will likely be good for the school competitively, Athletic Director Marvin Rankins said part of him hates to see the Falcons drop to 2-A.

“I would love to be 3-A, but we have to face reality,” Rankins said. “When you’ve lost the number of students we have, you need to be classified where your student population is.”

Rankins said he remembered playing for Bertie when the school was classified as a 4-A school and would now be in the transition to 2-A.

“I think we all want to be big 4-A schools, but that’s not reality,” he said. “I think we can compete on the 2-A level and with enrollment being down, that’s where we should be.”

As for the track team, which Rankins coaches, he said there would be little difference.

“I’ve been looking at results and there are areas where the 2-A did better than 3-A and vice versa,” Rankins said. “I think we’ll continue to compete well in track like we have the past several years.”

The AD admitted some in the community weren’t happy about the change in classification, but it said they would get used to it.

“Some people don’t like it, that’s for sure,” he said. “But, once they realize where we are numbers wise, they’ll understand it’s the right thing.”

Bertie Baseball Coach Randy Whitaker was a student the last time the Falcons changed classifications, when they dropped from 4-A to 3-A, and said it would take some getting used to now just as it did then.

“It puts us at a more competitive level – not in the conference – but when we get in the playoffs,” Whitaker said. “We’ve been a school classified as 3-A, but for the past two years we’ve been the second smallest school in the conference.”

The Falcons will indeed continue to compete in the Northeastern Coastal 2-A/3-A split league joining Edenton, First Flight, Northeastern and Pasquotank County as the 2-A members. Hertford County High School and Currituck County High School are the two 3-A members.

“Since we’re staying in the same conference, the main difference for us will be in the play-offs,” Whitaker said. “It will help us compete for the playoffs better because the league gets more 2-A berths than 3-A spots.”

The coach said his non-league baseball schedule wouldn’t change much because it already contained several 1-A and 2-A schools.

“We’ll continue to play Plymouth, SouthWest Edgecombe and Tarboro,” Whitaker said. “We have a strong relationship with those schools and they’re on our same level.”

Bertie Boy’s Basketball Coach Lester Lyons said he isn’t sure the schedule gets any easier for his club once the Falcons make the move.

“The 2-A bracket is tough,” Lyons said. “I think is gonna be really tough. Now we’re in the thickest part of the conference because there are five 2-A teams.”

The coach said basketball was a sport where numbers in the high school didn’t necessarily reflect the abilities because numbers weren’t as important.

“Over-all some of the best basketball is played in 2-A schools,” he said. “That division has always been one of the most difficult. It will be a challenge for us.”

Bertie Softball Coach Jackie Copeland said she had mixed emotions about the change in classification.

“Truly there are mixed emotions for me,” she said. “I’m used to knowing who we will play when we make the playoffs and now we’ll be playing teams, some of whom we have never seen.

“I like that the conference won’t change because that leaves us pretty comfortable with the people we’ll be playing in the regular season,” she added. “I am equally nervous and excited about the possibility getting to the playoffs next season and meeting some different teams.”