Shuffling in the upper classes means that Miami is back in Class 4A for sports other than football for the 2008 school year.

MHS's Average Daily Membership for the 2007-08 school year was 668.88 - an increase from 667.00 for 2006-07 and 666.90 three school years ago.

As a result, Miami ranks 68th among the 483 members of the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association

That's the fourth largest in 4A, behind only Oklahoma City Bishop McGuinness (677.11), Grove (674.01) and Tulsa Central (671.70).

MHS had been the state's 63rd largest school a year ago, meaning it was on the bubble in 5A.

The ADM determines classes for OSSAA members for the upcoming school year for all sports but football.

The average daily membership factors in the number of students in attendance each school day, multiplied by the total number of days in the school year. Grades nine through 12 are used.

The addition of Southmoore in 6A - resulting from the split of Moore and Westmoore High Schools - and the leap of Collinsville and Stilwell into 5A as well as the return of Pryor into the state's second-largest classification, helped bump Miami back down.

“Everybody else got bigger,” Miami softball coach Chris Mercer said. “Collinsville got bigger, Stilwell is growing and Grove jumped up ahead of us.”

Harrah now is the 5A bubble team with an ADM of 682/27. Oklahoma City Southeast is 63rd at 684.20 and Stilwell is 62nd at 684.61.

Claremore is the top school in 5A now with an ADM of 1,255.03.

“It's so beneficial from every perspective for us to stay 4A, from travel, anything you want to look out,” Miami girls' basketball coach JohnCarl Morgan said.

The MHS football program is stuck in 5A for at least the next two seasons but all of the other sports will be able to play down a class immediately.

Mercer already has tweaked his schedule, dropping the Tulsa Kelley East-West Festival.

“We had done a 5A schedule at the end of last season,” Mercer said.

Mercer said the Muskogee Festival late in the season will get an asterisk.

“If we win our district, we will play that Saturday,” he said. “But if we get beat out, we won't play in it.”

The Lady Wardogs, who have no seniors on a team that went 20-19 and lost in the regional finals a year ago, began practice today.

“I think I like chances in 4A,” Mercer said. “We had a really good performance last year against Skiatook in 5A. Overall this year, I think 5A is tougher once to get to the top eight teams.”

The Wardog baseball team was placed in one of the toughest 5A regionals in the state.

“I was talking to coaches at clinic last week, and I don't think anybody argued the fact that we had one of the toughest ones,” Mercer said. “We handled every team in 4A and in the (Verdigris Valley) conference

“You just never know, but it definitely would have been a good year to be in 4A. Jay hosted a regional and we beat every team in it.”

Both of Miami's basketball coaches like the drop down to 4A, if anything since 5A was “one and done” in regional play.”

“The kids here are more 4A-style of player,” Lady Wardog coach Morgan said. “The players in 5A concentrate more on athleticism and size and those things aren't as important in 4A, where they play more solid defense and rely on fundamentals more and shooting.”

The Lady Wardogs were eliminated with a first-round loss to Tulsa Central in regional play. They went out in the opening round a year before, falling to Claremore.

“You can take an average team (in 4A) and make a run at area the way it's set up,” Morgan said. “Still, it's not like you will get away from the really good teams. Vinita is sitting right down the road and we're going to have to see them at some point. Based on geography, its going to happen.”

“Night in and night out, you have more of a chance (in 4A),” Rusty Mercer said. “At the top of 4A, it's really strong with some of the city (Oklahoma City) schools coming down. But when you get to the middle of 4A, we match up better.”

The Wardogs beat Skiatook in the first round of the 5A regional, then were tripped up by old nemesis Tulsa Kelley. MHS then was ousted by Tulsa Central.

“What hurt us two years ago was we didn't play enough 5A schools (in the regular season),” Rusty Mercer said. “This would have been a year where if we had stayed 5A, we talked about changes in the schedule and other alternatives (such as possibly returning to the 5A dominated Metro Lakes Conference).”