February 29, 2012 | LXXI, No. 48

Shifting populations will change regional sports

Changes for 2012-2013 detailed

Changing school populations will realign sports league dynamics, affecting locals athletes and fans.

For Lake Roosevelt sports, the changes — from the number of 2B schools in the state to the leagues that they compete in — will be changing and fluctuating into the summer.

On Jan. 23, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association finalized the classification numbers for the 2012-2014 cycle.

LR itself is still shrinking. Over the last two years the number of students in grades 10-12 dropped from 195 to 174, following a general trend across the region and the Central Washington 2B League.

Entiat, Pateros, and Waterville have all lost students and have dropped from 2B to 1B, as was expected in November. Warden, as expected, went up to 1A. The bombshell was the announcement six weeks ago of Brewster's decision to opt up to 1A.

Currently at 201 students, Brewster is certainly close to being 1A already. Brewster’s decison to opt up may have been influenced by the size and talent of the middle school classes coming up that would, by size, make Brewster a 1A in two years, and by talent, let Brewster make a splash right now.

Okanogan was heavily rumored to be moving down to 2B back in November. But Okanogan needed the approval from the WIAA Executive Board for their proposal to separate the alternative school from the athletic count. That was not approved.

But as Athletic Director Steve Chamberlin noted, the loss of the Omak rivalry, along with being the only remaining continous member of the Caribou Trail League left from 1958, also played a big role in the decision to stay up.

Quincy will be dropping down to 1A in 2012. With that addition, the CTL will have eight schools again, which means in basketball and volleyball, the Raiders may not be able to schedule a game so easily with Okanogan or Chelan.

La Salle's decision to continue opting up, along with Warden's move, makes the 1A South Central Athletic Conference a 15-school league in all sports. The SCAC was poised to lose Mabton, as they too have declining enrollment.

Mabton was not keen on moving down to 2B due to travel (Central Washington League) and lack of competition in the other sports. There was one sport that Mabton did wish to play as a 2B to try and rebuild the squad: football. In the SCAC the Vikings are a doormat when it comes to football and have never gone to the state playoffs as a 1A school.

Mabton asked WIAA to be allowed to use the two years at 2B, for football only, to get the program back on its feet.

There is a precedent for Mabton’s proposal. In the mid-1960s, the Coulee Dam Beavers competed in the Caribou Trail League (A) for all sports but football. It competed in the Bi-County (B) for football.

However, Mabton's proposal was rejected, and they will compete in the SCAC in all sports, including football.

In the end, the Central Washington 2B League was left with five north schools, (Bridgeport, Lake Roosevelt, Liberty Bell, Manson, and Oroville) and three south schools (Kittitas, White Swan, and Riverside Christian). The distance to travel was too much for Oroville and others to consider. So the athletic directors of the 2B and 1B schools got together and decided to reform the North Central and South Central "B" Leagues.

Next week's article will discuss the new league and the sports it will affect.

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