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Central Washington 2B League to alter dramatically in the near future

 


The opt-up deadline for the 2014-16 classification cycle has passed and the final number counts are in. The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s 2B category will hold 59 schools in the new classification cycle, up 11 from the current cycle.

The number spread for 2B in the 2014-16 cycle will be 92-225 students in grades 9-11.

After a heated school board meeting, in which many spoke for and against moving down, Okanogan decided to drop down to 2B rather than opt up to 1A. Brewster did not repeat the 11th-hour opt up as in 2012 and will also drop to 2B.

In WIAA District 5, Cle Elum-Roslyn and River View opted up to preserve the two-division alignment in the 1A South Central Athletic Conference. This, plus Charles Wright’s opt up, pushed the upper limit of 2B to 225. This meant that Tonasket (221 students) and Warden (224) will now also be dropping down to 2B.

At the bottom end of the classification, the line dropped from 93 to 91.9 students. Waterville (92) had been on the bubble between 1B and 2B, will now be returning to the 2B ranks along with Wilbur-Creston (96). Entiat will stay in the 1B ranks. Earlier it looked like they would be coming back to 2B until the WIAA approved a measure that omitted 10 schools with enrollments of fewer than 25 students from the classification process.

Mansfield is one of those schools omitted. The Kernals could not field a basketball team for either the boys or girls this season and may or may not compete in spring sports. What sports Mansfield will field in the new cycle will be part of the Central Washington 1B.

With the opt up of River View and Cle Elum-Roslyn, only four 2B schools again make up District 5 (Kittitas, Warden, White Swan, and Mabton). If the Central Washington League remains a 2B-only league, Waterville, Soap Lake, and Lake Roosevelt (159) will likely join the District 5 schools in a South Division. This alignment is similar to the one that existed in the 2010-12 cycle. For LR, this arrangement would increase travel costs substantially as every season a bus would be sent to Mabton, White Swan, Kittitas, and Warden multiple times for all sports. Students would be out of the classroom more due to the longer trips. Raider fans would find it harder to attend away games due to the distance and gas costs.

But there are alternatives to that scenario. The shake-up in classification lines may make a multiple classification league a possibility. With the loss of Quincy (606) to 2A and the trio of Brewster, Okanogan, and Tonasket to 2B, the Caribou Trail League sits at just 4 members. Omak, Chelan, Cascade, and Cashmere are all that is left of the CTL. The Central Washington 1B North is down, too, with Waterville and Soap Lake moving up, leaving the league at just two members, Pateros (79) and Entiat (87).

The first classification combination possibility is to bring in the four 1A schools with the 10 2Bs in District 6 to form a 1A/2B Caribou Trail League. Lake Roosevelt would be a member of the “Okanogan County” Division with Oroville, Tonasket, Omak, Okanogan, Brewster, and Liberty Bell. In the “North Central” Division there would be Manson, Chelan, Bridgeport, Cascade, Cashmere, Waterville, and Soap Lake. The 1A schools would always play each other and would work a deal with District 7 and the Northeast A League to continue having a regional qualifier for State 1A playoffs/tournaments. The 2B members would play the 1A schools once as per division play but league emphasis would be on how they compete against the other 2B schools and not the play against the 1A schools. At the end of the season, the 2B schools would have a true District tournament to send teams on for state competition.

Such a league could help the 1As from trying to schedule as independents or being locked out from state competition all-together due to lack of a league. All schools involved in this possible scenario would save on travel costs in all sports and decrease the amount of time out of the classroom because of the closeness of their divisional games. For another advantage, it would be an all-sports league. All members would play 11-man football and there would be enough wrestling to allow for a more traditional league schedule with regional teams. So District 5 schools would only be scheduled for a non-league game or, in the case of football, for a week-10 crossover for those in the 2B ranks not competing for one of the playoff berths.

A disadvantage is the wide gulf between the sizes of the schools, especially in the “North Central” Division where Waterville, with 92 students would have to face Cashmere, which has 347 students. Such games would not be detrimental to league standing if Waterville lost as the Shockers would be competing more against the other 2Bs rather than Cashmere and the 1As for state berths.

Such a plan could be met with the same obstinance as the one proposed in 2012, as individuals at both the 2B and 1A schools dislike the idea of a combined league and prefer the single classification arrangement.

A second combined classification possibility could combine Pateros and Entiat with the 10 District 6 2B schools to form a new North Central B League for all sports except football. Pateros and Entiat would be placed in the same division and a regional tournament arrangement would be set up with the District 5 1Bs for entry into state competition. The divisions would then be separated by old league ties as the North would feature the 2002-06 CTL (Oroville, Tonasket, Okanogan, Brewster, Lake Roosevelt, and Liberty Bell) while the South would feature the 2002-2006 North Central B (Manson, Bridgeport, Pateros, Entiat, Waterville and Soap Lake).

For volleyball and basketball, this would be a favorable arrangement for those who want the league to feature just B schools. The travel time again would be cut down for all members as the farthest trip in league play would take two hours rather than three or more. For football, Pateros and Entiat would join with District 7 schools for 8-man and the 2Bs would join with the District 5 schools in a two-division alignment as previously stated. The disadvantage of size would be lessened as the two 1Bs would be joined by present league members Waterville and Soap Lake.

In both possibilities, Lake Roosevelt would benefit from the shorter travel, opponent familiarity, and less lost classroom time. League competition would improve for the Raiders, something some past coaches have commented as lacking in the current Central Washington League. For the Raider fan base, the closer games would mean a bigger rooter section for road games.

These and other scenarios are being discussed by the athletic directors and principals across the region. The decision on whether to stay a single classification league or go with multiple classifications depends on the opinions and emotions of these men and women. Other leagues in the state have gone to multiple classification set-ups for the reasons presented here and have benefited from that arrangement. The next few weeks will tell whether one will come to District 6 and benefit the schools and athletes here.

Final approval of the 2014-16 classifications will be made by the WIAA executive board on Jan. 27.

 

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