Administrators have struck a deal to create a new, 16-school Class 2A conference starting this fall that likely will be called the South Puget Sound League and involve two eight-school divisions within the West Central District.
Neither side considers it a perfect solution, but administrators have struck a deal to create a new, 16-school Class 2A conference starting this fall that likely will be called the South Puget Sound League and involve two eight-school divisions within the West Central District.
The conference will include the six current 2A schools in the 3A/2A Seamount League – Evergreen, Foster, Highline, Lindbergh, Renton and Tyee – along with the current eight SPSL 2A members and two others recently accepted, Foss of Tacoma and Eatonville.
The long-standing Seamount League will fold. The two current 3A Seamount schools, Hazen and Kennedy Catholic, have opted up to Class 4A and are joining the new North Puget Sound League in 2016-17, which is the start of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s next classification period.
SPSL 2A currently houses eight schools – Clover Park, Fife, Franklin Pierce, Orting, River Ridge, Steilacoom, Washington and White River. Foss had opted up to be part of Narrows 3A in the previous classification cycle, but elected to drop to 2A this fall. Eatonville was once an SPSL 2A member but dropped to the Evergreen 1A conference and now returns to 2A size. Both had membership applications accepted by the SPSL earlier this year and the league intended to move forward with 10 schools.
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Then came applications from Lindbergh and Renton, while the other four Seamount 2A schools applied to the KingCo Conference to create a 2A division with current KingCo 2A members Liberty and Sammamish.
But when KingCo administrators delayed a decision until Feb. 8 and indicated a concern about a lack of sub-varsity programs in some sports, the Seamount quartet elected to withdraw the joint application last week and look to the SPSL, which accepted all six Seamount schools Thursday under some non-negotiable terms.
The downside for the current Seamount schools, especially those in the Highline and Renton school districts, is that they will not be aligned in the same division. Evergreen (Highline SD), Lindbergh (Renton SD) and Foster (Tukwila SD) are being placed in one division. Highline and Tyee (both Highline SD) will be in the other division with Renton.
Administrators are expected to decide next week how the remaining 10 schools will be split as well as what the league and divisions will be called, according to White River athletic director Chris Gibson, the current SPSL 2A president. He also said the divisional alignments would be readdressed in two years, midway between the upcoming four-year classification period.
“We’re excited about our new league,” Gibson said. “Transportation is an issue, but it’s part of high-school athletics.”
There had been some speculation that the SPSL would stand pat with 10 schools and deny the six Seamount schools, which likely would have resulted in an appeal to the West Central District. But the WCD sent a message last month after a group of schools appealed for membership into what is currently the SPSL 3A, forcing the 16 schools involved to work out an agreement, which they did.
Terri McMahan, Highline SD director of athletics, would prefer to see Evergreen, Highline and Tyee in particular in the same division, if not all six current Seamount schools, but said she understands compromises needed to be made for a variety of reasons.
“We know this was a predicament for our side and theirs,” she said of the SPSL. “While we tried to avoid travel costs and time out of school, we do see why they approved the split of our six schools. It was clear this was done to better balance the divisions for us and them.”