River Ridge looking for switch to SPSL

mwochnick@theolympian.comJanuary 8, 2014 

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s deadline for schools to opt-up for the 2014-16 reclassification cycle came and went Tuesday, but there still are questions to be answered for a handful of South Sound high schools.

River Ridge, a member of the 2A Evergreen Conference since the league’s inception in 2006, has applied to join the 2A South Puget Sound League (SPSL). The Hawks will find out whether they’re accepted Jan. 20 at the earliest, River Ridge athletic director Gary Larson said. The 2A SPSL is a Pierce County-based league featuring Fife, Steilacoom, Orting, White River, Clover Park, Washington, and Franklin Pierce high schools.

Larson, also the 2A Evergreen Conference

president, cited some factors for why River Ridge is looking up north, including putting Lacey’s only 2A school into the West Central District III, joining district rivals North Thurston and Timberline.

Another factor is being in a league that reflects the diversity of the River Ridge community.

“Our parents like to say, ‘We like playing kids who look like our kids,’ Larson said.

With River Ridge’s possible departure, the future of the 2A EvCo is uncertain and could be down to four schools: Black Hills, Centralia, Tumwater and W.F. West.

Capital, a 2A EvCo member the past two years, is listed as the state’s smallest 3A high school with 990 students in grades 9-11, meaning the Cougars will likely rejoin the 3A Narrows League. However, Capital principal Chris Woods said the school has requested an official count from the WIAA because of a discrepancy in the numbers.

“When we do calculations, we come up with 966 for our count number, and the number the WIAA has listed is 990,” Woods said.

A third EvCo school — Aberdeen — also could be on its way out. Aberdeen, along with recently-reclassified Rochester (480 students in grades 9-11) were granted membership to a hybrid 2A/1A league on Dec. 17 with the remaining schools in the 1A Southwest Washington Evergreen Division: Elma, Forks, Hoquiam, Montesano and Tenino, but Larson said that league is not finalized. Aberdeen, like River Ridge, had been a member of the 2A EvCo since the league’s inception, and left the conference for football only in 2011 while remaining in all other sports.

Larson said other EvCo administrators are planning to meet with the seven 2A Greater St. Helens League schools (Mark Morris, R.A. Long, Hockinson, Ridgefield, Woodland, Washougal and newcomer Hudson’s Bay) to “try to come to an agreement.”

In other reclassification news, Northwest Christian has Class 1B enrollment figures (83 students in grades 9-11), but opted-up to remain in the Pacific 2B League, athletic director Jeanette Lindstrom said.

Lindstrom also noted that while Ilwaco will replace Naselle in the 2B ranks, finalizing which other teams, including newly-reclassified to 2B Rainier (198 students), will make up the Pacific 2B and Central 2B leagues will take a few more weeks.

Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 mwochnick@theolympian.com theolympian.com/ south-sound-sports-blog @megwochnick

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