Leagues taking shape for next year

Local teams will see some of their traditional league rivals moving about, the result of the school reclassification system that plays out every two years in all corners of The Evergreen State.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association governs high school sports, establishing enrollment guidelines for the largest 4A schools to the smallest 2B districts. As part of that process, the WIAA assigns district and league memberships.

Locally, Enumclaw High School and White River High will remain right where they are for the immediate future – in the South Puget Sound League 3A and 2A divisions, respectively. But, starting in the fall of 2014, some of their current league foes will be sporting a new address.

In preparing for the latest round of reporting, the WIAA changed the rules a bit. Schools now count their freshman, sophomore and junior classes; until this year, they counted sophomores, juniors and seniors. Also factored in is a deduction for repeat 11th-graders; additionally, districts do not have to count students who attend an off-site alternative program.

When all the numbers are crunched, the WIAA attempts to create six divisions of roughly the same size. Starting with a statewide field of 381 schools, 17 percent are assigned to each of the 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A classifications; 16 percent are assigned to the small 2B and 1B classifications.

What that means for this region’s schools is beginning to take shape, but will not be decided until January. Schools have the ability to “opt up” and play at a higher level than their enrollment numbers would dictate, and many go that route each year. Schools have until Jan. 7 to notify the WIAA of their intentions.

For every school that opts up, one school drops down a classification.

Right now, it appears the SPSL 2A will shrink from eight schools to seven, while the SPSL 3A grows from six teams to eight.

The latest round of reporting shows Sumner High has grown enough to land squarely in the Class 3A ranks, meaning the Spartans will move up to the SPSL 3A.

There’s an outside chance the SPSL 2A could remain an eight-team league, as Tumwater’s River Ridge High has appealed for membership. Adding a members requires the approval of league athletic directors and principals.

More volatile is the SPSL 3A, which will see three new members starting in the fall. Along with Sumner moving up, both Auburn High and Auburn Riverside have seen declining enrollment and are leaving the Class 4A ranks. In one final move, current SPSL 3A member Decatur High is departing, opting up to the 3A level.

Once everything is finalized in January, schools can begin the process of building schedules for the fall.

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