Teams moving to new SPSL 2A

The changing landscape of local prep athletics was altered again Sunday, when it was agreed that White River High should compete at the Class 2A level.

And, looking at the bigger picture, athletic directors are preparing for the formation of a new division in the South Puget Sound League.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association looks at enrollment figures every two years and determines where schools should compete. Classifications are based on a formula that dictates the top 17 percent of the state’s schools compete at the 4A level. An additional 17 percent compete at the 3A, 2A and 1A levels, leaving 16 percent each for the small 2B and 1B classifications.

When numbers were first finalized in December, it was found that White River – with a count of 1,086 – was in the Class 3A ranks. Among 66 teams deemed 3A, White River was the smallest in the state.

White River appealed its placement in the 3A ranks, arguing its numbers were not accurately tallied. White River operates an alternative program that attracts students from the Enumclaw, Sumner and Orting school districts. White River successfully argued too many out-of-district students had been included in the total.

Chris Gibson, White River’s athletic director, said the district has maintained a simple philosophy: that it should compete at a level dictated by a fair enrollment count.

“I’m pleased for our kids,” Gibson said. “It’s important that we compete where our enrollment places us.”

Sunday’s news is just the latest shake up in the South Puget Sound League.

When the enrollment numbers were first announced, current league members Sumner, Bonney Lake, Franklin Pierce and Clover Park were all found to be 2A in size. It was quickly announced Bonney Lake would opt-up and compete at the 3A level.

The SPSL 3A is left with five teams – Enumclaw, Auburn Mountainview, Bonney Lake, Lakes and Peninsula – but will be joined by Decatur to form a six-team SPSL 3A. Kennedy Catholic had applied to join the league but was denied.

The SPSL is now looking at adding a 2A division that will include the four teams dropping down from the 3A level, along with the existing Nisqually League. The Nisqually will disappear.

The new SPSL 2A will include White River, Sumner, Franklin Pierce, Clover Park, Fife, Washington, Steilacoom and Eatonville.

Creation of the new league will require a vote of league principals. That move isn’t expected until February, Gibson said, but all the impacted athletic directors will meet Thursday to starting ironing out details, anticipating approval.

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