Plateau schools to move back into 3A sports league territory

Both the Enumclaw and White River high schools are about to become small fish in a bigger pond.

Both Enumclaw and White River high schools will soon be on the move, jumping up to Class 3A athletics when a new academic year dawns in the fall.

The shift to a larger-school classification is the result of continued student growth on the Plateau.

Making the leap to the 3A world will bring a huge change to the athletic landscape for the schools on both sides of the river. The two swarms of Hornets – the Enumclaw type and those found at White River – will be participating in the 3A North Puget Sound League when the fall brings football, girls’ soccer, cross country, golf, volleyball and boys’ tennis.

The local schools are counting down their days in the South Puget Sound League 2A, a nine-school affiliation the Plateau schools have called home during the current 2020-2024 enrollment cycle.

The upward move has been anticipated for some time, but became official following a January 21 vote of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s executive board. Because the change takes effect once the fall sports roll around there is no impact upon anything this winter or during the coming spring season.

Here are a few details about the reclassification process, how the local schools were impacted and who their new league rivals will be.


The WIAA operates on a four-year enrollment cycle, placing all of the state’s 400-plus high schools into one of six classifications: from largest to smallest those are the 4A, 3A, 2A, 1A, 2B and, finally, the tiny 1B schools.

Schools are grouped by size to (in theory) provide a sense of competitive balance. Another part of the classification process is to set enrollment parameters that keep classifications roughly the same size.

The WIAA changed its numbers for the coming cycle largely because the 3A classification had grown notably larger than the 4A.

To address the issue, the WIAA’s representative assembly voted last spring to change the classification ranges. During the four-year cycle that expires in the spring, the Class 3A parameters are between 900 and 1,299 students; Class 4A takes in all schools will enrollment exceeding 1,300.

During the next four-year cycle the 3A range will be from 900 to 1,200 and the 4A will be 1,201 and larger. Moving the enrollment numbers has achieved the desired effect: the number of 4A schools will increase from 51 to 60; the number of 3A schools will drop from 79 to 73.


Starting in the fall, Enumclaw and White River will be a part of the 3A division of the North Puget Sound League. It will be a nine-team affair that also includes Auburn Mountainview, Kent-Meridian, Kentlake and the four Federal Way schools (Decatur, Todd Beamer, Thomas Jefferson and Federal Way High).

The 4A side of the league will consist of Auburn, Auburn Riverside, Kennedy Catholic, Mount Rainier, Tahoma, Kentwood, Kentridge and Stadium.

The change in leagues and classification – where Enumclaw and White River are concerned – is striking for a couple of reasons.

First is the size of the Plateau schools in relation to their league peers. For four years, Enumclaw and White River have been among the bigger fish in a smaller pond, near the top of the current Class 2A range (between 450 and 899 students). For the 2020-2024 cycle, Enumclaw’s enrollment is listed as 894 and White River’s is 860. That means Enumclaw is the fifth-largest school in the 2A ranks while White River comes in at No. 9.

Now, the situation is reversed (smaller fish in a larger pond). For the coming four-year cycle, Enumclaw submitted an enrollment figure of 975 and White River’s tally was slightly larger at 977. The position among the state’s 3A schools is noticeable, as both will be among the smallest in the classification. Of the 73 schools in the newly-designed Class 3A, White River will No. 53 in terms of enrollment and Enumclaw is one notch behind at No. 54.