Camas set to move up to Class 4A

All three GSHLs likely to be six-team leagues in 2012-13

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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It appears there will be no Greater St. Helens League greater than any other Greater St. Helens League. At least in terms of number of schools.

While nothing is official regarding the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s reclassification, officials from local schools say they are on a path for a six-team 4A GSHL, a six-team 3A GSHL, and a six-team 2A GSHL.

Camas, which has been a 3A power in many sports in recent years, is moving to the 4A ranks.

“It’s a good challenge for us,” Camas athletic director Terry Cavender said. “I certainly think we’re ready to move into that direction.”

There is no other movement among current 4A and 3A teams, meaning the current seven-team 3A GSHL will become a six-team league beginning next school year. The 4A will move from a five-member to a six-member league.

Ridgefield, meanwhile, is moving up from 1A to 2A to re-join the 2A GSHL, which currently is a five-school league. Ridgefield dropped to 1A in 2010 during the last reclassification process.

Hockinson, a 2A program this cycle, has the numbers to be a 1A school. However, Beth Tugaw, the school’s athletic director, said Monday that she anticipates the Hawks will “opt-up” to remain in the 2A GSHL.

The governing body for Washington high school athletics goes through the reclassification process every two school years in an effort to balance out the four “A” classifications as well as the two “B” classifications.

The WIAA released initial numbers to athletic directors last week. The schools have until Dec. 20 to let their intentions known if they want to opt-up. Last week, administrators could contest numbers if they believed there was an error with the data.

The reclassification plan for the school years of 2012-13 and 2013-14, is scheduled to become official in January.

The three even leagues in Southwest Washington will help with scheduling.

“A five-team league is no good for anybody,” Cavender said.

The 4A GSHL is in the second school year with a five-team league, meaning five non-league games in football, four league games. Ideally, with a six-team league, all teams could play non-league games in the first four weeks, then finish the regular season with five league games.

Southwest Washington football fans are anticipating Skyview, Union, and Camas in the same league. Other sports, too, will see new opportunities.

In basketball and other sports in which teams play each other more than once, 4A teams likely will face each other two times a season, for 10 league games, rather than the current system of facing each other three times for 12 games.

There was talk early in the process that Mountain View also might become a 4A school. Sunday night, Adam Mathieson, the school’s athletic director, said it appears the Thunder will remain at Class 3A.

“I’m a proponent of playing at your appropriate numbers,” Mathieson said.

He also said he hopes that when all is set in stone, the 4A and 3A GSHLs will be an even split. That will make scheduling non-league games easier with the two leagues on a similar schedule.

There also are several quality programs in the 2A GSHL, teams that do not mind facing 3A and 4A non-league competition in certain sports. That will give more opportunities for non-league contests between two Clark County teams, cutting down travel costs.

It appears Hockinson will make it a six-team 2A GSHL. The school is just barely below the cutoff and could be a 1A program, but the Hawks and are looking to opt-up.

“The most logical thing for us to do is stay at 2A,” Hockinson athletic director Beth Tugaw said. “We haven’t confirmed that completely, but that’s what we’re looking at.”

Tugaw said the travel costs involved in being a member of the more geographically diverse 1A Trico League would be a factor in Hockinson’s decision to opt up. Also, finding league opponents for Hockinson’s C-squad teams would be a challenge in a 1A league.

Debbie Bentler, Ridgefield’s athletic director, confirmed that the numbers have the Spudders in the 2A ranks for the next cycle.

The loss of Ridgefield would leave the 1A Trico League as a seven-team league. The league could take a further hit if Ilwaco applies to become a 1A member of the 2B Pacific League, as reported by the Longview Daily News. The 2B Pacific League includes more coastal schools which would reduce travel costs for Ilwaco.

However, the Trico League could receive a boost if schools like King’s Way Christian and Seton Catholic decide to opt-up to 1A.

But that would involve those schools football programs making the switch from eight-man football to 11-man football. Seton Catholic was slated to play its first season of varsity football next fall.

All of these potential moves remain very tentative until all opt-up decisions are finalized next week and the final classification breakdowns are announced next month, school administrators said.