Reclassification process expected to jumble high school leagues

Mountain View will return to Class 4A next fall

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 

By the numbers

Click here to see in which classification local schools will likely compete

While nothing is official until January, it is looking like the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League will have seven schools next school year, while the 3A GSHL will have five or perhaps four schools.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association goes through reclassification every two years, counting the enrollment of member schools, then determining the number of schools in each classification.

Based on preliminary numbers released by the WIAA, Mountain View, a Class 3A program the past four seasons, will return to the 4A ranks. Meanwhile, Columbia River is one of the smallest schools in the 3A ranks and could possibly fall into 2A numbers based on the number of schools that could "opt-up" a classification.

While many schools have already opted up, schools have until Jan. 9 to make that decision. It also is possible Columbia River will opt up if the Chieftains do, indeed, fall to 2A.

The next meeting for the 4A and 3A GSHL athletic directors is in early January. It is then they will continue the process of trying to figure out schedules for non-league games.

"It doesn't happen overnight," said Leta Meyer, Heritage's athletic director and a member of the WIAA's executive board. "Last time, it was multiple meetings."

If the 4A/3A GSHLs are a 7-5 split, it could mean a 12-game league schedule for team sports other than football, with each team in the 4A playing each other twice and each team in the 3A playing each other three times.

The schedules for football are more complicated. With odd number of teams and only nine regular-season games, there would be a league bye throughout the league season.

That would create opportunities for 4A-3A cross-over games. Not all 3A schools are comfortable with playing non-league games against 4A schools.

If cross-over games cannot be scheduled during those "bye" weeks, teams will be looking around the rest of the Northwest for opponents. The deeper into a season, the more difficult that can be.

"It's a complicated process to make it work," Meyer said. "We want to help schools have the games that they want."

The 2A GSHL might see a change, too. With the numbers released to schools on Friday, Woodland is the smallest school in Class 2A. The Beavers have been a 1A program the past two years. Opt-ups could keep the Beavers in 1A.

Seton Catholic and King's Way Christian have opted up from their B numbers to once again compete in the Trico League at the 1A level. Current 1A Trico programs Ilwaco and Toledo are listed as 2B schools.