The final reclassification numbers were released today by the WIAA and while there is still an appeals process that could change things for Capital, these should be finalized by January 27th.
Let’s take a look at what it means for each school in the Olympia area. Remember that nothing is set in stone yet and league membership could drastically change over the next couple of weeks. The numbers in parentheses after each school is the enrollment number for grades 9-11. Meg Wochnick took a look at the numbers yesterday and some of the information comes from her article here.
Black Hills (2A – 728 students): Black Hills stays at 2A and is the smallest school in the remnants of the 2A Evergreen Conference as it currently stands. They are stuck following Tumwater and WF West wherever they go, whether the 2A EvCo remains as a five team league (if Capital moves down to 2A after an appeal) or to a merger with the GSHL (if there are only two 2A EvCo schools left).
Capital (3A – 990 students): Capital’s situation has yet to be determined, they may still appeal their enrollment number and could still end up in 2A. But as of right now, they are bound for 3A and will be the smallest school (that didn’t opt-up) in that classification. They will likely join the 3A Narrows, where they were before. For football, it is probably a better situation for the Cougars competitively but it could be a struggle for them in other sports.
North Thurston (3A – 1093 students): Nothing much changes for North Thurston, they will remain in the 3A Narrows. However, they will lose their closest rival, Timberline, to 4A again. Too bad, because they have played some memorable league games in volleyball, in particular, over the last couple years.
Northwest Christian (2B – 83 students): Northwest Christian has 1B numbers but decided to opt-up to 2B. Despite their loss of enrollment over the last few years, they still fit the profile and have been relatively competitive in the 2B Pacific League. Even though they are small, they don’t seem to be on the same level as Pope John Paul II, Mary M. Knight or Washington School of the Deaf – schools they would probably end up playing often if they stayed 1B.
Olympia (4A – 1287 students): The only big change for Olympia is that they will welcome a Lacey team to the mix and will lose a Silverdale team on the schedule. That’s a nice travel trade for the Bears.
Pope John Paul II (1B – 52 students): PJPII will continue at the 1B level with their new athletic programs. Despite the travel issues of a Lacey school having to go to Longview/Vancouver for every game, this is the only place for their new baseball, softball and girls basketball programs.
Rainier (2B – 198 students): Despite the step down, Rainier has to be considered one of the biggest winners in this reclassification period. They go from one of the smallest 1A schools in a league with some powerful opponents to a much better fit in either the 2B Central or Pacific Leagues.
River Ridge (2A – 818 students): River Ridge has applied to join the 2A SPSL, a move that makes a lot of sense for the Lacey school. The Hawks would join the other North Thurston schools in the West Central District and they would play against schools that better fit their profile – Fife, Steilacoom, Orting, White River, Clover Park, Washington, and Franklin Pierce. Let’s be completely honest, River Ridge is taking the opportunity to run away from Tumwater, WF West and Capital (if they remain 2A), and I can’t blame them one bit.
Rochester (2A – 480 students): Can anyone imagine a scenario where Rochester would be a good fit in a league with WF West, Tumwater, Centralia or Capital? I can’t. And I don’t think the Warriors can either. So they will likely join a 2A/1A hybrid league made up of 2A members Rochester and Aberdeen and the remaining 1A schools from the Evergreen and Eatonville. While I hate hybrid leagues, this makes sense and I can’t blame Rochester one bit. Rochester belongs with Tenino, Elma, Hoquiam and Montesano.
Shelton (3A – 1081 students): Nothing much changes for Shelton other than getting rid of Timberline and likely adding Capital with a road trip to Central Kitsap thrown in there. The Highclimbers will continue to struggle to be competitive until their enrollment can allow them to drop down to 2A.
Tenino (1A – 264 students): Tenino remains at 1A and will likely be part of a hybrid 2A/1A league that will lose Rainier but will add Aberdeen and Eatonville.
Timberline (4A – 1256 students): Timberline moves to 4A and lose their closest rival, North Thurston, as league mates. The jump to the 4A Narrows could be beneficial in some sports but it might be a tough move for the football team.
Tumwater (2A – 934 students): The T-Birds are still one of the largest 2A schools and will likely join a merged EvCo/GSHL league. The biggest change will be in travel for the T-Birds since they will be heading to Longview and Vancouver instead of making their longest trip to Chehalis. They will go from being in the middle geographically to being the northernmost school. The 2A EvCo is disintegrating mainly because of Tumwater football. Rochester, Aberdeen and River Ridge don’t want anything to do with them and if Capital ends up in 3A, there will only be four schools left forcing Tumwater southward.
Yelm (4A – 1266 students): Yelm stays at 4A and will remain in the 4A Narrows. Despite the size of the school, it will continue to be a tough road to hoe for the Tornadoes.