Beginning with the 2018-19 school year, the Class 2A South Puget Sound League will split into three divisions for all sports but football, River Ridge High School athletic director Gary Larson confirmed Tuesday.
School principals approved the realignment Monday with the primary focus of limiting travel. The league, which is currently split into two divisions, includes schools from Thurston, Pierce and King counties.
River Ridge, the only school in the league in Thurston County, travels as far as Renton to compete. River Ridge currently shares the Sound Division with Clover Park, Eatonville, Highline, Orting, Renton, Steilacoom and Tyee (which does not field a football team).
The new alignment, which groups schools geographically closer to each other, is set up to ease travel times.
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In the current alignment, River Ridge students who participate in early-afternoon sports such as golf, swimming and bowling miss most of their final class period multiple times per season, Larson said.
The new divisions will still include a Mountain and Sound division, as well as a third division still to be named.
River Ridge will be grouped with Clover Park, Fife, Foss and Steilacoom. Another division includes all Pierce County schools — Franklin Pierce, Eatonville, Orting, Washington and White River. The northern division is comprised of King County schools Evergreen of Seattle, Foster, Highline, Lindbergh, Renton and Tyee.
Officials also tried to find equity in sub-varsity teams, Larson said, grouping schools that had similar participation numbers together.
Football leagues will remain largely the same, with Evergreen of Seattle swapping to the Sound Division, and Renton moving into the Mountain Division.
The 2A SPSL implemented its current alignment beginning with the 2016-17 school year as part of the WIAA’s four-year reclassification cycle. The 2A SPSL expanded from eight to 16 teams, while the 2A Seamount League dissolved.