Bellarmine Prep, Olympia and South Kitsap will compete in the Class 4A South Puget Sound League starting in the 2016-17 school year.
That decision came Monday from the Poodle Dog restaurant in Fife, where West Central District board members met and granted each of the 4A Narrows League schools their appeal to join the 4A SPSL and expand it to what could be 11 schools.
“It is in the best interest of the schools involved and the West Central District as a whole that we place the Narrows League 4A schools into the SPSL 4A,” said Dwayne Johnson, the WCD president and athletic director at Port Angeles High School.
That means the 4A SPSL, as of Monday, would include Bellarmine Prep, Bethel, Curtis, Emerald Ridge, Graham-Kapowsin, Olympia, Rogers, Puyallup, Spanaway Lake, South Kitsap and Sumner.
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SPSL officials last week told Bellarmine Prep athletic director Ed Ploof that they weren’t interested in expanding, he said. But he said that was less of an adversarial decision and more about being able to then take the decision to the WCD board.
“Going to the board allowed both sides to find out more information on where the board was sitting on league realignment and now we’re just looking forward to going forward,” Ploof said.
“I hope people aren’t looking at it like it was a bunch of schools that didn’t want us. Because that’s not true. There’s a lot of mutual respect between these schools and coaches and (athletic directors).”
South Kitsap athletic director Ed Santos said, “That’s all behind us. We are looking forward to having a great 4A league. We’re excited. There are great teams and good programs in the SPSL.”
Well, the Narrows schools’ entry could influence whether Bethel and Spanaway Lake stay.
Bethel and Spanaway Lake are currently slated to opt up to 4A. But they could rescind that by Wednesday and Bethel school district athletic director Bryan Streleski said last week that it would consider doing so, citing travel costs, if the Narrows schools were accepted into the league. Streleski did not return a call from The News Tribune on Monday for comment.
That would send both schools to the 3A SPSL.
And there’s more.
Enumclaw athletic director Philip Engebretsen said his school would consider opting up to 4A by the Wednesday opt-up deadline set by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association depending on what Bethel and Spanaway Lake do.
That would potentially place Enumclaw in the newly proposed North Puget Sound League — the same league Auburn, Auburn Mountainview and Auburn Riverside have said they will opt up to join.
But if Bethel and Spanaway Lake were to stay in 3A and not opt up to 4A, Engebretsen said Enumclaw would be more inclined to remain in the 3A SPSL.
“We’re waiting to see how the chips fall,” Engebretsen said.
Another domino in that scenario is Timberline.
Timberline is listed as the second highest 3A school based on most recent enrollment figures (grades 9-11). But if Bethel and Spanaway Lake don’t opt up, then Timberline is pushed back to 4A.
Timberline and North Thurston last week had their applications accepted to join the 3A SPSL. Timberline is currently a member of the 4A Narrows.
But with the looming four-year classification cycle — newly implemented by the WIAA from a two-year cycle — Timberline, Gig Harbor, Stadium and Yelm, all members of the 4A Narrows, are slated to become 3A schools. All except Stadium were accepted into the 3A SPSL last week.
As of Monday, the 3A SPSL is slated to include Bonney Lake, Enumclaw, Gig Harbor, Lakes, North Thurston, Peninsula, Timberline and Yelm by the 2016-17 school year. Central Kitsap and four Tacoma schools — Lincoln, Mount Tahoma, Stadium and Foss — had their applications denied Friday, though Tacoma School District athletic director Sam Reed said an appeal to the WCD is still waiting to be heard.
Ploof said that Bellarmine Prep has resided in the same league as Tacoma’s public schools since 1928.
“It’s going to be difficult to not be affiliated with the Tacoma schools,” Ploof said. “But we will try to keep those relationships going forward.”