An Oregon high school will soon be able to compete for a state title — in Washington.
In an unprecedented move, Hermiston High School in Northeast Oregon has been approved to join the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association and will part ways with the Oregon School Activities Association. It will become a member of the Mid-Columbia Conference to play league games against schools from the Tri-Cities area.
And it will play in Washington’s postseason tournaments. Not Oregon’s.
It was the final move after Hermiston first approached the WIAA in January, citing an arduous travel schedule if it were to remain with the OSAA. It would have to travel an estimated 404 miles round trip per contest if it stayed in it’s Oregon league, but would travel an average of 80 miles if it played the schools in the Tri-Cities.
The WIAA worked with Oregon and Idaho’s athletic association before it’s executive board approved the decision Monday.
“This was a unique situation for both Hermiston and the WIAA,” Colbrese said. “The executive board worked closely with the OSAA and the IHSAA (Idaho) to put measures in place to evaluate the situation at hand, and set a standard going forward.”
So this doesn’t necessarily appear to mean a free-for-all of schools changing their state of allegiance.
But Hermiston met a hardship criteria as set by the WIAA, and had the blessing of the OSAA to leave. It has been traveling about 3,000 miles per year to play schools such as Pendleton, Bend and Hood River Valley in its league in Oregon, Hermiston athletic director Larry Usher told the Tri-City Herald, but would travel about 630 miles to play the eight schools that make up the MCC.
“This move to the WIAA is the right thing for our students,” Usher said in the release. “Our situation will be much improved in regards to travel distance, lost instructional time and budgets.”
“Hermiston is also tied culturally and geographically to the Tri-Cities of Washington,” said Hermiston Schools superintendent Dr. Fred Maiocco. “This action by the WIAA permits us to strengthen and deepen the cross-border community partnerships which naturally exist between Hermiston, the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla.”
Hermiston will be a 3A school — the aquivalent of a 5A school in Oregon — joining Washington’s District 8 for the 2018-19 school year. Most schools in the South Sound are members of District 3.
The Mid-Columbia Conference currently includes Chiawana, Hanford, Kamiakin, Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, Southridge and Walla Walla.