Enumclaw High School is leaving the Class 3A South Puget Sound League.
It will opt up to the 4A classification and join the proposed return of the 4A North Puget Sound League, Enumclaw athletic director Philip Engebretsen said Tuesday.
The decision was made ahead of Wednesday’s opt-up deadline set by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association and the newly implemented four-year classification cycle that will begin with the 2016-17 school year. It’s currently a two-year classification cycle.
Engebretsen cited the potential travel costs of remaining in the Class 3A SPSL, with it recently accepting applications of Narrows League schools Gig Harbor, North Thurston, Timberline and Yelm (the latter three all residing in Thurston County).
Enumclaw High School is in King County.
“We basically put the current 3A SPSL schools and all that mileage right next to what will be the 4A NPSL and the reality is we had to make the decision to opt up to 4A really in the best interest of our students,” Engebretsen said.
“We really like to talk about community and families and people like to go to events. But the difference of traveling to Auburn for our fans and traveling to Timberline or North Thurston or even twice across the (Narrows Bridge) is a significant difference for following our kids.”
The travel distance would have been about 30 miles more on average for an away event if Enumclaw were to remain in what is projected to be a new-look 3A SPSL compared to opting up to 4A and joining the NPSL.
“They have indicated to us that we would be readily accepted (into the NPSL) once we opted up,” Engebretsen said. “So we intend to join the NPSL and they have given us every indication that we would be a welcome member to their league.”
That expands the proposed NPSL, which hasn’t existed since 1990, to 15 schools. Eleven of those 15 schools are 3A schools that are opting up to 4A. That’s more than half of the 21 schools (including Enumclaw) total in the state that have requested an opt up to 4A as of Tuesday, according to most recent enrollment data (grades 9-11).
The move is slated to then bump Cascade of Everett down to the 3A classification.
And it leaves the 3A SPSL a little more bare.
The league has already lost Auburn, Auburn Mountainview and Auburn Riverside to the NPSL and Sumner is slated to become a 4A school and join the 4A SPSL.
Without Enumclaw, that leaves the 3A SPSL with Bonney Lake, Lakes and Peninsula as the only schools in the league that would return. Bonney Lake is currently at the bottom of the 3A enrollment list and would fall to 2A if any 2A school requests an opt up to 3A by Wednesday.
But the 3A SPSL accepted applications from Gig Harbor, North Thurston, Timberline and Yelm from the Narrows League. And Bethel School District athletic director Bryan Streleski has indicated that Bethel and Spanaway Lake might rescind their 4A opt ups and compete in 3A where their enrollment lies. That would remove both schools from the 4A SPSL, where they are members alongside Graham-Kapowsin of the Bethel School District, and slide them to the 3A SPSL.
The SPSL is also awaiting the appeal to the West Central District of four Tacoma schools — Lincoln, Mount Tahoma, Stadium and Wilson (which are currently members of the Narrows League) — after the four were denied their applications to join the SPSL last week. All would join as 3A schools, though Stadium is currently 4A.
4A NORTH PUGET SOUND LEAGUE
(Proposed league would be split into two divisions)
*3A school based on most recent enrollment figures (grades 9-11) but choosing to opt up to 4A as of Tuesday
3A SOUTH PUGET SOUND LEAGUE
(Projected new-look for 3A SPSL ahead of 2016-17 school year, as of Tuesday)
*Currently member of 4A Narrows League
**Currently member of 3A Narrows League