Posts Tagged ‘1A or 2B’

Kiara Contreras, a freshman at 1A Coupeville High School, could play her final two seasons in 2B. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Five Wolves seen in this photo could be playing for CHS during the 2020-2021 school year, when sweeping changes to the state classification system take affect.

The earthquake hit, and now the aftershocks will play out over the next 20 months.

As expected, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s Representative Assembly passed two amendments Monday at its Winter Coalition meeting in Renton.

Now, the biggest question for locals becomes, will Coupeville continue to be one of the smallest 1A schools in the land or will it finally return to 2B for sports competition.

From 2007 to today, the WIAA has attempted to keep the number of schools in each classification (4A, 3A, 2A, 1A, 2B, 1B) balanced, which has often meant forcing schools such as CHS to remain a slot above where their student body count would dictate.

That changes now, as the first amendment passed Monday returns the state to using hard-number caps, beginning with the 2020-2021 school year.

At that point, the new, set-in-concrete numbers will be:

4A — 1,300+ students
3A — 1,299-900
2A — 899-450
1A — 449-225
2B — 224-105
1B — 104-1

The counts, which cover students in grades 9-11, happen during the 2019-2020 school year.

After a school makes its count, the second amendment could reduce the number of students it has to claim.

Any schools who serve more free and reduced lunches than the state average (currently 43%), will shave their enrollment numbers equal to the percentage they are over.

So, if, say, 51% of a school’s lunches are free and/or reduced, that school will take 8% off its enrollment number before being classified.

Schools can only drop down one classification.

Current 2B and 1B schools are not covered by the second amendment after they argued it “would negatively impact competitive balance in the state’s smallest schools,” according to a Seattle Times article.

Both amendments, which had considerable support, are aimed at improving competitive balance between the “haves” and “have not’s” in the state.

Similar arrangements have been used in states such as Oregon, Minnesota, and Ohio.

The lone argument in recent years for forcing each classification level to have virtually the same number of schools was it gave schools equal access to qualifying for state championship tournaments.

Under the hard caps, if one division ends up with, say, 20 more schools than another, that could be an issue.

To deal with that, the WIAA is drawing up plans to expand or contract the standard 16-team state tourney based on how many schools are in a given division.

More schools, you could have a 24-team field.

Less schools, a 12 or eight-team draw, or divisions could be combined, as is already done for sports such as tennis, where 1A, 2B, and 1B compete in the same tourney.

While it’s not guaranteed Coupeville drops to 2B, it has been well under the 224-student barrier in both recent counts and future projections.

For now, the rest of this school year and the 2019-2020 school year are set, with CHS remaining in the 1A North Sound Conference with South Whidbey, King’s, Granite Falls, Sultan, and Cedar Park Christian.

In the last official student count, which set classifications for 2016-2020, Coupeville trailed four of those five schools by 120 or more students.

Cedar Park had just a 22-student advantage over CHS in that count, but, as a private school, it, like King’s, plays by a separate set of rules from public schools and can bring in student/athletes from outside its boundaries.

Once the new classifications are set, they will be in place for four years, running from 2020-2021 to 2023-2024, with schools being able to appeal their placements after two years.

Things could get wild across the state, if numerous schools move up or down, which could cause multiple leagues to crumble, expand, contract or be born.

If Coupeville moves back to 2B, where it lived for decades, it would likely return to its old home, the all-public school Northwest League.

That conference currently houses 2B schools La Conner, Darrington, Concrete, Friday Harbor, and Orcas Island, as well as 1B Mount Vernon Christian.

Top the 224-student limit and life as the smallest, scrappiest 1A school will continue, though the landscape could be altered.

Of Coupeville’s current league mates, Granite Falls was a 2A school just a second ago, and could have to return.

A preliminary version of the free and reduced lunch amendment would have forced swanky private schools such as King’s and Cedar Park to automatically add a certain percentage to their student counts.

That would have likely carried them up to 2A, but the wording was changed before the amendment was passed, and private schools will operate the same as public schools.

On this one thing, at least.

The Olympic League, where CHS just ended a four-year run, could crumble with the new numbers.

The 2A division has several schools expected to now be 3A, while the 1A division could completely disappear.

Of the three 1A schools the Wolves left behind, Klahowya is expected to move back to 2A after just slipping under the limit in recent years, and then there’s Chimacum and Port Townsend.

The former is close to being 2B like Coupeville, but there has also been talk the two schools, who already have agreements for sports such as tennis, wrestling and, starting this spring, softball, will unite for all athletic competition.

If they did, they would have to add both student bodies together and likely compete at the 2A level.

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   Hannah Davidson and other CHS sophomores will spend the next two years in the 1A North Sound Conference. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

No and, once again, no.

That was the response from the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, as it denied Coupeville High School’s request to reclassify from 1A down to 2B.

After denying the original request Sunday afternoon, the WIAA also shot down an appeal Monday morning.

Despite CHS having lost 10% of its student body in the two years since the last official count in 2016 placed it as one of the smallest 1A schools in the state, the Wolves will be required to maintain the status quo until at least 2020.

That’s when the WIAA conducts its next round of state-wide student body counts and reclassification.

In the past, those counts happened every two years, but that changed when the state switched to a four-year plan in 2016.

Coupeville had 227 students in grades 9-11 then, and 1A was set at 214.5-461.24.

The parameters for 2B in 2016 were 83-214.49, and CHS, with 208 students currently in grades 9-11, falls within those guidelines.

The WIAA did not see it that way, however.

“The first decision was based on two areas: a leveling out of enrollment drop and that we would become the largest 2B school,” CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith said.

“My appeal was based on the language of the WIAA, that it was a significant drop and their placement of schools in classifications are strictly determined by enrollment numbers,” he added.

“Our numbers are below the current 2B numbers, but they didn’t feel it was significant enough of a drop and because our projected numbers showed a steady enrollment of 208 (six below the current cutoff of 214) it wasn’t enough to make the change.”

While Coupeville has been competitive in many sports in the last couple of years, it is in no shape or form a powerhouse, something Smith asked the WIAA to consider.

“In regards to being the largest 2B I argued that if we were perennial state tournament attendees or had racked up league title after league title then I would agree it wouldn’t make sense,” he said. “However, we are not that.”

If Coupeville had won approval to drop to 2B, it would have rejoined the Northwest 2B/1B League, which it played in through most of the ’70s and ’80s and part of the ’90s, competing with schools like Concrete, La Conner and Darrington.

“Traditionally, we have been in a league with the members of the NW 2B League and have never dominated,” Smith said. “In fact, they voted us in as soon as they heard we were appealing, which would strongly indicate their desire to have us back.”

While Coupeville could very likely be reclassified as a 2B school in the next state-wide counts in 2020, the WIAA decision ensures it will play at least two full school years as one of the smallest, if not the smallest, 1A school in the state.

The Wolves are leaving the 1A Olympic League at the end of the 2017-2018 school year, ending a four-year run in which they have won multiple titles in girls basketball, volleyball, baseball and girls and boys tennis.

Despite having a much-smaller student body count than Klahowya, which at 445 students in grades 9-11 was the second-biggest 1A school in the 2016 count, Coupeville has played the Eagles virtually even in varsity wins across the 11 sports in which CHS fields teams.

Both schools have been substantially ahead of league mates Port Townsend and Chimacum in titles and varsity wins.

Coupeville’s decision to leave was based on several factors, such as the unpredictability of the Port Townsend ferry, staggering travel costs and Klahowya’s desire to shave games off the league schedule starting next year.

Since they are staying in 1A for at least two years, the Wolves will join a new league, the 1A North Sound Conference, which launches this fall.

Formed out of the steaming carcass of the 1A/2A Cascade Conference, it will feature King’s, South Whidbey, Cedar Park Christian (Bothell), Sultan and Granite Falls, with Coupeville making it a six-pack.

The move reunites Coupeville with teams it played from 2006-2007 to 2013-2014.

CPC-Bothell is the only new foe for the Wolves, as the private school joined the Cascade Conference as Coupeville’s replacement when it departed in 2014.

A large selling point of the North Sound Conference is the chance for next-door neighbors Coupeville and South Whidbey to once again be aligned in the same league.

That will increase the number of times the Wolves and Falcons play in every sport, and, with the close proximity of the schools and the increased significance of the games, likely drive box office receipts upward.

With 208 students in grades 9-11, CHS will obviously be the smallest school in the league, with CPC-Bothell (249.38 in 2016) the only other school which came in under 347 students in the 2016 count.

While it might not be as ideal as returning to 2B, the new league will at least be a 1A-only league, with former 2A Cascade Conference rivals Cedarcrest, Archbishop Thomas Murphy and Lakewood not involved.

Smith, an extremely positive man who is the epitome of “whistle while you work,” sees the next two years as a chance for Coupeville to build, fight and not back down.

“It simply means that we just have to work harder, play smarter, and be more committed at every level: administrative, coaches, athletes, and community,” he said. “I’m ready for this, our coaches are ready for this and we will see if the other two can step it up.”

The decision to leave the Olympic League came before the decision to apply to drop to 2B, and it was one everyone involved in Wolf athletics openly embraced.

“Our coaches voted to move to the new league prior to finding out we could be 2B without hesitation,” Smith said. “They believe that they can take our programs to the next level and I truly believe that as well.

“No sour grapes, no feeling sorry for ourselves, just strapping up our boots and getting to work because no matter what classification we were going to end up that’s the only option we have to get better.”

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   Coupeville’s athletic future, like this basketball, is up for grabs. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

First, the bomb hit. Now, the hot takes are raining down, as everyone and their mother chimes in with an opinion.

If you were asleep at the wheel Wednesday, here’s the break-down:

Coupeville High School is leaving the 1A Olympic League at the end of the school year. Come next fall, Wolf athletes will have a new batch of rivals.

Washington state divides athletics into six classifications (4A, 3A, 2A, 1A, 2B and 1B), and, moving forward, CHS has two primary options.

One, which is ongoing, is a bid to move back down to 2B, where Coupeville lived and prospered for decades.

CHS has always been one of the smallest 1A schools in the state, and, currently, its student body numbers for grades 9-11 fit nicely into 2B parameters.

But, Washington Interscholastic Activities Association classification counts last for four years. With the last one in 2016, Coupeville is locked-in as a 1A school until 2020 … unless the WIAA grants a reprieve.

That decision arrives Jan. 28.

If CHS gets approval, it’s likely bound for its old time stomping grounds, the Northwest League, which currently houses 2B schools La Conner, Concrete, Darrington, Orcas Island and Friday Harbor and 1B Mount Vernon Christian.

Instead of giving up 75-250 students to almost all of our main rivals, we would be facing schools which are mirror images of Coupeville. Or, in a lot of cases, smaller.

Plus, it would reignite long-time rivalries with schools that current Wolf athlete’s parents and grandparents once faced on a regular basis.

If the WIAA says no, you’re 1A until 2020, then CHS likely heads in the direction of its other old time stomping grounds, the Cascade Conference.

Or, more appropriately, what is rising from that league’s ashes.

King’s, Granite Falls, Sultan, South Whidbey and Granite Falls (all 1A schools if Granite Falls gets WIAA approval to drop down from 2A) have defected, shedding 2A schools Cedarcrest and Archbishop Thomas Murphy.

Next fall, those five schools (and possibly Coupeville) will launch the 1A North Sound Conference.

Reuniting with Island arch-rival South Whidbey in a league setting is the main selling point of that scenario. Also, there’s always something to be said for competing at the highest possible level.

I know what direction I hope we go in, but, since there’s a poll below, I’m staying neutral.

So, here’s where I ask you, the reader, what do you hope to see?

The decision will come down to the WIAA and Coupeville Athletic Director Willie Smith.

The former is a fickle master (witness its fleeting “punishment” of Bellevue football), but I have complete faith in the latter, so we’re good.

But, until our path is set, you can vent and dream and argue all you want. So get at it. Choose what you want Coupeville’s next athletic adventure to be.

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Will Gabe Wynn's sophomore and junior season be as a 1A player or as a 2B player? (John Fisken photo)

   Will Coupeville High School be a very small 1A school or a big 2B school during Gabe Wynn’s sophomore and junior seasons? (John Fisken photo)

Alright. Which underclassman at Coupeville High School is willing to lose an arm or a leg?

Seriously. That’s the difference right now between the Wolves being the smallest 1A school in Washington state or the largest 2B school — .10 of a student.

We sit 18 days away from the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association finalizing classification numbers for 2014-2016, and the numbers released on their web site Wednesday show Coupeville with 225 students (counting freshman to juniors).

The cutoff for 2B is 224.9.

So, if the enrollment numbers are stamped and certified Jan. 27, Coupeville will be tied with Columbia (Burbank) as the smallest of 64 schools in the 1A division (which runs from 225-471.9).

They would also remain in the Cascade Conference, a 1A/2A league where the next smallest school, King’s, has 368 students, and the biggest, Cedarcrest, has 691.

You can add Coupeville and King’s student body together and still be almost 100 students short of the Red Wolves.

Current numbers for the Cascade Conference:

Cedarcrest — 691
Lakewood — 554
Granite Falls — 491
Sultan — 428
South Whidbey — 398
Archbishop Thomas Murphy — 369
King’s 368
Coupeville — 225

Cedarcrest, Lakewood and Granite Falls are 2A and ATM opts up (a school can play above its enrollment, but not below), while Sultan will drop to 1A, joining South Whidbey, King’s and Coupeville.

Now, of course, King’s and ATM are private schools, can offer scholarships to student athletes from outside their school districts and, surprise, are generally the most successful of the Cascade Conference teams at producing sports champions.

I am shocked by that. Shocked I say.

If CHS officials choose to appeal, however, they could join Warden (224) as the largest of what would than be 60 schools at the 2B level.

It would also mean a move out of the Cascade Conference, with the most logical landing spot being their old stomping grounds in the Northwest League. If, and it’s a big if, that league is open to such a move.

That league currently has one 1A school (Friday Harbor), four 2B schools (La Conner, Darrington, Concrete, Orcas Island) and three 1B schools (Mount Vernon Christian, Shoreline Christian, Cascade Park Christian-MTL).

Might I be the first to propose a straight-up swap?

If Friday Harbor is still 1A — and their numbers seem to be missing from the WIAA site, or I’m blind — move them into the Cascade Conference, and send Coupeville back to the Northwest League.

Bam. Done. Both leagues are still eight teams, and, in the case of the Wolves, they get a shot in the arm.

Numbers do not tell the whole story. Schools with smaller student bodies can, and do, beat big schools. La Conner has 164 students and is the gold standard for athletic excellence.

Coupeville, which has struggled mightily as the smallest school, might not immediately become a powerhouse if they’re the largest.

But, it would give them a fighting chance.

In a sport like football, when the big schools can roll 60-70 players off the bus — all weight-room-carved juniors and seniors (if there’s a freshman, you know he’s a beast) and Coupeville has to call on every 110-pound ninth grader they have to barely top 30 players, something is askew.

The answer, to me at least (and I am usually short on facts and quick on half-cocked opinions) is to move back down, if at all possible.

Let’s go back to 2B and give the Wolf athletes a more level playing field.

WIAA numbers (as of Jan. 8) — http://www.wiaa.com/subcontent.aspx?SecID=1039

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