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If Coupeville moves down from 1A to 2B, only one of these athletes, freshman Xavier Murdy (right), could still be playing when it happens. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Change may be coming, but we’ll have to wait a bit for its full impact to hit.

When the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association meets Jan. 28 for its winter coalition, the group’s 53-member Representative Assembly will vote on two amendments which could radically alter how schools are classified for sports competition.

Rule 4.2.0 will “establish hard line numbers for high school classifications” while rule 4.3.0 “adjusts enrollment figures based upon percentage of free and reduced lunches.”

A 60% “yes” vote is needed to pass, and all indications are both amendments will easily clear that threshold.

If that happens, it could be huge for Coupeville High School. As one of the smallest 1A schools in the state, CHS could likely move down to 2B, where it resided for many decades.

But, and this is important, the WIAA confirmed this week that any changes to the classification system will not take effect until the 2020-2021 school year.

What does that mean for CHS athletes?

If you’re a current senior or junior, you will finish your prep athletic career in the 1A North Sound Conference. No one and done, it’s our home for at least two school years, this current one and the next.

After that, everything is in play.

The next classification count happens this year, either way, with each school tallying up students currently in grades 9-11.

If the second amendment passes, administrators will look at the state average for free and reduced lunches, and see how their school stacks up.

In an effort to better balance the field between rich (often private) schools and ones who struggle financially, schools above the state average would get to reduce their student body count by the same percentage.

That could allow some schools to drop down a classification, though they can’t jump more than one level.

After that, if the first amendment passes, the WIAA will no longer try to balance the number of schools in each classification, as it has for the past decade-plus.

That’s huge for Coupeville, which had 2B numbers during the last count in 2016, but was pushed back up to 1A in the effort to keep balance between the divisions.

CHS, after losing 10% of its student body in two years, appealed in 2018 to drop down, but was denied.

If hard line numbers are used, this is how the classification system will look in 2020:

4A — 1300+ students
3A — 900-1299
2A — 450-899
1A — 225-449
2B — 105-224
1B — 1-104

Once a school does its count, and uses the adjustment for free/reduced lunches (if above the state average), they will know where they sit, and no longer have to wait to see if they are bumped for “parity.”

Those classifications remain in effect for four years, and schools can appeal their status during the second year.

Schools can still opt to play up a classification, such as Archbishop Murphy currently does, competing as a 2A school while having a 1A-level student body count, but can’t opt down.

If CHS lands between 105-224 students, which appears possible, it would likely return to the Northwest B League in 2020, rejoining Concrete, La Conner and other foes it faced on a regular basis up through the ’80s.

If not, the 1A North Sound Conference, which Coupeville joined in 2018 after four seasons in the 1A Olympic League, will still be there waiting, though its current six-team look could change.

Granite Falls only recently slipped down from 2A to 1A after an appeal, while King’s and Cedar Park Christian, as private schools, won’t be helped by the free/reduced lunch amendment, and could actually be hurt.

There has been discussion about going the opposite way with private schools, automatically adding a certain percentage to the student body count. Whether that will become a reality is one of many things to keep an eye on if the amendments pass.

While going with hard line numbers seems like an ideal choice, the WIAA resisted for some time because of the likelihood some classifications would become substantially bigger than others.

If one classification has, say, 20 more schools than another, than it’s harder for each school at the more-crowded level to earn a berth at a state tournament.

The compromise is, if the amendments pass, state tourney fields will no longer have to be the same size at all levels.

If we’re operating under hard line numbers in 2020, here’s how it breaks down:

84+ schools in a classification = 24-team state tourney
69-83 schools = 20-team state tourney
53-68 schools = (traditional) 16-team state tourney
37-52 schools = 12-team state tourney
20-36 schools = 8-team state tourney
19 or less schools = combine with the division above for state tourney

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Avalon Renninger and Coupeville basketball kick off the 2019 portion of their season Friday in Shoreline. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The calendar flips, and who knows what awaits us?

Looking ahead at 2019, the one thing we know for sure is this – no one knows nothing.

There will undoubtedly be surprises galore, and, hopefully, they’ll fall more on the positive side than the negative side.

But here’s a few things to keep an eye on as we move ahead.

 

WINTER:

From here on out, it’s all league games for the Coupeville High School basketball teams.

The Wolf girls sit at 2-0 in North Sound Conference play, 4-5 overall, heading into “The Showdown in Shoreline” Friday, which pits CHS against King’s (2-0, 7-3) for sole-possession of first in the North Sound Conference.

Win or lose, Coupeville has seven more league clashes after that, and can punch a ticket to the postseason if it finishes in the top five in a six-team league.

The CHS boys (0-1, 1-7) are currently in 4th place, but, with nine games remaining, also control their own destiny.

Several Wolves are chasing individual accomplishments, beginning with Lindsey Roberts.

The senior captain sits at #24 on the career scoring chart, with 390 points, and is just 36 from cracking the all-time top 20.

While Roberts has the biggest story-line, there’s also senior Ema Smith, who needs a bucket to reach 150 career points and sophomore Chelsea Prescott, who is a three-ball shy of 100 career points.

Prescott would be the 98th CHS girl between 1975-2019 to break triple digits, joining Roberts, Ema Smith and junior Scout Smith (103 points) as active players in the exclusive club.

On the boys side of the ball, junior Mason Grove is the top active scorer, with 95 career points to his name. Net five more and he becomes the 162nd Wolf male in the modern era to hit 1-0-0.

Hot on his heels is freshman Hawthorne Wolfe, who leads Coupeville with 84 points in eight games.

He’s trying to become just the fifth Wolf boy in 102 seasons to toss in 100+ varsity points during his 9th grade season, and has his eyes on Mike Bagby’s frosh boys scoring record of 137.

While the CHS hoops squads return to action, they’ll soon be joined by the Coupeville Middle School girls.

The biggest moment of the winter, however, will play out off the court.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association meets Jan. 28 to vote on amendments which could toss everything topsy-turvy.

There’s a ton of moving parts, but here’s the simple breakdown.

If the biggest amendment on the agenda is approved (and it’s heavily favored), the WIAA will change how it classifies schools for athletics.

Instead of trying to keep things relatively balanced, by forcing a similar number of schools to fit into each level (4A, 3A, 2A, 1A, 2B, 1B), there would be set numbers.

Under that set-up, if you have 105-224 students, you’re 2B. Count 225-449 bodies and it’s 1A, and so on.

While final numbers for each school are still in flux, as the WIAA also works on a formula to aid schools which give an above-average amount of free or reduced-price lunches, the change could benefit Coupeville.

It’s very possible CHS, one of the smallest 1A schools for many years, would slip back to 2B under the new counts.

If so, the Wolves would ditch the new North Sound Conference after one year and head back to the Northwest League and old-school foes like La Conner, Concrete and Friday Harbor, beginning next fall.

Then again, if things go like they have in the past, Coupeville will miss the new count by half a body and be locked into being the smallest school in 1A for all eternity.

Only time will tell.

 

SPRING:

Coupeville exited the Olympic League with a splash, winning five league titles (baseball, softball, girls and boys track, girls tennis) last spring, before adding a district title and 5th place team finish at state for boys track.

With new foes and new players in key roles, all of those teams face new challenges, but a few Wolves are primed to make runs at records.

On the soccer pitch, junior cousins Derek and Aram Leyva can make an assault on the boys soccer career scoring record, held by Aram’s big brother, Abraham.

Abraham scored 45 goals over three seasons before graduating, while Derek set the Wolf boys single-season mark of 24 in his first go-around last year.

Aram, with 19 tallies (six as a freshman, 13 as a sophomore), isn’t far behind, and the duo could join Abraham, Mia Littlejohn (35) and Kalia Littlejohn (33) in the 30-goal club.

On the track oval, seniors Roberts (100 hurdles) and Danny Conlisk (400) are coming off 2nd place finishes in Cheney, and would love to break Coupeville’s state title drought.

The last Wolf to stand on top of the podium was Tyler King, who claimed a cross country championship in fall 2010. Several months before that, he won a pair of track titles, as well.

Roberts has claimed five competitive state track meet medals, earning at least one each year, and is tied with Yashmeen Knox for third all-time among Wolf girls.

Makana Stone (7) and Natasha Bamberger (6) are the last two for her to catch.

Joining an exclusive club, Conlisk used his performance in the 400 to become just the 23rd Wolf to collect a third competitive medal.

With every medal after this, the club just gets more and more exclusive.

 

NEXT FALL:

Will Coupeville jump to 2B (boys and girls soccer together in the fall, and a lot less private schools), or dig in and plow ahead in 1A?

Can middle school football, which shut down two games early this past fall, be saved?

And most importantly, will I still be able to walk after months more of working on my sister’s homestead, Never Free Farm?

Well, like someone once said – no one knows nothing.

But I do know this – next fall brings a new class of talented freshmen to the high school, while “The Chosen One,” basketball whiz kid Savina Wells, enters 7th grade and gets to finally lay waste to middle school foes.

So, that’s a big something, something right there.

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Coupeville senior athletes — the WIAA is just waiting to give you money.

This is our year.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association is teaming once again with Les Schwab Tires and the Dairy Farmers of Washington to offer scholarship money to high school athletes.

This marks the seventh go-around for The Smart Choices Scholarship Program, and while no one from Coupeville has won in the first six years, that can, and should, change now.

So, basically, if you’re a Wolf senior, get crackin’! Jump over to the WIAA site (link below) and do what needs to be done to get in the mix.

Two athletes, one male and one female, will walk away with a $5,000 college scholarship, while eight other finalists (four males, four females) will get $1,000 towards their education.

The scholarships recognizes students for their work in athletics/activities, academics, leadership and community service throughout their high school career.

Students need to fill out an online application and write a short essay or provide a personal statement video on the subject “How you plan to use your education to benefit others.”

Judging is broken down into five categories.

It’s 35% athletic/activity excellence, 35% academic achievement, 15% leadership, 10% citizenship/community service, and 5% originality/creativity of the essay or video.

Applications can be submitted between Nov. 1, 2018 and April 1, 2019.

For more info and to start your application, pop over to:

http://www.wiaa.com/subcontent.aspx?SecID=959

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If Coupeville makes it to the state football playoffs, their first-round foe will be decided by experts and not blind luck. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Oak Harbor High School head football coach Jay Turner. (Photo property of Oak Harbor School District)

The world is in shock right now. Shock, I say.

For maybe the first time in its checkered history, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association has listened to the complaints and is changing something for the better.

The change in question revolves around the state football playoffs, and the answer comes in the form of seeding committees announced Wednesday afternoon.

In previous years, the 16 teams in each classification involved in the playoffs were paired off by blind draw.

Which meant the process often ended up pairing up two of the top teams, sometimes even #1 and #2, in the first round.

What should have been a likely state title match-up went down way too early, while, by the luck of the draw, #15 and #16 sometimes matched up for a spot in the quarterfinals.

But, after much venting, that changes this fall.

Qualifying for the state playoffs remains the same as before, with each district allocated a certain number of slots.

But, once the 16 teams in each division are set, a committee of 12 experts, comprised of current and former coaches, AD’s, journalists and computer rankings whiz kids, will sit down and rank the gridiron squads.

One of those who made it through the application process was Oak Harbor High School head football coach Jay Turner, who landed on the 3A/4A committee.

Other notable names include Pat Alexander, who had a 41-year run as Defensive Coordinator at Tumwater (including my time as a T-Bird).

Sultan head coach Jim Wright gives Coupeville’s new league, the North Sound Conference, a voice, while the inclusion of outside experts Ryland Spencer of Cascadia Preps and Scott Odiorne, AKA The Score Czar, prove that, for once, the WIAA actually thought something out.

The 2018 football seeding committees:

1B and 2B:

Brian Bailey – Head Coach at Entiat
Jon Davidson – Retired Head Coach who currently assists at Toutle Lake
Jay Hawkins – Head Coach at Tonasket
Jim Holman – Head Coach at Asotin
Kyle Kimble – Head Coach at Pomeroy
Buck Marsh – Superintendent/AD/Head Coach at Darrington
Tom Sanchez – AD/Former Head Coach at South Bend
Aaron Van Tuyl – Sports Reporter at The Daily Chronicle
Matthew Evans – Publisher of Evans Rankings
Doug Ashmore – Former Coach at Napavine, Onalaska, Centralia
Ryland Spencer – Cascadia Preps
Scott Odiorne – ScoreCzar Rankings

1A and 2A:

Elia Ala’ilima-Daley – Former Head Coach; AD at Cascade (Leavenworth)
Pat Alexander – Retired – 41-year Assistant Coach at Tumwater
Brycen Bye – Head Coach at Clarkston
Jay Dodd – Head Coach at Blaine
John Hallead – Head Coach at Columbia (White Salmon)
Cody Lamb – Head Coach at LaSalle
Shawn Perkins – Head Coach at Mark Morris
Dan Teeter – Head Coach at Lakewood
Jeff Weible – Head Coach at North Kitsap
Jim Wright – Head Coach at Sultan
Ryland Spencer – Cascadia Preps
Scott Odiorne – ScoreCzar Rankings

3A and 4A:

John Barrington – AD at Mead
Ross Filkins – Head Coach/AD at Peninsula
Matthew Gracey – Head Coach at Heritage
Monte Kohler – Head Coach/AD at O’Dea
William Marsh – Retired AD/Head Coach at Eastside Cathholic
Adam Mathieson – Head Coach at Mountain View
Scott Nordi – AD at Lakes; Gridiron Classic Co-Coordinator
Mark Perry – AD at Snohomish
Jay Turner – Head Coach at Oak Harbor
Lauren Smith – Sports Reporter for Tacoma News Tribune, The Olympian
Ryland Spencer – Cascadia Preps
Scott Odiorne – ScoreCzar Rankings

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   Coupeville junior Matt Hilborn, a baseball star since his freshman season, was tabbed Wednesday as a WIAA Athlete of the Week. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Welcome to the big time, Matt Hilborn.

The Coupeville High School junior, a stellar football and baseball player for the Wolves, has been Mr. Steady for the past three years, but Wednesday, the spotlight found him.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association tabbed Hilborn as its 1A Male Athlete of the Week, honoring him along with seven other competitors from 4A-2B.

He was honored for his play Mar. 10 in the season opener against Lynden Christian, when the CHS diamond men rolled to a 7-3 win.

Hitting lead-off, Hilborn paced the Wolves with three hits and two RBI, while also beating a throw home, sliding under the tag for a crucial run.

That stretched Coupeville’s lead to 5-3, then, in his next at-bat, Hilborn capped things with a game-clinching two-run single to right field.

After starting at third base and playing spotless defense through the first five innings, he moved to the mound in the sixth, coming on in relief of starting hurler Dane Lucero.

Hilborn closed the game with two innings of scoreless work as a pitcher, striking out two and recording the final out on a come-backer to the mound.

To read more about the players honored this week, pop over to:

http://www.wiaa.com/subcontent.aspx?SecID=961

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