"Another Blog on the Fire" Michael Dashiell
Contact Mike at email@example.com
Michael Dashiell (that's me) is editor of the Sequim Gazette. He has a Bachelor's Degree from Western Washington University, has worked at the Sequim Gazette for about 10 years and enjoys writing — occasionally. He and his wife Patsene live in Sequim; their two daughters are in college. He will write about anything, but particularly enjoys sports, arts, breaking news and news-of-the-weird. He also enjoys writing about himself in the third person.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association is changing the way it classifies state schools.
Don't worry, Sequim High fans: it's not expected that the Wolves or any Olympic League team is headed anywhere but back to class 2A.
The WIAA recently passed amendments for the 2013-2014 academic school year, and one of the more interesting ones is how they tally numbers for classifications, from the large 4A schools to tiny 1B and 2B schools.
Normally they take enrollment counts from schools of sophomores to seniors (grades 10-12) and create a list, then take a percentage of schools from the top (usually about 65 or so) and make that the largest classification (4A) and then another 65 or so for the next classification (3A), and so on.
Now, they will tally schools by freshman through junior classes (9-11).
This shouldn't much affect any Olympic League school — Sequim, the seven 2A schools or Port Townsend (1A) — says SHS athletic director Dave Ditlefsen.
"Our grade levels fluctuate up and down (but we've) been right in middle of 2A," he says. "I don't anticipate affecting the Olympic League."
What remains an issue, Ditlefsen says, is parity in the 2A ranks. Because some schools in the 2A classification "opt up" to 3A for competition, it bumps some of the smallest 3A schools into the 2A bracket. A total of 15 schools that would be class 2A schools (and another three that would be 1A schools) have opted up to the 3A ranks. That reshuffles class 2A, bumping down large schools like Bremerton and Port Angeles into Sequim's classification.
The whole reason of having classifications is for parity among sports teams; a big school with a vast population from which to pick athletes can create strong athletic programs, particularly in team sports like football.
As is, a team like Bremerton (1,079 sophomores, juniors and seniors, the largest in 2A) has a distinct advantage against small 2A Olympic League opponents like Klahowya (544, the fourth-smallest).
Size disparity happens, for sure, in any class. But Bremerton is more than twice the size of Ridgefield (516 students, smallest in 2A). Comparatively, the largest class 3A school, Meadowdale, has 1,301 students to Shorecrest's 1,096 students — just an 18.8-percent difference.
(The exceptions are the opt-up schools, but since they are choosing that fate, it's their call.)
If opt-ups were not allowed and the system kept in place with the number of schools in each class the same as it is for 2012-2014, four Olympic League schools — Bremerton (1,079 students), Port Angeles (1,069), North Kitsap (1,003) and Olympic (1,002) would be well within the 63-school 3A ranks. The biggest would be Kamiakin at 1,283 students and the smallest would be Foss at 938 students; Foss opts up to 3A anyway. A total of 14 large 2A schools would be in the new 3A ranks.
Let's look at 2A: With 64 schools, the largest would be Lindbergh at 914 students. The smallest would be 498 students (Mount Baker). It's still a disparity, but better than it is now.
Just four schools with 1A size would be bumped into 2A. One of those already plays in 2A because of an opt up (Hockinson) and another plays in the 3A ranks (Seattle Prep).
Sequim would be the 24th-biggest 2A school — not a huge advantage in the classification but with 724 students in grades 10-12, on a more reasonable playing field with schools like Lindbergh.
Don't get me wrong: this method has big disadvantages. For one, leagues are often organized around classifications and teams may opt up to make for more cohesion, i.e. an all-3A or 4A league.
Second, and perhaps the biggest problem, is the prep/private schools that can essentially recruit prep sports stars. Teams like Seattle Prep would likely dominate the 2A ranks, as would Eastside Catholic and Rainier Beach in the 1A ranks (they play with 3A schools) or Archbishop Murphy (a 2A opt up).
Solution: Have a separate classification for private schools. It'd never work … but it's a thought.
Other amendments made by the WIAA at its assembly:
School districts with alternative high schools or where students are housed away from the high school may separate the alternative school enrollment count;
Beginning in 2013, a minimum of three practices will be required for summer football before full pads and full contact may take place; in addition, a maximum of 10 practices with full pads and full contact will be allowed;
1B football games that reach a 40-point differential are to switch to a running clock at any point in the contest (the previous rule would only go into effect in the second half);
Schools may appeal a penalty for the use of an ineligible participant in a team sport; a school may now appeal a ruling of forfeiture that is based on the contribution of an ineligible participant toward victory in a team sport.