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South Whidbey athletic teams may face 3A competition

"Three days after the football team lost 81-0 in Class 2A competition, the school board heard a report that the South Whidbey athletic teams may have to move up to 3A competition next season.Nobody mentioned the football score, but the prospect of playing even bigger schools isn't something a committee working on league realignment is eagerly anticipating. Athletic director John Patton told the board Monday night that the committee's first choice is to stay 2A and remain in the North Cascades Conference. We'd like to remain a 2A school, he said. The worse case scenario is we are a 3A school.But staying 2A may not be possible. The Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) decides at which level each school should compete, and it follows strictly numerical guidelines, according to Dr. Martin Laster, superintendent of schools.To be moved up to 3A, South Whidbey would have to have 601 or more students in grades 10, 11 and 12. Three enrollment averages are taken, the final one on Dec. 1. The first one was taken Oct. 1, and Laster said South Whidbey had 608 students in those classes.If South Whidbey goes 3A, it would likely end up in the Northwest 3A Conference. That would also include Anacortes, Bellingham, Burlington-Edison, Ferndale, Lynden, Sehome and Squalicum.There are a number of 3A schools in the old Wesco conference South Whidbey competed in formerly, but all of those will move up to 4A next year, Patton said. However, if for some reason the 3A North Cascades option doesn't work out, South Whidbey could become one of several 3A teams in the 4A Wesco.If South Whidbey is designated 3A in December, the school district will likely petition the WIAA to remain a 2A school, Patton said. If that appeal should fail, then next year South Whidbey will find itself in a new league of bigger schools.Committee members working on the issue are Patton, high school principal Mike Johnson, board member Ray Gabelein, parent Gary Wick, Booster Club member Dan Poolman, student Finn Keough, and coaches Mick Heggenes and Andy Davis. "

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