Once upon a time, the Greater Spokane League was the biggest big-school classification conference in eastern Washington.
Starting next year, though, the Columbia Basin Big Nine takes over the distinction as the largest same-classification league.
Joining 4A schools Moses Lake, Eastmont, Wenatchee, Davis and Eisenhower are Sunnyside, which is moving up from 3A, and West Valley of Yakima, which is making the big leap from 2A to 4A.
WV-Yakima could have landed in 3A and done what Sunnyside has done the last two years – play as an independent 3A as a CBBN member and been seeded into the Mid-Columbia Conference’s 3A district tournament. It made more fiscal sense for WV-Yakima to opt up one more classification and play teams in its neck of the woods.
WV’s school board voted unanimously to play with the biggest schools even though it will be the smallest 4A public school and the third-smallest overall in the state with an enrollment of 1,015 – just ahead of parochial schools Bellarmine Prep and Gonzaga Prep.
According to a story in the Yakima Herald-Republic newspaper last month, WV school officials cited less travel costs, an opportunity to keep local rivalries and a better opportunity to reach the postseason as the main reasons for opting to 4A.
The two state berth allocations the CBBN received this year will continue.
With University moving up to 4A, giving the GSL six 4A schools, it will receive two state allocations once in the next two-year cycle, GSL secretary Herb Rotchford said. The MCC will continue with one each year.
Rotchford said the GSL will merge the one-time two allocations with the MCC “in keeping with our philosophy of sending the best teams to state regardless of which league they come from.”
It’s Rotchford’s hope that someday the three eastern Washington leagues could pool their allocations and revive the super regional format that was used not too long ago. He suspects that a corporate sponsor could be acquired to help offset costs.
Imagine a super regional where as many as five 4A state berths were available?
The 4A and 3A teams are on the road while Great Northern League and Northeast A teams stay in the area for regional tournaments this weekend.
The 4A teams travel to Glacier Peak High School. The top three in each weight advance to state.
The 3A teams travel to Pasco. The top four in each weight earn state berths. Defending state champ University, Mt. Spokane and Sunnyside will battle for the team title.
The 2A teams will gather at West Valley on Friday and Saturday. The top four go to state.
The 1A teams will be at Freeman. The top four go to state.
Also Saturday, the 2B/1B Eastern Regional will be at Kittitas. The top five in each weight go to state.