Looking to make travel a bit less taxing while maintaining some traditional rivalries, school administrators have overhauled the Class 2A South Puget Sound League.
The changes will take effect in the fall with the start of the 2018-2019 school year directly impacts Renton and Lindbergh High Schools.
Presently, the SPSL 2A is a 16-team league split into the Mountain and Sound divisions.
Lindbergh currently plays in the Mountain Division along with White River, Evergreen, Fife, Foss, Foster, Franklin Pierce and Washington.
Making up the Sound Division are Renton, Clover Park, Eatonville, Highline, Orting, River Ridge, Steilacoom and Tyee.
Under the new plan, the same 16 teams will divide into three divisions. There’s a major caveat, however: when it comes to football, the existing, two-division system will remain.
For all other sports, White River will join Franklin Pierce, Eatonville, Orting and Washington to make up one of the Mountain Division. River Ridge will be spared a great deal of travel when it is linked with Clover Park, Fife, Foss and Steilacoom in the Sound Division. In the third division – which is still to be named – all schools will be found in King County: Evergreen, Foster, Highline, Lindbergh, Renton and Tyee.
With these changes, Lindbergh and Renton will now be in the same division.
“This will enable them to play one another in counting (league) contests,” Brian Kaelin, athletic director for the Renton School District, wrote in an email.
However, a minor change was made with the alignment for football. Renton and Evergreen will swap places, with Renton moving to the Mountain Division and Evergreen heading to the Sound.
White River Athletic Director Chris Gibson said sports like basketball, soccer, volleyball and baseball will play 13 league games. They will square off against each divisional foe twice, then play one game each against five other schools from the SPSL 2A.
“The biggest benefit will be less travel as schools in the new divisions are in closer proximity to one another,” Kaelin said. “This will result in less out of class time for student-athletes, make it easier for parent/guardians and other fans to get to away venues to watch games, and will result in reduced transportation costs.”
Change Is Nothing New
If a story of shifting leagues seems familiar, that’s because it is.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, which governs prep athletics throughout the state, strives to keep its six classifications (4A, 3A, 2A, 1A, 1B and 2B) roughly the same size.
The current, two-division format for the SPSL 2A began in the fall of 2016; at that time, the SPSL 2A expanded from eight schools to 16 and the Seamount League disappeared.
At the same time, the Class 4A North Puget Sound League was created and the 4A South Puget Sound League was reduced from 17 teams to eight, shrinking from three divisions to two.
Schools are half-way through the WIAA’s four-year reclassification cycle.