By AARON COE
The final numbers are in, and they spell the end of the Western Conference 3A for at least the next two years.
Because of growth at conference schools, all eight Wesco 3A schools will join the Western Conference 4A next year, forming a two-division super-conference that will be the state’s largest.
Wesco 4A and 3A athletic directors approved a proposal to form the 19-member league after learning that six of the Wesco 3A schools – Arlington, Everett, Jackson, Lake Stevens, Monroe and Stanwood – were over the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association limit of 1,200 students for Class 3A schools when the final December counts were taken.
Meadowdale and Lynnwood, which have Class 3A numbers, will compete in the Wesco 4A during the regular season, but would compete in the Class 3A playoffs. The particulars of postseason qualification have not been determined for the two Edmonds District schools, but will likely involve the Northwest 3A League.
Putting Lynnwood, which had an initial head count of 949 students, and Meadowdale (1,177 students) in the Northwest 3A Conference was never seriously considered. Boundary shifts are being considered in the Edmonds School District, which could result in more students at Lynnwood.
Enrollment counts will be taken again in late 2002, when the next reclassification will occur.
“It will be an adjustment,” Edmonds School District athletic director Terri McMahan said. “We know that this is just a two-year shot, and we hope that this is just an anomoly for a couple of years.”
The Wesco 4A will consist of two geographically aligned divisions. The North Division will include Arlington, Cascade, Lake Stevens, Marysville-Pilchuck, Monroe, Mount Vernon, Oak Harbor, Snohomish and Stanwood.
The South Division will consist of Edmonds-Woodway, Everett, Jackson, Kamiak, Lynnwood, Mariner, Meadowdale, Mountlake Terrace, Shorecrest and Shorewood.
Current Wesco 4A member Sehome would join the Northwest 3A Conference, taking the place of Mount Vernon.
Athletic directors are currently in the early stages of drawing up schedules for the 2001-02 school year.
It is uncertain how many state playoff berths the new conference will receive. The 11-school Wesco 4A has two this year. The possibility exists that there will only be two berths for the larger conference during the next two years, but three berths also is a possibility.
South Whidbey, currently in the North Cascades (2A) Conference, had an initial count of 606, which would have meant a jump to Class 3A, but enrollment has dipped below the Class 2A limit of 600.
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