Mt. Edgecumbe High School officials are concerned about a state sports reclassification plan that could leave Sitka High and MEHS alone in a new conference.
During a conference call with representatives from 17 of the 19 schools in Southeast recently, MEHS principal Bernie Gurule and activities director Andrew Friske said the plan would destroy the traditional 3A conference in Southeast. MEHS could lose traditional rivalries with Craig, Petersbrug, Haines, Metlakatla and Wrangell if the current state proposal moves forward. Friske, a former Haines player, recalled developing relationships with residents of towns around Southeast during his playing days. He said the new plan would adversely effect the Region V tournament, which provides revenue for other high school events around the region. Gurule said MEHS is concerned that schools like Petersburg and Haines will no longer make the expensive trip to Sitka for games if the conferences are realigned.
The Alaska School Activities Association's Board of Directors will meet in Achorage Dec. 13-14 to vote on the reclassification plan, which would put schools with students populations between 181 and 540 in the new 3A conference. This would include Sitka High, Mt. Edgecumbe and possibly Ketchikan. The new 2A conference would be for schools between 61 and 180 students and would include Craig, Haines, Petersburg, Wrangell and Metlakatla. Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain would stay in the 4A conference, while the other Southeast schools, all with under 50 students, would be in the 1A conference.
During the recent conference call, 14 schools voted to either scrap the current state plan or table it. Votes in support of the plan came from Metlakatla and Petersburg.
Southeast will be represented at the ASAA meeting by Sandi Wagner, the activities director at Juneau-Douglas. The recent conference call was held to give Wagner guidance in advance of the state vote. Wagner indicated that the state wants to move forward with reclassification.
Gurule said recently that MEHS would likely be represented at the ASAA meeting. He said the Japonski Island school would likely provide written testimony, and that school officials planned to reach out to alumni to lobby state officials on the school's behalf.