Wolves could be in new-looking Narrows League

About all South Kitsap officials know is the Wolves will compete in Class 4A next fall.

Whether that means the Narrows League or somewhere else remains undetermined.

South athletic director Ed Santos said Friday, when the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association released statewide school enrollment numbers, that a reconfigured Narrows League could feature six 4A schools and eight 3A programs. The cutoff for 4A is 1,245 students between ninth and 11th grade. The number is lower than the 1,304 cutoff during the last reclassification period two years ago, but that number was calculated with students in 10th through 12th grades and counted students in alternative schools.

Santos said the new numbers mean 4A Narrows would gain Timberline from 3A Narrows, but would lose both Central Kitsap and Stadium. Both those schools would move to 3A based on enrollment. That means 4A Narrows would feature Bellarmine Prep, which regularly has remained in the league despite its small enrollment, Gig Harbor, Olympia, South, Timberline and Yelm. The smaller Narrows would include Central Kitsap, Foss, Lincoln, Mount Tahoma, North Thurston, Shelton, Stadium and Wilson.

But Santos said schools have the option to move into a larger classification until Jan. 7. When it appeared there could be as few as five 4A Narrows teams two years ago, South explored moving into the South Puget Sound League. But that league, which features divisions ranging from 2A to 4A, is sorting out its own enrollment numbers. Santos, who co-chairs the Narrows League realignment committee with South principal Jerry Holsten, said he wants school officials “to come back with some kind of commitment” at their next meeting Dec. 10.

“We have to view all of the options out there,” Santos said. “We don’t know what the SPSL is going to do.”

He said the Wolves would prefer to remain in 4A Narrows. South was a charter member of the Narrows when it formed in 1979.

“That’s obviously what we prefer to do,” said Santos, referring to remaining in the Narrows. “I don’t know if we have another option really.”

The Wolves’ league also could receive a boost if Central and Stadium elect to continue competing in 4A. Santos said officials at Central have not made a commitment to that yet, but he said the Tigers might.

“It sounds like Stadium has a strong inkling to opt up,” he said.

Schools with the top 16 to 17 percent enrollment, such as South, are recognized as 4A. But the WIAA’s preliminary number could fluctuate if smaller schools elect to play in a larger classification. In that case, Santos said one of the smaller 4A programs, such as Gig Harbor, could move down to 3A when the WIAA certifies its numbers.

“Gig Harbor is not very far from the bottom of 4A,” he said. “If enough schools opt up, there’s potential for them to move down.”

Santos said the league might even add some new members. He mentioned Capital, a former Narrows school which moved out of the league when it was reclassified to 2A two years ago, as a possibility. Friday’s enrollment numbers placed Capital back in 3A next year.


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