The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association released its figures for the 2014-16 classification cycle, and the news is not good for one Whatcom County school.
According to the enrollment numbers, which still need to be approved by the WIAA Executive Board at its Jan. 27 meeting, Blaine will move back up to the Class 2A ranks beginning in the 2014-15 school year.
"I think really, we're a better fit in 1A," Blaine athletic coordinator Steve Miller said in a phone interview. "It's going to be real difficult for us. We're going to have a few sports that will be OK, but overall, 2A is going to be really hard. Making it to the playoffs will be really difficult for us. That's why I say 1A was a better fit. We competed real good at that level, but it is what it is."
The Borderites are the only Whatcom County school that will be shifting classifications, which is welcome news for Squalicum, Mount Baker and Lummi, which were all near the top end of their respective classification's enrollment numbers.
Squalicum checked in with a net enrollment of 953.1 students, making it the third-largest Class 2A school in the state.
Mount Baker, which like Blaine moved down from Class 2A in the last reclassification process, checked in with an enrollment of 417.0 - the eighth largest school to make the 1A cut line.
Lummi was even closer to bumping up with 86.0 students, ranking just one student behind four schools that topped the Class 1B ranks with 87.0 students. Two more students, and the Blackhawks likely would have been forced from the eight-men ranks in football and had to start playing the 11-man game in 2B.
Ferndale remained the Northwest Conference's only Class 3A representative, meaning the Golden Eagles still are unlikely to receive a No. 1 seed into the Northwest District playoffs. Ferndale's enrollment of 1,045.0 will be the seventh smallest 3A number in the state.
Mount Baker, Nooksack Valley (339.0), Meridian (332.0) and Lynden Christian (251.0) will remain at the Class 1A level.
Squalicum, Sedro-Woolley (894.0), Burlington-Edison (855.0), Sehome (816.9), Bellingham (799.0), Anacortes (631.0), Lynden (592.0) and Blaine (474.0) will make up the 2A ranks in the NWC.
Every two years the WIAA uses enrollment numbers from its member schools to sort high schools into one of six state-wide classifications. The WIAA attempts to place an even number of schools in each classification - this year about 64.
But doing so can create a wide range in enrollment numbers within one classification, particularly in the middle classifications.
In Class 2A, for example, Hudson's Bay has the largest enrollment at 982.3 - more than double Blaine's 474.0 and Woodland's 472.0, which are the two smallest enrollment figures in the classification.
"I think the gap from 930 to 474 is a big gap," Miller said. "They told us this plan wasn't going to have schools twice the size as others in the same classification, but here you go. I looked at the numbers, and they have about 65 in each (classification), so no matter what, somebody is going to be unhappy."
Blaine was particularly happy during the current reclassification cycle.
"It was kind of fun playing the Meridians, Nooksacks and the Lynden Christians again," Miller said of facing Blaine's old Whatcom County League rivals. "We hadn't played them in a while."
And in a number of sports, the Borderites saw good success. Among the highlights, the football team advanced to the first round of the 1A state playoffs last fall, the girls' basketball team advanced to the regional round of the state tournament last winter and the boys' cross-country team placed eighth in 2012. In just about every sport, Blaine has seen some measure of postseason success during this cycle.
But continuing to do so will be a bit tougher the next two years.
"The toughest part of this move is making postseason appearances," Miller said. "The last time we were 2A, they were few and far between. We're going to live with it and do the best we can. (Coach Jay Dodd) does a good job in football, and that team had some success when we were at 2A before. Our girls' basketball team is going to be pretty strong next year. We're going to put the best teams we can on the field and do the best we can."
According to the enrollment numbers, Blaine actually lost a little over six students from the 2012-14 classification cycle, but that was not enough to keep the school from moving up.
Miller said NWC and Northwest District athletic directors will begin meeting on Thursday, Jan. 9, to discuss scheduling and postseason berths during the new classification cycle.
District-wide, Miller said Friday Harbor dropped to Class 2B from 1A, though the school was not included in the WIAA release. That move would mean area 1A schools would not have to travel to the San Juan Islands for regular-season district games.
In the Cascade Conference, Sultan will move down from Class 2A to 1A to join King's, South Whidbey and Coupeville, though Coupeville is the smallest 1A school in the state. Archbishop Murphy continued to opt up to 2A, joining Cedarcrest, Granite Falls and Lakewood.
In the Wesco, Arlington, Edmonds/Woodway and Lynnwood will slide down to Class 3A, to join Everett, Marysville-Getchell, Marysville-Pilchuck, Oak Harbor, Stanwood, Glacier Peak, Meadowdale, Mountlake Terrace and Shorewood. Lake Stevens, Monroe, Mount Vernon, Snohomish, Cascade, Jackson, Kamiak and Mariner will stay in Class 4A. Shorecrest also dropped from Class 3A to 2A in the Wesco and likely now will factor into the 2A Northwest District playoffs along with the NWC and Cascade Conference.
Lake Washington will bump up to the Class 3A ranks out of the Kingco League, while Sammamish will remain at Class 2A. During the current classification cycle, those two schools have competed with the Northwest District 2A schools for state berths.
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
AREA SCHOOLS IN WIAA RECLASSIFICATION
2014-16 net 2012-14 net
School Class enrollment enrollment
Ferndale 3A 1,045.0 1,174.75
Squalicum 2A 953.1 1,007.88
Sedro-Woolley 2A 894.0 975.6
Burlington-Edison 2A 855.0 903.5
Sehome 2A 816.9 795.24
Bellingham 2A 799.0 857.0
Anacortes 2A 631.0 667.25
Lynden 2A 592.0 703.13
Blaine 2A 474.0 480.25
Mount Baker 1A 417.0 498.63
Nooksack Valley 1A 339.0 374.5
Meridian 1A 332.0 435.88
Lynden Christian 1A 251.0 261.5
Lummi 1B 86.0 77.13
2014-16 WIAA ENROLLMENT RANGES
Class Schools Largest school Smallest school*
4A 65 South Kitsap (2,099.0) Stadium (1,252.4)
3A 65 Marysville-Getchell (1,252.0) Capital (990.9)
2A 64 Hudson's Bay (982.3) Woodland (472.0)
1A 64 Eatonville (464.0) Burbank Columbia (225.0)
2B 59 Warden (224.0) Waterville (92.0)
1B 63 Columbia Adventist (87.0) Bickleton (26.0)
Evergreen Lutheran (87.0)
Rainier Christian (87.0)
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.