Hermiston Wants To Join Tri-City, Walla Walla Schools For Athletics
After January 29th, Hermiston officials will have a much clearer idea if their desire to join the Mid Columbia Conference will happen. And according to sources, the plan has "100%" support and approval from the 7 Tri-City high schools and Walla Walla.
Much like what we've seen with Chiawana, Hanford and Sunnyside (recently bumped up to 4A) Hermiston has been reclassified as a 6A school in Oregon, roughly the equivalent of our 3A's like Kamiakin, Kennewick and Southridge. With an enrollment of 1,240 that's expected to crest well over 1,300 next year and beyond, they are being moved from their traditional Columbia River Conference into the Mount Hood Conference against bigger schools. The OSAA, or Oregon Schools Activities Association, has already pretty much said Hermiston is slated to head to Portland starting in another year.
Instead of playing The Dalles, Pendleton and Hood River Valley, they would have to travel to Portland. The expected change would come starting in the 2018 school year.
So, Hermiston, according to The East Oregonian, will be meeting with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) January 29th to present the idea. Hermiston officials say for the typical three spot athlete, and there are a LOT of them both boys and girls, the new league would result in the equivalent of 40 DAYS of missed school due to being on a bus, and would likely triple the budget needs. Their nearest opponent would be 175 miles away.
Hermiston officials say they'd prefer to travel 35 minutes across the river for half of their games in football, basketball, baseball etc than at least an hour or more down the gorge, and moving to the Portland league would add an estimated 3,000 miles of travel.
Moves like this are not unprecedented. Two Eastern CA schools and one Northeastern Arizona schools are members of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) for the same reasons. They are on the border, a stone's throw from Nevada leagues, but would have to travel and hour or more to stay in CA.
Hermiston has a long history of playing against Tri-City Schools, in 2015 they played against Kamiakin and Kennewick in football. They regularly face them in baseball, and other sports mixed in. The school would add to the competitive rankings of the MCC because Hermiston has had numerous state titles in wrestling, girls basketball and several other titles in other sports.
One source says the MCC is "100 percent supportive" of the idea. All that would remain is for the WIAA to grant them a waiver, because current WA rules don't allow out of state teams to join leagues. If it happens, Hermiston would become the first ever out of state school to join a WA league. The school also has very solid athletic facilities, including a newer stadium.