News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters to move to 3A classification for sports

Sisters schools will be competing on a more level playing field next year.

Last week, the Oregon Schools Activities Association (OSAA) executive board announced the realignment of the six classifications for high school sports in the state. The process to finalize a new plan had been a work in progress for months.

There will still be six classifications for athletics and activities governed by the OSAA from 6A to 1A. In the new alignment, Sisters will move to the 3A classification, from the 4A ranks, starting in the fall of 2022 under the four-year agreement.

The move comes in an effort by the OSAA to make the six classifications more equitable and balanced, according to a press release.

Athletic Director Gary Thorson sees the move as positive overall for the Outlaws.

“While we have had some good success at the 4A level, this will be a good move for us on a few different fronts,” said Thorson. “Some of our teams have flourished at the 4A level, but some have not, and I think this will level out the field for us, especially since some of the 4A schools had grown so much larger than us in enrollment.”

Thorson sees academic benefits as well. While the Outlaws will still be in a conference that stretches all the way to the coast, the overall travel for sports will be slightly reduced.

“The fact that we have La Pine in the league is a big help,” he said. “Other than Siuslaw, which is about 10 minutes farther than going to Newport, the other schools are closer to us overall than our former league. This change will reduce travel times overall, which will keep kids in class a little longer on away-game days.”

There will be a total of six 3A districts/leagues under the new plan. Sisters will compete in the Mountain Valley Conference, which will include three schools in the greater Eugene — Creswell, Pleasant Hill, and Elmira — as well as Santiam Christian (north of Corvallis), Harrisburg, La?Pine, and Siuslaw (Florence), which also dropped down from 4A.

The 3A classification had the biggest change among the different divisions, growing from 34 schools in six conferences to 45 schools in six conferences.

Another change in the Central Oregon region puts all of the Bend and Redmond schools into one 5A league together. Bend, Mountain View, Summit, and Caldera had been part of a 6A league that included Salem schools, while Redmond and Ridgeview competed in the Intermountain Conference, which included The Dalles and Hood River and stretched all the way to Pendleton.

The change will take place when fall sports commence in the fall of 2022.


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