District asks again to stay in valley league

Sweet Home High School will make one final plea to the Oregon School Activities Association next Monday, Oct. 26 to keep it in a league with other Willamette Valley teams when the state’s teams are realigned next fall.

In its final proposal, the OSAA Classification and Districting Committee on Sept. 28 recommended to the OSAA Executive Board and Delegate Assembly that the Huskies be placed in the Sky-Em League with Elmira, Cottage Grove, Junction City, Sisters and LaPine in 2010. The new realignment will be in effect through 1014.

Sweet Home School District officials say that the proposal to put the Huskies in the Sky-Em Conference will pose safety, travel time and expense problems and have asked that the Huskies should be placed in the proposed Capital Coast League. That would include current Val-Co League members Philomath, Central, Newport and Taft, as well as Stayton and Cascade from the Capital Conference. High school Athletic Director Tim Porter has also suggested other options to reduce the need for schools to cross the Cascades.

Sweet Home argues that the most direct route to 40 percent of the Huskies’ Sky-Em League games, at LaPine and Sisters,

would require crossing two Cascade mountain passes, one of which is being maintained at a D level €“ lower than Highway 97 which, other schools argued, was too dangerous for winter travel.

ODOT statistics show that the crash rate per vehicle mile on Highway 20 between Sweet Home and Oregon 126 has been 2.8 times higher over the past five winters than on Highway 97 between LaPine and Klamath Falls, one of the sections cited by others as too dangerous.

If Sweet Home were to take alternative routes, the average round-trip distance to Sky-Em games would be 54 miles more than it would be to Capital Coast League schools. Even using Highway 20 over Tombstone Pass would be 24 miles further in average round-trip distance than the average trip to Capital Coast League games.

La Pine is closer to eight other 4A schools than it is to Sweet Home via Tombstone Pass, and it is closer to 11 other 4A schools than Sweet Home if an alternative route is used, according to Sweet Home district officials’ calculations.

Sweet Home also says that the Capital Coast League members unanimously support adding the Huskies, a familiar competitor with every Capital Coast League school.

“We believe there are compelling reasons for why Sweet Home should not be placed in the same league with two Central Oregon schools,” said district Business Manager Kevin Strong. “We hope the OSAA will agree.”

High school Athletic Director Tim Porter said he and Strong and possibly Principal Pat Stineff will likely represent the district at the OSAA meeting.

The Executive Board meeting will be held at the DoubleTree-Lloyd Center in Portland. It is open to the public.

Written communication sent to [email protected] will be presented to board members, according to the OSAA Web site at http://www.osaa.org.