WIAA Rule Change

Who's In? Who's Out?


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Next year, a new high school enrollment count will take place that will decide the classification of schools in the WIAA. There is now a new rule that will bump many schools up to 3A. Burlington-Edison High School will still be a 2A school, but many common opponents will move up. The changes won’t be in effect until the 2020-2021 school year, but the enrollment is taking place right now.

2A schools will be those with between 450 and 900 students in their freshman, sophomore, and junior years. That number decides which district they will be in for the playoffs. The count will begin this month and will be the average for the next year. Currently, we have 815, so we will stay in 2A for a while.

Some of our opponents could possibly be bumped up to 3A. Two of the four girls soccer state finalists (including the state champion), Liberty and Columbia River, could be 3A, so we wouldn’t have to face them. Tumwater, a football juggernaut, may also move up.

Other schools that are currently over the cutoff are Lindbergh, Cheney, Franklin Pierce, Renton, Mountlake Terrace, and Highline.

Most importantly, Sedro-Woolley, one of our biggest rivals, could move up to the 3A classification. Sedro has proved to be good competition in swim, basketball, and soccer. We would still play them once a year, but we wouldn’t see them in the playoffs. Don’t worry, Chickenfest will continue.

However, even if we lose some of our best opponents, the playoffs could actually be more tough on us. Our athletic director, Mr. Beazizo, was one of only three of the athletic directors that voted against the new rule, out of 52. The rule passed 49-3. He says he voted against it because “We could have only 2 teams come out of our district and into state. This year, the basketball teams played for third and fourth place in districts. After the rule, it may not matter, because only two teams will make it.”

Currently, each of the classifications has between 60 and 66 schools to make them even. The new rule will make is so that there can be more variance, and the classification is based only on how many students there are, not on how many schools are in that district. We would possibly be at 52 schools or even less than that, a loss of around 13 schools.

Another addition to the rule relates to the free/reduced lunch program. A statewide average percent of free/reduced lunch students will be taken, and schools with a percentage higher than the state average will have a lower enrollment count. For this reason, Blaine could drop down to 1A. Also, if Liberty moves up to 3A, Sammamish would be the only 2A team in District 2. That could affect our playoffs even more.

Overall this rule does not look to benefit us here in Burlington or the rest of the conference. The NWC was the one that originally submitted the request to change from hard numbers to percentages about 12 years ago. Mr. Beazizo emphasized, “We are the strongest conference in the state. After this rule takes effect, our third and fourth place teams won’t make it to state, even though they are good enough to beat the champions of other districts.”

In girls soccer this year, three of the four state finalists were from our District 1 & 2 playoffs. In boys basketball, Burlington is ranked as the fourth best team in state, and Lynden is first. But the boys came in third in districts this year, which would mean that if the new rule was here now, they would not have made it to regionals. The fourth best team missing regionals would be a shame, especially since the boys have a good chance to win it all this year.

In girls basketball, the Lynden Lions are the heavy favorites to take home the title and are ranked first in state. Burlington was one three-pointer away from beating them in districts. Had the rule been here, The top team in state wouldn’t have been able to compete.

Overall, this rule seems to make a lot of sense. But it does not look like it will benefit us or any other teams in our district and will limit our conferences’ continued dominance. This rule will not affect any current juniors or seniors. However, the freshmen and sophomores will experience this in two years.