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New classifications finalized, three programs set for changes

Jan. 23—The WIAA's reclassification cycle came to its climax and conclusion Sunday at the WIAA Executive Board's meeting, with the six classifications being finalized.

And while there is change among the 16 area schools — and more in the leagues they play in that will affect the District 4 environment — there isn't any that could truly be considered unprecedented.

There will be three changes in Lewis and south Thurston County come next school year, and two of them have been relatively predictable for months.

After moving up to the 2A ranks in 2015, Rochester — which had been one of the smallest 2A schools in the state — is set to move back to 1A.

Mossyrock was an even more recent mover, having shifted from 2B to 1B in 2020. That change ended up lasting just four years, but after seven state placers at the 1B level — along with the potential for a few more this winter and spring — in three postseasons, the Vikings are headed back to the 2B ranks.

Those two moves had been known for sure since the WIAA released its initial school enrollment data on Dec. 5. The only real surprise for the area Sunday came for Winlock, a 2B school which appealed down to 1B 8-man football in 2020. The Cardinals attempted to reclassify for football again this cycle, but had their appeal rejected, sending them back to 11-man football.

Elsewhere in Lewis County, things will remain the same. There had been rumors that Centralia would appeal to reclassify to 1B, with athletic director Tim Ahern saying in a statement that CHS would "discuss the classification process and options that are available to us." Sunday, Centralia was still a 2A school, though, and questions as to whether the school appealed or accepted its initial listing were not responded to.

Now that the classifications are set, it becomes time to shift and reset the state's leagues, which will have an impact on all 16 local schools.

There isn't much drama expected for the three schools moving. Rochester has an obvious landing spot in the 1A Evergreen League, where it played until its shift up to 2A, and the league now has an open slot from its five-team ranks with Eatonville moving up to 2A. Mossyrock, which has just about been an honorary member of the Central 2B League for the past four years, will rejoin in an official capacity, and Winlock — a full C2BL member for every sport save football — has an obvious place on the gridiron.

For most sports, the change will be simple, with the C2BL shifting from 10 schools to nine. Football will be more complicated though, with Ocosta also moving down to 1B and North Beach successfully reclassifying for football. That brings District 4 2B football down to 13 schools, possibly prompting a consolidation to two divisions.

The 2As are in their own sort of bind. With Rochester going to 1A and Shelton moving up to 3A — and the one 1A Evergreen school moving up likely going to the 2A South Puget Sound League — the 2A EvCo is set to contract from seven schools to five. Down south, the 2A Greater St. Helens League will go from nine schools to eight, with Fort Vancouver moving to 1A, taking District 4 from 16 2A programs to 13.