Venerable high school sports conference reaches its final days

In March 1959, the nine members of the Scott-Le Sueur-Sibley County Conference voted to disband after one year of existence.

Seven of the schools said they would reorganize as a new conference and begin competition in the 1959-60 school year. The new conference — named the Minnesota River Conference — stuck around for 65 years.

That longevity will come to an end this month. The league announced in April 2023 that it would dissolve at the end of this school year. Over the next two weeks, the conference will conduct its final competitions. The final week of the baseball and softball regular-season schedules are this week. The conference will conduct its final athletic directors meeting Wednesday, its final conference track and field meet Thursday and its final conference golf meet May 20.

Four of the original members of the Minnesota River Conference — Arlington (now Sibley East), Belle Plaine, Le Sueur (now Le Sueur-Henderson), Montgomery (now Tri-City United) — are still members of the conference. A fifth — Norwood Young America, which became a member in the conference's second year — is also still a member. Jordan, an original member, left the conference in 2020. Le Center, an original member that left in 2003, is part of Tri-City United.

Mayer Lutheran has been a member since 2003, and Lester Prairie joined in 2021.

Among the many highlights for the conference have been state championships won by Belle Plaine (one girls golf, one girls track and field and one volleyball); Le Sueur (one boys golf, two girls golf, one boys basketball) and Le Sueur-Henderson (one softball); Mayer Lutheran (three in volleyball) and Sibley East (two in baseball).

In the fall, the current members will have new homes — Belle Plaine and Tri-City United in the Big South; Mayer Lutheran in the MCAA; Norwood Young America in the Wright County; Lester Prairie in the Valley/Tomahawk Conference and Le Sueur-Henderson and Sibley East in a new conference called the South Central with Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial, Maple River, Minnesota Valley Lutheran and St. Clair.

Minnesota River Conference members

Arlington-Green Isle/Sibley East (1959-present)

Belle Plaine (1959-present)

Le Sueur/Le Sueur-Henderson (1959-present)

Lester Prairie (2021-present)

Mayer Lutheran (2002-present)

Montgomery-Lonsdale/Tri-City United (1959-present)

Norwood Young America (1960-present)

Former Minnesota River Conference members

Holy Family (2003-2011)

Jordan (1959-2020)

Le Center (1959-2003)

Mankato Loyola (1979-2002)

New Prague (1959-1979)

Southwest Christian (2018-2021)

Watertown-Mayer (2011-2015)