Area high school sports will look different next season following the IHSAA’s recent meeting Sept. 28.
The association conducted its bi-annual review of enrollment numbers, and all three local schools will see changes to their leagues.
St. Maries, Grangeville and Orofino, which compete in the 2A Central Idaho League, will welcome Priest River to the CIL in the 2022-23 school year.
Priest River’s move to 2A comes after several years of falling short of the 3A minimum requirement of 320 students and petitioning to stay in the Intermountain League.
The Spartans have gone 2-7 in football games against CIL teams in the past four seasons. Priest River’s volleyball team did not face St. Maries last season, but the two seasons prior were 1-3 against the Lumberjacks.
Lakeside and Kootenai will once again be league football rivals with the addition of Lakeside and Wallace to the North Star League.
Wallace and Lakeside currently compete in the 1AD1 Scenic Idaho Conference, but will move down to the 1AD2 NSL for football only beginning 2022-23.
The move comes just two seasons after Lakeside, Wallace and Genesis Prep formed the SIC as members of the 1AD1 classification. Genesis Prep does not field a football team. Wallace and Lakeside will remain in the SIC for all other sports.
“I’m excited to see the NSL of old (this time including Wallace) back in action,” Lakeside Athletic Director Jerel Hight said. “Overall, this is the best thing for our kids. We won’t have to suffer long travel times or missed school for division one games, and we will be competing against our old rivals and at a level of competitiveness that makes sense for our schools.”
Lakeside was part of the NSL, which included Kootenai, Clark Fork and Mullan, in the early 2000s, before jumping up one classification in 2010 to join Wallace in 1AD1 for a single berth to state. In 2014, Lakeside moved back down to join the White Star League, a combination of the North Star League and Whitepine League, where it would remain until last season when it joined the SIC.
The White Star League was won by either Kendrick or Deary in each of its last four seasons (2015-2018).
“The idea behind the change in classification, not only stems from our lack of competitiveness at the 1AD1 level, but also the desire to bring back the North Star League of old,” Hight said. “At our last league meeting, we agreed as a league to try it and hope for the best.”
Other notable happenings at the last board meeting included Kellogg and Coeur d’Alene Charter petitioning to stay in the 3A classification, despite having 2A enrollment numbers.
Changes will take affect beginning in the fall 2022 season.