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La Grande Observer 11/28/14

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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow IMBLER SEEKS MOVE TO 1A

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IMBLER SEEKS MOVE TO 1A

Imbler football players might be competing in the Class 1A Old Oregon League next school year. The school board has voted to ask the OSAA to drop Imbler from 2A to 1A. (The Observer/RAENELLE KWOCK).
Imbler football players might be competing in the Class 1A Old Oregon League next school year. The school board has voted to ask the OSAA to drop Imbler from 2A to 1A. (The Observer/RAENELLE KWOCK).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

IMBLER — None of Imbler High School's athletic teams played Tuesday. Still it was a historic day in Panther sports history.

The Imbler School Board voted to ask the Oregon School Activities Association to move the high school from the 2A to 1A classification for competitions. The 1A level is for high schools with 115 and fewer students. The 2A level is for schools with 116 to 325 students. Imbler High School has experienced a falling enrollment.

The vote was unanimous.

"It is a good move,'' said board chairperson Kent Coppinger.

Imbler will move from the Class 2A Wapiti League to the Class 1A Old Oregon League if the OSAA approves the request.

The high school must submit a letter to the OSAA by Monday. The association's executive committee will consider Imbler's request on Dec. 9. If the OSAA approves the request, the high school could move to the 1A level next school year.

Imbler teams have competed in the Class 2A Wapiti League for years. However, the chances of being successful in the future may diminish because of falling enrollment.

The high school has 99 students, down 13 from last year. The enrollment picture may not improve dramatically any time soon.

The school is projected to have 108 students in 2004-05, 103 in 2005-06, 108 in 2006-07 and 100 in 2007-08.

Despite low numbers, Imbler's athletic teams have been highly competitive in recent years. This fall, for example, the football team finished in a three-way tie for the Wapiti League title.

Imbler School District Superintendent Larry Glaze said he is proud of the success Imbler is enjoying at the 2A level. However, he said that because student numbers are dropping, moving to the 1A would be a good step since it would

allow the school to remain competitive.

"It will provide student athletes with a better chance for success,'' Glaze said.

If Imbler joins the Old Oregon League its teams could be faced with longer trips if the OOL alignment remains intact.

The longest trips teams would have to make from Imbler would be to Crane, at 470 miles round trip; Jordan Valley, 419 miles; Adrian, 298 miles; and Prairie City, 248 miles.

The four longest trips Imbler has to make to play Wapiti League foes are to Grant Union in John Day, 274 miles round trip; Nyssa, 276 miles; Pine Eagle in Halfway, 192 miles; and Joseph, 125 miles.

Imbler High School Principal Mike Mills said the Old Oregon League makes efforts to help schools when they have to make exceptionally long trips to games. For example, during the basketball season it has scheduled games on Saturday to prevent students from missing classes.

School board member Forrest Warren said he is concerned about the possibility of longer road trips. However, he supports moving to the 1A level because it would prevent Imbler's football team from having to play much larger schools.

Imbler's football squad compiled an 8-1 record this fall despite the fact that it had fewer than 20 players and often had to play much larger teams. Warren said the possibility of injuries increases in a collision sport like football when a smaller school plays a larger one.

Coppinger, like Warren, said the travel issue also concerns him. However, he supports the move because it would provide students with better opportunities for success.

The OSAA normally changes school classifications every four years. The next scheduled change is in 2006. The OSAA does, however, make changes in other years if schools file petitions. The OSAA's executive board must approve these requests.

Joseph High School, now in Class 2A, has also applied to the OSAA to move to Class 1A.

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