Hermiston High School has been admitted to the Mid-Columbia Conference, joining its nearby Washington neighbors in a move that will make for drastic savings in the school’s athletic travel budget.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association announced Monday that its executive board approved the move of the Oregon school into Washington’s District 8 as a Class 3A school beginning in the 2018-19 school year.
“This move to the WIAA is the right thing for our students,” Hermiston athletic director Larry Usher said in a WIAA release. “Our situation will be much improved in regards to travel distance, lost instructional time, and budgets.”
Added Hermiston superintendent Dr. Fred Maiocco: “Hermiston is also tied culturally and geographically to the Tri-Cities of Washington. Our communities have a shared heritage dating back to the Lewis and Clark expeditions. This action by the WIAA permits us to strengthen and deepen the cross-border community partnerships which naturally exist between Hermiston, the Tri-Cities, and Walla Walla.”
The Bulldogs will become full members of the MCC and will participate with Washington schools in the postseason. They will join the seven Tri-Cities high schools and Walla Walla, bumping up the MCC into a nine-team league.
Hermiston first petitioned the WIAA in January, a move precipitated by the Oregon Schools Activities Association's (OSAA) bumping up the Bulldogs to the state’s highest classification. That likely would have meant a move to the distant Mt. Hood Conference and facing regular trips to Barlow, Centennial, David Douglas, Gresham, Hood River Valley, Reynolds and Sandy high schools.
The WIAA and OSAA in March outlined the criteria necessary for a school to gain membership across state lines. Usher said at the time the two key components are that a school must be facing a hardship, and its current association (for Hermiston, the OSAA) must be on board with the school leaving.
Usher said Hermiston teams would each travel about 3,000 miles per season just to play their conference games. Comparatively, the Bulldogs would rack up just over 630 miles to play all eight MCC teams (about an 80-mile round trip per game).