The Winlock School Board has approved a renewal of their cooperative wrestling and cross country programs with Toledo, though officials remain uncertain if they wish to continue with combined boys soccer as well.
Their indecision centers around the Toledo School Board's vote on Feb. 20 to discontinue their participation in combined baseball, fastpitch and girls soccer programs due to Toledo's recent reclassification from 1A to 2B by the WIAA, effective next school year.
Toledo officials stated at the time, if they continued with the combined programs, those programs would remain within the 1A league, and said parting ways would allow Toledo students to compete instead with more local 2B teams.
Toledo also elected to keep boys soccer intact because no local 2B league exists, as well as wrestling and cross country because the students on those teams compete individually and such cooperative programs do not require a change in league participation.
Prior to Toledo’s decision not to renew the contracts establishing the combined programs, Winlock’s School Board had met Feb. 19 and some officials stated they would prefer to eliminate all combined and cooperative programs if Toledo chose to opt out of any of them, stating they felt slighted by Toledo’s intent to pull out of the programs.
However, during their regular meeting March 19, the Winlock School Board instead chose to sustain the cross country and wrestling cooperatives, but remained hesitant to continue with combined Boy’s Soccer, though Athletics Director Brian Maley advised it would not be beneficial for Winlock to attempt to compete in boys soccer at the 2B level.
Maley said the closest 2B league is in the Tacoma area and takes place in the fall, which would pit boys soccer against three other athletics programs (girls soccer, volleyball, cross country and football) for resources and participation.
"We do throw a wrench into things if our male athletes have to decide between football and soccer," said Maley to the board, stating it would be beneficial to maintain a combined program for the sake of bolstering participation levels and decreasing costs for equipment and staffing.
In the end, it was the board’s decision to table the issue, with the intention of looking into alternatives such as finding another local high school interested in participating in a 1A boys soccer program.
"In my mind, I’m thinking we’re probably going to end up signing the darn thing, but I just want to make sure," stated Board Member Scott Weinert.
When officials were contemplating how they should react to Toledo’s decision to withdraw from cooperative baseball, fastpitch and girls soccer, resident Randy Hall said it is important not to get caught up in old rivalries and realize not as many students have reacted with the same frustration as their parents.
"I don’t think the kids have any animosity," said Hall, a parent of students participating in football, basketball, soccer and wrestling at Winlock. "They don’t even really read behind the scenes of what really happened."
When responding to Winlock’s tabling of the contract renewal for combined boys soccer, the Toledo School Board stated Thursday they were still prepared to compete at the 1A level starting next year, with Board Member Heidi Buswell stating she felt the other board’s indecision was "damaging" Winlock’s male athletes.
In the mean time, Toledo Superintendent Sharon Bower and Winlock Superintendent Shannon Criss have said they will be exploring revised funding methods for wrestling and cross country to make the shared costs more equitable. Beforehand, it had been agreed Toledo would pay for cross country and Winlock would pay for wrestling, and the significantly higher cost of the wrestling program has prompted officials to explore instead sharing costs based on how many students from each district are participating in each program.
It is expected the Winlock School Board will against address the issue of combined boys soccer at their next meeting April 23 at 7 p.m. in the District Office.