New-look 4A Narrows won’t feature prominent South Kitsap rival

Central Kitsap elected not to ‘opt up’ and will move to league’s 3A division

Projected Narrows League for 2014-16


Bellarmine Prep

Gig Harbor


South Kitsap






Central Kitsap



Mount Tahoma

North Thurston



South Kitsap will remain in a familiar-looking Class 4A Narrows League this fall.

And for school athletic director Ed Santos, that is a welcomed development.

Two years ago, the future of the Narrows, which South was a charter member of when it formed in 1979, was in doubt to the point that Santos and school principal Jerry Holsten explored moving into the South Puget Sound League.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association released statewide school enrollment numbers Nov. 22, but concerns over a repeat scenario were not eased after state’s governing body for high-school athletics recalculated those numbers last month by eliminating schools with less than 25 students from the equation.

That is because schools with the top 16 to 17 percent enrollment, such as South, are recognized as 4A. But the WIAA’s preliminary numbers can fluctuate when schools, such as Bellarmine Prep, elect to play in a larger classification, which is limited to 65 schools. Marysville Getchell (1,252 students), dropped to 3A after West Valley of Yakima chose to “opt up” Tuesday to 4A. WIAA enrollment numbers calculated with students in 10th through 12th grades and counted students in alternative schools.

Santos, who co-chairs the Narrows League realignment committee with Holsten, said he was concerned that a handful of schools in the league were close to the enrollment cutoff. Those include Timberline (1,255.9), which is moving up from 3A Narrows, Stadium (1,252.4), Gig Harbor (1,252.6), Yelm (1,266) and Olympia (1,287.1).

One significant change for 4A Narrows will be the loss of Central Kitsap, which dropped to 3A Narrows. The Cougars will compete in an eight-team league if Capital joins, as expected. Other members include Foss, Lincoln, Mount Tahoma, North Thurston, Shelton and Wilson.

Attempts to reach CK athletic director Bill Baxter by press time were unsuccessful.

CK has competed in the state’s largest classification, which formerly was known as AAA, since 1989-90. The Cougars then moved to 4A when that classification was added in 1997.

The WIAA reclassifies schools every two years based on enrollment to avoid imbalances. Santos would prefer to move to a four-year model, but that philosophy has met resistance from smaller schools around the state that frequently shift classifications based on gaining or losing a handful of students.

“At the 4A level and the 3A level, we need some stability so that you can plan,” Santos said. “It seems like we just get a new league and we already start talking about realigning again.”