League realignment is hitting the Inland Northwest.
Clarkston and Pullman are set to join the new 2A Greater Spokane League next year as their current conference, the Great Northern League, will dissolve after this spring, Greyhounds athletic director Chris Franklin and Bantams athletic director Shannon Wilson confirmed Tuesday.
Pullman Radio was the first to report the move.
With Cheney moving up to 3A next year, the GNL was left with four teams — Pullman, Clarkston, East Valley and West Valley.
The four remaining GNL teams will join Shadle Park and Rogers of Spokane to form a new six-team 2A GSL, Franklin said. The GSL already has leagues in the 3A and 4A classifications.
Two other schools — 3A North Central of Spokane and 1A Deer Park — potentially could join the league as well, which would bump the league to eight teams.
The status of North Central and Deer Park will be determined when enrollment numbers are finalized in November, Franklin said. Enrollment for 2A is between 450 and 899 students in grades 9-11.
“We’d have only four schools in our league, and what that means is basically the Great Northern League is going away and we are going to be absorbed into the Greater Spokane League as a 2A division,” Franklin said. “Next year there will be two (GSL) divisions: A 2A division and then a 3A/4A.”
The change gives the new league a bigger focus in Spokane as Pullman and Clarkston will be the only teams not from that area.
Clarkston to Deer Park, just north of Spokane, would be the farthest travel distance in the new league — about a two-and-a-half-hour drive.
The biggest positive is the new league could mean more bids to state tournaments. Currently, the GNL participates in crossover games with the Central Washington Athletic Conference for additional berths to State.
“We’ve been playing the Shadles, North Centrals, Rogers in a variety of sports, so I think that this will be a good thing for us,” Franklin said. “I think we’ll still be competitive.”
Franklin said the move also will make scheduling nonconference games easier, as the 3A/4A GSL programs would be included in league meetings.
“When all of us are in a room, we’ll all be there,” he said. “I think it’s a good move for the vitality of the league.”
“It’s exciting for us because it helps out with our nonleague schedule, gives us some tougher competition than we already have with similar schools that are our size,” Wilson said.
Franklin said teams can choose opt down for football-only, which could allow programs like Cheney or North Central to join in only one sport.
The realignment will be discussed at a Pullman School Board meeting today.
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @StephanSports.