New Prague to join WCC in 2014-15

WildcatsCMYKThe Wright County Conference continues to morph and change as conferences throughout the state form, dissolve, and adapt.

With the still-recent addition of New London-Spicer, expanding the conference from 10 teams to 11, the schools of the Wright County Conference have voted to add New Prague in the 2014-15 school year to make a 12-team conference, with two six-team divisions in most activities.

“We’d been looking to get another school to make an even number,” Waconia Activities Director Dave Kuehn said.

New Prague, with a current enrollment of just over 1,100 students, will be the largest school in the WCC, with just a few dozen more students than Waconia. The addition of another large school is very promising for Kuehn, who felt that Waconia was quickly outgrowing the smaller WCC schools like New London-Spicer, Dassel-Cokato, and Litchfield.

“[New Prague] brings in another school that has comparable size and programs,” he said.

Because of its dominating size, Waconia had applied in early April to become a part of the newly-forming Metro West Conference, which includes the schools of Chaska, Chanhassen, Bloomington Jefferson, Bloomington Kennedy, Richfield, Robbinsdale Cooper, and St. Louis Park. Waconia’s application to the conference was denied and thus Waconia will happily remain in the WCC.

With the district’s growth and the class and section rankings that the Wildcats play in, Kuehn felt the Metro West conference would have been a few good fit for Waconia.

“We’re looking to get more aligned with teams we see at the end of the season,” he said.

The Wright County Conference has been a good fit for Waconia in terms of competition, but when it comes time to seed teams in a given section, Waconia doesn’t get much credit for defeating small schools like New London-Spicer or Litchfield, according to Kuehn. Playing in a more competitive conference could change that.

It’s likely conferences will continue to change in the coming seasons, as the Classic Suburban, Tri-Metro and Missota conferences are all dissolving. New Prague joins the WCC once the Missota Conference dissolves after next school year.

“That door to the Metro West, I don’t know if it’s completely shut, but for right now, we have no option besides the Wright County, but we’re happy,” Kuehn said.

If, or when, Waconia chooses to leave the WCC, it probably won’t be long before the other larger, competitive schools, would begin to look for better-fitting conferences as well.

Kuehn said New Prague changes the WCC for the better, and not just for Waconia. New Prague will join the ‘East’ division of larger schools along with Waconia, Hutchinson, Delano, Orono, and Holy Family. The ‘West’ division, or smaller schools, will include Mound-Westonka, Glencoe-Silver Lake, Annandale, Dassel-Cokato, Litchfield, and New London-Spicer.

Many sports will have more scheduling freedom, with the only required conference games against the teams in their divisions. There will be schedule room for divisional crossover games or other section opponents. For instance, Waconia basketball will allow for six non-division games to fill in with West teams, section teams, or any other team that fits.

Football will continue to have a crossover schedule like it did this season, playing five games against teams in the division and three from the other.

With the addition of New Prague, Marshall High School will not join the WCC conference for football only, dissolving a previous agreement that the Tigers would join the conference for the 2014 season.

“It was a good idea until New Prague applied,” Kuehn said. “We’re excited about New Prague.”

Most sports will operate in the divisional format, except for sports like gymnastics and hockey, where not every school has a team.

The Wright County Conference voted 10-1 to accept New Prague, with Hutchinson being the only vote against.

Contact Melissa Marohl at melissa.marohl@ecm-inc.com

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