Tri-Valley Conference loses two teams, adds two; Culver to head east in new league

In the final draft of the Oregon School Activities Association’s reclassification plan, Madras High School athletes won’t have to be on a bus for as long as they used to.

Culver High School, meanwhile, will head east on road trips, rather than west.

The final draft, which was agreed upon following an Oct. 7 meeting by the OSAA’s reclassification and districting committee, adds Crook County and Corbett to the Tri-Valley Conference and subtracts La Salle Prep and North Marion.

Culver will join the newly created Rolling Plains Conference, which includes a lot of the same schools the Bulldogs used to compete against in the Columbia Basin Conference in northeast Oregon.

It will go in front of the OSAA Executive Board and Delegate Assembly for approval on Oct. 28, and is expected to pass without much modification.

For Madras High School Athletic Director Rory Oster, the changes create two main positives for the school’s athletic program -- a reduction in travel and a geographical rival.

North Marion High School, located in Aurora, will join the Oregon West Conference with Salem and Albany area 4A schools. La Salle Prep will move up to Class 5A following the committee’s decision to make the 5A enrollment range include the Falcons. They will join the Northwest Oregon Conference.

MHS Athletic Director Rory Oster said the committee did a great job with the 4A classification, and is excited for the White Buffalos to have a close rival in Crook County.

“We’re going to save about 700 miles of travel since we won’t have to go to Milwaukie (where La Salle is located) and Aurora,” he said. “And that’s just in the fall alone.”

Since its days in the Intermountain Conference, Madras hasn’t played a school in league play as close to them as Crook County, which made it tough to develop rivalries that high school sports can foster.

Oster said the athletic directors of Class 4A schools wanted the committee, as best they could, to keep leagues at an even number and to make them larger.

While the committee didn’t necessarily make them larger, Class 4A actually shrank from the prior draft, they were able to create seven leagues with six teams, and leave the isolated Greater Oregon League in far eastern Oregon at four teams.

“Overall I’m very pleased with how it all worked out,” Oster said.

Culver, meanwhile, will rejoin most of the schools it competed against before entering the Tri-River Conference. The Bulldogs will be the most southern, and western, member of the Rolling Plains Conference, which will include Heppner, Irrigon, Weston-McEwen, Pilot Rock and Stanfield. Culver will also be the largest school in the conference with an enrollment of 179, 11 students under the Class 3A cutoff mark.

First-year CHS Athletic Director Shea Little said he’s excited to work with the people on the east side of the Cascades, but he’ll miss the people on the west side, too.

“For me, it was six one way and half a dozen the other when it came to this situation,” he said. “We’re going to get stiff competition, no matter where we play. As long as we have people to play, it’s all good.”

Little also said he would prefer to be in a larger league, like the current Tri-River Conference, but with he’s still happy to be in the six-team RPC.

With Culver, Waldport and Toledo all leaving the TRC, it will have eight teams for the next timeblock. St. Paul and Perrydale will move up from Class 1A and fill two of the three vacated spots.

“Things are changing, and not everyone is going to be happy about this,” Little said. “The OSAA is trying to accomodate everyone the best they can.”

The entire plan can be found on the OSAA’s website,

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