Over the years, the classification of MTHS in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) has changed. Activities and Athletics Director Kim “Stew” Stewart, said, “we went from 3A to 4A. We were huge.”
MTHS’ classification has changed frequently over time due to student enrollment changing. Originally, MTHS was a 3A school and climbed up to 4A. Then, Woodway was built and MTHS was again classified as 3A. According to Stewart, two years ago after Lynnwood High School was built MTHS dropped down to 2A because people are generally more attracted to newer schools.
“It’s all based on numbers,” Stew said.
To classify as a 2A school, the net enrollment of students must be between 461 and 971.71. There are currently 65 2A schools in the WIAA. Net enrollment is the ratio of students enrolled in a school, regardless of age, to all the students of the official school age population. Mountlake Terrace has a net enrollment of 961.95, and is thus a 2A school. The only factor that is considered in classification by the WIAA is the net enrollment, and not the sports teams’ abilities.
Moving down to 2A will take affect in the fall. In the past, MTHS teams would play the three other high school teams who are higher than 2A in the Edmonds School District: Edmonds-Woodway, Meadowdale and Lynnwood. Starting in the fall, MTHS will play only 2A teams or lower achieving 3A teams.
“The rest of our schedule will be divided up. Right now we are looking at from the county line, which is 205th, to the border. In between there, the 2A teams that are in there we are going to divide into 2 different divisions. It’ll be a 2A football-only league,” Stew said.
There are benefits to having a 2A football-only league, according to Stew.
“The stronger teams are going to be up top, and the teams that are traditionally weaker will be down below. Now, the teams obviously up-top will have a better opportunity to make it into post-season than the teams below. But, there’s programs that are failing. Anacortes and Sehome were close to dropping football,” Stew said.
Stew believes shifting from 3A to 2A doesn’t have an effect on the student athletes.
“They just go play their hearts, and that’s what I love about this school and it’s athletes and its ASB and its music programs and all that stuff,” Stew said. “People just try to do the very best they can.”
Steve Willits, MTHS alumnus and high school sportscaster, said he saw an effect of 2A on the athletes and shifting down. He said it “gives them that extra confidence.”
Sizing down to 2A can be a better fit for competition in different sports. Willits gave an example that the basketball team this year has a better chance at beating a 2A than 3A because Metropolitan schools are stronger.
Willits also pointed out some negative effects of sizing down to 2A. There is more distance traveled being in 2A than 3A or 4A. Playing schools farther away can put a financial strain and inconvenience on supporters attending games.
There is a balance of pros and cons of MTHS shifting down to 2A, but in the end the classification isn’t what matters.
“We won WESCO that’s 3A and we’re a 2A team, and we have a trophy sitting upstairs for winning WESCO, and we got to state, but we go to state for 2A,” Stew said. “I don’t think that matters. It’s what you got on the court and who’s coaching them.”