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Numbers show MHS' move to new league makes sense

July 1, 2014 - Andy Heintz
After talking with a few of Marshalltown’s coaches and the athletic director, it is clear to me that this attempted change at a new conference makes a lot of sense.

Bobcat girls track and field and boys cross country coach Chad Pietig’s top quote centered around being in a league where the schools are alike.

The Bobcats will still play the Waukees and the Valleys and the Dowlings on a consistent basis. They will still face Ames, Fort Dodge and Mason City as much as possible.

They just want to be more competitive as a whole and have the opportunity to win conference championships and be recognized for more of their athletic achievements.

Looking at the latest numbers for enrollment for the CIML, it is clear to me that this new league would fit them better.

The largest school in the state is West Des Moines Valley and it’s not even close. The Tigers have a 9-11 enrollment of 2,036 and the next biggest school is Des Moines East at 1,707. Des Moines Lincoln also is third at 1,589, but the rest of that proposed eight-team league is sitting at 1,261 (Roosevelt) and lower.

Marshalltown is the largest school in the Central Iowa Conference Northern Division with 1,082, while the rest of the contenders for the new league are sitting at 980 (Ottumwa), 885 (North), Indianola (834) and 734 (Hoover).

Mason City (890) and Fort Dodge (838) would fit into this plan of forming a new league, but a source close to the issue told me that the five Des Moines schools did not approach either school about the formation of a new conference because they didn’t want to travel to Fort Dodge, Mason City and Ottumwa every year.

Ottumwa had already been a part of the CIML Metro Conference and the Des Moines schools were used to that travel already.

The numbers aren’t completely even, but the competition level is.

Lincoln, Roosevelt, North, East and Hoover have never truly been much of a player overall in the CIML and Ottumwa is hit and miss. Indianola flirted with joining up with the Little Hawkeye Conference last year before deciding to stick it out in the large CIML.

This change would be good for all eight parties involved.

There will still be some lopsided scores. The Des Moines East girls basketball team is usually a state title contender and Roosevelt has been very competitive in girls track and cross country in recent years. Des Moines North’s boys basketball team recently found state-title worthy success but that was one season. Who knows how long that will last?

For the most part, I think the Bobcats will certainly be more competitive in most sports. And that should help with achieving their ultimate end game of raising the participation numbers.

Marshalltown Activities Director Craig Huegel will speak to the community in an open-forum meeting on July 9 at the old Anson Middle School.

That will be Huegel’s final chance to pitch the idea to the school board. And I would think the school is 100 percent behind this idea.

I plan on sitting in on the meeting on July 9 and attending the school board meeting on July 14. That is the night the school board decides the athletic program’s fate.

I will be looking to get opinions from members of the community at that July 9 meeting and may even try to grab an opinion or two at a baseball or softball game.

If you want your opinion shared in a future blog, column or story in the Times-Republican, feel free to approach me to get it on tape.

I would think the community would have the school’s back in this matter, but I also will accept opinions from those who don’t like the idea.

It should be a memorable and historic few weeks around the athletic department.

This is big news for the school and for a CIML that has been around and together for a long time.


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