NPHS admitted to Wright Co. Conference

A seven-month quest for a new home for New Prague High School athletics will end on June 24, when the New Prague Area School Board is expected to approve the school’s entry into the Wright County Conference.

The 11 current members of the conference voted last week to add New Prague as a 12th member. Tim Dittberner, incoming superintendent for the school district, told board members Monday, June 10, that the vote was 11- 1, with Hutchinson, a former Missota Conference rival of New Prague, the only no vote.

At an earlier meeting, Dittberner had said there were some concerns due to the difference in enrollment among conference schools and the large geographic area, but he said the conference plans to establish a two-division setup based on school size.

Activities director Brad Skogerboe provided information showing New Prague (enrollment 1,123) would be in a six-team division with Waconia (1,035), Orono (909), Hutchinson (797). Delano (724), and Holy Family Catholic (507). Other conference members are Mound Westonka (617), Dassel- Cokato (586), Glencoe-Silver Lake (507), Litchfield (486), Annandale (464) and New London-Spicer (390).

While the conference, when first organized, consisted mostly of schools in Wright County, only three of the current schools (Delano, Annandale and Dassel-Cokato) are actually based in Wright County.

Another concern is what will happen as schools such as New Prague and Waconia continue to grow and the disparity in size increases in the conference. Dittberner said the conference is working on a bylaw that would automatically remove a school from the conference if the disparity gets too large. He said in looking at the trends, that could happen as soon as five to seven years from now.

Skogerboe said under the two division set-up, New Prague would have 10 conference games in most sports, playing each team within the division twice. There would be no requirement to play cross-over games in most sports.

In some sports, such as hockey and soccer, there would be only one division with varying numbers of teams.

Skogerboe said it's a good conference for most sports. "For football, it’s not ideal because there would only be one other Class 5A school (Waconia). But I expect within a few years you're going to see a change to section scheduling for football.” Under section scheduling, regular season schedules would be based on MSHSL sections rather than on conference membership.

New Prague had also applied to the Big 9 and Metro West conferences, but was unanimously rejected by both leagues.

“It’s nice to be wanted,” Skogerboe said of the 10-1 vote.