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Garfield, Ballard, Roosevelt will return to Metro League

The Metro League will be welcoming back old members for the 2014-15 school year.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association released its reclassification enrollment numbers Wednesday morning, a list that includes Garfield, Ballard and Roosevelt at the Class 3A level.

The WIAA Executive Board will make a final approval of the numbers on Jan. 27.

Garfield, Ballard and Roosevelt will leave KingCo 4A for the 3A Metro League. All current league schools will remain and the three new additions will give the Metro 16 members in boys and girls athletics. The league has not yet decided how it will realign itself, Seattle Public Schools director of athletics Eric McCurdy said.

Decisions on how the Metro League will split into divisions will be discussed in the coming weeks as input will gathered from principals of the concerned schools.

“The way the league is set up currently … is that a Seattle school kind of will always get a chance to go to the championship,” McCurdy said. “That’s the way it’s set up because it’s actually a Seattle league. We’ve made it to the Metro League, but it’s always been a Seattle league. So even though it’s a Metro League, we want to ensure our Seattle schools have just the same opportunity as everyone else to go to districts.”

McCurdy said a benefit to the new additions to the Metro League are travel times, which can be extremely long for the city schools to get to the eastside. With more opponents in the Seattle School District, Garfield, Ballard and Roosevelt will not have to miss as much class to travel to games.

Another benefit of the reclassification is the return of natural rivalries. One of those that will be rekindled is between Garfield and Franklin. A heated competition that was perhaps best exemplified on the basketball court, the annual games between the two schools on the hardwood would always be played in front of a packed house.

Since Franklin rejoined the Metro League in 2008, the boys basketball teams have played just twice.

“It’s kind of like Duke playing (North Carolina),” said longtime Garfield coach Al Hairston, who now heads the O’Dea program. “It’s been a tradition ever since I’ve been in Seattle. Garfield and Franklin have always played. It’s been a tradition that people in the neighborhood looked forward to every year.”

There are also going to be challenges with aligning the new league. The balance of the divisions will be key, especially when it comes down to how the playoff berths are distributed.

“Honestly, you have to look at the other sports, too,” Hairston said. “How you set up the divisions is not just based on basketball and football, but the other sports as well.”

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