ILWACO - Ilwaco High School Athletic Director Matt Blair has what may be good news for Ilwaco sports fans - the student count is below 300 and the Fishermen will probably be going back to class A level sports for the next two school terms.

"Our counts from the last five months of last school year and October and November 2003 are averaging 298 for the top three grades," Blair relates. An enrollment of 314 on Dec. 1 would bring the average to the not-so-magic 300 level and would result in staying in the 2A classification. The count on Nov. 1 was 306, but an upward trend is not likely.

"This is the time of year our enrollment usually decreases for a number of reasons," Blair went on to say.

For Ilwaco football and volleyball teams that have struggled against Trico League powerhouses from the I-5 corridor, the move to class A would be great news, especially since both programs have relatively strong and deep teams in grades eight through 10.

Cross country boys should be licking their chops as visions of state dominance may appear in their collective heads, and the girl's team should also be much more competitive at the district and state levels as an A school. Boys and girls basketball squads should continue to be at or near the top of the A leagues, as they have been in the Trico.

Wrestling, softball, and baseball should enjoy parity moving away from the Trico trio of Ridgefield, Woodland and Castle Rock, as well. Track and field, with many of the same speedsters from cross country and a strong junior high contingent, should bring home a truckload of state meet hardware.

The only team that may be hurt by the move back to A could be golf, as fewer spots to state are typically open at that classification, and many private schools are class A, and their students seem to have more access to the links at an early age.

Transportation costs would decrease dramatically, with the longest trips being to Onalaska or Adna instead of Stevenson and Forks. Opportunities for fans and parents to enjoy the Fishermen at home as well as away would be a bonus; and students would get home much earlier as well.

White Salmon is rumored to be on the bubble to drop to class A and Elma and LaCenter will possibly move up to 3A. Woodland and Castle Rock are also bursting at the seams and may move to 3A.

If the Trico and Evergreen Leagues lost all six schools, they would likely combine into one big league. A trip from Forks to Stevenson would be approximately 325 miles and nine hours one way by school bus. That's further than from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and about 100 miles further than from Boston to New York City.

Forks already travels more miles for athletic events than any other high school in the U.S., which makes a trip to Toutle, Winlock or even North Beach seem like a walk in the park.

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