The WIAA didn’t take long to find New Richmond’s replacement for the Middle Border Conference.
The Board of Control announced earlier this month Altoona is moving from the Cloverbelt West Division into the Middle Border Conference for all sports except football, starting this fall.
“The discussion has been there for quite some time during Cloverbelt Director meetings, simply because Altoona has been growing for several years,” explained Altoona AD Elissa Upward.
Seven of the eight current Middle Border schools have high school enrollments figures this year between 420 and 510 with New Richmond being the oddball at 949. Upward said Altoona’s enrollment this year was 462.
She also believes the similarity in sizes will offset the travel concerns. For example, a Google search has the distance between Altoona and Osceola slightly over 90 miles.
“Being comparable in size with schools of the Middle Border will provide scheduling relief,” she said “The Middle Border will provide the offerings and team size that are in line with our own, creating more opportunities for our students.”
Upward said boys and girls soccer are newer offerings for the school which is a co-op with Fall Creek. Boys hockey is already in the Middle Border as part of a team with Bloomer, McDonell and Regis. Girls hockey is part of an Eau Claire North, Eau Claire Memorial and Fall Creek team, which competes in the Big Rivers Conference.
“Having the majority of our sports in one conference will help create cohesiveness for our school and community,” she added. “We intend to move our football (currently in the Coulee) and girls golf program into the Middle Border Conference in the near future.”
Another reason Altoona is excited about the move: post season play.
“Because of our size, the conference schools we’ve competed with during the regular season were often times, not who we match up with during the tournament series,” Upward continued. “We’ve competed with MBC teams in the past throughout all of our programs.”