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What can CCHS fans expect as teams join the Tri-Valley League?


More travel, less stress about power rankings, and maybe more success

Ever since it was announced that Crook County was moving from the Intermountain Hybrid Conference to the Tri-Valley League people have been asking me if this is going to be a good or bad change.

The answer is it all depends on your perspective. In some sports it looks like there will be little if any difference. In others, it may be harder to qualify for state tournaments, while in some it looks like the change will have a huge positive impact.

The reality is that we are just going to have to wait and see.

The one thing that we know for sure is that in team sports the change will mean in increase in league travel. After that it will be interesting to see how things shake out.

Although it’s still three weeks until the start of the fall practice season, teams have been gearing up all summer for the new Class 4A league. Some teams are excited. Others not so much. Either way it looks like the Tri-Valley League is here to stay.

Last year CCHS football just missed out on receiving a play-in contest. The Cowboys finished with a 5-4 record and played eventual Class 4A champion Ridgeview tough in their lone Special District I league contest. Despite a strong end to the season, North Marion, who was in the Tri-Valley League last year, and finished with just three wins on the season, made it to post season play while the Cowboys did not.

That won’t happen this year. Whether or not Crook County reaches the playoffs will be all about their league record and based on last year it would seem that the Cowboys have an excellent chance. Of all the teams in the realigned Tri-Valley League, just Gladstone and Crook County had winning records last year. Gladstone finished the season with an 8-3 record. Estacada (3-7) and Molalla (4-5) appear to be the next Madras was just 2-7 on the year. Joining Crook County as newcomers in the league is Corbett, who was just 2-8 a year ago while playing a Class 3A schedule.

The obvious conclusion is that moving to the Tri-Valley League should help CCHS football.

The same can be said for boys soccer. Last year, La Salle Prep, Molalla, and North Marion reached the playoffs from the Tri-Valley League. Both La Salle and North Marion are no longer in the league and other than Molalla only Madras finished without a losing record last year (6-6-2). Meanwhile, Crook County finished with a 5-6 record despite having mostly freshmen and sophomores on their roster. With the Tri-Valley league expected to be a lower level of competition than the IMC, the Cowboys have a chance to capitalize.

The Cowgirl soccer team also has an opportunity to take advantage of the new league. Like in the boys league, La Salle was league champions. Since they are no longer in the league, just Gladstone (12-2-2) and Molalla (8-7-1) return with winning records. However, Corbett had an 11-6 record at 3A and could be dangerous. Still, the Cowgirls should be more competitive even against the stronger teams in the new league than they have been against IMC competition.

Cross country is much harder to predict. Both the Cowboys had Cowgirls have had recent success since joining the Greater Oregon League. La Salle won the boys state championship, but is no longer in the league. The Cowboys finished ahead of Molalla at state, so are likely one of the stronger teams in the league. For the Cowgirls, however, things are not so clear. Molalla is the defending state champion and returns most of their team, while Estacada also finished ahead of any school from the Greater Oregon League.

Of all the fall sports, it is volleyball that may not like the change to the Tri-Valley League. The league matchups will weaken their regular season schedule significantly. For the past several years the Cowgirls have had one of hardest, if not the hardest, schedules in the state, at any level. Now, instead of playing 5A powers like Summit and Bend, the Cowgirls will instead be facing teams like Molalla (6-10) and Gladstone (2-14). The weaker schedule could hurt their seeding for state, as well as making them less battle tested.

However, at least defending league champion Madras, and newcomer Corbett, should both be strong.

When it comes to other sports seasons, there may also be winners and losers from joining the new league. Both boys and girls basketball should see marked improvement in their records. Baseball and softball should also expect to see their lives get easier. Wrestling will still be a league and state power, but may have a harder time getting their no. 2 wrestlers to state. Track may not be able to qualify quite as many competitors for the state meet, but those who do qualify should do well at the state level, while tennis and golf are likely to see little if any change.

The reality is whether or not you like the changes will largely depend on what team you are following. The only thing that is 100 percent sure is that league travel will be a lot more difficult. Everything else is just speculation. At least we don’t have long to wait before some of the questions are answered.

Lon Austin is the sports editor for the Central Oregonian. He can be reached at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..