ESD Conference looking to add two teams
The Eastern South Dakota Conference has issued invitations to Sturgis and Harrisburg high schools to become football-only members, beginning the 2013-14 school year, it was announced Wednesday.
Both schools are looking at their options, according to a news release written by Dan Whalen, Pierre athletic director and ESD president.
Sturgis, a former member of the Greater Dakota Conference, no longer has a regular league after the GDC disbanded earlier this year. Harrisburg is anticipating a move to Class AA in the next realignment cycle.
Whalen said scheduling for football is the main reason the two schools were invited.
"This is one of the scenarios that could help create a situation where we could really kind of keep people with competent schedules and prevent some of the really large schools from playing some of the smaller schools on a regular basis," Whalen said.
Mitchell Activities Director Geoff Gross said that the vote was unanimous to let both schools join the conference. He said if the two schools do decide to accept their invitations, it won't change things for Mitchell.
"We already play Sturgis on a rotational basis so it wouldn't really be anything new," Gross said. "If we didn't think that Harrisburg and Sturgis weren't fit to be apart of our conference, we wouldn't have extended the invitation."
Last year, Rapid City asked for an invitation to join the ESD and was declined, but it did not request a new invitation this year. Gross said ESD Conference ADs extended the invitation to the schools that were the most comparable to those already in the conference.
Harrisburg is a quickly growing district that 15 years ago was a Class B school, which is another reason why they were extended an invitation, Gross said.
Presently, Harrisburg has 400 students enrolled. In the next four or five years, it's estimated to have 650 to 800 students and be as big as Mitchell and maybe even surpass its enrollment in the next 10 years.
"(Sturgis and Harrisburg) schools are similar to us demographically and in size," Gross said. "So they'd be a good fit in our conference.
"Harrisburg and Sturgis have to look down the road and try and figure out where they're going to be in the next 10 to 20 years to see if this will really be a good fit for them."
Sturgis has also applied to be an all sports member of the Black Hills Conference. Whalen said the ESD athletic directors will meet again next month to discuss the issue more, including whether to offer membership to the two schools in all sports.
Gross said Harrisburg and Sturgis have to look down the road and try and figure out where they're going to be in the next 10 to 20 years to see if this will really be a good fit for them.