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Gross says Metro Conference will not affect ESD; not all details certain

Mitchell quarterback Brent Havlik runs through several Huron defenders during a 2009 football game at Joe Quintal Field. The four Sioux Falls schools and Brandon Valley are combining to form a Metro Conference starting in the 2013-14 school year, leaving the future of the Eastern South Dakota Conference -- of which Mitchell is a part -- in question. (Republic file photo)

A new Metro Conference beginning in 2013-14 would have no affect on Mitchell High School's athletic schedules, the school's activities director, Geoff Gross, said Friday.

The creation of the Metro Conference, which in principle would include current Eastern South Dakota Conference member Brandon Valley and the four Sioux Falls high schools, will eliminate the Greater Dakota Conference.

"The only thing I know is that Brandon has been approached by all four Sioux Falls schools," Gross said. "Other than that, Brandon has told us as ESD members that if they join this new conference, it wouldn't affect scheduling at all."

The proposal seems to make sense, if for no other reason than to eliminate the cross-state trips currently being made by GDC teams in the Rapid City and Sioux Falls areas. The plan in place would have Brandon Valley stay in the ESD and also compete in the GDC. Competing in two conferences simultaneously is something Class A schools have done in the past.

Gross said he was informally introduced to the idea of a new conference being formed in the eastern edge of the state around Christmas time. A formal letter explaining the idea was sent to ESD school superintendents and activities directors this spring.

"They've been very up front about it," Gross said of Brandon Valley's possible changes. "It's not like they're hiding what's going on."

One aspect of the transition that remains unsure is how Brandon Valley will maintain its football schedule while part of two conferences. Gross said he believes being involved with two conferences at once would, in theory, complicate conference standings.

"They have indicated they would not be eliminating games, or taking away round-robin formats in any of the ESD sports," Gross said.

Brandon Valley already plays against the Sioux Falls schools in boys' and girls' basketball and volleyball. The school also travels to Sioux Falls for many middle school events and, with Brandon's increasing population in recent years, the move may be a forced one at one point or another.

But it remains that the 86-year-old ESD Conference should not be affected greatly either way.

"I don't see it affecting us as a school at all," Gross said. "They said it's not going to affect the ESD, and that's where we're at right now."