The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) released the classification numbers for the 2020-24 cycle Sunday, and while Hermiston will remain in the 3A classification, the Mid-Columbia Conference will have a different look come fall.
Kamiakin will move up to 4A, while Walla Walla will move down to 3A.
The realignment still gives the MCC four 3A schools — Hermiston, Kennewick, Southridge and Wa-Hi.
The 4A schools are Kamiakin, Hanford, Richland, Pasco and Chiawana, which is the largest high school in Washington with more than 2,100 students in grades 9-11.
The MCC teams still will play a regular-season schedule, then split for the playoffs.
The MCC is part of District 8 with the Spokane schools, where three 4A schools — Ferris, University and Mead — will drop to 3A and join Cheney, North Central (2A for football) and Mt. Spokane.
Because of the large number of 3A schools (79), the amount of playoff berths a district receives will change, but those numbers have not been announced.
“We don’t know about the allocations, but it could be at least one or more,” Hermiston athletic director Larry Usher said.
What is known is that the 3A will move from 16-team state tournaments to 20 teams for football, volleyball, basketball, soccer, baseball and softball.
“Not sure how all of that will work,” Usher said. “The (WIAA) committees will have to deal with that.”
Changes also are expected for wrestling, swimming and track allocations, but again, those numbers have not been announced.
For the first time, the WIAA factored in free and reduced lunch numbers in the classification formula.
According to the WIAA, a school with a free and reduced lunch rate greater than the statewide average (47%) had its enrollment number reduced for each percent that they exceed the statewide average, except at the 1B and 2B classification level.
For Hermiston, whose average enrollment is 1,237 students, the formula lowered the enrollment number by just 38 students.
“Our district numbers are higher, but at the high school, you just don’t get the kids filling out the paperwork,” Usher said. “A lot of them don’t eat at school.”
In the WIAA, 3A schools are those that range between 900 and 1,299 students. There are 79 schools in that range, while the 4A division (1,300 or more students) dropped to 51 schools.