Starting in the 2020-21 school year, the Great West Activities Conference will be a seven-member league.
Cimarron High School was accepted by the six current member schools in a vote, according to a press release from the GWAC Friday. The Bluejays, who are leaving the Hi-Plains League, will join area schools Scott City, Holcomb, Ulysses and Hugoton, as well as Goodland and Colby.
“We’ve been in the Hi-Plains League since 1983,” Cimarron Athletic Director Mike Schartz said Friday, “and it’s been a very good league for us, but with our steady growth and where we project to be in the next 12 years, we’ll be in the 3A level and other schools in the HPL will be dropping down to the 2A and 1A levels, so we felt the GWAC will provide more of a level opportunity for our students.”
The GWAC schools also compete in all the same sports that the Bluejays sponsor, including wrestling, baseball, softball, which was a “major factor” in the decision, Schartz said.
In addition, “the majority of (the GWAC) will also have JV and C teams, giving more opportunities for our kids to compete at those levels, and we feel like that is very beneficial,” Schartz said.
Schartz said that Cimarron will still schedule several Hi-Plains League teams to round out schedules, but the GWAC just presented an overall better fit at this point.
“We are excited to add Cimarron to the Great Western Athletic Conference.” GWAC President Marty Lehman said, according to the press release. “Their size, location, and competitiveness will fit perfectly into an already very good league. The sports and activities in which they offer are in line with what the GWAC is all about. It was a perfect fit.”
The HPL will now be an eight-school league, comprised of Elkhart, Stanton County, Southwestern Heights, Lakin, Wichita County, Meade, Sublette and Syracuse.
Cimarron is a Class 3A school for all non-football activities and 2A in football. That will make the Bluejays the smallest GWAC school by about 30 students, according to the 2018-19 enrollment numbers. Cimarron was the largest Hi-Plains League school by about 50.