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Gettysburg school board votes to leave York-Adams League for Mid-Penn Conference in 2022

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports
Gettysburg's Ruger Pennington, left, runs the ball while York Suburban's David Moye defends during football action at York Suburban Senior High School in Spring Garden Township, Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. York Suburban would win the game 30-19. Dawn J. Sagert photo

In 2022, the York-Adams League will be down to 22 member schools.

Monday evening, the Gettysburg Area School District board voted 7-2 to approve a recommendation to leave the Y-A League and return to the Mid-Penn Conference for the 2022-2023 academic year. The move will still need to be voted on and approved by the Mid-Penn before it is official.

The main issues that led to Gettysburg's initial investigation into leaving the Y-A League were: length of travel to games, which is financially costly and cuts into instructional time for students, nondivision and junior varsity games; and division classification.

Y-A League divisions are aligned based on enrollment numbers, which has moved the Gettysburg wrestling program down to Division II this season after winning Division I last season. Gettysburg athletic director Casey Thurston and the Warriors' wrestling coaches would prefer the Mid-Penn model, which schedules opponents based on competitiveness and geographic location, in addition to enrollment.

Gettysburg's original move from the Mid-Penn to the Y-A League in 2014 drew criticism from some of the school's coaches, according to Thurston, and now those coaches are likely to get their wish when the program leaves the Y-A League.

During Monday's meeting, Thurston admitted not all of Gettysurg's coaches were happy with switching back to the Mid-Penn, citing baseball, girls' basketball and baseball.

The 2014 move was immediately regretted by some: Gettysburg High School principal Jeremy Lusk, however, also spoke about the unhappiness of some in the Warriors' athletic community with the Y-A League during Monday's meeting. Lusk came to Gettysburg just after the move to the Y-A League in 2014 and almost immediately was asked to help get them out.

"It was probably less than a week into my time as an administrator at the high school that I heard people say, 'Hey, nice to meet you. If there's anything you can do to get us back into the Mid-Penn, that would be a good thing," Lusk said.

Impact on York-Adams League: York-Adams League executive director Chuck Abbott declined to comment on Monday's vote by the Gettysburg school board. It is uncertain how the Y-A League would align divisions with the Warriors' expected departure.

Before Gettysburg's arrival in 2014, the Y-A League used a 6-6-10 alignment for football, with six teams each in Division I and Division II, and 10 teams in D-III.

The Warriors were previously a Mid-Penn member from 1992 until 2014.

If accepted back into the Mid-Penn, Gettysburg would likely land in the Colonial Division for most sports, which typically includes Northern York, Greencastle-Antrim, Waynesboro and Shippensburg, among other schools.

Gettysburg is coming off a strong Y-A sports campaign in 2019-2020, winning division crowns in baseball, girls' basketball, boys' basketball, girls' cross country, wrestling and girls' soccer.

Volleyball matches: Thurston said girls' volleyball may be a Gettysburg sport that is negatively impacted by moving to the Mid-Penn. The Y-A League traditionally is very strong in girls' volleyball. Thurston said the Warriors would likely want to schedule future nonleague girls' volleyball matches vs. Y-A teams, but she wasn't sure leaving the league would create issues doing so.

“I guess it depends on how upset some of them are going to be,” Thurston said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I consider the athletic directors in York-Adams great colleagues. They have been great to work with, especially as a new athletic director, so I’m hoping there’s no hard feelings. I guess we’ll see when we cross that bridge.”

Next step: With the school board decision official, the next step is for the Gettysburg school board and Thurston to submit an official request to join the Mid-Penn. Thurston estimated the conference's decision to allow the Warriors to return could come by spring 2021.

Although Thurston said there had not been much of a response from the coaches or community, after years of conversations she is certain that most people involved with the decision are happy the Warriors are heading back to the Mid-Penn.

“I think it will be a good move,” Thurston said. “I think some of the coaches that have been around (since) we moved to York-Adams were blindsided by that move (in 2014) and have wanted to go back since we found out we would be moving. So, when you look at the overall, the vast majority want the move. The majority of the coaching staff are happy about the move."

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.