More Conference Realignment already?

More dominoes ready to fall as we have more conference realignment and could it have metro impacts?   Here's what we know from news reports out of St. Cloud, Elk River, Big Lake, Brainerd and Cambridge.

Former Rum River Conference members Foley, Milaca, Mora , Zimmerman and Princeton are joining St. Cloud Cathedral and Little Falls to form a new and yet unnamed (though bringing back the Rum River name would make sense) league.  According to news reports from Little Falls, students will choose the name of the league (bad decision if you ask me along the lines of students deciding not to renew MCTC basketball).  Little Falls would have the 2nd largest enrollment in the new league.  This new league has also invited Becker to join.  Becker will make its decision this month. 

Foley, Milaca, Mora and Cathedral are all currently in behemoth known as the (not so) West Central Conference.  Little Falls is in the Central Lakes with the St. Cloud area schools amongst others.  Little Falls motivation for moving is travel and the fact that they are the smallest school in the CLC.  Zimmerman and Princeton are Mississippi 8 members along with Becker.  Zimmerman is currently the smallest member of the rapidly growing schools in the Mississippi 8 and was the reluctant 9th member when the MSHSL placed them there after the Rum River folded.  If Becker joins in leaving, that would be 3 of the 4 smallest members leaving (more on Big Lake later)

The Mississippi 8 has responded by sending letters for possible membership to Rocori, St. Cloud Tech, St. Cloud Apollo, Sartell-St. Stephen, Sauk Rapids-Rice, Elk River, and St. Francis.  Though their football team is a Mississippi 8 member, news reports from Elk River indicate that the Elks don't want to leave the NW Suburban.  Nothing like 3 high schools in a district in 3 different leagues.  Big Lake would be left as the small remaining school in the Mississippi 8.  I'd think the new league would be a good fit for the same reasons Becker might think that.  However Big Lake has indicated they want to stay in the Mississippi 8.

Rocori isn't thrilled about joining the new league because they'd have to travel through St. Cloud at rush hour to get to all the other schools in the league.  But size wise they would be a good fit.  Annandale has been mentioned as another option for the 8th team in that new league.

Other rumors floating about from news reports are Orono possibly to the M8 where they already compete in swimming.  With the combining of Duluth Central and Duluth Denfeld to make a 4A school, there's rumor of a league that would look something like Forest Lake, Cambridge-Isanti, North Branch, Chisago Lakes, St. Francis and the 2 Duluth schools and maybe Grand Rapids.  There's also the rumor of Grand Rapids and the Duluth schools to the Central Lakes where they've applied for football membership.  There's also been mention of a super northern conference extending from Moorhead to Duluth with Brainerd, Alexandria and Fergus Falls included (good grief, who thought of that, let's get the Fargo and Sioux Falls schools in it while we're at it and ask Bismarck and Billings if they want to join too).  Willmar could be left to go to the West Central with Rocori a possibility there as well.  Willmar would also make some sense in the Southwest Conference with Marshall et al.

I think Elk River would be a great fit in a 12 team East/West split league that goes towards St. Cloud.  Put them with Cambridge-Isanti, Buffalo, Rogers, St. Michael-Albertville and Monticello in the east.  Tech, Apollo, Sauk Rapids, Sartell, Rocori and Alexandria in the west.  This would put Elk River with the teams they end up playing in section 8.  Good rivalries all through that league too. 

I could stand to see Orono take Cambridge-Isanti's spot in the east so that Cambridge could play in a new eastern league with Forest Lake, the 2 Duluth schools, St. Francis, Chisago Lakes and North Branch (with Grand Rapids possibly).  Don't know how St. Francis would compete but that league would take some travel hassles off the North Suburban and Suburban East's hands (while expanding it for the southern members).  Teams would have to agree on this one though since its a new league.  Remember that the MSHSL has the power to place teams in an existing league but cannot form new leagues unlike the WIAA.  This would cut the North Suburban and Suburban East down to 8 teams each (perfect size) and the Northwest Suburban to 10 while creating a new 8 team league that puts the Duluth schools and Grand Rapids in a league.  Great in theory, is it realistic, probably not.

Being the generous guy I am, the new Rum River not only can have Becker, but I'll give them Big Lake too.  That would make 9 teams which isn't ideal.   I could also stand the idea of Alexandria, Fergus Falls, Brainerd, Bemidji and Moorhead in a 5 team league, but here in the metro we know all too well the problems of a 5 team league.  Maybe flip Alexandria for Detroit Lakes.

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