The transition to District One brings new changes for sports

Sam Kelderman, Sports Editor

Two years ago, Liberty moved down from the 3A division to the 2A division. By taking a glance at all of the state and District sports banners hanging in the main gym, one can argue that Liberty has been dominating its new competition over the past couple years. Did District Three, the previous district Liberty competed in, kick us out because our school was too much of a powerhouse? Many could speculate as to why this happened, but the bottom line is that sports teams have to compete in a new district for post season this year—District One.
Our state is divided up into several different districts by different regions. When Liberty was a 3A school, we had plenty of 3A teams to compete against in our district tournaments at the end of sports seasons. When we moved down to 2A, Sammamish was our only other 2A competitor in our district, so competing with the 2A teams in District Three was our only option.
“We had a 2-year contract with District Three and that ended last spring,” athletic director Loren Krogstad said. “We did ask if we could go back and they said no—they had the right to do that. So then we went to District One which is the next closest, and they said yeah sure, come on in.”
One of the biggest changes this year is that team’ regular season records are going to be utilized by a ranking system that determines the seeding each team gets going into district tournaments. This change only applies to team sports; however, football’s ranking system is slightly different because they play less games.
“Last year, teams were just preparing to beat Sammamish,” Krogstad said. “This year, teams have to make their league games count.”
Teams will also have to account for less allocations to state, the number of spots guaranteed for teams and individuals to get to state.
“It’s going to be much harder to get more kids to state this year then it has been in the past,” girls’ swim and dive coach Kris Daughters said. “Second and third string swimmers that could have made one of the seven allocations in District three last year are going to try harder to make one of the three allocations in District one.”
Less allocation will also make it harder to compete and beat out state-level competitors at District tournaments.
“I know the girls would love to go to Districts and especially state, too,” assistant volleyball coach Andy Fickert said. “It will be harder to beat and get to state since the two best teams in the state are in our District.”
For some teams, such as boys tennis, District One has stronger and more advanced teams as compared to District Three. So on top of less allocations to get to state, the level competition will make it harder for teams to get to state. However, head boys’ tennis coach Mike Salokas thinks that his team will benefit from this hurdle.
“If qualifying for State is more challenging, then we must play better earlier in the postseason to earn the opportunity to play at State,” Salokas said. “As coach, I see a good opportunity to take regular and post season seriously. We will strive to be the best, regardless of whom the opponent is or when we play, and this is a distinguishing quality of a champion.”
Overall, the move from district three to District One will ultimately create more competition for teams during regular and post season, because regular season count for a berth to post season play.
“I didn’t like this attitude teams had last year to just beat Sammamish,” Krogstad said. “This year every game, match or meet matters and I like that—that’s the way it should be.”