In what’s been a couple of years in the making, Buckeye Valley athletics will have a new home in the Mid-State League starting in the 2019-20 school year, athletic director Mike Yinger and the league confirmed.
“It was finalized at our last board meeting (Feb. 22),” Yinger said. “I think we’re just – like any other school district – looking out for our students. And right now this is the best fit for our students.”
BV’s departure from the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference leaves Marion Pleasant and River Valley as the only remaining charter members of the league that started in 1990.
It came down to two things for BV – location and distance.
With the MOAC going north to fill vacancies in recent years, BV felt it was losing the eyes of fellow members of the Central District.
“It was starting to take away from individual accomplishments and team accomplishments as far as seeding (in the tournaments),” Yinger said. “If you’re in Central Ohio more, you get more exposure. I think that’s really the main focus.”
BV decided to stay with the MOAC even after it replaced Fairbanks and Alder with Mansfield area schools Clear Fork and Ontario a couple of years ago.
“I have nothing but good things to say about Clear Fork and Ontario and Galion and their administration and the people,” Yinger said. “But, the fact that we were getting wins against them or teams farther north – when we went to seeding meetings – people (in the Central District) didn’t know who we were talking about or the teams that we were playing.”
The average travel distance in miles increased from 23 before Fairbanks and Alder left to 34.4 with Shelby replacing the league’s next departure North Union.
That made the MSL a more viable alternative at an average distance of 34.7 miles.
“Geographically, I thought – man, they are way out there,” MSL commissioner Jim Hayes said. “We’re not going to want to travel to Buckeye Valley.”
But then he got out a map and thought it wasn’t as bad as he initially thought.
“Granted – going down (Route) 23 feels like 60 miles,” he said. “From Bexley, Whitehall and Grandview … they can take some other routes to avoid that 23 traffic that that area is so well known for and it isn’t going to be that bad of a trip.”
BV will be the second largest school in the MSL’s Ohio Division with 286 boys and 286 girls.
They will be matched with Bexley (259 boys, 278 girls), Columbus Academy (152, 145), Grandview Heights (135, 118) and Whitehall-Yearling (392, 340) in all sports.
But one needs a decoder ring to decipher the MSL alignment.
Worthington Christian (142, 121) and Wellington (139, 136) compete in all sports other than football and Columbus School for Girls (155) will compete in all girls sports.
Harvest Prep (73, 49) will compete in the Ohio in football in 2019 and Liberty Union (184, 168) will finish a four-year run in the division in 2020.
“I try to look outside the box a little bit,” Hayes said. “We try to do some creative things to make some things work. Just the stuff we’ve been talking about … it all revolves around football. We’ve tried to do some things to accommodate football programs.”
Bishop Ready football competes against MSL-Ohio teams as a non-affiliated member currently. But, there’s a possibility that that could change by the time BV joins the league, Hayes said.
“I’m kind of old-school – I’d like everybody to compete in the same division in all sports,” Hayes said. “But, we try to be accommodating here in the Mid-State League and work with some folks. I think we’re open to experimenting with some things at different times.”
Outside of football – Hayes believes the league will be competitive in all other sports with the addition of BV.
“They bring competitive teams,” he said. “I know football is king. But, if you take football out of this – there’s going to be a lot of competition across the board in all other sports.”
So, while it may not be a perfect fit — there aren’t any perfect fits — Yinger thinks it’s the best fit.
“Outside of the principal (James Albanese) and the superintendent (Andrew Miller) … we had a lot of people involved trying to find the best fit for our community,” he said.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.