Cascade High School will remain in Class 4A and the Oregon West Conference.

Former state supreme court justice W. Michael Gillette issued an unprecedented appeal ruling that orders the Oregon School Activities Association to keep Cascade in 4A and the Oregon West because of the school's current enrollment.

Cascade, in Turner, had been placed in 5A based on its 2016-2017 adjusted enrollment of 687 students. However, those numbers included online charter school students. The school district separated those students from the high school prior to this school year.

"This is relatively new territory for the association," said Peter Weber, OSAA executive director. "There were appeals when we went from four classifications to six classifications but not exactly similar to this situation in terms of timing, etc."

The ruling by Gillette, who serves as the OSAA's appeals officer, impacts Philomath High, along with the rest of the Oregon West and other leagues in Class 4A, as well as the Mid-Willamette Conference and Class 5A. Most schedules had been completed for this coming season and now they will need to be reworked based on revised alignments with little time remaining in the academic year.

"As Philomath alumni, I am glad that Cascade and Philomath will continue to be in the same classification and conference," said Heidi Hermansen, Cascade's athletic director. "Both Philomath and Cascade are fierce competitors, and bring out the best in each other when competing."

Weber said the executive board has a regularly scheduled meeting Monday and the OSAA has invited school representatives to provide suggestions and ideas on moving forward.

"The ADs, principals and superintendents from the Oregon West, Tri-Valley and Cowapa conferences have been invited to present a proposal to the OSAA executive board ... concerning the number of schools and the makeup of each conference for 2017-18," Hermansen said. "The executive board will have the final determination."

An issue at hand involves balancing out the leagues. If the Oregon West, Tri-Valley and Cowapa were each have six schools as members, then changes will be necessary. Another option could be to leave seven schools in the Oregon West and five in the Cowapa.

Following realignment decisions for the 2018-22 block, the Oregon West included Philomath, Newport, Stayton, Sisters, Sweet Home and Woodburn. Cascade was placed in 5A's Mid-Willamette, which will include Corvallis, Crescent Valley, South Albany, West Albany and Lebanon for the 2018-22 block. 

The Cowapa alignment was set to include Astoria, Banks, Seaside, Tillamook and Valley Catholic.

"I don't like the time limits of it; obviously it puts the ADs in a hard spot as far as scheduling and everything like that," PHS baseball coach Levi Webber said. "But I think they belong in the 4A level with the way they compete. They compete well at everything, but they're not dominant really at anything and with their school's size, it's not like they're a giant power. I think it's good for 4A ... keep a team that's competitive in just about everything."

Cascade, which has been in the Oregon West since 2006, was obviously pleased with the decision.

"It has been a long two years going through the reclassification appeal process not only for Cascade but for schools in both the 4A and 5A classifications," Hermansen said. "The Corvallis, Albany, Central, Dallas and Lebanon schools' athletic directors were supportive of Cascade remaining as a 4A school, but when Cascade was initially moved up to the 5A classification, the athletic directors in the Mid-Willamette Conference welcomed Cascade."

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