The Minnesota State High School League has recommended St. Michael-Albertville be placed in the Lake Conference upon their departure from the Mississippi 8 at the end of this school year. High School activities director, Keith Cornell, said they plan to accept that recommendation.
“It is what we asked for,” Cornell said. “Ultimately we just wanted a “home.” There were pros and cons to each conference but overall, we felt this was the best option.”
The Lake Conference currently includes Eden Prairie, Edina, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Wayzata. St. Michael-Albertville and Buffalo will both join the conference to make it seven members strong. This change will affect STMA High School athletic and fine arts competitions, but Cornell said they would continue to work with geographically close rivals for the middle school level.
Long Road to a Decision
STMA’s future has been up in the air for more than a year now in regards to their next conference. Last fall they applied to join the Northwest Suburban Conference after coming to an agreement that they had outgrown the Mississippi 8, but the NWS Conference turned them down, saying STMA doesn’t “look like their current member” schools.
The district then applied to the Lake Conference, but they were again turned down by a contingent of Lake Conference members who didn’t want to approve a team so far out of their geographical area.
The Minnesota State High School League then stepped in to place STMA in a conference. District leaders have been anxiously awaiting the results, as athletic schedules need to be made about one year in advance. The district will begin competing as part of the Lake Conference in the fall of 2019. Football – which uses Section Assignment Scheduling – would not be impacted. The Knights’ football team will remain in Class 6A Section 5.
District leaders had previously spoken positively about the prospect of joining the Lake Conference because it would give STMA the chance to compete against many of the best teams in the state. They also appreciated the conference’s smaller size because it allows them room in their schedule to compete against longstanding rivals.
Familiar Face to Make the Switch with STMA
Buffalo, one of STMA’s biggest rivals in the Mississippi 8 conference, has followed a similar path as STMA. They decided to leave Mississippi 8 once STMA announced they would leave, along with Rogers. All three schools applied to be part of the Northwest Suburban Conference, but only Rogers was accepted. Buffalo and STMA were both initially turned down by the Lake Conference as well before being placed by the MSHSL.
“It will be nice for everyone to get together and talk about what the conference will look like,” Cornell said.