The following story is published in the Dec. 12, 2006, Tomahawk Leader. We'd like to know your thoughts on the new Great Northern Conference:
By Tom Colstad
Tomahawk Leader Sports Reporter
The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Board of Control met Friday in Stevens Point and voted unanimously to approve the formation of the seven-team Great Northern Conference (GNC), as well as several other conference realignment plans. Implementation of the new conferences will take place in the fall of 2008.
The realignment plans were initially approved in October. The WIAA allowed a 40-day window for schools to appeal the initial approval before the board considered final action.
Tomahawk school district representatives appealed the Hatchets’ inclusion in the GNC primarily due to large disparities in enrollment among the various high schools.
The GNC will include Merrill (1,175 students), Antigo (1,034), Lakeland (953), Medford (788), Mosinee (688), Northland Pines (560) and Tomahawk (546).
Tomahawk High School athletic director/varsity football coach/varsity softball coach John Larson said, “Winning conference championships will be pretty tough for Tomahawk teams given the level of competition.
“It will be particularly difficult in football due to the numbers game,” continued Larson. “Medford and Lakeland have dominated the Lumberjack Conference in recent years in many of the sports. Now, besides those two schools, you add Merrill, Antigo and Mosinee to the mix and it’s going to be a really tough schedule.
“We’ll be competitive in most sports, though, and with such a high level of competition, we’ll get better ourselves,” commented Larson.
Larson added that the GNC schools do not all have the same sports programs. Therefore, the conference athletic directors will meet to discuss how to deal with those sports, including boys’ and girls’ swimming, boys’ and girls’ soccer, boys’ and girls’ tennis, girls’ hockey and gymnastics.
With Merrill and Antigo leaving the Wisconsin Valley Conference, the WVC will have seven teams, including D.C. Everest (1,733), Marshfield (1,324), Rhinelander (1,178), Stevens Point (2,568), Wausau East (1,335), Wausau West (1,679) and Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln (1,984).
Park Falls and Phillips, members of the Lumberjack Conference in all sports except football, will be part of the 16-team Marawood Conference.