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CULLOM – For five seasons, Tri-Point toiled in the Sangamon Valley Conference, a small school among a group comprised mostly of Class 2A schools.
That changed after the 2010-11, when Tri-Point – a school with a current enrollment of 153 -- made the decision to bolt for the River Valley Conference. The Chargers were, as a result, joined by Donovan and Grant Park, which have enrollments of 131 and 176, respectively.
“We’re a little school, so we need to work to get enough kids to go out for anything,” Tri-Point principal Bill Geasa said. “We’re not near a big community, so we are the only program around, but where’s the feeder?”
Searching for an eighth school after the recent departures of St. Thomas More and St. Joseph-Ogden and the addition of Dwight, the SVC gave Tri-Point the opportunity to return to the conference.
What was the school’s response from last week?
“They replied (by saying) they were happy to stay in the River Valley and thanked us for the interest,” Paxton-Buckley-Loda athletic director John Overstreet said. “We kind of knew going in that they would probably stay that way.”
The SVC is looking for an eighth school to make the process of scheduling tournaments easier.
“That is one thing that we have talked about,” Overstreet said. “Obviously, an eight-team tournament is much better than a seven-team one for bracketing and number of games and stuff. There’s another option we might be looking at potentially with another conference in the area – to maybe do a joint conference tournament of some sort.”
The SVC is set in terms of football scheduling, having added Dwight as its sixth football-playing school. At this point, Overstreet said, the conference is therefore not going to make a very active pursuit for an eight conference school.
“I don’t think we’re overtly looking for expansion anymore right now,” Overstreet said. “We’ve got to start sending our schedules. We can’t keep waiting too much down the road. We want to get the schedules and officials hired and stuff. I would say, for now, it will probably stay at the seven we are.”
One solution to its desire to fill the conference with an eighth school might involve the RVC, as the SVC may add a school within an area to its conference tournaments.
Another might involve a merging of conference tournaments.
“We will probably look for an eighth school to maybe just play in our tournaments – but not to be an SVC member – to balance them out. We’ll still be looking. There’s other schools out there and some possible connections with the River Valley in some sports. We’re still probably going to talk with RVC members and see if there are sports that we can help them, or they can help us, in. I think they’ll be some things that we’ll do together in the future.”
The SVC’s schools will meet in Gilman Wednesday.
“Nothing major will come out of the meeting,” Overstreet said.