Mules reclassified

Coach sees silver linings in the shift to playing smaller schools


February 1, 2024

Reclassification is complete, and beginning next fall, for the next four years, the Wahkiakum Mules will be a 1B school.

Enrollment is a major factor in classification, and while numbers have declined over the years, Wahkiakum’s Athletic Director and boy’s basketball coach Rob Garrett points out that the district has always been at the bottom of the 2B classification, in which enrollment ranges from 105 to 224.

Now Wahkiakum is at the top of 1B.

Garrett sees nothing but positives.

And for old school Mules, he might just have a point.

“The majority of all those schools that we have traditionally played are 1B at this point and time,” Garrett said. “It’s funny because we were B for a long time, but they split them into 1B and 2B and put us in the 2B section.”

In reality, he pointed out, Wahkiakum has been playing a bunch of 1A schools that dropped down to 2B.

“I’m sure there are some people that are upset about it,” he said, “but the funny thing about it is that when I was in school our league was Morton, Pe Ell, Life Christian, Columbia Adventist, and Mossyrock, and in the other league were schools like Naselle, Willapa Valley, and South Bend.”

Not everything is set in stone, but at this moment, Garrett knows that next year, the Mules will be in a league with Naselle, Pe Ell, Willapa Valley, Columbia Adventist, Firm Foundation, the State School for the Deaf, and Three Rivers Christian out of Longview.

“I know the kids are excited to play Naselle,” Garrett said. “It will be fun to bring back the KM Trophy games. Naselle is pretty darn good right now and I think that will be a darn good rivalry. We’ll have our work cut out for us to come back in to win a few of those KM Trophy games.”

“From my standpoint, I’m extremely excited about the opportunity our kids have to compete against schools that are similar in size to us again,” he added. “Our girls programs have been down for awhile, but I think they are going to have more success, build their programs, and hopefully have a lot more fun for the kids.”

One of the biggest changes with the transition to 1B will be on the football field where the Mules will play an eight man game instead of the traditional 11, which may be safer for athletes considering the smaller turnouts the program has been seeing over the years.

Garrett is excited about the future, even though he knows he’s losing a group of athletic seniors this year, for a second year in a row.

“That puts a damper on a small school pretty quick,” he said. “Not that we’re not going to bounce back and reload. I think we absolutely will.”

“People are stepping up and working with the youth, which is awesome,” Garrett said. “It’s a really cool thing about our community. Individuals are willing to step and volunteer time to help the youth programs out. It takes a ton of time, but is where you get teams that have a lot of success and have big payoff come post season.”


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