HOME STRETCH COLUMN — PETE TEMPLE, SPORTS EDITOR
The new conference Monticello High School will be joining beginning with the 2013-14 school year now has a name:
The River Valley Conference.
That name was one of two finalists selected by the conference’s Board of Control. The other was the Eastern Iowa Conference.
Monticello Superintendent Chris Anderson announced the name Nov. 30. He said the student councils of each of the 13 school districts were asked to submit name suggestions, and they came up with more than 40 possibilities. Those choices were narrowed to two at the BOC’s October meeting.
I have learned much more about the new conference since my column of last week, thanks to activities director Tim Lambert. Our interview for the preview story about his Panther boys basketball team morphed into a separate conversation about the new league.
You probably knew that the new conference will consist of two divisions. Those have now been finalized, and they have names, the North and South.
The North (six schools): Monticello, Bellevue, Camanche, Cascade, North Cedar and Northeast of Goose Lake.
The South (seven schools): Durant, Iowa City Regina, Mid-Prairie, Tipton, West Branch, West Liberty and Wilton.
Lambert also talked about the some individual sport decisions that have been made during conference A.D. meetings that he described as “nothing but positive” and “very professional.”
For instance, in boys and girls basketball, Monticello will play everyone in the conference. The Panthers will face each North rival twice, home and away; and each South team once.
That means long-distance trips such as those to Mid-Prairie or West Branch will only take place once every two years.
Also, the Tri-Rivers tradition of playing varsity girl-boy doubleheaders will continue. JV teams will often play on those same days, as they have been in recent years, starting in the late afternoon.
The conference slate leaves openings for four non-conference games. For those games, the Panthers will continue to play Anamosa, Maquoketa Valley, Midland and North-Linn.
“That was a no-brainer for me,” Lambert said. “They’re close, they’re good competition, they’re rivals, and they were all receptive.”
Volleyball will not have a complete round-robin within the conference. Monticello will play each North team every season, but will only face two or three from the South.
There will be no conference volleyball tournament. Instead, there will be a post-season crossover match. The two division winners will play for the overall conference title. The two second place teams will play, as will the third place teams, and so on. Since the South has seven teams, the two sixth place teams and the South’s seventh place team will play a triangular event.
Wrestling will have a conference tournament, and early discussion centers on the possibility of using a neutral site.
As I learn more, I’ll pass it along.