Shawnee Heights looking to make an all 5A league

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TECUMESH, Kan. (WIBW) -- Shawnee Heights High School is leading the charge to start a new league which features six to eight 5A teams only.

While over the years Shawnee Heights has won league titles in sports they are far behind Washburn Rural and Manhattan in total league titles. Shawnee Heights athletics director David Wonnell feels the imbalance in the Centennial League has directly affected their playoff seeding or could down the road.

"There's becoming competitive imbalances based on the sizes of the schools whether some 5As where in a league that had a lot of 4As or 5A schools being in a league with a lot of 6As, and so there was some interest in making a 5A league so that everybody was of a similar size and it was a competitive balance," said Wonnell. "In addition to that we saw the changes coming in playoff seeding and it's already happened in football where you're seeded 1 through 16 based on record and there's potential we could be seeded 1 through 18 in all other sports."

Here are the enrollment numbers for 2016-2017 from KSHSAA which include 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades.
-Washburn Rural (6A) - 1896
-Topeka High (6A) - 1818
-Manhattan (6A) - 1694
-Junction City (6A)- 1652
-Emporia (5A) - 1221
-Seaman (5A) - 1184
-Shawnee Heights (5A) - 1123
-Topeka West (5A) - 1073
-Highland Park (5A) - 866
-Hayden (4A) - 394

Wonnell said if they left the Centennial League it's not because they are afraid of the competition. The Thunderbirds are currently the basketball and volleyball defending state champs and have placed well in 5A in other sports as of late as well. He said it's about putting the school in the best situation to succeed in the future.

"Even if we stay at the 32 level we might be seeded 1 through 16 and in those cases being seeded 1 through 16 your playoff seeding is totally based off your regular season record," said Wonnell. "The top seeds always host, so your regular season record you want that to reflect competition against schools your size and schools that you have a competitive balance with. So that you can have a better sampling of what your record is rather than maybe building your record against smaller schools or bigger schools."

Shawnee Heights is still in the process of getting things approved through the school district but in a perfect scenario they could form the new league within the next two months. Scheduling would stay the same though until the 2018-19 seasons.

"Really what this is looking at is trying to get a competitive balance on a level playing field in a league with 5A schools all similar size to where we can have good competition week in and week out and not have that competitive imbalance," said Wonnell.