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Red Wing waits on Big 9; Chaska, Chanhassen plan exit from Missota

The dissolution of the eight-team Missota Conference continues as Red Wing awaits word from the Big 9 Conference.

Reported by the Chaska Herald on Tuesday, Chaska and Chanhassen will leave the Missota Conference to become charter members of the newly-formed Metro West Conference. Joining the Hawks and Storm are Bloomington Jefferson, Bloomington Kennedy, Richfield, St. Louis Park and Robbinsdale Cooper. The Metro West Conference, which will begin play in 2014, is accepting applications for an eighth school.

Chaska and Chanhassen's exits come after Farmington was accepted into the South Suburban Conference, while Shakopee also sent an application for the South Suburban. According to the Northfield News, Academy of Holy Angels, of Richfield, has applied for the Tri-Metro Conference.

Red Wing athletic director Matt Schultz said after Wednesday's conference meeting that Chaska and Chanhassen's exits from the Missota were just a matter of time.

"It was a foregone conclusion," Schultz said. "For Red Wing, I'm just focusing on what's best for our kids. ... The way it's looking, 2013-14 will probably be the final year for the Missota."

While Red Wing applied for the Big 9 in January following a unanimous 7-0 vote by the school board, the Wingers' inclusion into its former conference appears to be contingent on another Missota team.

In a story reported by the Rochester Post-Bulletin, the Big 9's executive board voted unanimously last month to allow Red Wing into the conference if Northfield also joins the Big 9 to form a 12-team conference. Northfield has been invited, but is looking at its options before it commits to the Big 9.

The current members of the 10-team Big 9 Conference are: Albert Lea, Austin, Faribault, Mankato East, Mankato West, Owatonna, Rochester Century, Rochester John Marshall, Rochester Mayo and Winona.

Of the eight teams currently in the Missota, only Northfield and New Prague have not applied for new conferences. It is unknown whether Red Wing can get into the Big 9 should Northfield go elsewhere.

While Northfield mulls its options, Red Wing's path is clear: the Big 9 remains the best fit. Until then, Schultz is stuck waiting through the speculation.

"The last time I talked to (Rochester Mayo athletic director and Big 9 secretary Jeff Whitney), he said their voting body would get together in May," Schultz said. "I'm sure (the Big 9) would rather vote in multiple schools at once, but they're waiting to see what Northfield and New Prague's decisions are."

"I'm focused on deciding what's best for Red Wing High School, and I think the Big 9 is our best option," Schultz added. "That's what I'm focused on."

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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