Oak Harbor High School was officially accepted by the Northwest Conference Thursday, Jan. 9, and will move to its new athletic league next school year.
When Oak Harbor grew to a 3A school in 1977, it left the 2A Northwest League and jumped to the Western Conference. At the time, very few leagues included schools of different classifications and Oak Harbor left for the nearest 3A league, Wesco.
The move back benefits Oak Harbor academically, financially and competitively, according to Athletic Director Jerrod Fleury.
Eight of the Northwest Conference schools are closer or as close as the nearest Wesco school, Stanwood.
Currently, the Northwest Conference includes 14 schools (3A Ferndale and Squalicum; 2A Anacortes, Bellingham, Blaine, Burlington-Edison, Lakewood, Lynden, Sedro-Woolley and Sehome; and 1A Lynden Christian, Meridian, Mount Baker and Nooksack Valley), while the Western Conference has 23 schools (three in 2A, 12 in 3A and eight in 4A).
Mount Vernon, which will drop from 4A to 3A next school year, is also moving from the Western Conference to the Northwest Conference.