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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Three Rivers Conference member Whitko faces the longest drive with the conference’s new makeup when it has to travel to Maconaquah.

TRC not alone in shuffling members

– The eight current members of the Three Rivers Conference saw the sign of the times, and it wasn’t always pretty. The conference landscape in high school sports – specifically in northeast Indiana – is undergoing some significant changes in the next couple of years.

The TRC didn’t want to be left without enough future members to continue as a viable league. So Peru and Maconaquah were offered invitations to join, and the schools accepted last month. It strengthens the TRC, which will have 10 members starting with the 2015-16 school year.

Peru and Maconaquah will be leaving the Mid-Indiana Conference to join the TRC. The MIC also will be losing Eastern and Taylor, which will weaken that conference and put it on the endangered list.

“With all these conferences changing, we were trying to play ahead of the game and try to add an extra couple of schools in our conference in case someone decided to leave we would still have a conference,” Whitko athletic director Casey Stouffer said. “A couple of other conferences got stuck with only four schools left, and we didn’t want that happening with us. We thought bringing in a couple of comparable schools geographically that would fit and worked best for us. We wanted to be proactive.”

Rochester and Tippecanoe Valley of the TRC had been courted recently by other leagues.

“They like the TRC and didn’t want to leave,” Stouffer said. “All the schools get along well right now. We are all about the same size. A lot of the schools’ makeups are about the same, and that’s a big thing we like about the TRC. We are competitive in all the sports, and we thought this would be a benefit for all the sports. It gives us more strength overall as a conference and will be a good change.”

Invitations were given to Peru and Maconaquah to join the TRC in December with one condition.

“If both wouldn’t have come, we wouldn’t have accepted (them),” Stouffer said. “We didn’t want an odd number.”

The changes are in line with some of the other northeast Indiana conference changes that include:

•Carroll and Homestead joining the SAC in basketball and football in 2015-16

•Six members of the NHC forming a new conference with Leo (from the ACAC) and Huntington North (from the NCC) in 2015-16

•Garrett leaving the ACAC for the NECC after this season

•Jay County taking Garrett’s place in the ACAC in the fall

It also strengthens the TRC because it will allow soccer and swimming to become conference sports with enough schools now fielding teams.

It will also bring about divisions in football, which will be decided in a month or so.

The two schools were chosen for the invitation based on geography and school size, which fit into the TRC well. Stouffer said the longest drive should be around the trek from Whitko to Maconaquah.

“You are still looking at less than 60 miles,” he said “That played a big part, we really didn’t want to go over 60 miles. From a Whitko standpoint, we wanted to keep them at the hour range. We already play Peru and Maconaquah in other sports, so why not bring them into the conference?”

Greg Jones is the High School Sports Editor for The Journal Gazette and has been covering sports in the Fort Wayne area since 1998. He can be reached by email; phone, 461-8224; or fax 461-8648. *Starting in 2015-16 school year