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The Student News Site of Gretna East High School

The Wingspan

The Student News Site of Gretna East High School

The Wingspan

Gretna High Schools return to Eastern Midlands Conference after six years in metro

Strategic move aims to ensure athletic success, build culture of triumph
Gretna+High+Schools+return+to+Eastern+Midlands+Conference+after+six+years+in+metro

With the first year of high school sports well underway and lots of chatter about Gretna high schools competing in Class A or Class B sports and activities, the district made the decision to rejoin the Eastern Midlands Conference after six years of being in the Metro Conference starting next school year.
The conference currently consists of nine teams: Bennington, Elkhorn, Elkhorn North, Blair, Hastings, Lincoln Standing Bear, Lincoln Northwest, Waverly, Norris and will add Gretna and Gretna East next school year.
Currently, the Griffins are in the Metro Conference playing Class A teams while competing as Class B for the postseason.
“The conversations were that the Metro [Conference] wanted to establish itself as a Class A Brand,” Athletic Director Ryan Garder said. “I voted against this decision, so I cannot speak for why others voted in favor, but the conversation preceding the vote was that many schools wanted to maintain a Class A brand.”
To be eligible for Class A sports under Nebraska Schools Activities Association bylaw 2.13.2.1, all athletics, with the exception of football, Class A is classified based on a school’s total enrollment of 850 or above. For unisex schools, their total enrollment figures are doubled to determine their eligibility.
This year, the Griffins are technically not eligible at all for Class A sports since there are only 750 students enrolled, but next school year, with the addition of a senior class, the student population is projected to go over the 850 student minimum requirement for Class A. Even with meeting that requirement, the district decided to join the EMC for several reasons.
“A school that has 2,000 kids in it looks and sounds a lot different than a school that has 750,” Garder said. “So, the ultimate reason is we want to make sure we’re getting our kids that are currently in the moment, the best chance of success and building and establishing a culture built on success.”

“We want to make sure that our kids are set up for success, that they aren’t competing outside of their league, truthfully,” Garder said. “You have a better shot if you play to the class size that you and your school are set at. For our kids to be in a Class B size school (population) competing in everything at a Class A level, we just didn’t feel like that was going to set our programs up for long-term success, especially as you’re building a program from scratch.”
While there is often controversy with any change, the decision to move back to the EMC is a welcomed move by head wrestling coach, Sean Cunningham.
“I wanted to get back into the EMC if we weren’t going to be in the Metro,” Wrestling Head Coach Sean Cunningham said. “It is one of the toughest conferences for wrestling, and it’s a logical move since we (Gretna High) were already a part of it.”
All athletics will compete in Class B regular season play, along with Class B postseason, however, One Act will remain in Class A as it is in the top 20 productions.
The conference change will provide a path for future achievements in the EMC and future conferences if realignment occurs.
“We want to make sure we’re getting our kids that are currently, in the moment, the best chance of success and building and establishing a culture built on success,” Garder said.

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Peyton Parker, Reporter
This is the first year junior Peyton Parker has been on a journalism staff. With an interest in photography and sports writing, it was fate for Peyton to become a reporter for Gretna East Media and The Wingspan. Aside from taking photos and writing stories, he enjoys baseball and playing Fortnite in his free time. His main goals in the program are to win State Awards for his hard work and work with others to build up the Wingspan. This year, Peyton looks forward to writing invigorating sports features, whimsical entertainment reviews, thought-provoking opinion pieces and everything in between. 
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