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Shift puts familiar foes on Waccamaw schedules

By Chris Sokoloski
Coastal Observer

Farewell Andrews, Timberland, Hanahan, Manning and Kingstree.

Welcome back Dillon, Loris, Aynor, Marion and Mullins.

Starting with the 2010-11 school year, realignment will once again change the makeup of the region in which Waccamaw High School’s sports teams compete.

It will be just like old times for the Warriors, as the teams will be the same ones they faced from 2006 through 2008.

Jerome Singleton, commissioner of the S.C. High School League, said the new regions are due to be approved Aug. 27. Schools have until then to appeal.

Every two years, the league looks at school enrollment and adjusts the regions. Surveys are sent to each school, asking administrators how they think the regions should be grouped. Choices include geographically, by rivalries or by county.

Singleton said geography was the overwhelming choice.

Waccamaw High athletics director Joan Cribb said principal David Hammel put a map on the wall with pins marking every Class AA school and estimated the distances from Pawleys Island. The new region realignment is exactly what Waccamaw wanted.

Hammel said Waccamaw was also looking for a region where the other schools compete in a similar number of sports. Waccamaw has a team for every sport sanctioned by the High School League.

“We lobbied them to put us back” in the old region, he said.

When realignment kicks in, the distance to Waccamaw’s new region opponents will be very similar to the current region.

In order to play teams that are closer to home, Waccamaw would have to move up to AAA or AAAA. Georgetown, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Socastee, and St. James are AAA, and Carolina Forest and Conway are AAAA.

Cribb said Waccamaw’s enrollment probably puts it in the middle of AA this year. If Waccamaw moved up, it could end up competing against schools with hundreds more students.

Softball coach Scott Streiffert said Waccamaw could easily compete with bigger schools in golf and tennis, where the Warriors won state championships last year, but might struggle in other sports.

The softball team was runner-up for the state title last year.

In soccer, where Waccamaw has consistently competed for the Lower State title, teams are seeded for the postseason based on their record, not region results.

Baseball coach Jeff Gregory said the “travel and economics” of playing AAA ball made sense, since getting to many opponents would just be a matter of hopping on Highway 17. The new region “makes for later nights and longer travel.”

Streiffert said the biggest issue with any school on the coast is always going to be travel since almost every other school is inland.

He also pointed out that although the distance might be the same in the two regions, driving to the schools in the current region is much easier. Getting to schools in Horry and Marion counties requires a trip through the Conway area, which is usually congested.

In addition to coaching, Streiffert also drives the team buses on occasion.

Both coaches agreed changing regions during every realignment cycle has its problems.

“You get a better gauge of teams in the second year of region schedule,” said Streiffert.

“Once you get comfortable and learn your opponents, they boot you out of it,” said Gregory.

They expect the new region to be very competitive in softball and baseball.

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