Mason City community schools have officially put in a request to switch into the Northeast Iowa Conference (NEIC). Yes, this is the one containing: Charles City, Waverly-Shell Rock, Crestwood, New Hampton, Waukon, Olewein, and Decorah.
This flip-flop would allow Mason City two major benefits: less driving to the Des Moines area for games and a palpably weaker competition.
The commute concerns are understandable as Mason City has to travel more than 130 miles to many of their games. According to schoolbusfleet.com, an average bus gets 8 miles per gallon. Gasbuddy.com has the average price in the area as $2.46. Meaning, on a regular trip to West Des Moines to play Valley High School, the bus trip could cost around $82 – not to mention the expenses of hiring a driver and the possibility of two buses being needed for the voyage.
Where as a normal trek to Charles City, with the same parameters, would probably cost $20 or less. This type of expense-break could easily add up over a long stint.
But this competitive issue for the Mohawks might be a bonafide Goldilocks scenario – with the Central Iowa Metropolitan League (CIML) being too big and the NEIC being too small, for true competitive bliss. The CIML’s largest school, Valley High School, has over 2,200 students enrolled. Compared to the NEIC’s biggest school, Waverly-Shell Rock High School, which only houses a little over 500 students.
Mason City with their 800-plus student enrollment is stuck between two drastically in-equivalent conferences. For talent-balancing reasons alone, the Mohawks are due for a change. Over the last three years of athletics, their biggest sports have been tormented by the double-sized schools:
Mason City Boys Basketball Record (2017-2019): 14-36
Mason City Volleyball Record (2017-2019): 19-70
Their girls basketball team has been a considerable highlight for the school, as their record between 2017 and 2019 is 35-22.
This story unfolds even further as Oelwein High School recently announced its possible intention to leave the NEIC. This domino could force Mason City into the conference, as having six teams instead of seven might be too difficult to keep the league viable.
Oelwein’s decision may turnout to be competitive-balance focused as well, as four schools in the NEIC sport a higher enrollment than them – with Waverly-Shell Rock almost doubling their steady student numbers.
Oelwein Boys Basketball Record (2017-2019): 18-32
Oelwein Girls Basketball Record Record (2017-2019): 13-35
Oelwein Volleyball Record (2017-2019): 23-90
With both Mason City and Oelwein seeking change, a shift in Northeast Iowa sports culture could soon spice up the NEIC.
According to KIMT, Charles City Schools released a statement saying, “Charles City Community Schools is invitational to all students, schools, and teams. Regardless of who you are or what your story is, you can learn and be loved in Charles City. We wish Mason City Community School District the best in determining which conference is the best fit for them.”