OURAY, Sept. 4, 7:34 a.m. – Ouray Schools athletics director Bernie Pearce got the verbal go ahead from the Ouray Schools Board of Education to pursue the district’s middle and high school athletics programs entry into the San Juan Basin League.
“To me, it would make life a lot easier and make more sense,” said board vice-president Dave Ficco at a meeting Monday, Aug. 27 about moving from the five-team 1A Mountain League to the San Juan League. “It had been a tough go in a five-team league getting games.”
Ficco then made the motion “for Bernie to get whatever done to get into the San Juan League,” which carried 4-0 as member Theresa Brandon was absent.
Ouray, and its county-rival Ridgway, compete in the Mountain League with Crested Butte, DeBeque and Vail Christian. Both Ouray County schools must find a new league for the 2008-09 season because after this season, Vail Christian and DeBeque will be moving to 2A and into the Western Slope League, while Crested Butte, a school that’s fluctuated between 1A and 2A, has begun dialogue with the Southern Peaks League.
Both Ouray and Ridgway are 1A schools, but in April, Pearce and Ridgway athletics director Charles Jones attended a San Juan League meeting and learned “[The San Juan League’s intentions are] to form an eight-team league and not divide it into north-south or east-west, which would help our purpose of joining as far as scheduling to have it all locked in,” Pearce said.
If Ridgway seeks approval from its board, the San Juan League would be comprised of eight teams, consisting of 1A teams Dove Creek, Norwood, Ridgway, and Ouray, and 2A squads Dolores, Mancos, Nucla, and Telluride.
Time and distance of travel played a factor in the Ouray board’s opinion, as current league travel times – other than 15 minutes between Ridgway and Ouray – are two hours, 15 minutes to DeBeque; two hours, 30 minutes to Crested Butte; and over four hours to Vail Christian. For the San Juan schools, it takes just over an hour to get to Telluride and to Norwood; one hour, 40 minutes to Nucla; two hours to Dolores; two and one-half hours to Mancos; and three and one-half hours to Dove Creek.
Another deciding factor was the elimination of the dreaded overnight trip to DeBeque-Vail Christian.Despite the San Juan League’s decision to invite Ouray and Ridgway to join, chances were good they would end up there anyway, because if the Mountain League disbanded, the Colorado High School Activities Association would mandate what league the Demons and Trojans would move to, which would reasonably be the San Juan League.