The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Eric Knopsnyder

January 11, 2010

ERIC KNOPSNYDER | Somerset belongs in District 5

It’s time for the Golden Eagles to take flight.

Somerset’s athletic teams, which have been competing in the PIAA’s District 6 for more than two decades, have taken the first step toward returning to District 5.

The school board voted Monday night to ask District 6 to release Somerset so that it can petition District 5 for admission.

The District 6 committee is meeting in Hollidaysburg this afternoon, and a decision is expected quickly.

And rightfully so. The move seems to benefit everyone involved.

n District 6 could eliminate its most remote member. Every other school in the district is at least a half-hour’s drive from Somerset while some, like Lewistown, are nearly 2 ½ hours away.

n District 5 can add some star power to its lineup. Somerset would immediately become a top team in many sports. Not only would it help bolster the image of one of the smallest and most rural districts in the state, it would also give District 5 a showcase for some of its premier events.

Somerset has an artificial turf football field – the only one in District 5 – and could host playoff games that previously have been shipped off to grass fields that have been damaged by wear and tear as well as winter by the time November rolls around. Somerset also has a newly renovated baseball field as well as track and tennis facilities that rival any in District 5.

n Somerset County would benefit the most. Not only would Somerset Area High School benefit for the reasons mentioned above, but it would allow the Eagles to renew some of their traditional rivalries. While its teams still would compete in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference – the only school in Somerset County to do so – the move to District 5 would result in more competition against geographic rivals.

“I think you’ll see some of the old rivalries be reinvented,” said Scott Close, Somerset’s athletic director. “Wrestling will go into District 5 starting next year. You’ve got some traditional rivalries with Bedford and North Star that have sort of faded in the last few years.”

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