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DeWitt Central's potential Wamac exit leaves Maquoketa on a geographical island

Eastern outlier would be 50 miles from its closest conference rivals, but Maquoketa will likely live with it

Maquoketa Cardinals
Maquoketa Cardinals

If DeWitt Central leaves the Wamac Conference, it leaves Maquoketa in a geographical quandry.

It’s one that school officials appear to be resigned to accept.

“It’s not ideal, that’s for sure,” Athletics Director Tom Gruenwald said Tuesday, discussing the school’s next move, which appears to be no move at all.

“I can say that Maquoketa is happy in the Wamac. We want this to be our home for a long, long time.”

The news that Central has applied for membership in the Mississippi Athletic Conference — first broken by the Quad-City Times on Friday — took Wamac officials by surprise.

“It had been mentioned at our last AD meeting that there might be some interest there, but this seemed to move pretty fast,” Marion AD Corby Laube said Wednesday.

Currently a 16-team conference, the Wamac will lose Western Dubuque (to the Mississippi Valley) and Anamosa (to the River Valley) at the conclusion of the current school year.

Shifting to a 14-team league is an easy transition. If Central departs the following year, the prospects of a 13-team league — or any odd number, for that matter — isn’t as slick.

“No odd number is good,” Laube said. “That means somebody will always have an open date.”

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A vacancy in the MAC arose when Burlington informed that league earlier this month that it will leave after the 2018-19 school year and enter the Southeast Conference. Central’s application makes sense geographically, but the school would be the second-smallest in the MAC in terms of enrollment.

If Central departs in the fall of 2019, it means that Maquoketa’s shortest trip in the Wamac would be 50 miles — west to Mount Vernon or northwest to Dyersville Beckman.

But still ...

“We are committed to the Wamac,” Gruenwald said. “It fits us best across the board. “We don’t want to be in a 2A conference (the River Valley, for example), and I don’t know how we would compete day in and day out in the MAC. It would be very difficult.

“We will stay in the Wamac as long as the Wamac is the most viable option for us, and for the time being, it is.”

Beckman is by far the smallest school in the Wamac. AD Todd Troutman reaffirmed Tuesday night that the league’s lone private school has no plans to leave.

The next meeting for Wamac ADs is May 2.

“I’m sure there will be a lot of discussion as to what happens next,” Laube said.

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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