116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
For Maquoketa, it’s the number of miles. For Dyersville Beckman, it’s the number of students.
For both, it’s time to look for a new home.
Maquoketa and Beckman are in the process of applying for membership in the River Valley Conference. Both are current Wamac Conference members.
“The Wamac has been a tremendous, tremendous conference for us. It’s still a good fit at the varsity level,” Beckman athletics director Todd Troutman said. “But we’re starting to see, in junior high, that it’s getting tougher.”
The lone private school in the Wamac, Beckman also is by far the smallest. According to this year’s BEDS Documents, the school has an enrollment of 196 students in grades 10-12 for the 2021-22 school year.
Take Maquoketa (enrollment 370) and Beckman out of the mix, and the average enrollment for Wamac schools is 382. It’s 220 for River Valley schools minus North Cedar, which is leaving for the Tri-Rivers Conference in 2022.
“Lately, we’ve been at 60-70 kids per grade, but we’re soon going to be down to 45-60. We know that’s coming,” Beckman principal Marcel Kielkucki said.
Beckman and Maquoketa are seeking River Valley membership in time for the start of the 2022-23 school year. They would join the North Division, along with Anamosa, Bellevue, Camanche, Cascade, Monticello and Northeast.
The South Division consists of Durant, Iowa City Regina, Mid-Prairie, Tipton, West Branch, West Liberty and Wilton.
According to Monticello AD Tim Lambert, a River Valley ADs meeting is scheduled for next week, and he expects the entrance of Beckman and Maquoketa to go through with little to no resistance.
“We met multiple times last spring, and it’s all been very positive,” Lambert said. “When DeWitt (Central) left (the Wamac for the Mississippi Athletic Conference), Maquoketa was on a (geographic) island (in the Wamac).
“The River Valley is a great league now. Put those two schools into the North (Division), and it’s going to be a grinder.”
Maquoketa is the fifth-largest school in the Wamac and would become the largest school in the River Valley (Anamosa currently is tops with a 309 enrollment).
The big advantage for a Maquoketa move would be travel. Its road trips in the Wamac are an average of 76.2 miles (one way); in the River Valley, they would be 49.6 miles.
Beckman and Maquoketa were Big Bend Conference rivals with Anamosa, Camanche, Cascade and Monticello from 1987 through 1998, when Maquoketa left for the Wamac.
The Big Bend disbanded in 2003, with the remaining teams splitting up among the Wamac, Tri-Rivers and Big East conferences.
A move by both schools would leave the River Valley Conference with 15 schools, the Wamac with 11.
Remaining schools in the Wamac would be Benton Community, Center Point-Urbana, Clear Creek Amana, Independence, Marion, Mount Vernon, Solon, South Tama, Vinton-Shellsburg, West Delaware and Williamsburg.
If a replacement can’t be found to restore the Wamac to 12 schools, its likely that its current divisional format will end.