Danedri Thompson
Gardner Edgerton High School officials have received an invitation to join the Sunflower Athletic League.
“We’re in the first phase of even talking about that,” USD 231 Superintendent Pam Stranathan said.
GEHS currently belongs to the Eastern Kansas League, an eight team league including Bishop Miege, Blue Valley, Blue Valley North, Blue Valley Northwest, Blue Valley Southwest, Blue Valley West, and St. Thomas Aquinas high schools. The league is set to grow by two next year when Mill Valley High School and St. James Academy join.
GEHS joined the EKL in 2010 after 26 years in the Frontier League. USD 231’s middle schools continue to be belong to the Frontier League.
According to the 2014 Kansas State High School Athletic Association numbers, about half of the current EKL are class 6A schools. In 2014, Kansas 6A schools had student populations between 1,387 students and 2,301 students. GEHS’ student count last year was 1,480 students, about the mid-population rate of the EKL. The largest EKL school in 2014 was Blue Valley Northwest with 1,585 students. The smallest was St. Thomas Aquinas with 886 students.
Official enrollment numbers for this year have yet to be released.
The Sunflower League boasts more member schools today. Sunflower has 12 schools including Lawrence, Lawrence Free State, Leavenworth, Olathe East, Olathe North, Olathe Northwest, Olathe South, Shawnee Mission East, Shawnee Mission North, Shawnee Mission Northwest, Shawnee Mission South, and Shawnee Mission West high schools. Next year, it will grow by one as Olathe West High School, currently under construction, opens. With the addition of GEHS, the Sunflower League would be comprised of 14 teams.
Eleven of its 12 member teams were classed as 6A schools in 2014 with the Olathe schools being the largest. Olathe North had a student population of 2,152 in 2014, followed by Olathe South with 2,113 students, Olathe East with 2,029 students and Olathe Northwest with 2,000 students. Their student enrollment numbers will likely decrease next year when Olathe West opens.
Stranathan said it is rare to receive an invitation to join another league, however she said school officials are still researching whether the Sunflower League would be a good fit for GEHS.
“Let’s investigate it and see what that looks like,” she said.