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High School Sports

PAC to dissolve in 2020 as eight Lorain County teams set to form new league

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The local high school sports landscape will look drastically different in 2020.

At Wednesday’s regularly scheduled meeting of Patriot Athletic Conference administrators, the seven Lorain County schools in the PAC — Brookside, Clearview, Columbia, Firelands, Keystone, Oberlin and Wellington as well as Black River, whose district stretches into Lorain, Medina and Ashland counties — informed the remaining four members of the league of their intentions to leave in two years to form a new conference.

At that time Brooklyn, Buckeye, Fairview and Lutheran West will be left without a conference affiliation.

“I’m still in shock a little bit,” Brooklyn athletic director Ryan Kelber said.

All of the current members of the PAC, except Firelands and Fairview, were charter members of the league in 2005. The Falcons and Warriors left the West Shore Conference and joined the PAC before the 2011-12 school year.

The founding schools were members of either the Lorain County Conference — Brookside, Clearview, Keystone, Oberlin and Wellington — Metropolitan Area Conference, better known as the MAC-8 — Brooklyn, Columbia and Lutheran West — or the Mohican Area Conference — Black River and Buckeye. All three conferences dissolved in 2005.

The set-up of crossover football games played in Weeks 4 and 5 of each season as well as travel concerns were reasons cited for the breakup.

“It’s disappointing,” Kelber said. “I really thought we had a stable conference.”

Details about the new league — including its name and division structure, if any — have yet to be announced pending final approval by the boards of education and principals of the schools forming the new league.

Attempts were made to contact a number of athletic directors in the league, including Clearview’s Mike Collier, Firelands’ Ty Stillman and Lutheran West’s Ryan Miller, all of whom declined to comment until the new league is officially announced.

Buckeye, a Division III school in football, is the biggest school in the PAC while Division VI’s Columbia, Oberlin and Wellington are the smallest. The PAC currently crowns champions in 14 sports.

The PAC sent three schools — Buckeye, Black River and Clearview — to the playoffs this season in football. The Pirates advanced to the regional final.

In team sports, the league has seen its greatest success in softball where Keystone has won two Division II state championships and Wellington (D-III) and Columbia (D-IV) each advanced to the state tournament.

Keystone’s wrestling team advanced to the inaugural Division III dual team state tournament in 2013, while Lutheran West’s James Handwerk won a pair of state titles in 2015-16.

Keystone’s Corry Sprouse won a Division II state title in long jump in 2010, while Black River’s Becca Herte won a D-II state title in pole vault in 2011.

Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.

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