Topeka West has accepted an invitation to join the United Kansas Conference, effective for the 2022-23 school year.
West officials announced in January that the school would consider leaving the Centennial League and wanted to study its league options.
Topeka West principal Dustin Dick told The Topeka Capital-Journal on Wednesday that he gave notice Wednesday morning to Centennial League principals and athletic directors that West would be moving to the UKC, joining fellow city school Shawnee Heights in that league, which launched in 2018-19.
"We tried to take our time and visit with lots of people and make sure we were doing the right thing for our kids and our school and the community,’’ Dick said.
"Everybody around Topeka West was real supportive about it, and even though it was a hard decision to make, I think we’ve done the right thing for our kids and community.’’
Dick said that it was his understanding that Piper has also been offered an invitation to join the United Kansas Conference, which could raise the number of league members to eight.
Original league members included Shawnee Heights, Basehor-Linwood, DeSoto, Lansing, Leavenworth and Kansas City-Turner.
Dick said Topeka West feels the UKC can potentially provide a better competitive balance for the Chargers, as well as the opportunity to compete against more schools West’s size.
"We were looking for a place where we could be more competitive with schools that were our size and really not have to compete with schools that were bigger than us on a regular basis,’’ Dick said.
"That was really kind of what was the driver of this and it just seemed like it was the time to take a look at doing it and we were fortunate enough that we found a good place to land. It’s a solid league with some good schools and travel’s not too much different, so we’re pretty excited about that.’’
Dick, the lead principal for USD 501, said Topeka West intends to continue playing other city schools, particularly 501 rivals Highland Park and Topeka High, when it does become a member of the UKC in 2022-23.
"We still want to continue to play Topeka High and Highland Park within the district when we can and there should be room to be able to do that,’’ Dick said. "It shouldn’t eliminate us from being able to do that, as well as playing some of the other schools in the city, too.
"We still plan to play on open dates the other schools around the city of Topeka, especially Topeka High and Highland Park.’’
It was also announced in January that Highland Park would consider its league options outside the Centennial League, and it appears that the Scots could also be close to finding a new league home, most likely in the Kansas City Atchison League.
Current league members in the KCAL include League Schools Atchison, KC-Harmon, KC-Schlagle, KC-Sumner, KC-Washington and KC-Wyandotte.
Dick said a decision concerning Highland Park’s league future could come later this spring, possibly some time this month.