Published: Jan 28, 2013 04:46 PM
Modified: Jan 28, 2013 04:47 PM
It had already been decided the Tri-9 Conference would have a different name next year, with one fewer team. Most thought it would go back to the Tri-8 Conference, which lasted three years prior to the addition of Holly Springs.
Instead, it’s getting a complete makeover. Starting next fall, the existing eight schools will make up the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference.
The Tri- prefix has existed since 1989. But the name would be a misnomer given its origins that meant “tri-county.” With Lee County becoming a 3A team next fall, all eight members will be Wake County schools.
With every N.C. High School Athletic Association quad-yearly realignment, the conference name became more tied to southwestern Wake County. Prior years:
The earliest on-record conferences from the NCHSAA start in 1969. Only three current schools – Cary, Apex and Fuquay-Varina – existed then.
Fuquay-Varina was 2A until 1993, while Apex slowly moved from 1A to 4A over the course of 20 years from 1969-1989.
Cary was always in the largest classification, which was 4A in 1973 but 3A prior to that.
Athens Drive came along in 1978 but competed in the Cap-8 for its first seasons. 1989:
The first Tri- conference starts – the Tri-6, with Apex, Athens Drive, Cary, East Wake, Smithfield-Selma and Triton. 1993:
The Tri-6 loses Athens Drive, which gets grouped into the Cap-7 but now includes Garner. 1997:
Wake Forest-Rolesville forms a Tri-7. Green Hope joins in 1999. 2001:
Fuquay-Varina moves to 4A and joins Apex, Cary and Green Hope in the new-look Tri-7, which loses everyone else. The league adds Western Harnett (previously 3A) and Lee County (Cap-8).
Middle Creek opens the next fall to give the Tri-7 seven teams. 2005:
Western Harnett gets moved down to 3A and is replaced by Athens Drive, which had been in the Cap-8. Panther Creek opens the next year to make it a Tri-8. 2009-present:
Holly Springs opened in 2006 but joins the league in fall 2009, and the name changes to Tri-9. Future outlook:
The Southwest Wake Athletic Conference isn’t a flexible name, which is part of the reason the Tri-9 has had such staying power. But it is a more accurate depiction of how hyper-local area sports will be next fall (just 20 miles from one end to the other). West Apex High is scheduled to open in 2015, which should add another school to the league as long as it is also 4A.
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