TERRE HAUTE —
Football teams for Terre Haute North Vigo and Terre Haute South Vigo high schools will compete in Conference Indiana, starting in 2014, Vigo County school officials announced Wednesday.
The teams will compete for two years, after which the Vigo County schools may be permanently invited into the conference, said Danny Tanoos, superintendent of the Vigo County School Corp.
All other sports, as well as academic activities, will continue to compete in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference through 2014. There has been no decision yet on whether all other sports and academic activities will compete in Conference Indiana in 2015, Tanoos said.
“Football has always been the challenge. It is the biggest issue that I get complaints about from our community,” Tanoos said. “In football, we have trouble competing [in the MIC] and many times are out manned.”
Ironically, Terre Haute North Vigo posted the best MIC football record ever by the Vigo County schools this past season, finishing 4-3 in league games. Also, Jackson Bertoli of South and Chanli Mundy of North had breakthrough individual victories in the MIC girls and boys cross country championships.
Terre Haute North and South teams for boys and girls golf, track, cross country and swimming will compete in Conference Indiana next year as nonconference teams, as a way to show the Vigo County schools can compete, said Terre Haute North Vigo Principal Robin Smith.
“We will be considered nonconference and will not be scored, but we will be there to participate. It is up to each school in the other athletic areas whether or not they will want to add us to their roster,” Smith said.
“For instance, if Southport has an opening in basketball and they want to play us, we would entertain that thought,” Smith said.
Terre Haute North Vigo, with 2,083 students as of September, and Terre Haute South Vigo, with 1,829 students, would seem to match well with Conference Indiana schools.
Conference Indiana includes Bloomington North (with 1,668 students), Bloomington South (1,795), Columbus North (2,034), Franklin Central (2,581), Southport (2,189) and Perry Meridian (2,250). Current Conference Indiana members Pike, with 3,080 students, and Lawrence Central, with 2,585 students, are moving to the MIC next year.
The addition of Terre Haute North and South would bring Conference Indiana back to an eight-team conference.
“We are really excited about this, because this is what is best for our kids right now,” said Terre Haute South Vigo Principal Chris Mauk. “There is no other way to say that. Our kids will be in a football conference that I think they will compete very well in with the schools that we will be a match with,” he said.
“It is a two-year agreement, but I think the more they get to know the Terre Haute schools and what we are all about and what we represent, I think there may be a good chance, possibly down the road” for the schools to be invited full-time into the conference, Mauk said.
Brian Mancuso, athletic director at Terre Haute South, said the schools’ participation in Conference Indiana could rekindle old rivalries. “Terre Haute South played Southport in the 1990s and Terre Haute North played Perry Meridian, and both schools have had a relationship for numerous years with Bloomington North and Bloomington South,” he said.
Tanoos thanked the MIC conference for including Terre Haute in its conference. Terre Haute North and South joined the MIC in November 1996, beginning full athletic participation in the 1997-98 season.
The MIC principals voted in November to replace North and South in the eight-team conference, beginning with the 2014-15 seasons. The increased cost of transportation associated with the 70-mile distance between the two Terre Haute schools and the six current Indianapolis-area MIC schools was the reason stated at the time, along with academic concerns related to the hour-plus drive time.
In October, the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference turned down acceptance of North and South into that league, which currently includes eight Evansville-area schools.
North and South endured scheduling complexities as independents from the early 1980s, after they left the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference, until joining the MIC nearly a generation later.
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@