Rumors that had been swirling around for months finally came to fruition on Wednesday morning when the creation of a new conference was announced.
Beginning in August of 2024, the Ozark Mountain Conference will come into existence.
The conference will consist of two former Ozark Conference schools in Bolivar and West Plains, two former Central Ozark Conference schools in Branson and Carl Junction, and two former Big 8 schools in Marshfield and Rogersville.
The big sport that the new conference will affect is football, as the Ozark Conference and Central Ozark Conference haven’t been able to play outside conference games for nearly 12 years in the regular season.
Moving forward, the Yellowjackets will have to schedule two non-conference games to play during the regular season after a 10-team conference meant a nine-game schedule against the rest of the conference.
As of Wednesday morning, decisions haven’t been made on what that will look like.
The following statements were made by the Bolivar and West Plains School Districts:
“A groundbreaking initiative is set to transform the educational and athletic landscape of public schools across southern Missouri. A newly established Ozark Mountain Conference is poised to kick off its inaugural competitive season in the fall of 2024. The new conference is a culmination of collaborative efforts by schools with shared values, sizes, and community beliefs.
A spokesperson for the conference expressed enthusiasm about the prospects, stating, “We are excited about this new opportunity for our schools and our kids. These schools came together looking for a ‘good fit,’ noting they have similar sizes, community beliefs, and district characteristics.””
“The Ozark Mountain Conference brings together districts that are similar in enrollment numbers, as well as shared values and community beliefs. High school enrollment numbers: Branson: 1,350, West Plains: 1,152, Carl Junction: 1,011, Marshfield: 903, Bolivar: 858, Logan-Rogersville: 734.
“These schools are well known for rich traditions and excellence in academics and athletics,”
said Dr. Richard Asbill, Superintendent of Bolivar Schools. “We are excited about the opportunities the Ozark Mountain Conference will offer our students.”
“Moving into a six-team conference of schools our size will allow us to continue to compete at a
high level while giving us flexibility in our non-conference schedule,” said Tim Pezzetti, Athletic
Director. “We are excited to be a founding member of the Ozark Mountain Conference, and we
appreciate the opportunity that the Ozark Conference has given us for the past three years.””
The Lebanon High School girls’ golf team has had a busy week under head coach Lindsay Darnell.
On Monday, the Lady ‘Jackets hosted the Osage Lady Indians at GreatLife Golf and Fitness for their annual home match where it was the debut for many golfers.
“I have a very young team, so this was the first outing for many of them,” said Darnell. “It was a learning experience and definitely helped my varsity players gear up for two tournaments later on that week.”
The team traveled to Lake Valley Country Club on Wednesday where the team competed hard, according to Darnell.
“Lake Valley is a course with many challenges and a lot of hills for our first 18 hole tournament,” she said. “The girls felt that and struggled, but by Thursday they had found their groove.”
Found their groove indeed as on Thursday LHS dropped 20 strokes as a team during the Seymour Tournament held at Whispering Oaks Country Club at Marshfield.
Lebanon finished 4th out of 13 teams and senior Mollie Schnitzer came home with a top 10 medal after a solid day on the links.
“We have a lot of growth ahead of us, but I’m very excited about what the future holds,” Darnell explained. “I have two freshmen already stepping up to play varsity. They are invested, and ready to put in the time it takes to improve their game.”
The varsity team will play at the next Thursday (September 7) at the Marshfield Invitational.
A tradition unlike any other for sports fanatics across the state of Missouri is waiting for the release of the district assignments for each season by MSHSAA.
On Friday, the classes and assignments were released. Below is each fall sport’s class and district along with their respective opponents.
Class 5 District 6 — Branson, Central, Glendale, Lebanon, Parkview, Republic, Willard.
Class 4 District 3 — Carthage, Glendale, Joplin, Kickapoo, Lebanon, Lee’s Summit, Lee’s Summit North, Lee’s Summit West, Nixa, Notre Dame, Ozark, Raymore-Peculiar, Republic, Smith-Cotton, Springfield-Catholic.
Class 4 District 5 — Glendale, Kickapoo, Lebanon, Neosho, Nixa, Ozark, Republic, Waynesville.
Class 5 District 5 — Central, Glendale, Kickapoo, Lebanon, Nixa, Ozark, Republic, Willard.
Class 1 — Link to teams
Class 3 District 5 — Kickapoo, Lebanon, Neosho, Nixa, Ozark, Republic, Waynesville.
Class 5 District 6 — Central, Glendale, Kickapoo, Lebanon, Nixa, Ozark, Republic, Waynesville.
Districts not yet released.