North Iowa schools name league

ARMSTRONG – A new high school league in northern Iowa will be known as the Top of Iowa Conference, beginning in the 2015-16 school year.

Students from all the schools in the conference voted on possible titles.

“The Top of Iowa was generated by the 18 schools,” said North Union principal and athletic director Robert Zotz. “The kids from the schools helped to collect ideas for the new conference.”

Schools in the new league, along with North Union, include: Belmond-Klemme, Bishop Garrigan-Algona, Central Springs, Eagle Grove, Forest City, Garner-Hayfield-Ventura, Lake Mills, Nashua-Plainfield, Newman Catholic-Mason City, North Butler, North Iowa, Northwood-Kensett, Osage, Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock, St. Ansgar, West Fork and West Hancock.

The conference covers a 12-county area, with North Union the western-most point of the conference.

The super conference concept will allow for some crossover games within the 18 schools, and several “in” or “out” of conference options. This was important to the athletic directors not only for scheduling, but for keeping relationships with schools played in the past.

“The concept is there will be an east and west division,” Zotz said. “But this will also free us up for some non-conference games with schools we played in the past. We’re excited about the new conference and being able to schedule games with schools we’ve played for decades again.”

Changes are already in place for the eight-school North Iowa Conference, beginning this fall with the addition of North Union, Bishop Garrigan-Algona and Eagle Grove as a result of the dissolving of the Corn Belt conference.

At a joint meeting held Wednesday at the Clear Lake AEA, superintendents from the Corn Bowl and North Iowa Conferences heard a presentation from athletic directors representing each conference. They shared the progress on event formats; scheduling games and meets; and talking about working together, with many decisions having been made as a unified group.

“The athletic directors have been working hard,” Zotz said. “They’ve met about four times already, and will be meeting more to prepare … It’s in its infant stages, how to determine conference champions, by-laws being created and policies and procedures.”

The Top of Iowa Conference may be referred to as an “athletic conference,” but it is the intent of the superintendents to create more opportunities for combined fine arts activities and student leadership events.