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Marietta next to exit SEOAL

Geography won again.

Marietta High School has joined the list of teams leaving the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League after accepting an invitation from the East Central Ohio League.

The SEOAL expanded to 10 teams in 2006, but teams began to feel the effects of high fuel costs and long trips. Athens left two years ago to join the Tri-Valley Conference, Zanesville left for the ECOL this year and Ironton will depart and return to independent status next fall.

“This was a decision fueled economically. We had been looking at options before when gas prices were us so high. It’s not just affecting the schools, it’s also affecting individuals,” said Marietta athletic director Rick Guimond.

“When we look at the ECOL — and they approached us — we’re going to reduce our travel time. The distance that we have to travel for any of the contests has been extreme. Our furthest opponent (in the ECOL) will be about 90 miles away.”

Besides Marietta, Zanesville Bishop Rosecrans also joined the ECOL. With the two new additions, the league will split into two divisions with Marietta, Dover, Cambridge, New Philadelphia and Zanesville in the large school division while Claymont, Coshocton, Meadobrook, River View and Rosecrans will comprise the smaller school division.

There have been rumors that Jackson and Warren were leaving the SEOAL to join the TVC, but school officials emphatically denied the rumors and announced at the last league meeting that were staying in the SEOAL.

The SEOAL will have a six-team membership that includes Gallipolis, Portsmouth, Jackson, Warren, Logan and Chillicothe.

South Gallia will join the TVC next year along with Wahama, W.Va. River Valley — a member of the Ohio Valley Conference — has a standing invitation from the TVC.

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Kevin Pierson of the Athens Messenger contributed to this story.