The Lake Superior Conference will have a new look starting in the 2020-21 school season.

Current member Ashland will be out of the seven-team league, to be replaced by Grand Rapids.

According to LSC executive secretary Dave Homstad, former interim Ashland activities director Pam Huston last spring had expressed the school’s desire to leave the conference and seek a spot in a Wisconsin-only league.

“Grand Rapids expressed an interest to get into the conference. We didn’t want the conference to get any smaller so Grand Rapids filled out an application to come in, members had a vote and they voted Ashland out and Grand Rapids in,” LSC executive secretary Dave Homstad said Monday, Oct. 21, about an Oct. 7 meeting of athletic directors.

Superior is the only other Wisconsin school in the LSC, which also includes Cloquet, Duluth Denfeld, Duluth Marshall, Hermantown and Proctor. Homstad said remaining LSC schools will help the Oredockers fill schedule dates if they can’t find a new league.

“All of the members in the conference told the new AD at Ashland (Stan Schrock) that they wouldn’t leave them hanging in no-man’s land if they didn’t find a conference right away,” Homstad said.

Ashland, which joined the LSC starting with the 2006-07 school year, announced that it “will not reduce any sports or activities,” and that the Ashland athletic programs currently competing in the LSC would become unaffiliated after the current school year unless admitted to a new conference.

“It disappoints SHS to see Ashland leave,” SHS activities director Ray Kosey said. “It was nice to have another Wisconsin school in the LSC, but I understand Ashland’s thoughts on leaving. They were only getting one conference game from most LSC schools (LSC only requires one contest per sport with the option between schools for a second contest), but in a Wisconsin conference they most likely will get two contests — one home and one away — each year for most sports, which will help them fill out their schedules.”

Ashland football, gymnastics and girls soccer all presently compete in the Great Northern Conference, while the wrestling program will be its third year in the Heart O’ North Conference.

“Hopefully Ashland can enter into a Wisconsin conference and SHS will continue to play Ashland non-conference as much as possible,” Kosey said.

Superior and Grand Rapids already play each other in boys soccer, swimming, cross country, boys basketball, wrestling, baseball, softball, track and field, and boys tennis.

The two will soon also face each other in boys and girls hockey, volleyball and girls tennis. Sports they won’t likely meet in are football, girls soccer and gymnastics.

“We look forward to Grand Rapids joining the LSC and making it a very competitive conference,” Kosey said. “SHS tries to build as tough regular season schedule as possible to prepare us for the playoffs and Grand Rapids will give us good competition.

“As for travel, Grand Rapids is a little further away (than Ashland), but is also gives us a game closer than some other options.”

Coach steps down

Chris Marinucci, a former Minnesota Duluth Hobey Baker Award winner, stepped down as head coach of the Grand Rapids boys hockey team, the district announced Wednesday, Oct. 23.

Marinucci’s record was 16-36-1 in two seasons after taking over a program that won the 2017 Class AA state title.

Marinucci replaced Trent Klatt as head coach after serving two seasons as an assistant. Marinucci won the Hobey Baker as a UMD senior in 1994.

The district is expected to post the position by the end of the week.