Cretin-Derham Hall won't participate in talks about athletic conference for Catholic schools

  • Article by: DAVID LA VAQUE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 2, 2013 - 2:10 PM
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Cretin-Derham Hall has long been a state high school football power.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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Cretin-Derham Hall will not have representatives at a meeting later this month to gauge interest among metro-area Catholic schools in creating a new athletic conference.

Activities director Jodi Loeblein-Lecker said Thursday that the St. Paul school, a longtime power in baseball and football, is “happy where we are at in the Suburban East Conference.”

The school was among eight athletically successful high schools that DeLaSalle President Barry Lieske had queried about “joining in a preliminary conversation” about forming a new conference. The other seven are Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Hill-Murray, Holy Angels, Holy Family of Victoria, St. Thomas Academy and Totino-Grace.

The idea, Lieske said, came as a response in part to wider conference migration and the difficulty some are having finding the right competitive fit.

“We have so much similarity in how we operate,’’ Lieske said Wednesday. “And there looks like wholesale interest in having that conversation. I’m not even sure an all-Catholic school conference would be a likely outcome. But it could be, I guess.”

When the schools are expected to meet May 16, at least one other invitee will bring reservations about the idea. Hill-Murray activities director Bill Lechner, who also coaches boys’ hockey and baseball, is skeptical that an all-Catholic school conference would solve more problems than it would create. The Pioneers, he said, are happy in the Classic Suburban Conference.

“You take all the Catholic schools and there are a lot of not-good fits athletically,” Lechner said. “We’re fine where we’re at. We will listen to be polite. But we’re not interested.”

Catholic high schools were banded together in competition apart from Minnesota’s public schools until the mid-1970s. The last metro-area conference of Catholic schools disbanded in the 1980s

This year at least four metro-area Catholic schools have been cast adrift by conference changes going on around them.

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