While the Minnesota State High School League repeatedly has said that switching the football scheduling model from a conference-based system to districts was not done to ensure competitive balance, it clearly has had a positive impact on a number of previously struggling programs.

Perhaps no team has benefited as greatly as Mound Westonka. The White Hawks have been toiling in the football-mad Wright County Conference for the past seven seasons and won just six games during that span.

This year, Mound Westonka is playing in the Twin City Red subdistrict alongside teams from similar sized schools such as Columbia Heights and Minneapolis Patrick Henry. The result? The White Hawks won their first four games, ensuring themselves of their first .500 regular season since 1992, which was also the last time they had won as many as four games in a season. Any ensuing victories — Mound Westonka hosted Breck on Friday — would give the team a winning record for the first time since finishing 5-4 in 1980.

Helping hands

Two successful local athletic teams have reached out in an effort to help teams of lesser means in their respective sports.

Last Wednesday the St. Paul Humboldt girls’ tennis team visited Minnetonka, the No. 8-ranked team in Class 2A. They didn’t play an official match, but the two teams joined forces for practice and doubles matches. The Skippers also presented the Humboldt players with new uniforms.

On Monday the Orono boys’ soccer team will host the team from Higher Ground Academy, a charter school in St. Paul that is run by Minnesota soccer legend Buzz Lagos, for a 6 p.m. game. Orono held a fundraiser to help Higher Ground offset the expenses that go along with along with developing a program, including equipment and uniforms. A check with the funds raised by Orono will be presented to the Higher Grounds team captains at halftime of the game.

Best of the west

Holy Angels’ sophomore outside hitter Ellie Koontz had a pretty successful three-day stretch of volleyball recently. She had 20 kills in a victory over DeLaSalle, then had 54 kills and a .505 hitting percentage while leading the Stars to the championship of the Visitation tournament.