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LE MARS, Iowa --The board of education serving the Le Mars Community School District on Wednesday voted unanimously to join the Missouri River Activities Conference at the start of the 2019 academic year, giving the league eight member schools.

For decades, Le Mars Community has been a member of the Lakes Conference. This marks the second straight year the Lakes Conference has lost a member with Emmetsburg leaving for the Twin Lakes Conference before the start of this school year.

The MRAC currently includes Sioux City public schools East, West and North along with Sergeant Bluff-Luton and Bishop Heelan in the north while Council Bluff Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson are members in the south.

Le Mars is similar in size to Heelan and Sergeant Bluff-Luton while the other schools are all in Iowa's largest class, 4A.

The development was greeted with enthusiasm by Jason Pratt, athletic director at Bishop Heelan High School.

“We are very excited,” said Pratt. "Eight is an even number and good for scheduling. Le Mars brings a lot of great teams to the conference.”

The addition of Le Mars still leaves an imbalance in the north with just Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson in the south.

Pratt said both Lewis Central and Glenwood, who were also invited to join the conference, contacted athletic directors serving the Council Bluffs high schools and informed them they were not interested in joining at this time.

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