WALES — Oak Hill High School is poised to leave the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference in favor of the Mountain Valley Conference, a move athletic director Jim Palmer said will save thousands of dollars in annual travel costs.

Thirteen of the 14 MVC members met Monday and voted unanimously to recommend Oak Hill join the conference.

MVC principals still must approve the move, although conference president Tim Johnson — the athletic director at Hall-Dale High School — said that is a mere formality at this point.

“This is a great thing for the conference,” he said. “We voted and recommended it. We will send the letter to the principals (today). This is a great fit.”

Palmer said the move to the MVC will defray travel costs. Oak Hill applied for admission last week.

“Budgets are tight and we were looking for ways to save money,” Palmer said. “And one of the ways to save money is travel. It will save us about $4,000. We have seven trips that are an hour to an hour-and-a-half of travel time in the KVAC. We had to let kids out of school by 12:30 a lot of days and we won’t have to interrupt the school day as much.”

Oak Hill will become the first addition to the MVC since St. Dominic joined in 2009.

The MVC was open to expanding after it essentially lost two teams last year with the departure of Georges Valley and the merger of Jay and Livermore into what is now Spruce Mountain.

Georges Valley and Rockland consolidated to form Oceanside High School, which then moved to Class B.

“We were in desperate need of a field hockey team,” Johnson said. “To get Oak Hill, also with its tennis, is a huge plus for us.”

Added Palmer: “This is nothing against the KVAC. We have a lot of respect for them, but we had to do what was best for Oak Hill.”

KVAC president Gene Keene, the Brunswick athletic director, declined comment Monday.

Palmer said the move, which won’t affect the football program, could also help the Raiders become more competitive in other sports.

“It’s not the main reason for this, but this may make us a little more competitive,” he said. “We won’t go into the MVC and win championship after championship, but we’ll have more natural rivalries and we should be competitive.”

The MVC features six schools that are within 30 miles of Oak Hill, including Wiscasset, Lisbon, St. Dominic, Monmouth, Hall-Dale and Winthrop.

However, the departure will also affect some rivalries formed with KVAC schools, most notably Maranacook.

“We’ll still face them in football, but we won’t compete against them in other sports,” Maranacook athletic director Al MacGregor said. “We’ll miss that. In the springtime, we always had good matches with Oak Hill. The baseball teams have a good rivalry. Plus, the proximity was pretty close to us.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]

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