Tea Area High School athletic teams moving up to Class AA

The Titans will enter the Eastern South Dakota Conference in 2024-25, joining Brandon Valley and Harrisburg.

Tea Area students cheer during a Class A SoDak 16 girls state-qualifier game between the Tea Area Titans and the Wagner Red Raiders on Thursday, March 2, 2023, at the Corn Palace.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL — The Eastern South Dakota Conference announced Monday that it will expand to 10 schools in 2024-25 with the addition of Tea Area High School, as the Titans prepare to move to Class AA for nearly all sports.

Tea Area will participate in the ESD in the following sports: basketball, competitive cheer and dance, cross country, football, golf, soccer, softball, track and field, volleyball and wrestling. The conference dates back to 1927. The move will also bring Class AA to 20 schools.

"We are excited for this mutually beneficial relationship between Tea Area and our current ESD member schools," said Mitchell Activities Director Cory Aadland, who also serves as the ESD's president. "We look forward to supporting the student-athletes, coaches, administration and the community of Tea in their transition into Class AA. The ESD has a long and proud history, and the addition of Tea Area will only continue to strengthen our conference.“

Jennifer Nebelsick Lowery, Tea Area's superintendent, noted that the Titans have participated in every major SDHSAA classification, going from Class B in 2003 to now Class AA in 2024. The Titans' football program has played in Class 11AA for the last two seasons, reaching the championship game both times.

"We are grateful for the opportunity to be welcomed into the ESD as our district’s athletic programs transition into a high school of nearly 800 students," she said. "As we continue to build our traditions and programs, we are excited to join a conference rich with traditions.”


Currently, Tea Area has an average daily membership of 443, according to the SDHSAA, which is calculated with grades 9-11 during the 2021-22 school year and used for 2022-23 and 2023-24. But it is part of the fast-growing suburbs around Sioux Falls, which has contributed to the growth of Harrisburg and Brandon Valley, along with adding a new high school — Sioux Falls Jefferson — in Sioux Falls.

Harrisburg is the largest ESD school with an ADM of 1,152, followed by Brandon Valley (1,042) and Aberdeen Central (1,040). Watertown is next largest (953), followed by Brookings (769), Mitchell (729), Yankton (700), Pierre (649) and Huron (625).

“Tea Area is excited for the opportunity to move up to AA in all athletics/activities and participate in the Eastern South Dakota Athletic Conference for the 2024-25 school year," Tea Area Activities Director Craig Clayberg said. "We feel that the ESD has a rich tradition of success in athletics and are proud to join the conference.”

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