The Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) has announce it has accepted two new member schools – Gerstell Academy of Finksburg, Md. and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School of Baltimore City.

With the closing of Cardinal Gibbons School and Towson Catholic High School in the last 18 months, the MIAA saw its roster of full-time member schools slip to 26, but the additions of Gerstell and Cristo Rey restore the total to 28 schools.  In addition, Georgetown Prep of Bethesda is a football affiliate member of the MIAA.

“We are very excited about the addition of these outstanding institutions,” said MIAA Executive Director Rick Diggs.  “Our expansion committee was extremely impressed with the academic prowess of these schools during their site visits and we found them to be an outstanding fit for our organization.”

Gerstell Academy becomes the MIAA’s first member school in Carroll County.  The Falcons are led by athletic director Cap Poklemba, a former standout athlete at McDonogh School, who went on to become a place-kicker at Temple University and briefly in the Arena Football League.

Initially, Gerstell will field teams in soccer, basketball and lacrosse, competing in the MIAA C Conference in all three.

Cristo Rey, led by athletic director Tony Cole, is a member of the Cristo Rey Network and administered by the Maryland Jesuits, who also administer MIAA member Loyola Blakefield.

The Hornets will enter the MIAA with teams in four sports – cross country, soccer, basketball and lacrosse.

Both institutions are co-educational and the girls athletic teams at each school will remain independent.

Gerstell and Cristo Rey will be on probationary status during the 2011-2012 school year, but will have full voting privileges.  In addition, they will be eligible for league competition and championship participation beginning next fall.

As far as further expansion, Diggs said the conference is always open for the right fit.

“We have a process for expansion and a committee which oversees that process,” said Diggs.  “If a school meets our geographic, academic and athletic requirements we will consider their application.  We are always looking for ways to improve our Association in all aspects and expansion can be part of that process.”