Entering the North Coast Section Meet of Champions, this high school track and field season is shaping up as arguably the best ever in this region. Fourteen athletes have region top-10 all-time marks this season in 14 events, including region records in the boys 300-meter intermediate hurdles (California’s David Klech, 35.45 seconds) and girls pole vault (Las Lomas’ Jenna Homes, 12-0). Salesian’s Jahvid Best is tied for the region record in the boys 200 (21.03). Do you think this is the best high school track and field season in the region ever? If not, what year was better?
I remember driving down Highway 4 toward the Brentwood countryside to meet up with Liberty High School swimmer Kate Dwelley for today’s story when the words to an old Tim McGraw song started running through my head. "I’m gonna live where the green grass grows, watch my corn pop up in rows…." Seriously. No joke. Now, I’m not saying this rural part of East Contra Costa County is comparable to "a map dot, a stop sign on a blacktop," but for someone raised in the suburbs of Silicon Valley, it was quite a switch… and a pretty good one. It’s amazing (and rather refreshing) how much the scenery can change with just a short drive. Rather than pass a string of Starbucks, I saw one orchard after another. And I can’t remember the last time I drove behind a tractor!
The Dwelley home is surrounded by acre upon acre of farmland, which is run by Kate’s dad Mark, a third-generation farmer. Customers who stop by Dwelley Farms during the season can go home with a ton of fresh goodies, such as peaches and sweet corn. Kate told me how she used to walk through the orchards on carefree afternoons when she was little (and not in the pool). After seeing the family’s spread, I can see why.
I’ve been writing about Kate for three years now, and one of the things that always strikes me is her free-and-easy demeanor. It’s always there, no matter the environment. Even at the Olympic trials two years ago. Even on one of the biggest stages her sport has to offer, Kate was her typical carefree self. Moments after she advanced to the 200-meter freestyle final, I asked her how stressful it was to compete at such a huge event. Here’s what she said: "I had so much fun. There’s really nothing to worry about. This is just what you work for." Now that I’ve seen the sense of calm that seems to surround her hometown, it really makes sense.
On Wednesday, the State Assembly voted down Bill 2312, which intended to loosen the rules of eligibility for high school athletes who transfer schools without moving. The subject long has been a controversial one in high school athletic circles. One wonders if this will be the catalyst for even more debate on transfers. Do the existing regulations keep the situation under control? Will there be any future legislation proposed, or do you expect the topic to drift away? Please weigh in with your comments.
So, the North Coast Section Board of Managers voted to approve a plan to extend the playoffs for the NCS 2A and 3A football classes by one game earlier this week.
This marks the first time in a long, arduous process that the section has been able to enact a real change in its playoff system. For quite some time now, coaches and fans alike in the section have (rightfully) commented that the section’s playoffs are watered down and that those two divisions, which a split between East Bay and Redwood Empire contingents, don’t crown true champions.
The major hitch in dealing with those complaints has always been money. The NCS derives all of its income from playoff events, and football being the marquee high school sport, could little afford to cut playoff games. One proposal in the past called for re-combining the EB and RE playoffs in both divisions. That would result in a loss of 16 total playoff teams and fourteen playoff games overall. That’s a serious revenue hit.
Instead, the section now is adding two games, one per division. The East Bay regional champs in both 2A and 3A will take on the Redwood Empire regional champs in those divisions, and the section will crown “true” champions, which is all anybody really wanted to begin with.
All things considered, I’d say the NCS arrived at an elegant solution to what has been an unpleasant situation.
What do you think? Post a comment.