Last week, I argued for the reinstatement of Golden Valley High School swimmer Connor Hoppe, who had been ruled ineligible for the upcoming Sac-Joaquin Section trials and finals.
Hoppe clearly violated section rule 2600.10 (b), which calls for swimmers to swim “unattached” after a specific date. This year, the cutoff date was Feb. 10.
But the Golden Valley senior, who will attend Cal in the fall on scholarship, believed he’d be in compliance as long as he didn’t join his Golden Valley teammates for high school meets until after he finished with club activities.
Pretty arcane stuff, but it doesn’t matter any longer.
The section’s executive committee, wisely, found that the Golden Valley administration was more to blame and voted to reinstate Hoppe in time for Friday’s trials (the girls trials are today) and Saturday’s finals.
All this takes place at Tokay High in Lodi, and competition begins each day at 10 a.m.
Hoppe is the reigning section champion in the 100-yard breaststroke, setting a section record (54.81 seconds) in the process.
This year, his goal has been to not only repeat, but to break the national record (52.92), held by Jacob Molacek of Creighton Prep in Omaha, Neb. Hoppe has lowered his personal best to 53.12.
For the arithmetic-challenged, that’s just two-tenths of a second. Or, look at like this: If Molacek and Hoppe swam in the same race when they recorded their respective bests, Molacek would’ve out-touched Hoppe by about the length of his hand.
In other words: Say “adios” to that record, Mr. Molacek. ...
Speaking of section rules, the SJS playoff committee recently recommended a slew of rule changes in football, baseball, softball, basketball, cross country, soccer, tennis and volleyball.
A lot of the changes deal with enrollment and how teams are grouped into various playoff brackets. But let’s take a look at a few of the more interesting changes:
Baseball – Leagues throughout the section will send their top three teams to the postseason, with the top nine leagues (based on playoff winning percentage of the previous three seasons) getting an additional playoff berth. Once in the playoffs, teams will be seeded numerically within the bracket – No. 1 vs. No. 16, No. 2 vs. No. 15, etc.
Currently, the league creates playoff matchups by having the second-place team from the Modesto Metro Conference take on the third-place team from the Central California Conference, and the No. 2 from the CCC hosting the MMC’s No. 3, and so on, with winners of those games advancing to face the No. 1 seeds, who received first-round byes.
Basketball – There are a couple of interesting changes here. First, the “success rule” has been tweaked. In the past, if a school won three straight section titles in, let’s say, Division 5, it was required to move up to Division 4. If it won three in a row there, the school would get bumped to D-3. If that pattern continued, then that dynasty would find itself playing in D-1 after 12 years.
The change is this: If a team wins three in a row, it gets promoted to the next highest league. If it wins a title the very next year in the higher division, it gets promoted again … no more waiting three years. So that hypothetical D5 team would find itself competing at the top level in just half the time.
The other rule change involving basketball deals with how certain teams will gain at-large bids into the postseason tournament.
Under the old format, leagues sent three teams to the playoffs, with the top nine leagues (based on recent playoff success) getting a fourth berth. Here’s the rub: Sometimes a league that hasn’t had recent playoff success comes out of nowhere and has more than three really super teams. And, sometimes, a league can piggyback its way to a better rating thanks to one dynastic program (such as De La Salle, of the North Coast Section, for example).
The section has taken an interesting step to remedy this.
If a league with just three playoff berths should have a fourth-place – or fifth-place or sixth-place, etc. – team that is ranked in the Top 12 by MaxPreps.com, then those additional teams will receive at-large berths into the playoffs (in divisions 5 and 6, the additional teams ranked in the Top 8 would get at-large bids).
This eliminates the possibility of a worthy contender having to sit out the playoffs. Of course, you can always quibble with the MaxPreps rankings.
Some things will never change.
A lot of Stanislaus District athletes have put pen to paper and formally committed to playing at various universities. On Wednesday, three Davis High athletes – Brennan Pope (boys basketball), Tamia Castaneda (girls basketball) and Haley Crook (girls soccer) – all committed to Cal State Stanislaus.
Here are some other local athletes who have recently made it official:
Central Catholic – Jonathan Boddie (basketball, Lewis and Clark College), Ethan Eads (basketball, Hawaii Pacific University), Reggie Bland (football, Cal Lutheran), Matt Ringer (football, University of Chicago), Kenny Smart (football, Harvard), Donovin Townsend (Pacific University), Gabby Dias (softball, Stanislaus State), Emily Raspo (softball, Mississippi), Clarissa Sandoval (soccer, Stanislaus State), Cameron Olsen (soccer, Chico State), Ivan Swalve (track and field, Boise State).
Pitman – Eric Bejaran and Logan Wolfley (football), Melinda Gonzalez (volleyball), Katie Hanf (soccer), Sally Acosta (softball), Dakota Spillers (baseball).
Modesto Christian – Robert Garcia (baseball, UC Davis).
Gregori – Brianna Menor (softball, Stanislaus State).
Modesto – Jasmine Hill (softball, Alcorn State), Becca Pridmore (softball, George Fox University).
Finally, thanks to Albert Ramos of Ceres for calling and setting me straight on the Spanish translation of the baseball term “out.” According to Ramos, whose been associated with the Mexican-American Baseball League for nearly five decades, the term for “out” is the same in English and Spanish. “Fuera” is the term an umpire might use on bang-bang play on the basepaths … “You’re out!” would be “Fuera!” in Spanish.
However, if you’re asking a coach or teammate how many outs there are in an inning, it’s simply “out.”
Gracias, Sr. Ramos.