Move to San Diego a learning experience

May 26, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

It was a year of ups and downs and some success, but most important it was a year of learning for the Imperial Valley schools that made the transition from the CIF Southern Section to the San Diego Section.

After years in the much-larger Southern Section against Los Angeles-area schools, Imperial Valley League schools — Brawley Union, Calexico, Central Union and Southwest — made the move to the San Diego Section at the beginning of the school year.

While in some sports there were some slights, in general officials at all participating schools thought the move mostly was beneficial.

"When our kids played the San Diego teams, they had a better chance of competing. We really didn't get that chance in the Southern Section," said Brawley athletic director Billy Brewer. "Overall, our chances on a competitive level were better. And I think with how we performed this year, we showed that we can compete at a high level in the San Diego Section."


If any team proved that theory it was the Brawley High wrestling team. On Feb. 17 the Wildcats won the CIF San Diego Section Division III championship and in their own back yard at Southwest High School in El Centro.

"You look at that and it shows how well we can do in San Diego. I hate to say it, but if we were in the Southern Section we wouldn't have won it," said Brewer. "And the fact that we even had the tournament down here says a lot. We would've never hosted a Southern Section championship down here."

It wasn't just Brawley succeeding. Central Union finished sixth among 27 teams involved and host Southwest took 13th. According to Brewer, the CIF tournament at Southwest was the highest-grossing wrestling tournament in the San Diego Section this year.

Seeing the most postseason success as a whole were the Valley's springs sports teams.

In swimming, Brawley, Central and Southwest sent a combined 13 swimmers to CIF. Of those 13, 11 were from Brawley, the most the team has ever sent to the postseason.

In track and field, a total of 18 athletes from Calexico, Southwest, Central and Brawley made the CIF San Diego Section finals.

All four of those teams made the playoffs in baseball and Central and Brawley made it in softball. Both softball teams won their opening contests and Central was two runs from the CIF championship contest.

"It was a good overall year, especially in the spring sports," said Southwest athletic director Greg Sackos. "This year turned out really well. Our teams have a much better chance of shining. I think now in the San Diego Section, we're all in a much better situation."

There were a few things Brewer, Sackos and Calexico athletic director Ray Alvarado pointed to that need some improvement.

"I think more than anything, we'd like to have at least the top two teams in each sport have guaranteed spots in the playoffs," said Alvarado. "That was one of the good things about Southern Section. Each league was guaranteed three spots, whereas in San Diego, only the first-place team is guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. But like anything else, it has its pros and cons. All this is still a learning process for us."

Added Sackos: "Of course the number of guaranteed spots is always going to be a concern. Another concern is having the San Diego teams coming down here on a consistent basis. But those are things we still have to work out. In the long run, though, the move to the San Diego Section will prove to be the best thing for all the Valley teams."

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