Clovis News: Sports

Water polo set for this season

Despite speculation to the contrary, there will be no changes this year to the Central Section's divisional alignment for boys and girls water polo playoffs.

As of late last week, there were coaches under the assumption that the section's Board of Managers would meet to decide whether to continue under the second year of the current divisional alignment, or accept the suggested changes of the water polo advisory committee.

"That's not going to happen," section commissioner Jim Crichlow said Monday. "Our by-laws say we realign every two years. We can't be doing this year in and year out."

Crichlow said a change in alignment would have made it five in the past five years for water polo, including last season when the section added a third division to its playoff format. Water polo -- which is played by fewer than half the section's high schools, and none of Bakersfield's public schools -- had a one-division playoff format until 2004.

The section will realign all sports -- based on gender and competitive equity -- for a two-year cycle starting in 2010.

"Some may have thought it was for this year, but it isn't," Crichlow said.

Next year, water polo's Division I gets a makeover, with the four oldest Clovis schools -- Buchanan, Clovis, Clovis East and Clovis West -- being joined by four teams that have been successful in Division II in recent seasons. El Diamante, Golden West, Monache and Sunnyside are moving up on the boys side; girls teams from El Diamante, Monache, Porterville and Sunnyside are being bumped up.

Bullard, Central and Madera are moving from D-I to D-II in boys, with Sanger joining those three schools for a move down to D-II in girls.

The Clovis schools -- particularly Clovis West and Buchanan -- have dominated Division I for years, winning all of the boys titles since 1993 and the girls titles since 1997.

That leaves some schools wanting to move up and test their mettle against the best and others concerned they are moving into a division where they'll be at a competitive disadvantage.

El Diamante has won the past two D-II girls titles and is looking forward to a bigger challenge next season.

"It's great to win Division II, but you're still not the best," Miners coach Jon Conrad said. "That bugs in the back of your mind. When you have a good season, you want to match your skills against the best, and we haven't had that chance to do that yet. We've never gotten to play Clovis West, and I would love to play them."

On the other end of the spectrum is the Monache boys team, which has won three of the past four D-II titles with a core group of players who dedicated themselves to playing club water polo. Marauders coach Brandon Weaver said that is more the exception than the norm for Monache, which has approximately 500-600 fewer students to draw from than the Clovis schools.

"If you're looking for a team in Division II to move up, we're the team," Weaver said. "But if you look at enrollment and take into consideration other factors, you're putting us in a division where we can't compete very often. It will be three to four years before we're able to be that competitive again."

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