Clovis News: Sports

Clovis bids to host state bowl games at Buchanan

CIF isn't an acronym for Clovis Interscholastic Federation, but it may be getting closer.

The Clovis Unified School District has bid to host the California Interscholastic Federation State Bowl Championships, a two-day, five-game format that has been housed at the Home Depot Center in Carson for its first four years.

The district already hosts the State Track and Field Championships, which were at Buchanan's Veterans Memorial Stadium in June for the first time. And the district has for 23 years directed the State Cross Country Championships at Woodward Park.

Should Clovis beat out stiff competition and land the bowl games, they will also be at Buchanan for three years, the first ones Dec. 17-18.

It was there that state officials were wowed by the facility and Clovis Unified's management in June.

"Based on how they ran the track and field meet, they have a legitimate shot to host the bowl games," says Ron Nocetti, senior director for the CIF. "When they say they're going to do something, they get it done; that's the kind of support they have."

Nocetti and Rob Wigod, game operations officer for the bowl games, examined Veterans Memorial Stadium once again while visiting with Clovis officials last week.

"Basically, in two hours, they gave us enough information like we toured the stadium for a week," Nocetti says. "They couldn't have done any more for the Fresno/Clovis community."

Nocetti said a bowl host will be recommended to the CIF executive board Feb. 4, and that the winner will be announced shortly thereafter.

Clovis' chances of scoring this gig would appear more difficult than securing the bid for the track meet, which had been alternating between antiquated sites at Sacramento's Hughes Stadium and Cerritos College.

The venue pool is deeper this time, including Stanford, San Jose State, Bakersfield College and the Los Angeles Coliseum.

And trying to hold on is the Home Depot Center, a 27,000-seat facility that is home to the Major League Soccer's L.A. Galaxy.

The bowl games have gone well there -- drawing well and making money -- first in a one-day, three-division format for two years before expanding in 2008.

"The Home Depot Center has treated us incredibly well," Nocetti says. "They've responded immediately to needs and have been an excellent host."

There are state championships in six sports -- golf, cross country, volleyball, basketball, wrestling and track and field -- and host sites are put out for bid every three years or so.

The football bowl games match select section champions from the North and the South. Participants are determined by a CIF committee consisting of commissioners from the state's 10 sections.

The Central Section, which is associated with the South, has never been represented while bucking competition from more high-profile programs in Southern California.

But there's no question the urge to select a school from the central Valley would intensify with the games in its backyard.

Among the section's selling points is its central location. At Carson, the bowl games have required hundreds of miles of travel for Northern teams, but only a few for most of those from the South.

And Steve France, Clovis Unified's assistant superintendent of educational services, says this: "If you want to play the bowls in a high school venue, you're not going to have a better one than Veterans has to offer."

Fresno pitches for volleyball

The Fresno Sports Council, which works in concert with Clovis Unified for the state cross country meet, has thrown its hat into the ring for the state volleyball finals.

FSC only has San Jose State to contend with, Nocetti says.

Should Fresno win, they'll be played next fall at Selland Arena.

The Central Section has figured prominently in state events, hosting the wrestling finals at Bakersfield's Rabobank Arena. The basketball championships also will be played at Rabobank in March before returning to Arco Arena in 2011. Then they will return to bid.