Updated, 7 a.m. Thursday: The Bellarmine-SHP boys' water polo match scheduled for 8:30 a.m. has been postponed. No makeup date has been determined.
The poor air quality around the Bay Area continues to affect high school playoffs around the state.
The latest scheduling change came in the Central Coast Section boys’ Open Division water polo championship game between top-seeded Sacred Heart Prep and No. 2 Bellarmine. The 5 p.m. Wednesday game has been postponed to Thursday at SHP — at 8:30 a.m. The AQI readings in the morning in Atherton were in the “moderate” 80s range Wednesday but, by noon, the number had skyrocketed into the red “unhealthy” zone.
“We’ve seen a pattern that has developed since last Friday where the air quality has been very good in the morning and then deteriorate, rapidly, around 11 a.m., noon,” said Frank Rodriquez, assistant principal-athletics at Sacred Heart Prep. “I’ve checked [the AQI] every morning since Saturday. First thing I’ve done in the morning. It’s been more of the same every day.”
At this rate, the CCS Open Division champion may not be decided as the Northern California water polo tournament has already been seeded and is scheduled to begin Friday at Buchanan High School in Clovis, where AQI readings are in an acceptable range.
And the tournament directors have not waited for CCS to decide a champion as both SHP and Bellarmine, along with Menlo School, have already been seeded in the Division I tournament based on schedule strength. SHP is seeded No. 2 and take on No. 7 Miramonte at 1:20 p.m. Bellarmine is No. 4 and faces No. 5 Buchanan at 12:10 p.m. at Buchanan, while Menlo School is No. 6 and takes on No. 3 San Ramon Valley at 2:30 p.m.
All games are first round and semifinal matches are at Buchanan High School Friday, with the championship match scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Buchanan.
SHP is putting together one of the best seasons in school history and the Gators would like the hardware that goes along with it. They would love to win an eighth straight CCS crown, along with a Nor Cal title after being denied last year but, with everything in flux as much as it is, there are no guarantees that games will be played the rest of the week.
“I know how hard all the kids have worked, and not just on our team. That was the only the box [we] couldn’t check last year was that Nor Cal (champions) box,” Rodriguez said. “It would be very unfortunate if [the Nor Cal tournament couldn’t be played], but at the same time, it pales in comparison to what people in Butte County and Paradise are going through. … There are people going through much bigger life changes.”
At least water polo, girls’ golf and tennis have gotten to the end of CCS tournaments. The CCS football tournament, however, continues to hang in limbo. Although 15 of the 20 first-round games are scheduled to be play over the weekend, CCS has devised a contingency plan to try and get the tournament rolling.
In an email sent to all CCS members schools, commissioner Duane Morgan said tripleheaders have been set up at five school sites in the deep south of the section, where the air quality has been consistently better through the last week.
“Since the Salinas-Monterey-Watsonville areas have been consistently low in the AQI numbers, we have set up five sites to play tripleheaders at each site,” Morgan said in the email. “Upon the graciousness of Salinas HS, Alvarez HS, Alisal HS, Pacific Grove HS and Watsonville HS, they have opened their doors to host games at their sites. The game times with 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.”
The sites and games break down this way:
Salinas High School: Los Gatos-Palo Alto, 1 p.m.; Milpitas-Menlo-Atherton, 4 p.m.; Piedmont Hills-Wilcox, 7 p.m.
Alisal High School: St. Ignatius-Sacred Heart Prep, 1 p.m.; Live Oak-Sacred Heart Cathedral, 4 p.m.; Del Mar-King’s Academy, 7 p.m.
Alvarez High School: Oak Grove-Mitty 1 p.m.; Aragon-St. Francis, 4 p.m.; Serra-Leland, 7 p.m.
Watsonville High School: Santa Clara-Overfelt, 1 p.m.; Mountain View-Burlingame, 4 p.m.; Aptos-Terra Nova, 7 p.m.
Pacific Grove High School: Soledad-Independence, 1 p.m.; Carlmont-Willow Glen, 4 p.m.; Christopher-Valley Christian, 7 p.m.
Morgan also asked that coaches and administrations refrain from criticisms and accusations of the contingency plans if it is, indeed, implemented.
“This has been a very stressful time for you and your athletes and we all recognize and appreciate the cooperation that has been exhibited by all of you,” Morgan said in the email. “It is the expectation that this cooperation will continue and please do not allow any type of gamesmanship to interfere with this laid out plan. People wanting to change this or that, thinking that one team is getting an advantage over another team, will not be entertained — we are way beyond that point.”
The CCS cross country championships, tentatively scheduled for Saturday at the Crystal Springs Course in Belmont, has a plan in place to tentatively move the races to Toro Park in Fresno Sunday morning.
“We have to put sports aside and err on the side of doing what’s best for the kids. … We just have to do our best to keep our kids healthy,” Rodriguez said. “It’s the craziest week I’ve had since I’ve been here (14 years). We try to keep our sense of humor and sense of perspective.”