El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Mary York

“I had a girl dive for the ball,” said enthusiastic coach Joseph Mendoza. “She didn’t catch it, but who cares? It was the greatest dive I’ve ever seen. If you go at life like that, you will succeed.”

Mendoza, who is head coach for Helix High School’s JV softball team, believes in a program that teaches more than winning and losing and his struggling squad of Highlanders have been proving just how important that lesson is. 

Grossmont Community College students may be Griffins on land, but they are sharks in the water.

Favorites to win, and up to the challenge, Grossmont’s swim team carried away the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Championship 2016 title last weekend, April 21-23, after a current of successes this season.

Their women’s team garnered 922 points, taking first, and the men took second with 761 points.

With scouts holding radar guns behind the home base fence and fans sitting eagerly in the palm-shaded bleachers of the Granite Hills ballpark, Eagles senior Andrew Brown threw the opening pitch of the 2016 conference season. 

Saturday was a long day for baseball families in East County, with three double-headers in the Grossmont Hills League. Granite Hills High School hosted the double-header against Steele Canyon High School on Saturday, April 16. They won both games.

Light paraded from the sky like the steady stream of families leaving Helix Charter High School’s football field following the JV lacrosse match on April 6. Peewee soccer players were pushing practice balls into knee-high nets on a spit of grass across from the green AstroTurf. Somewhere on campus, the tremorous notes of the Highlander’s marching band rose, wafting the faded sound of bagpipes into the bleachers. The scoreboard blinked zeros. Helix Head Coach John Whittles nodded to referees from the sidelines and a whistle blew.

It’s a good year for the El Capitan’s boys’ volleyball team. In fact, now it has several good years under its belt.

After winning the Silver Division at the Sweetwater Tournament in March, the Vaqueros ploughed through the season with the best start in the school’s history, with a 9-5 record in nonconference play.

But the Vaqueros unsuccessful past turned around largely due to a new approach towards recruiting.

Grossmont Conference high schools tested their salt at the Mt. Carmel Track & Field Invitational on March 26, joining 94 other schools who came to participate in one of the largest national meets in the country.

Hosted by the Sundevils at Mt. Carmel High School, the meet celebrated its 37th anniversary this year with teams coming from as far away as New York and Texas.

Mt. Carmel Sprint Coach Shan Forehand said events like this one are good breeding grounds for healthy competition.

Softball is off and swinging and Grossmont Conference teams are holding their own in preseason. 

Grossmont High School has taken an early lead in the Grossmont Hills League standings with a 6-3-0 record. They won gold in the Cougar Classic, the largest preseason softball tournament in San Diego, beating Rancho Bernardo High School for the championship. The game went 10 innings and lasted five hours.

California’s water reserves may be thirsting for the promised El Nino, but East County’s baseball teams do not appreciate the muddy start to their season. 

Top of Grossmont Hills League standings, Helix High School was rained out of two games this weekend. Their non-conference match at Eastlake High School on Friday, March 11 was interrupted in the bottom of the fourth inning while the Helix Highlanders were enjoying a four-run lead. 

If well begun is half done, then Grossmont College’s baseball team is already halfway through what promises to be an exceptional season. 

With a 6-5 record in nonconference play, the Griffins have begun adding league wins to their record. Grossmont’s Griffins are currently undefeated in conference.

Grossmont head coach Randy Abshier said the team’s preseason run against some of the nation’s best community college clubs instilled confidence in the team.

Cuyamaca College’s gym was thundering on Saturday night as the top teams of Christian basketball league Breakaway took to the glossy floor to battle for the 2016 girls’ and boys’ championship.

Two-time defending champs Heritage Christian School took on Christian Life Academy in a raucous set of games for the season title. Both matches were close, fraught with nail-biting, bleacher-shaking intensity.