El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Mary York

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. 

Not every season leads down glory road and not every championship game has a happy ending, but for the girls of Grossmont’s Lady Foothillers, Friday’s match against second-seed Steele Canyon was exactly that, the golden climax of their Cinderella story, taking the game, 45-35.

“This is has been an exceptional season,” said Foothillers head coach Grace Campbell. “When I took over the program they were 2-22. This is my third year coaching as head coach and we’re 21-5.”

Making a splash in this season’s league competition was definitely part of the plan. What has surprised the West Hills’ girls’ water polo team is just how big that splash has been. 

Taking on Monte Vista in one of the last games of the season, the Wolfpack showed just how well canines can swim, easily beating the Monarchs, 17-5, on Wednesday, February 10. West Hills is leading the pack in the Grossmont Valley league standings and looks to have a good chance in post-season play.