2016: The Grandkids

We’ve been idle since the state high school track meet and probably won’t be posting much for the next month, as our two grandsons, 13 and 12, from Connecticut have made their annual invasion.

For Susie and me, this represents  4-5 weeks of never-ending activity, a veritable jailbreak every day.  It seems like we are training with the SEALs.

We wouldn’t have it any other way.

The boys met us in Las Vegas on June 21.  From there came a tour of Hoover Dam, a visit to the magnificent meteor crater near Winslow, Az., and a day at the Grand Canyon.

It’s not all swimming pools and movies.  Some culture is added.

Oh, I’d better not forget.  Happy 48th anniversary today to my beautiful bride.

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1919: Coronado Flexes, Hilltoppers Up, Down

San Diego High continued to transition to mediocrity from the championship squad of three seasons before and tiny Coronado mixed with the big boys.

Byron (Pesky) Sprott and five members of the Hilltoppers’ nationally-acclaimed 1916 team  now were leading the University of California’s powerful squad and coach Clarence (Nibs) Price was on the Bears’ football coaching staff.

San Diego High was on its third coach in three seasons.  Price moved to Berkeley after the 1917 campaign and Clint Evans, who coached during the flu-interrupted 1918 season, had announced his retirement and relocated to Idaho.

Ligda was coach for one season.

Ligda was coach for one season.

Vladimir Victor Ligda embarked on what would be a one-season stint as the Hilltoppers’ coach.

Ligda was  born in France of Russian descent, attended high school in Oakland, and had achieved some success in  track and field at Cal.

Ligda was introduced in an expansive article in The San Diego Union, which noted that he was a 1904 Cal graduate and had run :51.0 to win the 440-yard race in the annual big meet against Stanford.

That Ligda was incorrectly identified as “Vernon” Ligda seemed to presage a problematic tenure.


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2016: Siegler, Alvarado, Altice Lead Way in 98th State Meet

San Diego Section track-and-field entries placed in eight of 32 events at the 98th state track championships in Clovis Saturday.

–About 26 per cent of the entries scored points amid the 102-degree heat of Buchanan High.

–Out of 96 total at the beginning of Friday’s trials.

–And with no individual champion for the first time in 14 years.

It wasn’t a total loss.

Fourteen boys and nine girls produced season bests.


University City’s Allen Siegler represented to me what the state meet is all about, competition and the opportunity to improve.

Siegler took a 1600 season best of 4:14.09 into the trials and qualified fourth at 4:12.22. He was eighth in the finals, but Siegler came to compete.

The wiry senior hung tough against a demanding pace and whacked another three seconds off his best to close at 4:09.29, eighth all-time in the San Diego Section.


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2016: Locals Have Hopes in 98th State meet

Do well in the section finals.  Get to the state meet.  Qualify in the Friday trials.  Rest up for the finals.  Finish in the top 5 Saturday.  Get a “PR”*. Score a point or more and earn a medal.  Maybe finish first.

That’s the season goal.

Ninety-six San Diego Section entrants, less a few because of those in more than one event, will converge with qualifiers of like aspirations from 9 other state sections Friday at Buchanan High in Clovis, where temperatures of at least 100 degrees are expected.

It’s the 102nd anniversary of the state meet and the 98th year.  The event was  suspended from 1942-45 due to World War II travel restrictions.

From 1913 through 1962 athletes got their business done in one day, usually with trials in the morning and finals in the afternoon or in the evening.

The state meet went to two days in 1963,  the first  being  held at Berkeley’s Edwards Stadium.

History won’t be on the minds of locals  but they all will represent the area’s hope of continuing a tradition of at least one individual champion.

The last year in which the San Diego Section did not have a gold medalist in boys’ or girls’ competition was 2002.  The 13 consecutive years of at least one entry finishing first is in jeopardy this year.

It has been a thin season locally.

The table below reveals San Diego Section athletes who rank  in the state’s Top 10 in each event and who qualified, as recorded by athletic.net.  Most Top 10 athletes,  from here, or in other sections, will be in Clovis.

G Discus Tausaga-Collins Mount Miguel 167-3, 2nd 186-10 Bruckner, San Jose Village Christian
G Shot put Tausaga-Collins Mount Miguel 47-2 ¼, 3rd 54-7 Bruckner, San Jose Village Christian
B Long Jump Batthika St. Augustine 24-5, 3rd 25-11 ½ Holmes, Oakmont
DeRoos Tri-City Christian 23-11 ½, 9th
G 300 Hurdles Bell Steele Canyon :41.99, 4th :41.01 Woodward, Vacaville
B Pole Vault Brown La Costa Canyon 16-5, 4th 17-2 Gordon, Huntington Beach Marina
Hamson Poway 16-0, 6th
G 100 Patterson Rancho Bernardo :11.59w, 6th :11.17w Williams, Westklake Village Oaks Christian
B Shot Put Lenford Oceanside 63-3/4, 6th 71-7 Osborn, Anaheim Esperanza
B 400 Relay Mt. Carmel :41.65, 7th :40.63 Vista Murrieta
G Triple jump Nash Calvin Christian 39-9, 7th 43-2 Davis, Agoura
G 100 Hurdles Johnson Cathedral :14.02w, 8th :13.45 Robinson, El Cerrito
Nealis Valley Center :14.17, 10th
G High Jump Snow Carlsbad 5-6, T10th 5-8 ¼ Earle-Rouse, Arcata
Hickey Coronado

*–Personal record.

w–wind aided.

There undoubtedly other San Diego Section qualifiers not in the Top 10 who will improve and come home with medals.

There might be a winner in the group.

It’s what makes the state track championships one of the elite high school events in the country.

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1957: Cook and Cavers’ Great Day

Roscoe Cook, Bobby Staten, Willie Jordan, and Charles (Sugar Jet) Davis comprised a swift foursome of San Diego High athletes who surprised the field and brought home a Southern California track championship.

The biggest surprise was supplied by Cook.

Some background:

Cook entered the season as the 1956 Class B sprint titlist, having run away from the field the previous spring with best times of :09.7 in the 100-yard dash, and :21.0 in the 220.

It was expected that Cook and Staten would dominate the short races and low hurdles and that Davis, one of the city’s best quartermilers, and Jordan, a complementary sprinter, would round out a championship 880-yard relay team.

A downpour shortly after the first race canceled the Southern Counties’ Invitational at Huntington Beach High in the first week in March, delaying the usual official beginning of the season.

With no early reading on what to expect, the Cavemen then prepared for a intersectional dual meet in Balboa Stadium with powerful Compton Centennial.


Cook had never lost a race in San Diego but he was beaten in a :09.9 100 by Centennial’s tall, long-striding Preston Griffin, a newcomer to the Southern California scene.

Griffin also took the national lead with a 24-foot, 6 ¾-inch broad jump. Cook was third despite breaking a 19-year-old school record with a leap of 23-10.  Griffin’s teammate, John Blaylock, was second at 23-11 in a remarkable competition.

Cook, Staten, Davis, and Jordan (clockwise from upper left) carried San Dkiego High hopes.

Cook, Staten, Davis, and Jordan (clockwise from upper left) carried San Diego High hopes.

The final and stunning indignity came in the 220 when Griffin, jogging casually the last 15 yards, eased to a :21.6  and Cook was a well-beaten third.  Griffin also withstood a charge by Staten as Centennial won the 880-yard relay in 1:28.8 and the meet, 60 1/2-43 1/2.

Seven weeks later, Griffin blazed a :09.5 100 in a semifinals, qualifying meet and appeared unbeatable.  On the same day Cook won a heat in a season-best: 09.8 in another divisional competition at Arroyo High in El Monte.

Cook quietly also served some notice as he took the measure of  Alhambra’s Rusty Weeks, who’d run :09.6 the week before.


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1925:  Administrative Roadblocks Strike Hilltoppers

Competition and controversy were different words with different meanings, but they blurred in the far-flung Coast League, whose fratricidal members regularly accused their brethren of academic or residential mischief.

San Diego High was on the receiving end of a peculiar allegation that threatened to derail one of the best teams in school history.

Senior Captain Russ Saunders, the 5-foot, 9-inch, 190-pound blocking quarterback and linebacking defender, faced a charge of accepting money three years before in a boxing match that would have made Saunders a professional and ineligible for interscholastic sports.

If the curiously-timed indictment proved accurate, the Hilltoppers would be forced to forfeit nine victories and the opportunity to compete in the Southern California playoffs.

Russ Saunders was vital to San Diego's championship hopes.

Saunders was vital to San Diego’s championship hopes.

Saunders eventually was absolved of wrong doing, but not before a dizzying chain of events that took on the aura of an old-fashioned Saturday morning serial.


The intramural dustup was typical of the Prohibition-era, anything-goes Roaring Twenties, a decade when the growing CIF and its commissioner, former Escondido baseball coach Seth Van Patten, struggled to keep order.

The CIF’s rule on age limitation was only that you couldn’t play if you were 21 years old, but that meant that post-graduates and assorted roughnecks still populated the prep scene.

Coast League rivals didn’t trust each other.

Trouble began in the final regular-season game, when Bert Ritchey ran 60 yards for a touchdown that would propel the Hilltoppers to a 9-0 victory over the Santa Ana Saints in a battle of teams with 6-0 league records.

The victory, before a record City Stadium high school crowd of 15,000, clinched a second straight loop championship for coach John Perry’s squad.

With a long ride home Saturday night and all day Sunday to chew on the loss,  officials from the Northern school prepared to make a call on Monday morning and notify Coast League president and CIF playoff coordinator Harry J. Moore that they were protesting.


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2015: Best Track Marks

It’s been a slow year in San Diego Section track and field, although business  picked up a little in the last couple invitationals, Arcadia and Mt. St. Antonio.

Two more weeks of dual meets, plus the annual Escondido Invitational, will take girls and boys competitors into league trials, the first step toward the state meet at Buchanan High in C,ovis, June 3-4.

Cathedral’s Dani Johnson, the Section record holder at :13.88 in the 100 hurdles and  :41.34 in the 300 barriers has missed almost all of the season  with injuries.

It would take a remarkable comeback at this point in the season for Johnson to return to form.  She also also ran a leg for the Dons’ 4×400 relay team that set a Section record of 3:47.63 last year.

San Diego Section marks in the state top 10 in parenthesis and state leaders:


200 :21.7 (10) Agbede Cathedral :20.41 Norman Vista Murrieta
400 :48.47 (10) Shaheed Mt. Carmel :45.51 Norman Vista Murrieta
110HH :14.47 (10) Alvarado Rancho Buena Vista :13.81 Burton LaQuinta
PV 16-4 (3) Brown La Costa Canyon 16-8 Bowler Loomis Del Oro
LJ 23-10 ¾ (5) Battikha St. Augustine 24-9 ½ White Bakersfield Ridgeview
23-7 ¼ (7) DeRoos Tri-City Christian
TJ 47-0 ¼ (8) DeRoos 49-3 1/4 Hicks Bakersfield Liberty
SP 63-0 ¾ (4) Lenford Oceanside 71-7 ¼ Osborn Anaheim Esperanza
57-2 (10) Miller El Camino
DISCUS 194-0 (4) Lenford 204-4 Osborn


800 2:11.29 (10) McCarthy Carlsbad 2:09.35 Durgy Huntington Beach
1600 4:55.66 (4) Brown La Costa Canyon 4:51.26 Bowen Sonoma Academy
100H :14.46 (8) Nealis Valley Center :13.64 Davis Agoura
300H :44.07 (10) Bell Steele Canyon :41.01 Woodward Vacaville
4×400 3:54.12 (10) LaCosta Canyon 3:49.80 Westlake Village Oaks Christian
HJ 5-6 (4T) Snow Carlsbad 5-8 Burke Riverside Poly
Hickey Coronado
Smith Mission Hills
LJ 19-0 ½ (10) Smith 20-6 ¾ Davis Agoura
SP 47-0 (3) Altice Del Norte 53-5 Bruckner San Jose Valley Christian
45-9 ½ (5) Tausaga-Collins Mount Miguel
DISCUS 160-4 (3) Tausaga-Collins 181-1 Bruckner




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1926: John Perry Steps Down From Hilltop Perch

San Diego High represented one of the best football coaching jobs in the state, but was John Perry all in?

Perry ruminated that the 1925 season, which ended in a bitter, 13-6 loss to Covina in the CIF championship game, was too long and a reason his club had let down in the title game.

That apparently was why Perry’s started practice a week later this season and moved the start of practice from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Perry took another path.

Perry took another path.

Perry also had been delayed because he was attending a summer school football class in Los Angeles taught by USC coach Howard Jones.Despite Perry’s seeming detachment, the Cavemen appeared ready to make another strong run.Superstar halfback Bert Ritchey was back for his third varsity season, joined by tackle Cy West, and several other holdovers from the 10-1 team of the year before.

Players were moving up from coach Gerald (Tex) Oliver’s B team, which defeated Huntington Park, 13-6, for the 1925 Southern California championship.

And there were incoming sophomores from Roosevelt and Memorial, teams which played for the championship of the city junior high league in                                                                

After a 27-0 victory in the opening game against the San Diego State Frosh, the Hilltoppers lost sight of the end zone. They scored three touchdowns and 29 points, total, in seven Coast League contests.

The Cavemen dropped back-to-back road games at Long Beach and Whittier but still finished with a 6-2 record.

Perry’s 52-14-5 achievement in seven seasons would not seem raise any doubt about his future as coach.


But the afternoon San Diego Sun newspaper published a story Nov. 19, 1926, the day before the Hilltoppers’ last home game against South Pasadena, that declared Perry was out as coach:

“A complete rearrangement of the coaching staff at the San Diego high school has taken place, and will go into effect at once, it was made known today.

“John Perry, who heretofore coached varsity football, becomes supervisor of physical training and director of school athletics, but will have no coaching connections with the various teams.

“John Hobbs, assistant grid coach to Perry, and in direct charge of the second team, is now head coach of the Hilltop varsity football team.”

The timing of the no-attribution, no-byline article was curious, with two games remaining on the schedule.  It looked as if Perry was being removed from his position and given a highfalutin title of reduced significance.

Key Cavers (clockwise from upper left): Bert Ritchey, John Donohue, Eddie Moeller, Tony Mason, Captain Cy West.

Key Cavers (clockwise from upper left): Bert Ritchey, John Donohue, Eddie Moeller, Tony Mason, Captain Cy West.


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1923: Writer Takes Shots at San Diego Coach

John Perry was 29-10-2 with a winning percentage of .738 in four seasons as San Diego High coach.

But that wasn’t good enough for one sportswriter on San Diego’s largest daily newspaper.

A crushing midseason, 26-0 loss to Long Beach Poly was followed by a disinterested, 13-0 victory over Coast League doormat Whittier.

“The wreck of the Hesperus didn’t have a thing on the disaster of the Cavemen,” wrote Alan McGrew of the Poly game, taking a page from Greek mythology.

McGrew, no Damon Runyan, was The San Diego Union beat man covering the Cavemen and regularly found fault with Perry’s stewardship, very unusual for the era.

The young San Diego High graduate was especially peevish in his account of the Whittier contest:

“…the team had no fight and players seemed to take the ‘I don’t care attitude.’  Coach John Perry seemed to be as bad as any of the players.”

McGrew said the starting backfield “was like four moving dead men.”

“Coach John Perry should receive a good part of the responsibility for the poor showing,” McGrew continued. “Since the Long Beach game he has lacked enthusiasm just as much as many of the players.”

McGrew thought the Cavers should turn in their uniforms if “the high schoolers intend to finish the season in the same miserable manner they played yesterday.”


Principal Glenn Perkins and Perry scheduled a postseason game for charity against the Phoenix Coyotes, billed as champions of Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Texas.

More than 8,000 persons saw the game but no score in San Diego-Phoenix meeting.

More than 8,000 persons saw the game but no score in San Diego-Phoenix meeting.

William Richardson, the California governor, was going to attend and a large crowd was expected, proceeds going to the football fund at the Hilltop and to buy 50 uniforms for members of the band.

There would be a three-week layoff between the Whittier and Phoenix tussles, so Perry called John Nichols, his former Coronado coaching colleague, and booked a home contest against Nichols’ Oxnard squad.

The Yellowjackets reportedly had posted a 7-0 record, but the competition was against teams from small, neighboring Ventura County farming communities.


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2015-16: Foothills 3rd, Cathedral 14th

There were no state championships, but it was a solid season in San Diego Section  basketball.

Foothills Christian, behind McDonald’s all-star T.J. Leaf, was third in the state in Cal-Hi Sports‘ final boys Top 40 rankings.

Cathedral ranked 14th and St. Augustine 23rd.

The 2015-16 finish showed marked improvement  over the 2014-15 Cal-Hi rankings, in which St. Augustine was 23rd, Torrey Pines 24th, and Foothills Christian 36th.

Foothills gained  currency when it defeated Santa Ana Mater Dei, 50-44, in the Southern California quarterfinals before bowing to Chino Hills, 82-62.

Chino Hills (35-0) won the state championship and is national champion, according to all major polls.

Foothills lost its first game to the San Bernardino County squad in December, 106-86, but came closer than any California school when it dropped an 85-83 decision to the Huskies in January.

A basket by Leaf had put the Knights ahead, 83-82, with 13.3 seconds remaining.

3 IN TOP 20

Mission Hills was seventh in the girls, followed by La Jolla Country Day at No. 10 and Bishop at No. 19.

La Jolla Country Day was 15th and Mission Hills 30th in the final 2014-15 rankings.

The last state champions were in St. Augustine boys and Horizon girls in 2013-14.


A highlight of next season is expected to be The Bishop’s Destiny Littleton’s pursuit of the state career scoring record.

Littleton averaged 35.7 and scored 1,178 points this season, giving her a three-season total of 2,934.  San Diego’s Charde Houston set the California record with 3,837 from 2000 to 2004.


Cathedral rose as high as 10th in the Cal-Hi poll after an 82-80, overtime win against Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, but fell following a 72-56, semifinals loss to Torrance Bishop Montgomery…St. Augustine was 17th before dropping a 68-55,  semifinals game at Encino Crespi…Charde Houston played four seasons at Connecticut and is in her ninth WNBA season as a member of the New York Mercury…despite the CIF’s desired “competitive equity,” the Southern Section dominated the  regionals…the San Diego, Los Angeles, and Central  came up short, as all 12 boys and girls division winners were from the Southern Section….

How Cal-Hi Sports viewed San Diego Section squads:


Top 40 Foothills Christian 25-5 3
Cathedral 21-7 14
St. Augustine 24-8 23
Torrey Pines 26-5 37
I St. Augustine 8
Torrey Pines 15
II Mission Bay 21-9 17
Army-Navy 21-11 19
III Kearny 31-4 9
IV El Camino 29-7 4
*Grossmont 23-8
*San Marcos 22-8
V Bonita Vista 21-13 12
*Mission Vista 16-13


Top 20 Mission Hills 29-4 7
La Jolla Country Day 24-6 10
The Bishop’s 25-8 19
I The Bishop’s 6
Torrey Pines 22-9 15
II Mount Miguel 21-12 17
III Eastlake 26-7 13
*Horizon 19-13
IV *La Costa Canyon 23-10
V Grossmont 25-6 13
*Escondido Adventist 23-5

*Honorable Mention.

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