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Local stars set sights on big numbers
Taking a look around Orange County high school sports:
•We all like those round numbers in sports – 500 home runs, 50 goals, the 4-minute mile, etc. Canyon senior high jumper Cody Crampton has come close to clearing 7 feet, like at last year's CIF State Meet in which his career-best mark of 6-11 made him state champion. On Friday, Crampton scaled 6-10 1/4 to win the CIF-SS Masters Meet, the qualifying meet for this week's state meet Friday and Saturday at Buchanan High in Clovis. Only six county athletes have gone 7 feet in the high jump, most recently accomplished by Harrison Steed who went a county-record 7-2 1/2 while competing for JSerra in 2010; is Crampton next?
•Santa Margarita freshman pole vaulter Kaitlyn Merritt continues to impress. Her 12-8 mark at the Masters on Friday at Cerritos College was good enough for second place and to get her into the state meet. Merritt's best of 13-3 accomplished earlier this season is the national record for a high school freshman girl.
•The top five finishers in all events at the Masters qualified for the state meet.
•"It's tough to repeat," as the cliché goes and Corona del Mar's boys volleyball programs knows that quite well. The Sea Kings won the CIF-SS Division 2 championship last year, and this year advanced all the way to the finals in which they lost to Oak Park in four games two weeks ago at Cypress College. Corona del Mar won CIF-SS boys volleyball titles in 1999, 2001 and '06 but was unable to win CIF-SS crowns the following years.
•Paul Caffrey has resigned as baseball coach at La Habra for health reasons. Caffrey, 32, will have heart surgery within a few months to correct a leaking valve. He just completed his fourth season coaching the Highlanders, who won the Freeway League championship, and did not want go the temporary leave of absence route because he does not know when he would be able to return to coaching the team.
•The Major League Baseball Draft is June 4-6, and as usual plenty of county players will be drafted. It's all about sign-ability for the MLB teams; i.e. does a team use a pick on, say, Mission Viejo pitcher Kieran Lovegrove or would that be a bad idea because Lovegrove might appear to be very much set on going to Arizona State? Here is perhaps the most interesting situation among county baseball players – La Habra center fielder Aaron Porter will get drafted, sure, but the team that takes him knows how strong is the possibility that Porter, county football defensive player of the year as a linebacker in 2011, will be at UCLA which promised him the chance to play football and baseball there.
•Three county softball teams played in Tuesday's CIF-SS semifinals – Edison, Garden Grove and La Habra. Two of them were in the final regular-season county top 10 – Edison, at No. 6, and La Habra at No. 10.
•Six county baseball teams played in Tuesday's CIF-SS semifinals – Mater Dei, Aliso Niguel, Trabuco Hills, Pacifica, Capistrano Valley Christian and St. Margaret's. Two of them were in the final regular-season county top 10 – Mater Dei, at No.2; and No. 6 Pacifica.
•Spring football has sprung all over the county, with teams working out in preparation for the 2012 season. Many are also preparing for passing tournaments, the seven-on-seven interscholastic competitions at which skill position players get some intense and important training. Three of the bigger ones: Dana Hills, June 9; Edison, July 14; and Irvine, July 21.
•The passing tournament at Dana Hills is called "Nike Air Strike" and has 16 teams divided into four groups for pool play. Division A: Chaminade of West Hills; Dana Hills; Oaks Christian of Westlake Village; and Tesoro. Division B: Alemany of Mission Hills; Mater Dei; Mission Viejo; and Upland. Division C: Capistrano Valley; Long Beach Poly; Narbonne of Harbor City; and San Clemente. Division D: Edison; El Toro; Loyola of Los Angeles; and Santa Margarita.
•The Mater Dei-Servite football game this fall is Nov. 2 at Angel Stadium, and it will be Servite's home game (with plenty of Servite promotional material on the video screen, and plenty of black and white balloons but not as many balloons as at a Mater Dei home football game – MD has no competition in county football when it comes to balloon displays). There is no potential conflict with a World Series game there on Nov. 2. But in 2013, Mater Dei-Servite moves to the opening week of the Trinity League schedule, so the games will be back at Santa Ana Stadium and Cerritos College for a couple years.
•Los Alamitos' football has been gently chided here for creating not-so-challenging nonleague schedules, but as it turned out all of the Griffins' 2011 nonleague opponents did make the playoffs and four of its five 2012 nonleague opponents will be coming off of playoff seasons. Los Alamitos' best '11 nonleague opponent, Santa Margarita, is not on its '12 nonleague schedule nor is any other CIF-Southern Section Pac-5 Division team. But while making the '12 schedule, Los Alamitos coach John Barnes had no way of knowing that Los Alamitos and the rest of the Sunset League would be dropped to the Southwest Division, and many coaches try to avoid scheduling potential future playoff opponents for nonleague games.
•Brethren Christian boys basketball has a new assistant coach – Jamal Sampson, former Mater Dei All-County center. Sampson, 6-foot-11 and cousin of former Houston Rockets star Ralph Sampson, went to Cal and played professionally internationally and in the NBA, most recently for the Boston Celtics this past December. At Brethren he will mentor 7-foot-5 senior-to-be Mamadou Ndiyae.