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Winter notebook: Computer system expected to make a big splash next year

STAFF REPORTS

Computer-generated power rankings are coming to the CIF-SS boys and girls water polo playoffs, but with some human controls.

The Southern Section’s competitive equity playoff model, which starts next school year, will use a computer ranking system designed by the man behind the Bowl Championship Series, once used in college football.

The section purchased software designed by well-known sports statistician Kenneth Massey, said Kristine Palle, an assistant commissioner with the section.

The computer will rank all 252 of the boys water polo teams and all 252 of the girls teams in the Southern Section based on data from the past two years. The section will then group the teams into divisions based on strength, Palle said.

Palle said the section will likely stick with seven playoff divisions, though the sizes of the brackets could vary between 16 or 32 teams based on the groupings.

The divisions could be released Aug. 1 for the boys water polo season in the fall.

“It will be better at grouping like competition,” Palle said of the new format.

There will be tweaks to the computer-generated numbers, Palle said.

Margin of victory, for example, won’t carry significant weight in the rankings. Single league or nonleague results might count more than tournament games. Playoff games will carry more weight, Palle said.

“He was able to weight things to suit our needs,” she said. “(Massey was) completely responsive.”

There will be other human controls, too. Palle said the coaches’ polls will remain, as will the section rules about pairings.

The biggest hurdle to the new system will be data collection. The computer will need the scores of all games to compile accurate rankings.

“It’s only as good as the data that is in,” Palle said of the computer system. “It’s comparing everybody to each other through all common opponents. It’s imperative that everybody has complete data.”

- DAN ALBANO

GIRLS WRESTLING

Santa Ana’s Claribel Estrada is glad to be back on the wrestling mats.

As a sophomore, she finished sixth at the CIF championships and eighth at the state tournament.

That would have been a good base to build off of for her junior season.

Unfortunately, her junior season was spent on the sideline, recovering from surgery to repair torn meniscus and ACL in her left knee.

“I had surgery last year in September,” Estrada said. “My knee kept popping out, and when I finally went in for an MRI, my doctor said if I didn’t get surgery now, my cartilage would be worn out.

“It was hard (watching from the sidelines). When my team went to CIF, I knew I was missing out. Not being part of the team and being there to support them was really hard on me.”

Estrada returned this season and started slowly, but she picked up steam late. She was first at the CIF-SS Southern Regional and she finished seventh at the CIF-SS Individual Championships this past weekend to qualify for her second state tournament.

Santa Ana girls wrestling coach Tim Byers said Estrada had to battle through some obstacles to get back to the state tournament.

“She was struggling to get back into the swing of things,” he said. “Slowly, as the season went, she started to feel more confident about herself and she started getting her moves.”

- DAMIAN CALHOUN

BOYS WRESTLING

The CIF-SS Individual Championships for wrestling are this weekend. There are six divisions. The only one in the county is the Southern Division at Marina.

Wrestling begins Friday at 11 a.m. The medal matches are set for Saturday at 5 p.m.

The top five wrestlers in each weight class advance to the CIF-SS Masters Meet on Feb. 26-27.

- DAMIAN CALHOUN

BOYS SOCCER

Bruce Silverman called it the best, most memorable moment he has had coaching the Century boys soccer team, and it didn’t involve any goals or trophies.

Last week, players on the school’s varsity team presented a Century soccer jersey to 15 students in the school’s severely disabled program. Each jersey had the honored student’s name on it. The students wore them to Century’s game that evening and were escorted to midfield by the Centurions starters, as the UEFA Champions League theme played.

“It turned out to be an amazing event. The interaction of our players with the disabled students was amazing,” Silverman said in an email.

“This event was just something I wanted to do to show support for the severely disabled program at our school.” …

Servite’s Garrett Amador moved past Chris Pontious, a 2005 Servite graduate and midfielder for Philadelphia in the MLS, last week to reach third on the school’s list for career goals. Amador has 42 goals. His next goal will tie him with Scott McGuire, a 1984 graduate, for second place.

- DAMIAN DOTTORE


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