FAIRFIELD — The only thing that may keep Armijo High from dominating the Monticello Empire League in tennis and girls basketball in the future is not being in the league.
The Sac-Joaquin Section came out with the first proposal for its next realignment cycle – to run from 2014-18 – and stunned nearly everyone by recommending that Armijo be moved from the MEL to the Solano County Athletic Conference.
As was expected, it was also recommended that Will C. Wood be moved to the SCAC with Vallejo and Bethel of Vallejo moving over to the MEL to keep both leagues at six teams.
The stunner, however, was Armijo’s proposed move.
“It caught us all by surprise,” said Vacaville athletic director Fred Jones, who attended Tuesday’s realignment meeting in Stockton.
“It’s the first I’ve heard about it,” said John Lammon, Armijo athletic director. “To be honest, it’s a proposal. As far as I’m concerned, until it’s etched in stone, there’s not much we can do about it. Whatever league we’re in, that’s where we’ll compete.”
The proposal also surprised Armijo Principal Eric Tretten, who isn’t excited about making a change.
“I like the tradition,” he said prior to Tuesday’s Armijo-Fairfield girls basketball game at E. Gary Vaughn Gymnasium. Pointing to the east wall he added, “The oldest banner here is (for a championship in) 1899.”
According to a release by the SJS regarding issues and recommendations, “Armijo moves into the (SCAC) due to its low competitive equity number in the MEL. Wood . . . has an enrollment more comparable to the SCAC over the MEL.”
Regarding Bethel and Vallejo, the release said, “(They) were moved into the (MEL) because of their enrollment and it keeps two schools from the same city in the same league.”
The realignment committee is scheduled to meet Jan. 29, Feb. 19, March 12 and April 9 (if necessary) with the final proposal forwarded to the SJS Board of Managers for approval on April 24.
“At this time, its only a proposal,” Jones said. “It has not had a final vote, it’s just been put forward to the committee. They are having input. It will be discussed (today) at the MEL Board of Managers (meeting). It’s probably up to Armijo and Will C. Wood to speak their case to the section to come up with an alternative if they’re not satisfied with plan that has been put forward.”
One who isn’t satisfied with the plan is cross country and track coach Dave Monk, who made the move from Fairfield to Armijo this year.
“I’d be highly dissatisfied,” Monk said. “Directly related to the sports I coach, the MEL is a much more competitive league and allows for better competitive situations for my teams and athletes.”
Wood girls basketball coach Bob Fernandez, who has also coached at Vacaville, has more than a decade in the MEL and isn’t excited about the proposal.
“I’m not necessarily in favor of that,” Fernandez said. “Losing rivals we’ve played for a long time, especially losing the rivalry games with Vacaville, are a hard thing. In most areas we’re competitive with most schools in the MEL. It’s not a great move for us, but there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Vanden athletic director Bill Sarty isn’t thrilled with the prospect of changing the SCAC.
“I kind of like the people we had in pace, the competitiveness,” he said. “We’ll take what they give us, compete in whatever league they put us in. That’s the company line.”
“It’s still early, it’s just a proposal,” said Mark Wudel, Wood athletic director and boys basketball coach. “There are a lot of talks that have to through. They made some big chances in some other leagues, too. They made some big movements on schools that didn’t expect to move.”
Other major league changes in the proposal include:
n Contracting the Delta River League and Delta Valley Conference into the nine-team Delta League.
n Restructuring the Central California Conference and Modesto Metro Conference from two Division I leagues to a Division I league (CCC) and a Division II league (MMC).
n Reconfiguring the Valley Oak League and Western Athletic Conference for size and competitiveness.
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.