League shuffle: Putting teams and leagues in order as the prep fall season approaches

Eleven days separate this very moment from the opening bell of the 2012 high school football regular season. Other fall sports will get under way if not one or two days before, then a few days after. Nevertheless, the buzz is getting louder.

If you haven’t heard already, most Gilroy High and Christopher High sports teams are a part of a reformulated two-division Monterey Bay League. Gone is the Tri-County Athletic League, which ran its 10-year course.

The MBL is diced into the upper Gabilan division and lower Pacific division. After each season, division placement will be evlaluated and teams can get moved up or down, or stay put, depending on performance.

Before we get into all of that, for your reference, the Gilroy field hockey team plays in the Mount Hamilton Division of the Blossom Valley Athletic League. Christopher’s field hockey team is a member of the Mission Trail Athletic League. Two separate leagues. Those two squads scrimmage each other Monday. The Mustangs have played in the last two Central Coast Section championship games. The Cougars narrowly missed a playoff spot in 2011. Both appear to be postseason contenders this season.

So you may be asking, which team is where? Well, here is your answer starting with the fall season that is right around the corner.

And here we go.

Girls volleyball:

Gabilan – Monte Vista Christian, North Salinas, Notre Dame, Salinas, San Benito, Seaside and Watsonville.

Pacific – Gilroy, Christopher, Alisal, Alvarez, Monterey, North Monterey County and Pajaro Valley.

Of note: The local teams are in the appropriate division. After missing the playoffs for the first time in three seasons, Gilroy will be rebuilding under new head coach Kassi Swalboski. The Mustangs have 12 varsity players currently on the roster, of which six are returners and three – Demi Snapp, Haley Sepulveda and Samantha Una Dia – are seniors. Christopher finished middle of the pack (18-12 overall, 7-5 league) in the old MBL in 2011 The Cougars bring back three key starters in Alex Gerberick (senior setter), senior Hanna Tabron and junior Shelly Toves. Tabron and Toves have moved to outside hitter. Head coach Tom Schatz is also back for his second


Boys water polo:

Gabilan – Aptos, Carmel, Monterey, Salinas, San Benito, Santa Cruz and Soquel.

Pacific – Christopher, Gilroy, Alvarez, Harbor, Palma, San Lorenzo Valley, Stevenson and York.

Of note: Again, the Mustangs and Cougars are where they belong. Both teams struggled at times in 2011, finishing below .500 though did more than expected and showed potential even in losses. Fred Latimore takes over the Gilroy High program, replacing Tom Clark. Latimore is a GHS alum. Paul Wells is back in the saddle at CHS and shoud have a solid team in the pool. Junior Brennan Wilson, senior Octavio Cisneros and junior Matthew Higgenbotham, an all-league selection last season, anchor a still young, yet ironically veteran Cougars team.  

Girls water polo:

Gabilan – Aptos, Carmel, Salinas, San Benito, San Lorenzo Valley, Santa Catalina, Soquel and Stevenson.

Pacific – Christopher, Gilroy, Alvarez, Harbor, Monterey, Notre Dame, Santa Cruz, San Lorenzo and Scotts Valley.

Of note: It was tough 2011 all around for local girls water polo. Things are looking brighter though this fall. Keep an eye out for Christopher senior Kaitlin Ramirez who had 59 goals in 2011. Shannon McAvoy is  a key returner for Wells, who said he expects to have a balanced team in 2012. Gilroy High has six varsity players back, but more important to second-year head coach Travis Gamble is the 10 others who are expected to fill out the varsity roster. Juniors Abby Kienle and Katie Clark, senior goalie Alexia Lussier and senior Brittany Salcido are returning starters.

Cross country (same for boys and girls):

Gabilan – Alisal, Gilroy, Monterey, Palma/Notre Dame, Salinas and San Benito.

Pacific – Christopher, Alvarez, Monte Vista Christian, North Salinas, Pajaro Valley, Seaside and Watsonville.

Of note: One of the few sports where Gilroy and Christopher will not compete against one another. On reputation alone, both teams figure to compete in their respective divisions. GHS lost 16 seniors to graduation. However, coach Cathy Silva said a crop of young and enthusiastic runners have shown an eagerness. All will be led by Enrique Villanueva, a senior, who has a chance at a section and state meet berth this season. Cynthia Gonzalez, Rachel Allen and Allison Taylor will pave the way for Mike Bonomi and the CHS girls. Senior Luis Zuniga and sophomore Matt Switzer should set the pace on the boys’ side.

Girls tennis:

Gabilan – Alisal, Monterey, Notre Dame, Salinas, San Benito and Watsonville.

Pacific – Christopher, Gilroy, Monte Vista Christian, North Salinas and Pajaro Valley.

Of note: Gilroy High has a new coach Rick Westbay. Christopher, with the likes of No. 1 singles player Emily Barham, could compete for a league title.


Gabilan – Gilroy, Christopher, Monterey, San Benito, Palma, Alvarez and Salinas.

Pacific – Alisal, Monte Vista Christian, North Monterey County, North Salinas, Pajaro Valley, Seaside and Watsonville.

Of note: Two of the three tri-champions – CHS and Monterey – from the “2011 MBL” are up in the Gabilan division. Monte Vista Christian stayed in the Pacific. A couple interesting dates on the schedule include the first ever meeting between the Cougars and Gilroy High’s forever rival San Benito. Christopher will also see Palma for the first time. The Mustangs and Cougars will each have a new quarterback for the first time since 2010. Jose Salazar has been tabbed to take the snaps for Gilroy. A starter has yet to be named for CHS.