Spring season set for Monterey Bay equity league

The 2012 high school sports season will be a little different for schools in Gilroy and Hollister. After more than two years of discussion, the 2012 season will be the first in an equity league between the former members of the Tri-County Athletic League and the Monterey Bay League.

With the approval of the spring sports league format earlier this month, the 2012 sports season is now set.

The league, called the Monterey Bay League, was split into a higher (Gabilan) and lower (Pacific) division to give teams an equal chance of winning. The divisions were chosen based off previous records and possible future. Divisions can be different for each sport.

Under the new format, San Benito High and Gilroy High will be separated in some sports and Gilroy and Christopher will share the same league for the first time.

“It should be a lot of fun,” Gilroy High Athletic Director Julie Berggren said.

In the spring, which was approved earlier this month in a joint Board of Managers meeting, will pair San Benito with Gilroy in only softball and boys volleyball. Meanwhile, Gilroy and Christopher will share the same league in boys golf, softball, swimming, track and field and boys volleyball.

“I think that will be a challenge for both schools,” Berggren said. “It’s going to be fun getting to play our cross-town rivalry. I think it will up the ante a little bit. It can become something like the Hollister and Gilroy rivalry is.”

After struggling this year to a 5-17 record in baseball, the Mustangs will compete in the Pacific Division next year against former TCAL opponents Alisal and Alvarez. Gilroy will also play MBL opponents North Monterey County, Pajaro Valley, Seaside and Watsonville.

“I think where we are placed is fair,” Berggren said. “It gives everyone a chance to win. It’s not all about winning, but when you are the team that always loses it’s hard. This gives everyone a chance.”

Gilroy, though, was sent to the Gabilan Division in softball and boys volleyball because of highly successful season. In softball, the Mustangs (13-9) returned to the Central Coast Section playoffs and advanced to the semifinals before losing to eventual Division II champion Archbishop Mitty. In volleyball, the Mustangs finished behind San Benito for second place with a 13-3 league record.

Overall, the Mustangs will compete in the Pacific Division in 10 of the 18 sports they compete in – Gilroy does not have a boys tennis team. Gilroy will compete in the Gabilan Division in cross country,football, girls golf, girls soccer, boys soccer, softball, boys volleyball and wrestling.

Christopher will play nine of its 19 sports in the Gabilan Division.

During the spring season, the Cougars were placed in the Gabilan Division in baseball and softball after reaching the CCS playoffs in both sports.

After finishing in third place in the MBL baseball standings with a 14-4 league record, the Cougars will face former league opponents Monterey and Monte Vista Christian in next year’s league play. The Cougars will also face seven-time TCAL champion San Benito High, Palma, Salinas and North Salinas next year.

In softball, the Cougars, who won 11 league games last year, will play five TCAL opponents next year, including seven-time CCS champion San Benito, cross-town rival Gilroy, North Salinas, Notre Dame and Salinas.

San Benito, though, will play in the Gabilan Division in 18 of its 19 sports. San Benito will play in the Pacific Division in only boys soccer.

All three schools will compete against each other in six sports including football, girls golf, girls soccer, softball, boys volleyball and wrestling.

“I’m confident that we are playing in the right spots,” Berggren said.

San Benito Athletic Director Tod Thatcher and Christopher Athletic Director Darren Yafai did not return phone calls before press time.