Swimming official Kieth Pike remembered for deck excellence during 56-year career


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Kieth Pike, one of Southern California’s most experienced, respected and colorful swimming officials, died July 19 after a sudden bout with ketoacidosis, an acidic blood condition, his wife, Jo Ann, said Monday.

Pike, 84, started officiating high school meets in Southern California in 1962 and continued until 2017, the year he received the Ed Ruth Excellence in Officiating Award from Southern California Swimming.

“I respected him every time I had him deck,” veteran swimming official Richard Davis said. “I knew the deck was covered.”

Pike officiated the CIF-Southern Section swimming championships and was a fixture at Long Beach Wilson-hosted Klaus Barth Invitational.

The Westminster resident also officiated USA Swimming meets and high school water polo matches. He was past president of the Southern California Aquatics Federation.

“Kieth was one our best officials,” veteran referee John Montrella said.

Pike indeed spelled his first name Kieth, a unique flair picked by his mother.

Pike swam and played water polo at Long Beach Jordan High before serving in the Air Force from 1956-1962.

After the Air Force, he began working as the pool attendant/lifeguard at Long Beach Millikan High’s indoor pool. He balanced the position with his referee assignments.

“He enjoyed (officiating) because he was there for the students and the athletes,” Jo Ann said.

Pike met Jo Ann, his wife of nearly 35 years, while at the Long Beach Millikan pool.

He is survived by children, Keith, Kevin, Michael, Randy, Bryan and Wendi, ex-wife Suzanne and several grandchildren.

A funeral service is being planned for Riverside National Cemetery in August.

“His zest for life and laughter were contagious and irresistible,” the Pike family wrote in a tribute. “He was silly and loud, dedicated and strong, dynamic and deep. … Kieth’s voice will always be with us, cracking jokes, brightening our days and urging us to be be better.”

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High school swimming could encounter boosts, challenges in comeback from cancellation


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California’s high school swimming season ended abruptly in the spring because of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s scheduled comeback in 2021 offers intrigue and challenges.

In other words, it could feel a lot like just another swimming season in Southern California.

And considering the health crisis that has raged since March, that normalcy would be a welcomed vibe.

“We’re just hopeful we can have something this year,” Santa Margarita co-coach Rich Blanc said this week.

The revised sports calendar by the CIF-Southern Section pushes the swimming season back about three weeks to a start on March 13, 2021. The season will then operate in nearly its regular spring window.

The Southern Section championships are scheduled for the week of May 24, the last week before Memorial Day. The state championships remain and slotted for June 4-5.

Part of the intrigue and benefit for swimming in the new calendar is that many boys will enter the season directly from water polo. The water polo season will end for most teams in early March.

Traditionally, the boys play water polo in the fall and have an extended break before swimming. But with essentially no break between seasons this school year, the boys could be excellence shape early in the swimming campaign.

“I bet in the first two weeks of the season, you’ll see their best times until league,” Villa Park consultant John Kulisich said.

The boys, of course, will make the same transition that the girls have made for years from water polo to swimming. The girls usually play water polo in the winter and move right into swimming.

The swimming season also might experience a rehearsal of sorts in November. USA Swimming’s TYR Pro Swim Series is scheduled to make a stop in Irvine at Woollett Aquatics Center, Nov. 12-15, 2020.

Coach Ken LaMont of the host Irvine Novaquatics said his club will work with health officials leading up the meet but knows the pandemic makes the future uncertain.

“We’re excited about the possibility of the meet,” LaMont said Friday.

The high school season will face hurdles with scheduling.

The calendar’s stretch into late May and early June could conflict with high school graduations.

And there’s the typical, Olympic-year consideration. The early June conclusion of the season will be close to the start of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials, June 13-20, in Omaha, Neb.

In past Olympic years, some elite high school swimmers alter their schedule and training in preparation of Trials.

“We will deal with it successfully,” Mission Viejo Nadadores coach Mark Schubert said the balance act. “I don’t think there is a negative.”

Yes, any type of comeback from a canceled season would certainly be a positive.

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Santa Margarita quarterback Colt Fulton motivated to improve while preparing for season

Colt Fulton wishes the high school football season could start this fall but he has important plans for the march toward kickoff.

The Santa Margarita senior quarterback aims to improve a skill set that has landed him five college offers and positioned him for a breakout season come Jan. 8, 2021.

The 6-foot-4, 195-pound left-handed passer wants to increase his strength and fine-tune throwing mechanics during the delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m just using this time as an opportunity to get better,” Fulton said this week. “I get an extra four months to really focus on what I need to get better at but also (the time) is a negative because I love playing in the fall. But as long as I’m playing (at some point), it’s not a big deal.”

Fulton flashed his upside last season at Santa Margarita, his first since transferring from Centennial of Corona. Despite playing with an inexperienced offense, he showed a strong arm, good footwork and toughness in the pocket in passing for 1,361 yards and seven touchdowns.

Fulton passed for season-high 274 yards and two TDs in a 35-21 loss against Sierra Canyon in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 2 playoffs.

The Eagles finished 3-8 overall, 0-5 in the Trinity League but college scouts have noticed Fulton. He has been offered by San Diego, Bucknell, Yale, Northern Colorado and Florida Atlantic.

Fulton also is receiving interest from Cal, Rutgers and Houston.

“I feel thankful but there’s definitely some offers that I still waiting for,” he said. “It’s definitely going to have to be senior-year film for me.”

In January, Fulton will debut under new Santa Margarita coach Tim Walsh, the former Cal Poly SLO coach and returning offensive coordinator Tim Holt. The Eagles will continue to run the spread offense with the run-pass option.

Fulton recently began training privately with Chris Flores at STARS in Anaheim. Flores has also worked with quarterbacks such as Bryce Young (Mater Dei/Alabama), DJ Uiagalelei (St. John Bosco/Clemson) and Los Alamitos sophomore Malachi Nelson.

Another positive for Fulton will be his offensive line. The group now includes the return of Brody Crane from JSerra.

Senior Tyler Wetmore (5-10, 183) leads the receiving group. The slot was recently offered by Penn.

“Everyone is going to be pretty shocked how good we are and how improved we are,” Fulton said. “I’m excited.”

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Mater Dei All-County cornerback Jaylin Davies to forgo revised football season, enroll early at Oregon

Jaylin Davies watched the standouts before him at Mater Dei make the early leap to college football.

As a freshman, he saw quarterback JT Daniels blaze a new path, reclassifying to enroll at USC.

As a sophomore, it was wide receiver Bru McCoy who enrolled early with the Trojans.

And last year, all eyes were on quarterback Bryce Young, who graduated early to join Alabama.

Davies spotted the potential collegiate boost in the decisions and wanted to follow the same path.

The All-County cornerback never imagined he would need to miss his senior season to make it a reality.

But with Monday’s announcement that the high school football season will be delayed to an early January start, Davies (6-1, 165) has decided to forgo his senior season with the Monarchs to graduate early and enroll at Oregon.

“It’s tough but the decision was made a long time ago when I was a freshman,” he explained. “(I) just never thought my senior season would be pushed back until spring.”

The coronavirus pandemic has forced plenty of change, including the news that the football season in the CIF-SS aims to start Jan. 8, 2021 and play through mid-April. Davies aims to be part of the Ducks’ program by then.

He will miss more than the season.

Davies said he will miss Coach Bruce Rollinson and the coaching staff and going to In-N-Out Burger with his friends.

And the Monarchs will miss Davies. He will be remembered as clutch performer who filled big shoes after the unexpected transfers of cornerbacks Elias Ricks and Darion Green-Warren. Davies also helped seal a victory against St. John Bosco for Trinity League title last season.

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Tracking the fall sports plans for Orange County school districts and private schools

A look at what the Orange County school districts and private schools have announced about their plans for the start of the 2020-21 school year.

School campuses were shut down and all sports activities were stopped in mid-March during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools are currently working on plans for the new school year while receiving recommendations, from health agencies and other groups, regarding how to protect the well-being of students and teachers during the pandemic.

OCVarsity will be tracking announcements about plans for sports activities and whether schools will open their campuses (for in-person instruction) or have closed campuses (distance learning only).

Administrators have been saying that schools with closed campuses aren’t expected to allow any sports activities until their campus is reopened.

Here is where things stand as of Tuesday, July 14:

ORANGE COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICTS

Anaheim Union (starting Aug. 12): Plan is TBD

Brea Olinda Unified (starting Aug. 17): Plan is TBD

Notable: District board of education meeting on Thursday, July 16.

Capistrano Unified (starting Aug. 18): Plan is TBD

Notable: District board of trustees meeting on Wednesday, July 15.

Fullerton Joint Union (starting Aug. 11): Plan is TBD

Garden Grove (starting Aug. 24): Plan is TBD

Huntington Beach Union (starting Sept. 3): Plan is TBD

Irvine Unified (starting Aug. 20): Plan is TBD

Notable: District board meeting on Tuesday, July 14.

Laguna Beach (starting Aug. 24): Plan is TBD

Los Alamitos (starting Aug. 31): Plan is TBD

Newport-Mesa Unified (starting Aug. 24): Plan is TBD

Orange Unified (starting Aug. 19): Plan is TBD

Placentia-Yorba Linda (starting Sept. 1): Plan is TBD

Saddleback Valley (starting Aug. 17): Plan is TBD

Santa Ana Unified (starting date Aug. 10): Announced July 14 it will begin the year with distance learning only, campus closed. Plan for sports is TBD.

Tustin Unified (starting Aug. 13): Plan is TBD

 

PRIVATE  SCHOOLS                         

JSerra (starting Aug. 10): In-class instruction, campus open. Sports plan is TBD.

Mater Dei (starting Aug. 10): Plan is TBD

Orange Lutheran (starting Aug. 17): Plan is TBD

Santa Margarita (starting Aug. 12): Plan is TBD

Servite (starting Aug. 11): Plan is TBD

Rosary (starting Aug. 10): Plan is TBD

St. Margaret’s (starting Aug. 24): Plan is TBD

Crean Lutheran (starting Aug. 18): On-campus instruction or online-only options; campus is open. Sports plan is TBD.

Capistrano Valley Christian (starting Aug. 19): On-campus instruction or online-only options; campus is open. Sports plan is TBD.

Orangewood Academy (starting Aug. 17): Plan is TBD

Fairmont Prep (starting Aug. 17:) On-campus instruction or online-only options; campus is open. Sports plan is TBD.

Fairmont SJC (starting Aug. 17:) On-campus instruction or online-only options; campus is open. Sports plan is TBD.

Sage Hill (starting Aug. 24): Plan is TBD

Pacifica Christian (start date TBD): Plan is TBD

Samueli Academy (starting Aug. 12) Plan is TBD

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PGF cancels national championships for older divisions, All-American high school game


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Premier Girls Fastpitch on Sunday canceled its 18- and 16-and-under national travel softball championships and its All-American high school game — all scheduled for Orange County this summer — because of the coronavirus.

PGF president/CEO Dan Hay hoped the last several weeks that the tournaments scheduled for July 24-Aug. 1 and the national all-star game planned for Aug. 1 could be played but the recent surge of coronavirus cases and the suspension of youth sports in the state sealed the fate of the high-profile events.

Hay made the announcement with a heavy heart. The PGF nationals have grown into a festival for the softball community and attracted national television exposure for players and teams.

Pacifica’s Alyssa Brito (Oregon) and Los Alamitos’ Kennedi Houshmandzadeh (LSU) were selected to the All-American game.

“These kids aren’t going to have these life-long memories,” Hay said. “We looked into relocating it to another part of the country and every other part of the country is having problems. It’s too uncertain. … There was no way to do it.”

PGF hasn’t yet canceled the second week of its championships — for the 14, 12 and 10 age divisions — but Hay isn’t optimistic those events scheduled for Aug. 2-9 will be played. An announcement is expected on July 19.

“I don’t think there’s a chance,” Hay said of the likelihood of the tournaments being played.

Last season between its two sessions, the PGF Nationals hosted about 635 teams from across the nation.

The tournaments were viewed as the crown jewel of the highly-competitive travel softball season.

“The cancellation is a such a huge blow for our softball season,” said Coach Alan Caouette of California Cruisers and Aliso Niguel High. “All year we look forward to playing in this prestigious event. … In a year of chaos, it would been outstanding to finish with this event.”

Hay said the PGF trimmed the number of teams this year to about 550 in hopes of managing the schedule amid the pandemic and limiting crowds.

But the number of coronavirus cases in Orange County have risen and youth sports statewide have been postponed by the California Department of Public Heath.

Hay, however, believes the softball games should be allowed to go on.

“I believe that these kids should be able to go out and play games and allow the organizations to social distance responsibly,” said Hay, also the co-head softball at Marina. “Baseball and softball, it’s pretty easy to social distance.”

Hay said his organization has been seriously impacted financially by the cancellations but will be “fine” and “ready for 2021.” PGF applied for and received funds through the Payroll Protect Plan, he said.

The cities of Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley and Irvine also will be impacted financially by the cancellation of the tournaments.

“We bring over 50,000 people into Southern California during those two weeks,” Hay said. “The money that they’re spending in restaurants and hotels and stores and gas stations is going to be sorely missed by these communities.”

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California community colleges shift all sports to spring season for 2020-21 academic year


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The CIF State is expected to announce its plans for sports in 2020-21 on July 20 but the organization received a look Thursday at an approved collegiate model in the state.

The California Community College Athletic Association announced that all its sports — even the socially-distanced friendly ones — will be played in the spring of 2021 this coming school year.

The schedule depends on local and state guidelines regarding the coronavirus pandemic, which is forcing high school, college and professional sports to reconsider their schedules.

The junior colleges will feature early and late spring seasons, with football starting practices on Jan. 18, 2021 in the early spring season.

The football season kickoffs about four weeks later on Feb. 13, 2021 and ends April 17.

Basketball and soccer are among the other sports in the early spring season.

The late spring season will run from March 27 through June 23.

All sports also playing seasons shortened by about 30 percent. Football, for example, will feature seven games.

There will be regional playoffs but no state championships.

The CCCAA features 110 colleges throughout the state and approximately 24,000 athletes.

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County of Orange defends messaging about youth sports postponement


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The County of Orange on Thursday defended its messaging about youth sports, which at the high school level were abruptly halted this week after receiving clearance by the county on June 15.

Frank Kim, Executive Officer for Orange County, said during a press conference about the coronavirus pandemic that youth sports were suspended after the California Department of Public Health modified guidelines.

He also said that the county re-opened athletics June 15 after other counties were given the clearance from the state.

Kim referenced a news report from Sacramento earlier this month that mentioned other counties.

“When the state provides that guidance and authority to one particular county (to allow modified, socially-distanced youth sports),” Kim said, “many of us began opening that program that was consistent with the guidance some counties had received directly from the state.

“And the state recently had modified their guidance on that so we did the exact appropriate thing, which  was we re-issued the press release and we had conversations with the Department of Education. … I see this being a completely open and transparent process.”

The O.C. Department of Education ended up delivering the news first Monday.

Through its legal counsel, the department advised schools to postpone summer workouts based on a clarification it received from the California Department of Public Health.

Despite high school athletic programs focusing on social distancing, wearing masks and taking temperature checks, they were advised that their modified workouts weren’t approved by the state.

While the O.C. Department of Education doesn’t govern high school athletics, districts throughout the county promptly followed the advice and started shutting down their summer programs on Monday night.

By the time the County of Orange issued its press release Wednesday night that youth sports were postponed, some private schools had already stopped their workouts as well and most of the county already knew the update.

“(The California Department of Public Health) again indicated that guidance specific to youth sports would be released in the future,” Jeffrey J. Riel, general counsel for the O.C. Department of Education, wrote to school superintendents.

“Once statewide guidance is released, we will collectively work with the local public health officer to consider local community conditions when implementing the statewide guidance.”

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Intriguing Servite linebacker Harrison Cofell enrolls at St. John Bosco

Servite linebacker Harrison Cofell has enrolled at Trinity League rival St. John Bosco, the senior confirmed Tuesday.

The 5-foot-11, 210-pound Cofell joins a group of St. John Bosco linebackers led by Andrew Simpson and Benny Lockhart among others. Simpson (6-1, 215) has committed to Kansas.

USC-committed linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote would be another name to watch with the Braves’ linebackers but he has transferred to Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas.

Cofell’s strong offseason makes him an intriguing contender for key playing time with the reigning state and national champion. His highlights last season with the Friars included eight tackles in an early-season game against Bishop Gorman.

Another new St. John Bosco defender with Servite ties is junior safety Sione “Riz” Hala (6-3, 200). He impressed last season with Paramount in the CIF-SS Division 4 semifinals against San Juan Hills.

RELATED COVERAGE

Trinity League Football Podcast: Top offseason developments / The Miller Moss impact at Mater Dei

Please send football news to Dan Albano at dalbano@scng.com or @ocvarsityguy on Twitter of Instagram

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Spring wrap-up Q&A: Aliso Niguel boys lacrosse coach says team had ‘an outstanding opportunity’ as a D2 front-runner


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Editor’s note: The Orange County Register is having the area’s spring sports coaches take part in a Q&A about the 2020 season that was cut short by the coronavirus crisis.


Zach Henderson, Aliso Niguel boys lacrosse

Q: How are you adapting to being home every day during the spring?

A: It was certainly very difficult. In relation to everything, us being asked to stay home isn’t necessarily a “huge” sacrifice. However, in terms of work and seeing the team every single day, it was absolutely an adjustment period and a constant reminder of what was happening and what the team may have missed out on.

Q: As a coach, what do you miss most about your “normal routine” (pre-coronavirus)?

A: I simply miss seeing the young men every single day. In terms of a “routine,” I miss the pregame aspect right before the games took place. It was these moments where the young men were completely autonomous in their pregame warmup, and that was a lot of fun to watch.

Q: When you think about your team these days, what stands out the most?

A: How special this group was. With the adoption from CIF, this particular team had an outstanding opportunity in front of them as one of the front-runners in Division 2. We had tremendous leadership on and off the field, and it would have been incredibly special to see where it may have taken the program.

Q: As a coach, what has been the worst moment for you this spring and why?

A: The worst moment of the spring or season was us driving two hours to Santiago High School in the pouring rain, only to find out that our game (and season, eventually) was cancelled. At the time, there was so much uncertainty with everything going on. I truly believed that we were going to be able to play again during the spring. I feel like I unintentionally lied to my players, and seeing the amount of disappointment top to bottom from the team was excruciating.

Q: And what has been the best moment for you this spring and why?

A: The best moment of the spring is being able to reflect and recognize just how special these young men are and how important the program is as a whole. We can often get caught up in wins and losses with lacrosse, but talking to my seniors especially has opened my eyes to how incredible and strong they have been through this entire process. It makes me very proud to lead them.

Q: If you could play one game tomorrow, what would that look like?

A: One game: Aliso Niguel vs. San Juan Hills. Any place and any time. I think this game had major CIF Division 2 implications, and may have been a battle for the best D2 Orange County team. Not to mention, a league rival. Can’t beat that!

Q: What do you want your players to learn from all of this?

A: I want my players to learn that this is life. While this may have been an unprecedented event in every person’s life globally, it is life. We must always do our best to prioritize things that are most important and not get caught up in surface-level things that don’t matter.

I hope they learn that they are stronger for this than making a deep playoff run. Of course, they want to play and win. But we pride ourselves in developing young men who attack life head on and look straight ahead.

Q: For fun, which player(s) on your team made you laugh the most?

A: I think it is safe to say that Tommy Walsh made the entire team laugh the most. He ALWAYS has something interesting to say, no matter the mood or situation.

Q: For fun, who on your team would you like to challenge to a friendly showdown on the field? And would it be a faceoff or do you go 1-on-1 on offense or defense?

A: My days are long behind me! I am proud to say that nearly every player on my team would have no problem against me 1-on-1. Signs of an improving program!

Q: For fun, what song do you play on the team bus for the final bus ride home?

A: That really isn’t up to me. The players fought to win their game, they get to pick the music. Just keep it clean!

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