El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Mary York

It has been a good year for East County baseball. Actually, most coaches will say every year is a good year for this particular region of San Diego, but this spring they knocked it out of the ballpark. 

On May 29, 2017, the Grossmont Griffins made San Diego history by being the first community college in the county to win the California state championship. It is a victory that has been 67 years in the making, with other community colleges like Southwestern and Palomar coming close but never quite closing the deal. 

School is winding down, students are heading into finals and prom nights and graduations, and that means the last few fiery games of baseball are being played around San Diego County.

Playoffs have been fierce this season, but East County is holding its own with five teams heading into the fourth-round next week. Helix (No. 7) will play Cathedral Catholic (No. 2) in the Open Division on Tuesday, May 30, 2017. The Highlanders, who finished at the top of the Grossmont Hills league this season, were 9-3 in league and are 21-10 overall.

If there is a roar coming from East County this week, it is the sound of battle as the fiercest of Grossmont conference’s softball teams fight their way towards the CIF championship. 

East County has always been a force to be reckoned with on the softball diamond, but this year they are leaving their dominance undisputed as they take over playoffs. 

The rise and fall of the Grossmont boy’s volleyball playoff campaign embodies what is best loved of high school athletics: high hopes, a lot of heart, and the refusal to quit. 

Statistically, Grossmont should not have made it out of round one. The 11-seed Division-II team hit Montgomery, 6 seed, on Wednesday night, May 10, 2017, and simply refused to say ‘die.’ 

The Sultans must have been sleeping when El Capitan’s Vaqueros scored the first point in the first inning of their game at Santana on Friday, May 5, 2017. But when the yellow-jerseyed runner crossed the chalky home plate and a bright red number one blinked on the “guest” side of the scoreboard, the Sultans woke up. Refusing to allow the Vaqueros another run, Santana claimed the ‘W’, 13-1.

Dozens of homegrown cowboys and cowgirls lined the soft, thick dirt of Lakeside’s rodeo on Friday evening, April 28 for the beginning of three days and five performances decked in silver brimmed hats and sitting proudly on their wooden-stick horses. Yes, the children’s stick-horse race on the opening night of Lakeside’s 53 Annual Rodeo was not just an entertainment highlight, but a symbol of why the rodeo even exists.

Some years everything just comes together. That seems to be the case for Granite Hills’ softball team, whose sturdy seniors and lively freshmen are pulling together quite a season.

The Eagles (17-6-1) are currently undefeated in league (4-0) and have all the elements of a winning season ahead of them. 

Co-captain Halle Kyler said, for the seniors, this season is the culmination of a several-year journey the Lady Eagles have shared.

Helix High School’s boys’ tennis team is redefining what it means to be a student athlete.

Although the Highlanders may be struggling to keep up with the heavy-hitters in league this year, they have more than their fair share of standouts, on and off the court.

Helix (6-3), defending league champion, has been stuck behind Steele Canyon (9-1) and Grossmont (8-1) for most of the season. But head coach Jesus Diaz said he has no complaints.

This was not just any state championship. Nor was it the typical underdog story. The incredible journey of El Cajon Valley (ECV) High School’s boys’ soccer team from no-names to state champs is also a story so quintessentially American, it begs to be told. It is the story of a team of immigrants and refugees, and the sport that helped them find a home in a new place.

Proving it is possible to come a long way in a short time, the El Capitan Vaqueros are making a run for their third boys volleyball league title in a row.