Poor Air Quality Delays Polo Championships

Dianda Giles, Staff Writer

The Butte County wildfires created air quality problems that forced the delay or cancelation of many post-season activities for fall sports programs.

Water polo was particularly affected with NCS tournament games delayed by several weeks.   The water polo season for both the boys’ and girls’ varsity squads was extended by nearly a month, with their final matches played on December 1.

The games ended up being rescheduled 4 times, which was frustrating for senior varsity water polo player Camryn Sutter. “We just wanted to finish our season, but I’m grateful that we got to practice before our most important game. We almost had to play the finals at an indoor pool [Berkeley High School’s pool] 2 weeks ago even though we had not practiced in days,” she said.

Junior water polo player Marissa Ennis also found the circumstances frustrating. “It was hard to keep our enthusiasm when the championship game kept getting canceled. We’ve just been trying to focus on getting back in shape and remaining positive this past week,” she said.

The boys’ team faced similar challenges. According to junior CJ Rago, their coach was out of town in the days leading up to the finals, “which was something we had to work around. Thankfully our assistant coaches were here to coach us, but we were confident that we could take San Ramon,” he said.

When the 2 championship games were finally held at Acalanes High School, the women’s team lost to Acalanes while the men’s team beat San Ramon Valley to win the title.

Women’s water polo captain Zoe Crouch said, “I’m proud of what we accomplished, but I also wonder what the outcome of the game would have been if we played it 3 weeks ago.”

While the cross country season was not extended, the NCS championship meet at Hayward High School was delayed by several days.  The meet, which normally is hosted on a Saturday, was held on Tuesday, November 20.  Mid-way through the event however, air quality hit unhealthy levels according to AQI sensors in the Hayward area.  As a result, 5 of the 10 races on the schedule were canceled, including the race in which the Campolindo girls’ squad was entered.

Fortunately, the NCS convened a committee to select teams for advancement to the state meet in those divisions that were not contested at the section meet.  The Campolindo girls’ squad was advanced, and ended up finishing 3rd in division 3 at the CIF championships.