WALNUT — There were smiles, frowns and looks of relief at the conclusion of Monday’s Mt. SAC Area re-leaguing meeting held at Walnut Valley Unified School District headquarters.
None of the previously six and soon-to-be seven leagues in the area were immune to some type of change that will go into effect for the 2014-15 school year.
The biggest smiles belonged to Charter Oak High School, which got relief from being in the Sierra League and placed in the Hacienda League. Although the CIF-Southern Section won’t re-division for playoffs until next spring, Charter Oak likely got divisional relief on Monday, too.
“Ultimately, today what we saw was that the process worked out in the end,” said Charter Oak athletic director Dominic Farrar, whose school struggled mightily in the Sierra League in all sports but football.
“We wanted to make sure for every sport that there would be some inspiration and motivation moving forward as far as equity and fairness is concerned.”
Charter Oak is currently in its third year in the Sierra League. The Chargers have won two league championships in football, but the combined average performance of all of Charter Oak’s sports ranked them dead last in the Sierra.
Once in the Hacienda League, the Chargers’ football team will have annual games with fellow local power West Covina and former arch-rival Los Altos. Not to mention being back in a league with Diamond Ranch, which played Charter Oak in two CIF championship games in 2007 and ’08.
“Looking back as well as forward, there’s been some healthy rivalries and relationships between schools,” Farrar said. “I think everybody is excited.”
Relief was the emotion for Bonita, which under some proposals was possibly going to make a dramatic jump up to the powerful Baseline League after dominating the Hacienda League across the board for the past three years.
Instead of the Baseline, however, Bonita will be moving to the Sierra League, which got a major face lift on Monday. The league will soon be Bonita, Glendora, Diamond Bar, Chino, Claremont and South Hills.
“I think it will be a competitive situation for all of us and that’s kind of what you’re looking for,” Bonita athletic director Eric Podley said. “From our perspective, it was fair. We got a situation that is compatible for our level of competition.”
For the past three years, Glendora has lived what Bonita was trying to avoid — life in the Baseline League. The Tartans will have one more go at it next school year, but got the relief they so badly desired on Monday by being placed in the Sierra League.
“It’s a huge weight off,” Glendora principal Paul Lopez said. “We absolutely wanted to be out of the Baseline League. That was the No. 1 objective today.
“The configuration we have now, which I guess will be the Sierra League, I don’t think we could get any better than what was approved.”
Several of Glendora’s marquee sports programs had taken a hit in the Baseline League, including its famed boys basketball team. Even football, which was a force in the Sierra League prior to the move, was mostly overwhelmed in the Baseline League.
During Monday’s meeting, Lopez argued that the travel involved in playing in the Baseline League had cost his school’s teams plenty of support in recent years.
“People don’t travel anymore,” Lopez said. ”They don’t want to go out to the Inland Empire to see games. We’re on the road an average of 32.6 miles every time we go to a game. It’s a huge weight off.”
It wasn’t all smiles on Monday, especially for Chino Hills. The Huskies are on their way to the Baseline League starting with the 2014 school year. Crosstown rival Ayala is as well.
Ayala and Chino Hills will join Rancho Cucamonga, Upland, Etiwanda and Los Osos.
“I think our kids can step up to the challenge,” Chino Hills athletic director Derek Bub said. “I knew there were some scenarios that we could be placed in the Baseline. I had my hopes that people would look at transportation. That’s the biggest fear I have right now — just sitting on the 60 Freeway and 15 Freeway.
“But it is what it is, and we’ve got to move forward and get our kids ready to play in a tough league.”
The Valle Vista League will go from seven teams to six after the defection of Pomona, which now will be in a yet to be named league with Edgewood, Bassett, Ganesha, Garey and La Puente.
The Montview League was almost cut in half from its current eight-team grouping. The Montview will now be a five-team consisting of Azusa, Duarte, Gladstone, Sierra Vista and Workman. That’s because a new league was formed on Monday.
Baseline: Ayala, Chino Hills, Etiwanda, Los Osos, Rancho Cucamonga, Upland.
Sierra: Bonita, Chino, Claremont, Diamond Bar, Glendora, South Hills
Hacienda: Charter Oak, Diamond Ranch, Los Altos, Rowland, Walnut, West Covina.
Mt. Baldy: Alta Loma, Chaffey, Colony, Don Lugo, Montclair, Ontario.
Valle Vista: Baldwin Park, Covina, Nogales, Northview, San Dimas, Wilson.
Montview: Azusa, Duarte, Gladstone, Sierra Vista, Workman.
Unnamed: Edgewood, Bassett, Ganesha, Garey, La Puente, Pomona.