The Huntington Beach boys' cross-country team delivered a message over the weekend.
The Oilers, now ranked No. 1, won the Orange County Championships for the first time.
But the Oilers' participation delivered another message to Edison and the rest of the Sunset League.
They aren't going to run their varsity team against Edison on Thursday.
"It's telling us that 'We're better than you and we'll get you at league finals; we don't need to run the dual meet,' " Edison Coach Mike Munoz said.
Southern Section rules allow varsity runners 11 meets before the league championship. If six Huntington Beach runners compete Thursday, that would be their 12th. So, they won't run. That concession likely will give Edison a 5-0 record and Huntington Beach a 4-1 mark. However, the Sunset League meet is weighted such that if Huntington Beach wins, it still will be league champion.
Munoz, his team and his boosters are understandably upset.
But given the circumstances, most coaches would make the same choice as Oiler Coach Eric Anderson.
"I scheduled more meets than we're allowed," Anderson said, taking blame for the mistake. "Each individual is allowed 11 meets; I scheduled 12. I caught it after running 10 meets. I had the choice of pulling them out of the Orange County Championships or Edison. It wasn't a hard choice to make. Whoever wins the league championship [race] will be the undisputed champion.
"If anything, it will make the league finals [Nov. 4 at Central Park in Huntington Beach] more interesting because Edison and Huntington Beach haven't raced head-to-head since Sept. 30."
Anderson said he would have skipped the San Luis Obispo Invitational (Oct. 14) if he had been aware of his mistake. His decision was popular with his runners, who voted 7-0 to pass on Edison.
"My kids, if they hadn't gotten a chance to run the OC Championships, would never have forgiven me," Anderson said. "I had two county champions, Tony Trueba, the overall champion, and Jess Strutzel, the county's senior champion. The team was first in the county for the first time ever. If we didn't do that--heart-broken isn't the word for it. They would have been devastated."
The Southern Section Council last week heard plans for restructuring playoffs on a regional basis, and its members liked what they heard--except as it related to football.
A straw vote indicated about two-thirds of the council's 74 leagues favored the move to regional playoff competition in baseball, softball, soccer, tennis, volleyball and basketball. Those playoff plans, with some modification, will be voted on at the council's Jan. 25 meeting. If passed, they will be implemented in 1996.
Although the Southern Section had a $148,000 debt three years ago, it gave $98,558 in rebates to member leagues in checks ranging from $750 to $1,750. Much of the money, section Commissioner Dean Crowley said, came from an $87,000 gift from the state CIF.
Staff writer Mike Terry contributed to this story.