A releaguing plan designed to give City athletics a face lift will be released to the 49 principals Wednesday for use by high schools starting in September.
Though specifics were not given, the streamlined structure apparently calls for six eight-team conferences (one will have nine teams), with two four-team leagues in each conference. Additionally, the 2-A division may be dissolved, putting three conferences in the 3-A and the 4-A and eliminating past problems of a lesser team as the 10th representative in the playoffs for the 11-team 4-A.
Under the new plan, the teams within the conference will stay the same for all sports, although the league alignments can be juggled depending on the strength of teams. Thus, there will be conformity and flexibility, in which schools are in several different leagues at the same time, depending on the sport.
It should also go a long way toward easing travel problems and creating natural rivalries. No more Freeway League in football, which in the past had thrown together Franklin and Garfield from East Los Angeles, Locke from the Central City and San Pedro from the South Bay. Nor will there be a Pac-8 League in football, in which Westchester and Venice were playing Grant from North Hollywood and Reseda.
"The reaction should be interesting," said Hal Harkness, the City director of athletics. "I'm sure the strongest reaction will come primarily from coaches who feel as though their domain is toppling. We'll listen to anything and everything they have to say.
"It is different. The league and conference concept is something different than has been tried maybe anywhere in the state. But it makes a lot of sense because of its flexibility and time-saving (in travel) measures."
The twist comes in the records. Of the nine games played, only seven, those against teams in the same league and conference, will count toward making the playoffs. The two others will count in the overall record, but, basically, will be nothing more than practice games.
The plan is expected to be finalized March 21.
When Cleveland of Reseda, No. 3 in The Times' City rankings, beat No. 2 Fairfax, 54-50, last Wednesday, the key was obvious: 6-foot 3-inch Damon Charlot of Cleveland limiting 6-7 Chris Mills of Fairfax to 7 points, 30 below his average in Valley League games.
Mills, one of the most highly regarded players in the country and the City player of the year last season as a junior, had one point in the first half and finished the game 3 of 11 from the field against Cleveland's box-and-one defense.
The cross-country season officially ended in November, but Arroyo of El Monte didn't consider it over until last week, when the national rankings, compiled by the Cross-Country Journal in Missouri, were released.
It was worth the wait. The Knights won the mythical national championship, based on the combined time of five runners doing three miles each at the same time on a track. The criteria is set up that way because it is the only way to get a fair reading with the different course layouts. Arroyo, the state Division I champion, finished in 74 minutes 45.3 seconds, better than McCullough, Tex., in second place with 74:57.5.
Additionally, five local runners were among the 15 named to the All-American team for large schools (enrollment of 1,000 or more): Jaime Ortega, Jeff Gilkey and Derrick Powers of Arroyo, Ian Alsen of Granada Hills and Mike Glaze of Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks.
When Birmingham of Van Nuys met San Fernando in a junior varsity match last Thursday, two girls wrestled each other.
As far as administrators could recall, it was the first time girls faced each other in wrestling in the City or Southern Section. But senior Catherynne Morgan of San Fernando and sophomore Katherine Celli of Birmingham wanted no part of any sideshow atmosphere.
"I don't want to make history," Celli said. "I just want to wrestle."
She did just that, beating Morgan, 6-3.