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January 27, 1994|SEAN WATERS

BACK IN ACTION

The high school athletic season in the Los Angeles Unified School District was knocked down, but not out by the Jan. 17 earthquake.

A panel of City Section administrators decided Tuesday to resume competition in basketball and soccer for boys and girls, and wrestling beginning Monday.

All City Section athletic events were postponed for two weeks because of the earthquake.

Officials from schools affected by the earthquake met Tuesday at Grant High in Van Nuys to consider options, including the formation of tournaments in place of the remainder of the regular season. Administrators decided to allow each league to determine its own schedule since damage varied at each school.

Westside schools suffered less damage than those in the Valley and are expected to make up games postponed by the earthquake. Other schools will resume their schedules and not play a full compliment of games, according to City Commissioner Barbara Fiege.

Boys' and girls' basketball playoffs begin Feb. 23.

"I believe the conference on the other side of the hill--the Southeastern, Coastal and Southern Pacific--will make up most of their games because they don't have gym problems like the Valley schools," Fiege said.

According to Fiege, 24 of the City's 49 schools have been affected by the earthquake.

Six San Fernando Valley schools--Chatsworth, Kennedy, Monroe, Reseda, San Fernando, and Verdugo Hills--have basketball gymnasiums that suffered either structural or water damage and are unavailable indefinitely.

In addition, schools being used as Red Cross shelters are Belmont, Birmingham, Canoga Park, Fairfax, Granada Hills, Hollywood, Manual Arts (small gym), North Hollywood, Sylmar and Van Nuys.

"We're not going be able to get into our gym for practice or games for another two or three weeks," Fairfax Coach Harvey Kitani said. "We have people in the big gym, the small gym and another building. I heard we were sheltering up to 200 or 300 people at one time."

San Fernando, which had been used as a shelter, was evacuated over the weekend when engineers discovered structural damage to school facilities.

The gyms at Cleveland, El Camino Real and Hamilton suffered minor damage and had been unusable until Monday.

"The girls' gym had some water damage and the floor has buckled," Hamilton Coach Dave Uyeshima said. "It makes it more difficult for both teams to have to practice in the boys' gym."

Coaches scrambled this week to find practice sites for their teams. At best, coaches were able to arrange practice times for boys' varsity players.

"We had to call all over to get a practice site," Kitani said. "For this week, we're going over to Loyola Marymount to practice. People over there have been good to arrange a practice slot for us."

Fairfax was scheduled to play host to Westchester in a game matching two of the top teams in the Western League. But even switching the site to Westchester did not prevent the game from being postponed.

"What a mess, huh?" Kitani said. "An earthquake is devastating for everyone and I have respect for the people who have lost their homes and valuables.

"I accept the fact that we might not be able to have another home game, but everyone has to make sacrifices."

In addition to locating playing sites, some coaches must now solve transportation problems. Palisades Coach James Paleno was told Tuesday that there will be no late buses available for his players who stay after school to attend practice. Those players who miss their 3:10 p.m. buses will have to arrange their own transportation home.

"That's tough because we're a young team," said Paleno, whose players are bused from the Central City. "We only have three seniors on the team."

Several area coaches were frustrated by the delay in their season.

"This district is too big," Westchester Coach Ed Azzam said. "If we didn't think it was before, we know now. If this district was running the freeway system, they would have shut everything down, not just the areas that were damaged.

"I know they are going through problems with the Valley schools, but not with the Westside schools. Why did we have to wait to play a school like Venice, which is only two miles away?"

SIGNINGS

Santa Monica tight end Michael Jackson made an unwritten commitment to sign with Washington State University, Viking Coach Dan Escalera said.

Jackson, who was named to The Times' 1993 Westside All-Star second team, rushed 34 times for 100 yards and caught 13 passes for 129 yards and scored three touchdowns. As an outside linebacker, he made 10 tackles.

The signing period begins Wednesday.

The Rocky Mountain News was reporting that Fairfax running back Tyrone Evans and Lion quarterback Myron Terry will sign with Colorado State. However, Fairfax Coach Terrel Ray said Evans and Terry will not make a final decision until Sunday.

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