Cuesta and Allan Hancock college athletics are staying put.
A money-saving proposal that would have sent the Central Coast junior colleges from a Southern California conference to one rooted in the Central San Joaquin Valley was dashed by the state community college Commission on Athletics on Friday. Up for a statewide vote of college presidents at the COA board meeting, the proposal was removed from the agenda, according to Cuesta athletic director Bob Mariucci, who opposed the move because of its travel implications.
“The conversation that took place throughout the week caused them to take it off the agenda and not move it any further,” Mariucci said.
Mariucci had been spending the week at the COA spring convention campaigning against the recommended proposal — put together by a committee invested in cutting costs and first proposed last fall — saying it made the Cougars’ travel much more dangerous.
In the Western State Conference, which includes both Cuesta and Hancock, most of the travel takes place on the four-lane Highway 101. A move to the Central Valley Conference would have required the schools use more dangerous two-lane highways on a consistent basis. Moving to the CVC would have potentially cut Cuesta’s mileage by more than 40 percent, according to the committee estimates.
But California Highway Patrol statistics from 1997-2007 show there were nearly three times as many fatal collisions on county roads leading to CVC sites as there were to WSC campuses.
In 2003, Cougars women’s water polo player Casey Goodwin was killed in a traffic collision on Highway 41 near Kettleman City while driving home to see her parents in Exeter.
Cuesta coaches would have had to drive the college’s network of high-mileage passenger vans through the windy roads of highways 41 and 46 late at night and traverse a seasonal ground fog in the Valley noted for being the state’s leading cause of weather related crashes.
“I would say that ours and Hancock’s concerns with the safety was a pretty instrumental part” of the proposal being taken off the agenda, Mariucci said. “We probably had the most sincere concern.
“The closer it got to the vote, I think the safety concerns surfaced as an issue for Cuesta and Hancock, and that was heard this time around.”
Cal Poly 5, UC Riverside 3, 10 innings
Trailing 3-1 with two outs in the ninth, Cal Poly’s Mitch Haniger hit a two-run home run to force extra innings.
Haniger’s shot, his fourth of the year, led to Matt Jensen’s 10th inning, two-run triple which provided the game-winning margin.
D.J. Mauldin started the game for Cal Poly (8-17, 1-1 Big West Conference), allowing one earned run on five hits in six innings. He struck out three and walked three.
Jensen finished with three RBI. He had a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning.
Jeff Johnson pitched four strong innings in relief to pick up the win. He allowed one run on three hits while striking out seven.
Luke Yoder added a double for the Mustangs.
UC Riverside (13-9, 1-1) had eight hits and capitalized on one of Cal Poly’s three errors to score a run in the first inning. The Mustangs also had eight hits.
The series concludes at 1 this afternoon.
Long Beach State 5, Cal Poly 2
The Cal Poly doubles teams swept, earning the point, but Alexa Lee was the only Mustang to win a singles match.
Brittany Blalock and Suzie Matzenauer, ranked No. 26 in doubles, beat Jaklin Alawi and Rachel Manasse 8-3.
“We enjoyed a strong performance in the doubles point,” Cal Poly coach Hugh Bream said in a news release. “I think the players came out strong and focused and really took it to Long Beach State.”
Lee defeated Julie Luzar 6-2. 1-6, 6-3, and Matzenauer was the only other Cal Poly player to win a set in singles, falling in three to Alawi.
The Mustangs will next face No. 54 Pepperdine on Wednesday in Malibu.
Tribune staff contributed to this report.