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Turlock escapes exile to the TCAL at latest SJS realignment meeting

For much of Tuesday’s Sac-Joaquin Section realignment meeting, its appeared that Turlock High was going to get thrown under the bus and be sent to the Tri-City Athletic League for the 2024-25 school year.

In the end, Kimball (Tracy) was moved into the TCAL and Turlock, along with the rest of the Central California Athletic League, remained intact. 

Originally, the section’s realignment committee sent Manteca from the Valley Oak League into the TCAL. Since that first meeting in January, Manteca has been desperately trying to find an alternative.

Tuesday morning’s meeting started with VOL commissioner Rick Francis suggesting Manteca retreat from the TCAL and stay in the VOL, with Turlock filling that TCAL vacancy.

All this was news to Turlock High and CCAL representatives.

“I was hoping I didn’t have to get up and speak today,” said Modesto High athletic director Donnie Wallace, filling in for CCAL commissioner Ed Felt, who is convalescing after a recent surgery. “I just got up there and said that the CCAL schools wanted to stay together and that the two Turlock schools most definitely don’t want to be separated.”

A parade of Manteca High representatives rose to speak in favor of the Turlock-to-the-TCAL move in the morning session. After the break for lunch, however, a move was made to put let VOL-member Kimball take Manteca’s place in the TCAL — a move that makes sense competitively and travel-wise, since Kimball is located in Tracy.

“As of right now, we’re good,” said Wallace. “But it’s not over yet.”

The section will meet again Tuesday at the Reserve at Spanos Park, then again on March 28 to finalize the changes.

As it stands right now, the CCAL — Turlock, Pitman, Downey, Enochs, Gregory and Modesto — are still together.

The section seems determined to leave the CCAL alone for at least one more cycle — realignment occurs every four years to ensure competitive equity — since its six members faced so much upheaval during the last cycle. Turlock and Pitman were extracted from the Central California Conference after the 2017-18 school year, while Downey, Enochs, Gregory and Modesto saw their Modesto Metro Conference dissolved and fellow league members Beyer, Davis and Johansen were sent to the Western Athletic Conference.

The section’s revised Trans-Valley League still remains on track to be approved, with Orestimba, Ripon Christian and Sonora lumped in with Hilmar, Hughson, Escalon and Ripon. Modesto Christian, originally destined to leave the TVL for the CCAA, is back in the TVL for football only (its perennial powerhouse basketball team will play in the TCAL).

On day one, the TVL would be among the toughest, if not the toughest, football and volleyball leagues in all the state.
Sonora is eager to move to the TVL, while Orestimba and Ripon Christian have voiced their displeasure with the move in the past.