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Off-field win puts Catalina in playoffs

Citizen Staff Writer



Catalina High School’s pursuit of its first baseball state championship in more than four decades is alive.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association board on Monday reversed course on a decision last week forcing the program to forfeit 19 wins this season for using ineligible players.

The forfeits, stemming from alleged use of ineligible transfers, dropped Catalina’s record from 21-7 to 2-26, giving the Trojans no chance of being in the Class 4A Division II state tournament.

Catalina had the option of asking the schools they played to rescind the forfeits, but at least four schools declined, according to AIA Chief Operations Officer Chuck Schmidt.

Catalina’s second option was to appeal to the AIA.

The board’s decision came too late for Catalina to participate in the 4A Gila Region tournament, which concludes Tuesday night at Cherry Field, but the team’s power rankings points will be enough to qualify the Trojans for an at-large berth in the state tournament.

The top two finishers from the region tournament automatically qualify for the state playoffs, as do any remaining teams ranked in the top 16 of the power rankings.

Catalina athletic director Ken Harcus said Friday the school discovered April 24 it violated an association bylaw on the eligibility of transferring students.

When a student-athlete transfers, there is a one-year waiting period before the athlete can compete, unless certain criteria are met.

The two players in question met the criteria, but the proper paperwork documenting that was not turned in to the association until last week.

Due to the time-sensitive nature of the state tournament beginning later this week, the board ruled only on the baseball team’s eligibility for postseason play.

At a May 18 meeting, the board will review information that one or both players in question also played for the school’s football team last fall without the proper paperwork.

Catalina’s football team went 4-6 last year.

The Catalina baseball team, coached by Tony Gabusi, is after its first state championship since 1967, when coach Cliff Myrick’s Trojans beat Mesa Westwood 6-4 for the title.

The last championship game for Catalina was in 1977, when the Myrick-led Trojans lost 2-0 to Phoenix Trevor Browne.

Apaches can still compete

Nogales Unified School District decided to close schools this week because of swine flu concerns, but the games will go on, just not at the school.

The Nogales High girls tennis team, seeded No. 3 in the 4A Division I state playoffs, will still be considered the host team when it plays No. 6 Phoenix Sunnyslope at 3 p.m. Tuesday, but the match was moved from Nogales to Rio Rico’s Esplendor Resort.

Finding practice locations and facilities is challenging, Nogales athletic director Tim Colgate said, but it is nothing that will affect the school’s participation in state and regional playoff games.

The AIA has said it has no plans to cancel or postpone state tournament events because of flu concerns.

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