After looking at the numbers, the word that came to mind was "dominant." Because, in Sonoma County, Maria Carrillo's athletic program is. But every time I ran that word past a Carrillo coach or administrator, they seized up. We like the word "success" better. Use that. We're OK with that one. "Dominant" has an aggressive, arrogant edge to it.
"We don't throw our victories in anyone's face," said Kara Myers, Carrillo's co-athletic director. "When you think of dominant, you think of boastful. We're not boastful. We work hard, try to get better and are supportive of each other."
The restraint Carrillo has in being proud of who it is, it's admirable. Human nature, being what it is, never settles for second place unless it must. Finishing first has a tendency to bring out a strut, a scream, a chest thumping. But to do what Carrillo has done, and is doing, I'm surprised the Pumas haven't taken out a full-page ad in this newspaper, proclaiming "Look, folks, we were 116-8-2 this fall in sports!"
Yes, you read it correctly. Excluding football, and counting only head-to-head competition, Carrillo has a 116-8-2 record this fall in sports. Those numbers remind me of the win-loss records of UCLA basketball in those John Wooden years.
Carrillo is an NBL champion in seven of the eight fall sports. Ah, but there's more.
Last spring Carrillo finished either first or second in 10 sports. Six of those teams were NBL champions or co-champions.
If Carrillo were to duplicate next spring what it did last spring, the Pumas would be NBL champs in 13 of a possible 18 sports by the time school ends in May.
For those of you keeping score at home, that's Carrillo's winning 72 percent of NBL gold.
Let's pause, shall we, to absorb the weight of that number, that accomplishment, that happening with schools like Montgomery and Cardinal Newman in the mix. This is not a cream puff league. To round out the picture, if last spring is duplicated, Carrillo this year would finish either first or second in 17 of 18 sports. I told Myers this blew my mind, when I connected all the dots.
"It blows me away, too," Myers said.
"I've never seen anything like it," said Bob Harbaugh, the girls tennis coach.
"I don't think there's another school," said cross country coach Ruben DiRado, "who can match our success in the last three years."
So what do they put in the water at Carrillo, and can I have some? For a school to be that superior across the board, it's more than one school having an exemplar coach leading one sport. Girls volleyball has won the last 11 NBL titles, nine of them outright, two shared. The girls tennis team has won the last three NBL titles. Girls soccer has won two consecutive NCS titles and four consecutive league championships.
Where to start? Provided by Myers, and based on the most recent data available, 37.3 percent of the 1,599 student body plays high school sports. That's 596 kids. That isn't a talent pool. That's a talent ocean. Sixty-three kids, for example, went out for badminton, for criminey sakes. Volleyball had 27, swimming had 60. Rincon Valley Middle School, the primary feeder school to Carrillo, loves its sports as much as the high school it supplies. Harbaugh said 250 kids went out for RV track last spring.