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Coronavirus impacting athletics in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties
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Coronavirus impacting athletics in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties

Though none of the nation's roughly 1,500 coronavirus cases have popped up in Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo counties, the area's athletic scene is feeling the effects of the pandemic. 

The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District announced Thursday that it's canceling or postponing athletic events starting Friday through the end of the month. 

"Beginning tomorrow, March 13th, 2020, all Santa Maria Joint Union High School District schools will be canceling or postponing all non-essential events, activities, gatherings and travel through, at least, the remainder of March," the statement read. "This includes before and after school athletic and co-curricular practices or activities. At this time normal school day hours and operations will continue."

The district said these changes are in response to Gov. Gavin Newsom's recommendation that public gatherings of 250 or more people be canceled to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

Cal Poly announced Thursday that it is suspending all of its athletic activities, effective immediately. That includes the Mustangs' baseball game against Oklahoma that was scheduled for Thursday night.

“The main priority of the Big West Conference continues to be the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans and media as we continue to monitor all developing and relevant information on the COVID-19 virus,” conference commissioner Dennis Farrell said in a statement from the university.

Hancock College, meanwhile, released a statement saying all the school's athletic events through the month of March will take place as scheduled even as it canceled multiple public events for the month, though the California Community College Athletic Association had reportedly suspended all spring sport competitions. Cuesta College confirmed it has canceled all athletic events until further notice. 

St. Joseph High School athletic director Tom Mott said his team's baseball games scheduled for the weekend are still on. St. Joseph is scheduled to host Dinuba in a non-league game Friday. 

Valley Christian Academy athletic director Pete Fortier said his softball and baseball teams will host Coastal Christian Friday at 3:30 p.m. in a pair of games after Maricopa canceled a previously scheduled contest.

The Arroyo Grande High School boys basketball team was scheduled to play for a CIF State championship Friday in Sacramento. The CIF State office canceled all state title games and will award no state championships this season. 

"We are extremely disappointed and saddened that we won’t have an opportunity to play for a state championship," Arroyo Grande athletic director Stephen Field said. "However, we understand and respect the decision that CIF has made as it is in the best interest for the health and safety of our student-athletes."

Field said Lucia Mar Unified School District has canceled most of its athletic events scheduled for the rest of the week after state health officials recommended canceling large gatherings.

Russ Edwards, Nipomo High's athletic director, said his school will also cancel or postpone some athletic activities as a result of the governor's recommendation.

"No swim meet at A.G. today," Edwards said in a message to the Times. "No stunt (cheer) at SLO. Currently we will still play baseball, softball, tennis and volleyball."

Later, Nipomo's home non-league baseball game against Righetti was canceled because SMJUHSD is suspending all athletic activities.

Nipomo's and Arroyo Grande's league schedules will be in flux as the schools are in the same league as SMJUHSD schools. 

"As of right now, Lucia Mar and Arroyo Grande athletics are following Gov. Newsom's advice to not partake in anything with a large group of 250 or more," Field said. "We canceled, starting today through the rest of this week, anything that would put any of our teams in that position.

"The only thing we have left is a golf match that will have maybe 30 people."

Some area Little Leagues are also suspending their seasons after Little League International said it's best to suspend play until April 6.

"We recommend that our leagues exercise an abundance of caution and implement a temporary suspension of all league activities until no earlier than April 6," Little League International posted on its website Thursday.  

Cabrillo High athletic director Gary West said in a message to the Times at 11 a.m. Thursday: "As of now, we are status quo. I'm sure it's not far away though."

Cabrillo's golf and tennis matches were postponed or canceled due to the recent rain, West said. Cabrillo's volleyball team was set to travel to San Marcos for a Channel League match, but that was canceled as San Marcos has suspended its athletic activities for the month. 

Lompoc athletic director Claudia Terrones said the Lompoc swim team traveled to Dos Pueblos for a Channel League meet. The Braves were scheduled to face Santa Barbara in a Channel League track and field dual at Santa Ynez Thursday, but that meet has been postponed as Santa Barbara schools have also suspended all athletic activities. 

All of Lompoc's and Cabrillo's Friday games, in softball and baseball, have been postponed. 

Many area high school track and field teams were scheduled to compete Saturday at the Ventura Invite, which has been canceled.

The CIF Southern Section said it is leaving it up to member schools to determine the best policy in facing the coronavirus outbreak.

"The CIF Southern Section is too large, both by number of schools and by geographic area, to have a "one size fits all" response to this virus," CIF-SS commissioner Rob Wigod said in a statement. "We believe that the important decisions regarding schools closures, cancelling/postponing athletic events, etc., should be made by local schools and school districts, in concert with their local and state health officials and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control."

Boys golf

Arroyo Grande 205, St. Joseph 222

The St. Joseph-Arroyo Grande Mountain League dual was played at Cypress Ridge on Thursday.

Arroyo Grande's Henry Havemose earned medalist honors with a 3-under 33.

Jayce Gamble shot the top score for St. Joseph with a 39, followed by Caleb Rodriguez (40), Dylan Spiess (41), Ryan Cossa (48) and Tyler Wellenkamp (53).

Arroyo Grande's scorers were Ben Feldman (37), Keyan Patel (43), Eric Lim (44) and Matt Marrs (48).

The Knights are scheduled to host Atascadero at the Santa Maria Country Club Monday in a Mountain League dual.

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