BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer email@example.com
Several standout high school athletes in Bakersfield took advantage of the NCAA's early signing period for recruits, which began Wednesday.
Bakersfield HIgh and Frontier each had two athletes sign letters of intent to play sports at the Division I collegiate level: From Frontier, Jorie Caneta will swim at Arizona State, and Hannah Henriksen will play volleyball at Long Beach State. From Bakersfield, pitcher Mason Perryman will play baseball for USC, and wrestler Bryce Martin is headed to Indiana of the Big Ten Conference.
Central Section football rankings
Compiled by beat writer Zach Ewing
1. Bakersfield (8-2, Div. I)
2. Fresno-Edison (9-1, Div. I)
3. Clovis North (8-2, Div. I)
4. Liberty (9-1, Div. I)
5. Fresno-Bullard (9-1, Div. I)
6. Fresno-Central (7-3, Div. I)
7. Tul-Mission Oak (10-0, D. IV)
8. Clovis (7-3, Div. I)
9. Clovis West (4-6, Div. I)
10. Vis.-El Diamante (9-1, Div. II)
11. Garces (8-2, Div. II)
12. Kingsburg (9-1, Div. II)
13. Stockdale (5-5, Div. I)
14. Sanger (7-3, Div. II)
15. Vis.-Redwood (8-2, Div. II)
16. Bak. Christian (8-2, Div. IV)
17. Fresno-Memorial (6-4, D. II)
18. Centennial (5-5, Div. I)
19. Tulare Western (7-3, Div. III)
20. Porterville (8-2, Div. III)
21. Frontier (4-6, Div. I)
22. Wasco (8-2, Div. IV)
23. Lemoore (6-4, Div. II)
24. Visalia-CVC (7-3, Div. IV)
25. Exeter (6-4, Div. IV)
Also signing Wednesday were Garces softball catcher Rachael Metzger, who's headed to Kentucky of the Southeastern Conference, and Stockdale swimmer Brock Bonetti, who will compete for another SEC team, Texas A&M.
On Friday, Foothill volleyball star Jade Turner will sign her letter of intent to play for Arizona.
Some NCAA sports, including football, don't participate in the early signing period. The signing period for football begins Feb. 5.
If you know of another athlete signing a letter of intent during the early signing period, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the athlete's name, high school, college and sport.
Football rankings shakeup
Bakersfield HIgh continues to dominate the Central Section, but the Drillers took a hit in this week's Cal Hi Sports state rankings, a product of a loss by Westlake Village-Oaks Christian, a team that beat BHS 51-50 in the season opener.
Oaks Christian lost 39-36 on Friday to Westlake, which blocked a punt and returned it for the winning touchdown with less than a minute remaining.
As a result, Oaks Christian dropped to No. 21 and Bakersfield fell from No. 15 to No. 19 in the state rankings; previous No. 12 Fresno-Edison fell out of the top 25 after a loss to Fresno-Bullard, leaving the Drillers as the only ranked Central Section team.
Still, the Cal Hi Sports analysis accompanying the rankings suggests that even if the Drillers win the Central Section, they are now a longshot for either the Open Division Division I bowl games. If the champion of the heralded Southern Section Pac-5 Division winds up against heavy Western Division favorite Gardena-Serra in the Southern Cal Open Division game, the CIF will have to pick from among the champions of the Southern Section Inland Division, the Central Section, the L.A. City Section and the top two San Diego playoff divisions.
Meanwhile, Bakersfield Christian moved up to No. 6 in the Division IV regional rankings, and Cal Hi Sports said that if either BCHS or Visalia-Central Valley Christian, which is ranked No. 5 and beat BCHS 34-33 early in the season, wins the Central Section's Division IV bracket, they would have a solid case for the bowl game.
Full rankings can be found at calhisports.com; there is a subscription fee for detailed information.
Cross country league finals
It's a busy day today across the Central Section, and it starts with cross country league championships. Kern County's three major leagues -- Southwest Yosemite, Southeast Yosemite and South Yosemite -- all hold their boys and girls championship races at Hart Park. The six-race varsity event begins at 12:30 p.m. and features Stockdale senior Blake Haney running in his final cross country race locally in the SWYL boys race at 2 p.m.
The South Sequoia League holds its championship races across town at the Park at Riverwalk. Varsity races begin at 2 p.m.
After that, section quarterfinals in volleyball begin across the Central Valley at 6:30 p.m. Locally, Centennial hosts Clovis North, and Stockdale hosts Liberty in Division I; Independence faces Tulare Union at home, and Tehachapi hosts Visalia-Mount Whitney in Division II; Highland plays at Shafter in Division III; and top-seeded Bakersfield Christian squares off with Chowchilla in Division IV.
Finally, at 7 p.m., Stockdale kicks off the section football playoffs with a first-round Division I game at Clovis West at Lamonica Stadium at Clovis High.
The game was moved from Friday because three Clovis Unified School District teams have first-round home games, and the district has only two football stadiums.