The article below originally appeared at MercuryNews.com and is being reprinted with permission.
The athletic programs at College of San Mateo decided to play a game of one-upmanship on campus last week.
First up was the softball team, which Thursday clinched the first outright Coast Conference North Division title during Nicole Borg’s seven-year tenure as head coach of the Bulldogs.
“We just knew that if we took care of business that day we were going to be champions,” Borg said.
CSM (36-3, 16-1 Coast North) has won 20 games in a row, including Thursday’s clincher 14-0 over visiting Chabot. The last loss suffered by the Bulldogs came more than two months ago in the conference opener at De Anza, 3-2, after which Borg made their task clear during the postgame speech.
“I told them, ‘You can lose one game and still be a conference champion, and here it is. We can’t press rewind. You just used your buffer,'” Borg recalled. “And we didn’t look back after that.”
The regular-season finale is today at home against Ohlone, which was dethroned as the longtime champion. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.
“It’s pretty awesome for the sophomores to go out with their last regular-season game against their No. 1 rival,” Borg said.
The Bulldogs will host a state regional series the first weekend of May, and their coach hopes to remain in the dugout throughout CSM’s playoff run.
“I’m just hoping that I make it that far,” said Borg, who is due to give birth in a month.
Next up at CSM was the baseball team, which routed visiting De Anza on Saturday, 12-0, to wrap up the Coast Golden Gate title. It was the 10th championship in 11 years for CSM coach Doug Williams.
“It’s never an easy task,” he said. “These players have made the commitment and worked extremely hard. We’ve had some outstanding performances, particularly on the mound. The team just seemed to catch fire once we reached league.”
Co-aces Clint Terry (6-1, 0.73 ERA) and Danny Chavez (6-3, 1.25) anchor a deep staff, while Joe Armstrong is batting .342, though his 20-game hitting streak come to an end last week. The Bulldogs (25-9, 17-3 Golden Gate) close the regular season on the road this week.
Not to be outdone, the swimming program cruised through the three-day Coast championships hosted by the Bulldogs. The CSM women’s team crushed its competition to win the conference crown, top individual honors went to Miya Oto (outstanding female swimmer) and Carlos Sanchez (outstanding male swimmer), and the Bulldogs claimed gold medals in a combined 12 men’s and women’s events.
“Five events in a row I was doing the medal walk and I hadn’t seen that before,” said CSM coach Randy Wright, who Friday presented his swimmers with gold medals in the women’s 50-yard butterfly (Shelbi Campbell), 100 fly (Masa Oto), 200 freestyle (Miya Oto), 200 free (Alex Navarro) and 50 breaststroke (Kellsey Mercado).
CSM qualified four relays on the women’s side and three from the men for the state championships, which begin Thursday at East Los Angeles College.
“On the guys side, this is by far the most competitive year I’ve seen in my 10 years,” Wright said. “A lot of good talent, a lot of international talent. It should be exciting.”
CSM sophomore Masa Oto cracked 51 seconds in the men’s 100 fly (50.98) for the first time to win gold Friday, while freshman sister Miya Oto swam personal bests in the 50 free Thursday, 200 free Friday and 100 free Saturday.
“You have to love those Otos,” I told the parents, even so more than any other kids I’ve coached, it’s their will to win. If they hit a wall, they’ll crash and keep going.”
Sanchez took silver in the 400 individual medley and went the distance by winning gold in the 500 free and mile.
“I think he lapped the field,” Wright said of Sanchez’s swim in the 1,650 free. “And in that event it would be great if you could swim with someone so you could feed off each other.”
Miya Oto, on the other hand, prefers to sprint to the finish. And her season comes to an end this week.
“She’s going to be one to watch,” Wright said. “This is the last chapter of the book, and I usually I know how the ending is going to be. But this time I don’t know. With her, the sky is the limit.”