Priscilla Zerbini is one of the lucky ones.

With Diablo Valley College shutting down its track and field team after this season, she plans to enroll at Chabot College for her sophomore year. "I have family in Union City," said the freshman shot putter and discus thrower from Antioch.

But on the day DVC hosted the Big 8 Conference Championships — the school's final home meet after a half-century of competition — freshman distance runner Cynthia Aguilera wasn't sure what's next for her.

"I don't know yet," the Brentwood native said. "I like it here."

Men's and women's track and field, tennis and cross country are victims of budget cuts and won't return to DVC next season.

"Where am I going to go? What do I do?" asked freshman Wyatt Landrum, a Brentwood resident who finished third Friday in the 1,500-meter run. When he first heard about the cuts, he recalls thinking, "Gimme a break. It's just to save football."

"They're taking a lot away from people," Zerbini added. "I think they should take away football. It takes a lot more money than track, and they have a football team at Los Medanos."

Neither Los Medanos nor Contra Costa — the other two junior colleges in the county — has a track program.

Ed Miller, who grew up in Pleasant Hill and has served as an assistant track coach at Cal the past 27 seasons, said the loss of the program at DVC means there is one less option for student-athletes after high school. He speaks from experience.


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Miller acknowledges he was an unmotivated student in high school. DVC gave him a chance to grow up, and he went on to win the 1976 NCAA decathlon title at Cal.

"It was a saving grace for me," he said. "That place has so much to offer for everyone. It's kind of a nucleus for the area for kids who really don't know what to do with their life yet. That's how it changed me. It allowed me to go to Cal."

Longtime Bay Area coach Bob McGuire worries the sport may never return to DVC. But he also believes it's simply a victim of numbers.

"If you had 60 or 70 kids out there, they'd think twice before cutting it," said McGuire, who coached 21 seasons at Pleasant Hill High and 15 at Cal State Hayward. "They don't care if they're climbing a flagpole or running around a track. It's basically, 'How many people do we service?' "

DVC athletic director Christine Worsley agreed that was the primary criteria used when cuts were made.

"We wanted to affect the least number of student-athletes," she said. "The past five years, participation has decreased significantly."

The track program has about 40 athletes this season.

Worsley stressed there also have been curriculum and student services cuts at DVC.

"This is a very sad day," she said, "but it's sad across our campus."

Track coach Daniel Cruz and tennis coach Peter Benko have filed grievances with the Contra Costa Community College School District and the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, claiming Title IX violations.

"It's pretty disheartening," Cruz said. "I'm hoping there can be "... some cooperation on this and we can come up with some means of making all the teams survive."