Jason Craighead has a million-dollar view and a grand aquatic vision as he stands poolside at the new Aquatic Center at Las Positas College in Livermore.
The opportunity he possesses isn't lost on Craighead, the coach of Las Positas' first men's and women's swimming and diving teams.
The Aquatic Center has a pool house, 13-lane competition pool and six-lane instructional pool. Off in the distance are picturesque rolling green hills.
"It's a breath of fresh air coming to a new facility. Where I was before, the pool was older than myself, and I'm 34," Craighead said of his time at Sacramento City College.
Craighead, a Santa Rosa native, expects the Hawks to enter the spring season as a middle-of-the pack program, not bad for their maiden voyage.
The long-term goal is to be a perennial threat for Coast Conference championships and a top-5 placer at the state meet.
"Those are realistic goals considering the talent we have in the area and the economic climate as well," Craighead said, believing that the rising cost of education at state and University of California schools will drive talent to the junior college ranks.
The first home meet is fast-approaching, as Las Positas will host the Northern California Relay Invitational on Feb. 5.
The Hawks have 26 swimmers -- 13 men and 13 women -- and all but one have two years of athletic eligibility. The men's team boasts Trevor Lundeen, a Dougherty Valley graduate, and the women's squad features Jillian Chapman (Liberty).
Craighead was a seven-time All-American swimmer and all-conference water polo player at Santa Rosa Junior College before he transferred to UC Santa Barbara. He has coached at Sacramento City, Sierra College, American River, Santa Barbara City and Santa Rosa JC.
Craighead's assistant coach, Loren Pearson, is an assistant coach with Tri-Valley Aquatics Swimming. Monte Young, the respected head coach of All Valley Divers, and Logan Champion are heading the Las Positas diving program.
HALL OF FAME: Granada High wrestling coach Clark Conover was among the 44 inducted into the Chabot College Hall of Fame on Saturday night in Union City.
A state community college individual champion, Conover was thrilled to see the only wrestling coaches in Gladiators history at the event, fellow inductee Zack Papachristos, current coach Steve Siroy and Bob Thompson. Also attending was Rich Swift, a longtime wrestling enthusiast, as well as a former Newark Memorial High coach, Chabot assistant and Chabot competitor.
Two other former Chabot wrestlers were inducted, Saul Nava and Samuel Sotelo.
"It means a lot," Conover said of the honor. "My time at Chabot helped me develop as wrestler and as a person. I hold a lot of fond memories of my experience there."
Among the bigger names inducted were 2010 World Series champion San Francisco Giants outfielder Nate Schierholtz and Buffalo Bills wideout Steve "Stevie" Johnson.
ON THE MOVE: Diablo Valley College's men's basketball team (16-4, 5-1 Big 8 Conference) vaulted eight spots to No. 5 in the JCscores.com state rankings this week after the Vikings' 66-55 win over visiting Sacramento City on Friday. Freshman guard Brian Goins (Mt. Diablo) led the Vikings with 25 points as they moved into sole possession of first place in the Big 8 Conference.
Las Positas' men's team (13-8) improved from unranked to 13th in the state rankings, while Ohlone (12-8) dropped from seventh to 17th.
QUICK KICKS: Cal State East Bay swimmer Murphy Wimer set a school record in the 200 individual medley in a winning time of 2 minutes, 12.04 seconds at the Chapman Invitational on Saturday. The old record was held by Julie Radecke, with a time of 2:13.67 in 1988. The Pioneers women finished in third place with 294 points. Azusa Pacific recorded 706 points to win the four-team invitational.
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