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Tuesday, October 5, 1999

Swimmers set to open season Thursday

PECOS, Oct. 5, 1999 -- The 1999-2000 swimming season opens on Thursday for the Pecos Eagles, and while the start will be a lot like recent years, the Eagles will have more to shoot for at the finish than anytime since the program started 16 years ago.

That's because for the first time ever, Pecos and other Class 4A and below schools will have their own division to compete in at both the regional and state meets in January and February. Previously, all schools from Class A through 5A competed together at regionals, with the larger schools dominating the state finalists. Pecos' boys have won eight of the last 10 District 4 titles and the girls have won district seven of the past nine years, but only one Eagle swimmer has ever made it past regionals to Austin.

This year, the Eagles are in the re-designated District 3-4A, and coach Terri Morse said, "The boys are seeded seventh in the state, based on where we stood last year."

She also said the regional divisions should help Pecos come February, when the regional meet is held in Lubbock, since most of the other top Class 4A squads are in Region II or III.

There's also a Class 4A district in El Paso for the first time, and Morse said the Eagles would compete in that division in the Border Invitational on Dec. 2, the first time Pecos has traveled out to El Paso for a meet. Some Pecos swimmers may also head to Austin the following week for the TISCA Invitational. "It depends on if they qualify," she added.

The season opens at home on Thursday with a dual meet against Monahans and Fort Stockton at 6 p.m., the first of two home meets this season for Pecos. They'll host the Pecos Invitational on Nov. 12-13 after trips to Andrews and Big Spring, while their other pre-Christmas meets are in Monahans and Seminole.

The Eagles will have two meets after the holidays, in Fort Stockton and Lubbock, and will then head back to both those sites for District 3-4A and Region I-4A competition on Jan. 28-29 and Feb 11-12.

"Our numbers are up this year. We've got quite a few out," Morse said, though not all will be competing in Thursday's opener.

"Eight girls and 12 boys will be swimming," she said. Overall, Morse expects to have about 20 boys swimming, with a few less on the girls' side. "Once I get all the girls out, we'll be able to have two (relays) in every event."

Eagles open home stand with San Eli

PECOS, Oct. 5, 1999 -- After playing one home game in six weeks, the Pecos Eagles volleyball team begins a stretch of three home games in eight days tonight, when they host the San Elizario Eagles at the Pecos High School gym.

Pecos will face San Elizario about 6:45 p.m., following the freshman and junior varsity contests at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. It marks the halfway point in the District 2-4A schedule for San Elizario, but not for the Eagles, after their Sept. 25 game at El Paso Mountain View was canceled due to a lack of referees.

The Eagles lost their district home opener last week to Clint, but have won their two road contests, at Fabens and Canutillo. Pecos beat Canutillo on Saturday by 15-4, 15-3 scores to improve to 2-1 in district, and 13-9 on the season. San Elizario, meanwhile is 2-2, having also beaten Fabens and Canutillo while losing to Clint and Mountain View.

Although the Eagles had one of their easiest matches of the year on Saturday, coach Becky Granado said the team still looked flat in the victory. "We're not motivated right now. That's the most frustrating thing," she said. "I don't know what it is. When the girls got back home Saturday night, you would think they would have wanted to go out, but they all said they were just going home and going to sleep.

“I don’t know if we’re working them too hard in practice,” the Eagles’ coach added. “Hopefully this weekend when they’ll have Friday night off and then Saturday and Sunday, maybe 2½ days of rest will help.”

The Eagles will face Fabens about 3 p.m. on Friday at the Pecos High School gym, in a game moved up from Saturday due to SAT testing. Pecos then hosts Mountain View a week from tonight.

Rangers have better shot at Yanks this year

AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK, Oct. 5, 1999 — The Texas Rangers didn't do anything in the playoffs against last year's New York Yankees, who could legitimately claim to be the best team ever.

Now Texas gets a shot against a Yankees team that was simply the best in the American League.

"I think the main thing is they're human this year," said Rangers manager Johnny Oates, whose team opens its division series against the Yankees tonight. "Last year, that was not only a team of the decade, it was the team of the century."

That team won an AL-record 114 games in the regular season, swept Texas in the first round of the playoffs, beat Cleveland in the AL championship series and swept San Diego in the World Series.

The only time they were even threatened came against the Indians, when New York fell behind 2-1 before winning the final three games. Orlando Hernandez, this year's Game 1 starter, won the pivotal fourth game in that series.

"The Yankees had a sense of invincibility last year," Todd Zeile said. "They were the best team in the history of the game. They are still a good club, but we are confident playing against them."

The Rangers lacked confidence last year against New York. More importantly, they lacked offense.

They brought one of the best offenses in the game to the playoffs.

Overall, New York has won six straight playoff games against Texas since losing the opener of their series in 1996.

"We know they will be ready for us," New York's David Cone said. "Their whole goal this season has been to beat us. Now they get the chance. And we are ready for it."

The Yankees won 27 of 35 meetings between the two teams before dropping three of the last five this year. To advance beyond the first round for the first time in club history, the Rangers need to win three of the next five as well.

"It's important for us not to get caught up in the past few series or the last three or four years," Oates said. "We're trying to talk about our guys focusing on the opportunity as opposed to the obstacle. Sometimes you start looking at the obstacle and it becomes too big to overcome."

The biggest obstacle for the Rangers will be the Yankees' starting pitching, which held Texas down last year. Manager Joe Torre will send out Hernandez (17-9, 4.12 ERA) in Game 1, followed by Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and, if necessary, Cone.

That quartet has 13 postseason wins — 13 more than Texas starters Aaron Sele (18-9, 4.79), Rick Helling and Esteban Loaiza.

"We've all pitched big games, we all have experience," Cone said. "We feel good about our overall depth of pitching. That has been the hallmark of our teams, and it has to be again if we want to move on."

Shutting down the Texas offense won't be as easy this season. The addition of Rafael Palmeiro (.324, 47 HR, 148 RBIs) has added balance and depth to the lineup, which was second in the AL in runs scored this year.

They had four players with at least 100 RBIs, six with at least 20 homers, and led the league with a .293 average.

"It's really made that ballclub a lot more potent," Torre said. "I didn't think they needed that, but they certainly have added to their offensive output with him."

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