Inside the state home run record

El Capitan High's Chris Walston recently broke the single season state home run record. But the way the balls have been flying out of the parks recently his total may not last long.

Home run records on the high school level aren't quite exactly the same as for colleges or the pros. Who's to say, for example, that the 10 home runs Barry Bonds hit as a senior in 1982 when he was at Serra High of San Mateo were even more impressive than the 20 banged out four years ago by Chris Martinez from Chaminade of West Hills?

Barry, after all, played for a school in the famed West Catholic Athletic League where the pitching is generally, shall we say, vastly superior to 90 percent of the pitching in any other league in the United States. There also aren't many bandbox fields in the WCAL and the wind conditions on the San Francisco Peninsula can get tricky. A 10-homer season against competition like that and in conditions like that is impressive to say the least.

Still, on one level, a home run is a home run and until two weeks ago no one in California high school history had hit 21 in a single season. The new record holder is Chris Walston from El Capitan High of Lakeside. Walston broke the previous record of 20 first set by Martinez and tied in 1999 by Alberto Concepcion of El Segundo.

Walston, an imposing 6-6, 235-pounder, put his girth into two home runs on May 7 during a victory over West Hills of Santee. He ripped the record-breaker in a loss to Grossmont of La Mesa on May 10.

The state home run mark was elevated to 17 in 1986 by Brian Johnson from Skyline of Oakland and the record stood for 12 years, hard to believe the way players have been pounding them out in the last four years. Just last year, Danny Putnam from Rancho Bernardo of San Diego threatened the 20-mark before settling on 19. The same season in which Concepcion tied the record also featured 18 from Chula Vista Eastlake's Marco Gonzalez. Two years ago, in 2000, the total of 18 also was reached by Mike Stodolka from Centennial of Corona and Ismael Salas of San Diego Marian Catholic.

Walston began his career with two varsity seasons at nearby Christian of El Cajon. He hit 10 homers last year for El Capitan and his career total heading into this week was reported at 40.

"More than half the home runs he's hit have traveled well over 400 feet," El Capitan coach Steve Vickery told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "What makes him such a genuine home run hitter is that using wood (in practice) doesn't diminish he power whatsoever. He puts on a show out there every day."

Since El Capitan qualified for the section playoffs, Walston's home run count could rise even higher, although no additional round-trippers had been reported heading into the Memorial Day weekend.

Walston's career total of 40 also is close to the most recently reported career total for current Pacific Grove senior Trevor Howell. Howell didn't hit any homers in Pacific Grove's CIF Central Coast Section Div. III semifinal game earlier this week, but the team won so he had one more game to play. Howell's career total stood at 43 with 18 of those bombs coming this season. Howell has been eyeing the state career mark of 46 set last year by Ismael Salas.

Also with 16 season homers currently is junior sensation Delmon Young of Camarillo. Young belted his 16th of the season earlier this week to give Camarillo a 3-2 win in eight innings over Eisenhower of Rialto in the CIFSS Div. I playoffs. John Peabody from Rancho Bernardo and Trey Ursich from Mary Star of San Pedro had 14 and 13 for the season, respectively, at last report. Ursich also was reported with 31 homers for his career. Like Young, Peabody and Ursich are just juniors.

Yep, the slugging in California doesn't stop.

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