It might not have been noticed all that much, because even the best of athletics at College of the Desert can get overlooked. But something happened Monday that hadn't happened in 28 years.
The College of the Desert Roadrunners men's golf team did not win its conference title.
For 27 consecutive years, the Roadrunners had won their conference title. And that's not just one conference, mind you. Conferences change, schools come and go and schools get moved into new alignments. And through it all, the Roadrunners would find themselves on top of their conferences year and year, advancing to Southern California regional play, often advancing to the state championship and six different times in school history winning that state title.
Nothing in sports lasts for 27 years. The greatest of dynasties are fortunate to last five or six years. A coaching career that lasts 10 years is considered Hall of Fame worthy. Consider that a sophomore on the first of those COD championship teams in 1987 is now closer to 50 years old than 40 years old.
And yet the Roadrunners rolled on under their successful coach Tony Manzoni, who also happens to run the school's golf management program. That program, by the way, has been a kind of ace in the hole for COD, since players from literally around the world come to COD to earn certificates and AA degrees in golf management. As long as they are here they might as well be playing a little golf for the Roadrunners, too.
Then came Monday. With still an outside chance to catch Palomar and win the conference title for a 28th straight year, the Roadrunners instead lost both ends of a 36-hole conference match, finishing second each time to Palomar. And the streak, perhaps a streak that will never be matched in the community college ranks again, was over.
It should be pointed out that COD ran in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference this year. COD never finished worse than second in a conference match, and in a few events beat Palomar. But in the end Palomar produced the more consistent and better golf through the year and deserved to win the title.
And COD is still alive for a possible state title, a longshot this year but still a possibility. By finishing second in the PCAC, the Roadrunners still advance to the Southern California regional on Monday. Only the top two teams in that regional will move on to the state tournament, but COD is at least in the regional, another example of how the team was hardly a disappointment this year.
So the next time you hear about your favorite team winning a conference title or making the playoffs for the second or third year in a row, stop for a second and think about College of the Desert and its men's golf program and what it has accomplished over the last three decades. Compared to the Roadrunners, few other team can come close to COD's brilliance and consistency.