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vol. 5. issue 81 Sac-Joaquin

march 2014


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Olympics have shown us that 34 The the best athletes have the best

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mental preparation.

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Bradshaw Christian doesn’t let a small-school label keep it from playing with the big boys.

Take a sneak peek at available camps starting on page 40

NorCal girls hoops tourney 14 The had a surprise shake up and is

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wide open.

pitch: It’s almost time for 6 First the state basketball tournaments and the Open Divisions will again command the spotlight. But that’s not always a good thing for NorCal programs as many potential state title teams have their chances diminished.

BREAKDOWN: Exclusive 10 STATE boys & girls state hoops rankings

If you have a tough 12 Clipboard: question to ask your coach, be forthright and see what happens.

of the week: 7 Sportstar Tori Torres, River City

on the cover: Bryant Stone, Bradshaw Christian. Photo by James K. Leash

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STATEPUNISHMENT Current CIF Open Division seems to do more harm than good to NorCal basketball

I

’m trying. I am. Nearly a year ago, at the conclusion of the CIF State Basketball Championships, I wrote in this space that I may have been a little too harsh on the new Open Division — a new state championship bracket created to pit the top 8 teams from the North and South, regardless of enrollment division. Despite the pre-tournament issues of confusing criteria and head-scratching selections, the Open games themselves certainly delivered. Part of the charm of the first year of the Open Division, though, was the trickle-down effect on the other divisions. Teams like Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove in Div. I and College Park-Pleasant Hill in Div. II both had a chance to play for state titles. Had some of the higher-end programs which were bumped to Open remained in Div. I and Div. II, that may not have been the case. Pleasant Grove won its state final. But they were the only NorCal boys team to do so. Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland was the only NorCal girls team to win, taking the Open Div. title. And as I look at the potential Open fields for this coming March, I’m concerned there may be more of the same on the horizon. While the Open Division will most often succeed in creating a state final of the best each end of the state has to offer, it will simultaneously be eliminating four or five legitimate state championship hopefuls along the way. SoCal’s depth of talent and sheer number of schools can withstand this whittling process and still produce extremely competitive programs in the other divisions. NorCal doesn’t have that same depth. At least with the CIF Football Open Division, only one of NorCal’s best teams is being eliminated. This March there will be at least three girls teams which would be legitimate state title contenders in their own division, but will all but likely be called on for the Open. Those are Carondelet-Concord in Div. II, Miramonte-Orinda in Div. III and Salesian-Richmond in Div. IV. Only one, or if an upset occurred, possibly none would even reach the Open final. Check out Clay Kallam’s look ahead to the girls NorCal tournament on Page 14 to get a better idea of what sort of craziness is in store. The boys side presents an opposite scenario. Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland is the clear cut favorite to win the Open Division, having already beat other Open candidates like Capital Christian-Sacramento by 26 points in January. With the gap so obviously large between O’Dowd and the rest of the field, is it really necessary to send 6 or 7 more teams into the field and potentially eliminate their shot at making a deep run in their own division? Somehow, when this two-year pilot program ends after this year, it would be interesting to see how the CIF may tweak things, if at all. Perhaps an answer would be narrowing the NorCal bracket to four teams and keeping SoCal at eight? Or Campolindo-Moraga boys coach Matt Watson offered up a solution I hadn’t heard yet but found rather intriguing. “Take the top eight teams, and somehow let them back in (to their own NorCal division),” Watson said. “Somehow, someway you let them back in once they’re eliminated. Maybe that means you don’t compete for your own section, and you have to compete on the road in NorCals. ... I think plenty of teams would take that chance.” That would take some creative thinking on CIF’s part to make work, but it would deliver the best of both worlds. If nothing materializes, so be it, but I know I’m not the only one hoping the CIF at least looks at ideas like this one before ordering more of the current system. ✪

join our team PHONE 925.566.8500 FAX 925.566.8507 Editorial Editor@SportStarsOnline.com Editor Chace Bryson • Chace@SportStarsOnline.com Staff Writers Jim McCue Contributors Bill Kolb, Mitch Stephens, Matt Smith, Clay Kallam, Ben Enos, Dave Kiefer, Liz Elliott, Tim Rudd, Trevor Horn Copy Editor Bill Kruissink Photography Bob Larson, Jonathan Hawthorne, James K. Leash, Norbert von der Groeben, Phillip Walton, Doug Guler, Dean Coppola, Berry Ivans, III Marketing/Events Intern Ryan Arter Creative Department Art@SportStarsOnline.com Production Manager Mike DeCicco • MikeD@ SportStarsOnline.com Publisher/President Mike Calamusa • Mike@SportStarsOnline.com Advertising Sales@SportStarsOnline.com, 925.566.8500 Account Executives Leslie Ellis • Leslie@SportStarsOnline.com Camps & Clinics: Ryan ArterCamps@SportStarsOnline.com Alameda County: Bobby Pope • BobbyTPope@yahoo.com Reader Resources/Administration Subscription, Calendar, Credit Services Angela Paradise • Info@SportStarsOnline.com Distribution/Delivery Phillip Walton • Mags@SportStarsOnline.com Information technology John Bonilla CFO Sharon Calamusa • Sharon@SportStarsOnline.com community SportStars™ Magazine A division of Caliente! Communications, LLC 5356 Clayton Rd., Ste. 222 • Concord, CA 94521 • info@SportStarsOnline.com www.SportStarsOnline.com

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your ticket to california sports admit one; rain or shine This Vol. #5, March 2014 Whole No. 81 is published by Caliente! Communications, LLC, 5356 Clayton Rd, Ste. 222, Concord, CA 94521. SportStars™© 2010 by Caliente! Communications, LLC. All rights reserved. Subscription rates: 24 issues, U.S. 3rd class $42 (allow 3 weeks for delivery). 1st class $55. To receive sample issues, please send $3 to cover postage. Back issues are $4 each. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission of Publisher is strictly prohibited. The staff and management, including Board of Directors, of SportStars™© does not advocate or encourage the use of any product or service advertised herein for illegal purposes. Editorial contributions, photos and letters to the editor are welcome and should be addressed to the Editor. All material should be typed, double-spaced on disk or email and will be handled with reasonable care. For materials return, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope. SportStars™© and STARS!™© Clinics are registered trademarks of Caliente! Communications, LLC.

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Tori

Got Send your nominations to: Next? Editor@SportStarsOnline.com or tweet us using #SSOTW

Torres River City-West Sacramento - Basketball - Senior ›› Torres has been on a roll during the Raiders’ regular-season stretch run, averaging 18.3 points per game, while scoring in double digits in each of the team’s last 10 games. In a 71-37 victory over Union Mine, she scored 22 points and added four rebounds, four assists and five steals. Torres followed that with 14 points and seven steals in a 48-25 win over El Dorado to cap a perfect Sierra Valley Conference slate at 12-0. For the season, she averaged 11.8 points, 4.4 steals, 3.1 assists, and 2.9 rebounds per game. River City (23-4) earned the No. 8 seed in the Sac Joaquin Section Division I playoffs. ›› IN HER OWN WORDS: “Having been on varsity since my freshman year, this is the first time that there is not another season to look to with my teammates when the season is done. Being a senior has helped me to realize that there is more to basketball than just playing the games.” ›› WHAT YOU DIDN’T KNOW: She is “really into art” and is considering pursuing art as an interest in college and possibly a career. Torres prefers drawing. Her most recent work was a drawing of cliffs rising above an ocean beach. 

honorable mention Connor Drake: The Del OroLoomis senior center delivered a 27-point effort in the team’s 78-75 road win at Woodcreek-Roseville on Feb. 14.

Kira McKechnie: The 6-foot junior helped the Christian BrothersSacramento basketball team capture an undefeated league title by averaging 11.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

Ruben Escalante: The InderkumSacramento senior won the first Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title in school history, pinning River Valley’s Trevor Welsh in the 126 pound final.

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Rapid Fire

Kayla Taylor Clayton Valley Charter Basketball

Tori Torres River City Basketball

If you worked in movies, you would .... Lead actress

Soundtrack Director

have you ever voted for an American idol No Yes. Once name of your first pet

Trending What’s hot this week in the world of stuff that’s hot American Idol released their top 13. For all the latest American Idol news and SportStars exclusive pick for the winner, please visit 2002. On Feb. 21, Walter Ehlers, the last Medal of Honor recipient who fought on D-Day, died. He was 92. You wanna talk heroes? Talk about Ehlers. Google him.

Adovo (rabbit)

Max (dog)

have you ever found a real four-leaf clover No, but I always look for them.

No

Cheesesteak or cheesecake Cheesesteak

Cheesecake

When you’re hungry, you’re hungry. In Iowa, a man was fired because he used a forklift to get a candy bar from a machine that was malfunctioning. The surprising part was that it wasn’t a man from Florida. The Olympics. Sochi. Russia. Putin. All the good jokes have been taken so we’ll just say how awesome it is to have our lives momentarily taken over by women’s hockey. Only the Olympics. Bless their hearts. Jimmy Fallon debuted as host of the Tonight Show and brought the show back to its roots, broadcasting from New York City. He also brought it back to its roots by making it entertaining and dare we say it …. funny? Facebook bought What’sApp for $19 billion. Jimmy Kimmel fooled us all with another fake viral video. Tales that made us hate Justin Beiber even more cluttered our newsfeeds. So all in all the internet was pretty normal recently.

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Carrie Underwood Upload photos and team stats! www.SportStarsOnline.com


88

count 'em

Top 5 completely uninformed oscar predictions Nevermind the Winter Olympiad or the stretch run toward March

Madness. Let us speak of weightier things. The 86th annual Academy

Awards happen on Sunday night. That’s right, the Oscars. Culture writ large. The grandest spectacle of Western cinematographic might.

Plus Ellen. Bonus. Anyway. We have seen exactly NONE of these movies. Which, of course, makes us the perfect scribes to predict the outcomes of the major awards. Sports-guy style.

1. BEST PICTURE: American Hustle. We obviously can’t go

with Dallas Buyers Club, because that sounds a little too much like Jerry Jones in the free agency period. And we just can’t

see Bo Pellini turning the Cornhuskers around in time to make

Combined number of wins of the varsity basketball and soccer teams this winter at Monte Vista-Danville. The Mustangs are in the midst of one of the most dominant winter seasons ever by an East Bay school. Both the boys and girls basketball teams are the No. 1 seeds in the North Coast Section Div. I playoffs beginning Feb. 25. The top-seeded girls soccer team plays in the NCS Div. I semifinals on Feb. 26, as does the No. 2-seeded boys. The four teams’ combined record as of Feb. 24 was 88-3-8.

Monte Vista’s Spencer Rust.

Nebraska happen. So we’re going with Hustle, because it’s the

Phillip Walton photo

only thing that’s keeping Eric Sogard in the major Leagues, and we love that guy. Nerd Power!

2. BEST ACTOR: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave. Isn’t

that the guy who used to play running back for the Chiefs?

Say What?

Nightmare. No way an ancient Bruce Dern, a fat Christian Bale,

or a pretty-boy Leo DiCaprio figure out a way to bring this bruiser down.

Streep, Blanchett & Dench a law firm? Enough with them

already. And, wait ... is Sandra Bullock really nominated for

anything other than a Razzie? How did this happen? Adams by default.

4. BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jonah Hill, The Wolf of

Wall Street. Why? Because he’s fat again, and he shoulda won for Moneyball.

5. BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers

Club. Have you seen the trailers? Dude looks good in some pumps.

— Bill (and Ebert) Kolb

D. Long/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com

3. BEST ACTRESS: Amy Adams, American Hustle. Isn’t

“They’re really like a group of brothers. They fight and bicker, and they all go out and get something to eat together.” Campolindo-Moraga boys basketball coach Matt Watson on the chemistry of his roster both on and off the floor. Read more about the Cougars in the most recent SportStars Digital Weekly edition at SportStarsOnline.com.

amy adams

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forfeits & the state record book

The Pillar Of Petaluma

When the Petaluma High girls basketball team concludes its current season, head coach Doug Johnson will hang up his whistle after 36 seasons. While writing this column, we don’t know when that will be, but we do know that at that point Johnson will be the winningest coach in Northern California history. He entered Petaluma’s game on Friday, Feb. 21 with 677 wins in his career, which is 15 more than the total Menlo-Atherton’s Pam Wimberly retired with in 2012. Johnson, who is 74, has been quietly successful at Petaluma in a career that spans 44 years, and not just in girls basketball. In addition to leading the Trojans’ girls for 36 years, he recently gave up his head coaching duties of the boys and girls cross country teams after 33 years and will still be coaching boys and girls track after stopping girls basketball. He’ll be in his 34th year as head track coach this spring. Counting all of Johnson’s varsity wins in those sports (including dual meets for cross country and track), we think he’d have an all-time total between 1,300 and 1,400. We don’t think that’s a state record because there are two we know of that are well above 1,400 and that would be Brent Bolender (Johansen-Modesto) for boys-girls swimming and boys-girls water polo, and Larry Rogers, the legendary Bellarmine-San Jose water polo/swim coach for many years. Other than Johnson and Wimberly, the only other girls basketball coaches in Northern California history with 600 or more varsity wins (as of Feb. 21) are Brian Harrigan, who is currently at St. Francis-Mountain View but got most of his wins at Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco, and Bill Baxter, who retired after the 2011 season at El Camino-Sacramento. Harrigan, in fact, may pass Johnson as NorCal’s winningest girls coach next season, and that’s ironic because the biggest win of Johnson’s career came in 2000 when his Petaluma girls topped Harrigan’s Sacred Heart Cathedral girls for the CIF Division III Northern California title. Petaluma then lost in the state final the next week to Bishop Montgomery-Torrance. Johnson hasn’t coached all these years for recognition — that’s obvious, the great ones never do — but he does deserve a lot of it for doing so much for so long for the young people of his community. ✪ Mark Tennis is the co-founder of Cal-Hi Sports, and publisher of CalHiSports. com. Cal-Hi Sports is the authority in state rankings for football, basketball, baseball and softball. Contact him at markjtennis@ gmail.com.

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We’ll find out on March 12 if the St. Mary’s-Stockton girls basketball team will be taking a forfeit loss for not playing McNair-Stockton in a TriCity Athletic League game that was supposed to have been completed on Thursday, Feb. 13. The two teams had played earlier in the season and McNair showed quite a bit of strength in pushing the Rams in a 71-66 loss. That game was at St. Mary’s and the rematch was set at McNair. Even close league games against St. Mary’s raise a lot of eyebrows, and before that Thursday the Rams had broken the state record for longest league win streak. After a win on Feb. 11 against Stagg-Stockton, the streak was at 186 games since a loss to Tracy in the 1995-96 season. Accounts vary depending on who one talks to about what happened in the stands during a freshman game which led St. Mary’s head coach Tom Gonsalves to take his teams from the gym claiming he felt they were threatened. McNair head coach Anthony Matthews felt security was more than adequate and said his school’s students and fans were deprived of a chance to perhaps make some history. At issue on March 12, at a meeting of league principals, is whether McNair will receive a forfeit win in the aftermath of the situation or if the game simply will go down as a cancellation. However, if it’s a forfeit win, the league win streak by St. Mary’s will not end in the state record book. This is because Cal-Hi Sports founder Nelson Tennis set up the record book in the early 1970s to only count on-the-field or on-thecourt results. Sure, many people believe forfeits should be counted in record books because there are schools, coaches and players who have proven to be cheaters over the years. We can see that point of view, but there are more than 20,000 listings in the Cal-Hi Sports record book and it would take a monumental amount of time to go through all of them and correct forfeits. We’ll stick to the way Nelson always wanted it. ✪

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girls basketball Rankings boys basketball Rankings 1. (1)

Previous ranking in parentheses; through Feb. 22 —

Mater Dei-Santa Ana

24-1

1. (1) — Mater Dei-Santa Ana 28-0 Monarchs needed OT to win first CIF Southern Section Open Division game.

23-2

2. (2) — Etiwanda 26-3 USC-bound Jordan McLaughlin recently scored 30 points in one half.

Long Beach Poly

20-2

3. (3) — Centennial-Corona 25-2 Team will need to declare if it wants to be in the SoCal Open Div. playoffs.

St. Mary’s-Stockton

21-4

4. (4) — Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland Dragons’ best win so far is probably the one over Bishop Gorman-Las Vegas.

24-5

5. (5) — Loyola-Los Angeles 25-2 Academic issue caused Arizona-bound PG Parker JacksonCartwright to leave school.

23-4

6. (7) ▲ Redondo Union-Redondo Beach 23-4 Strong odds that defending Div. II state champs will be in Open Div. this year.

Monarchs could have boys-girls national title and boys-girls national player of year. 2. (2)

Windward-L.A.

UCLA-bound Jordin Canada was atop most recent Ms. Basketball State tracker. 3. (3)

Jackrabbits, Windward and Mater Dei all seem like locks for SoCal Open Div. 4. (4)

Pride beat arch-rivals from St. Mary’s-Berkeley by 17 to win league playoff title. 5. (5)

Salesian-Richmond

Heading into February, Mariya Moore is probably your NorCal Player of the Year. 6. (6)

Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland

Season may be over after a DQ from section playoffs; elite state ranking not affected. 7. (7)

St. Mary’s-Berkeley

22-7

A healthy Gabby Green would give Panthers a shot in NCS Div. IV final vs. Salesian. —

Carondelet-Concord

23-3

Sierra Canyon-Chatsworth

23-3

10. (10) —

Etiwanda

19-5

11. (11) —

Miramonte-Orinda

25-1

12. (12) —

Serra-Gardena

23-3

8. (8)

Cougars steamrolled more than decent East Bay Athletic League schedule. 9. (9)

Kennedy Burke of the Trailblazers may be top soph. in the state.

Oregon-bound McKynzie Fort is one of the state’s top point guards. Bishop O’Dowd’s DQ makes Matadors clear favorites in NCS Div. III. Cavs dropped from the Top 10 after a late-season league loss to Bishop Montgomery. 13. (13) —

Camarillo

The best Southern Section team that did not get picked for CIFSS’ first Open Div. 14. (14) —

Previous ranking in parentheses; through Feb. 22

Chaminade-West Hills

24-3

22-3

Eagles ended up with sweep over Bishop Alemany-Mission Hills to win league title.

22-4

7. (8) ▲ Chino Hills 24-4 LiAngelo Ball may be state’s top frosh; older brother Lonzo is perhaps state’s top soph. 8. (11) ▲ J.W. North-Riverside 25-0 Forfeit loss makes team officially 24-1 entering CIFSS Open Div. game on Feb. 28. 9. (9) — Capital Christian-Sacramento 24-3 Cougars probably won’t get tested until first round of NorCal Open Div. 10. (10) — Westchester-Los Angeles 26-5 El Camino Real looks like only real threat to Comets in L.A. City Section playoffs. 11. (12) ▲ Monte Vista-Danville 25-1 Win over San Ramon Valley-Danville in regular season finale avenged only loss. 12. (6) ▼ Sierra Canyon-Chatsworth 25-3 Trailblazers dropped CIFSS Open Division opener to J.W. North. 13. (13) — Bishop Montgomery-Torrance 22-5 Knights lost in their first CIFSS Open Division outing to Chino Hills. 14. (14) — Long Beach Poly 21-7 Moore League champs not chosen for first CIFSS Open Division.

24-3

Emily Anderson and Portia Neale concluding outstanding careers

15. (15) — Compton 22-6 Moore League runner-up was chosen for CIFSS Open Div.; then lost to Redondo.

16. (16) —

Bishop Alemany-Mission Hills

21-7

16. (19) ▲ Folsom 25-2 Winning at Jesuit to close perfect league seasob says a lot..

17. (17) —

Bishop’s School-La Jolla

24-5

17. (NR) ▲ Mayfair-Lakewood 23-5 Monsoons were surprise entry into CIFSS Open Division; then beat Chaminade.

Canyon Springs-Moreno Valley

19-5

18. (18) — St. Augustine-San Diego San Diego State-bound Trey Kell has been outstanding.

19. (NR) ▲ Cosumnes Oaks-Elk Grove 26-1 Forfeits make official record 11-16 entering playoffs, but on-thefloor win streak is at 25.

15. (15) —

Clovis West-Fresno

for Golden Eagles.

All losses by defending D3 state champs were to top-ranked foes. Sisters Imani and Destiny Littleton are both averaging over 20 points/game.

18. (20) ▲

Coach Gail Hail’s team beat previous No. 19 team in first-round of CIFSS Open Div. 19. (NR) ▲

Hanford

22-2

20. (18) ▼

Enterprise-Redding

24-2

Bullpups actually have a head-to-head win over Clovis West.

26-2

Early-season win over Mitty-San Jose not looking as good as it

20. (20) — Cathedral-Los Angeles 22-4 CIFSS Open Div. loss was to Etiwanda and team beat Cantwell Sacred Heart twice.

Dropped Out: No. 19 Troy-Fullerton.

Dropped Out: No. 16 Chaminade-West HIlls and No. 17 Serra-Gardena.

once was.

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Giving Good Will A Try

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I ran cross country in the fall and played JV basketball. Now I want to run track but I’m really, really tired (and a little behind on my schoolwork). But I’m afraid to ask the track coach for some time off – she’s pretty scary. What can I say that will get me a week to catch up and recover? B.B., Petaluma   his is a tough one, because there are a lot of competing factors involved. A primary factor, from the coach’s point of view, is commitment. She wants everyone to learn the importance of living up to commitments and the relationship between effort and success. From that perspective, her insistence that you come to practice immediately makes sense. After all, there are a bunch of other athletes who played winter sports who are there, and letting someone take time off just doesn’t seem fair. But on the other hand, two of the most important parts of high school team success are enthusiasm and health. If a coach can create a situation where her players are excited and want to put in the work, then practices will be good, games (or meets) will bring out the best in the athletes and the odds of having a good experience go way up. But enthusiasm means nothing in terms of team success if a significant percentage of the team members are sitting on the sideline watching. In almost every sport, the teams that live up to or exceed their potential are those that have

T

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avoided injury. (And almost every disappointing season can be linked, in part, to injuries or illness.) Another aspect here is that you’ve shown your dedication to the program by participating in two sports and wanting to get involved in a third. You are a valuable contributor to your school, and as such, deserve some kind of consideration. Finally, there’s something I’ve mentioned here before: The Bank of Good Will. For me, each player has an account in the Bank of Good Will, and if she’s come to every practice, worked hard and been willing to do what the team needs, she has a large positive balance. So let’s say her grandmother comes to town for the first time in 10 years and she wants a day off to go with her to San Francisco. With that bulging account in the Bank of Good Will, it’s easy for me to say yes; if her balance was low, however, then the answer probably would be no. So maybe you approach your coach like this: “I understand you want commitment, but I’ve shown my commitment to the school’s athletics this year, and I’d really like to take a week off to rest and catch up on my schoolwork. In return, I promise to be at every practice, work hard and be the best teammate I can be when I come back.” In other words, you’re taking a loan on your account in the Bank of Good Will that you are promising to pay back, with interest if necessary. Now I’m not saying this will work, but it’s worth a try — and if you approach the coach respectfully and lay out your reasons logically, you may just find you get that week off you so desperately need. ✪ Clay Kallam is an assistant athletic director and girls varsity basketball coach at Bentley High in Lafayette. To submit a question for Behind the Clipboard, email him at clayk@fullcourt.com

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Megan Reid, Miramonte All records through Feb. 22, according to MaxPreps 1. (1) — St. Mary’s-Stockton 21-5 2. (2) — Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland 23-4 3. (3) — Salesian-Richmond 24-5 4. (5) ▲ Carondelet-Concord 23-3 5. (7) ▲ Miramonte-Orinda 25-1   6. (4) ▼ St. Mary’s-Berkeley 22-7 7. (11) ▲ Sacred Heart Cathedral-S.F. 19-6 8. (8) — Pinewood-Los Altos Hills 24-2 9. (9) — Enterprise-Redding 24-2 10. (10) — St. Ignatius-S.F. 22-4 11. (12) ▲ Vanden-Fairfield 21-5 12. (13) ▲ Brookside Christian-Stockton 23-4 13. (14) ▲ Napa 25-1 14. (15) ▲ McNair-Stockton 24-3 15. (16) ▲ Nevada Union-Grass Valley 22-4 16. (17) ▲ Monte Vista-Danville 23-3 17. (18) ▲ Berkeley 19-7 18. (6) ▼ McClatchy-Sacramento 23-3 19. (20) ▲ Deer Valley-Antioch 21-5 20. (NR) ▲ Sacramento 19-8 DROPPED OUT: No. 19 Santa Rosa BIGGEST MOVERS: McClatchy took a one-two punch from Florin-Sacramento and Sacramento and dropped 12 spots — and if not for an earlier 54-29 whipping of Sacramento, a case could be made that McClatchy should have gone to No. 20 rather than No. 18. Sacred Heart Cathedral took the rubber match against St. Ignatius to jump four spots, and even though Pinewood and St. Ignatius both got beat, they hung on to their rankings — Pinewood because even though Eastside Prep-East Palo Alto won Saturday night, Pinewood had won twice before; and St. Ignatius lost to now No. 7 SHC, and owns a win over Vanden. And just because O’Dowd didn’t take the time to count its games, on the court, the Dragons are still of worthy No. 2. TEAMS STILL RANKED FROM PRESEASON top 20: 12

WIDE OPEN With defending CIF Open state champ Bishop O’Dowd disqualified, the super-competitive NorCal girls hoops playoff picture gets clearer — or does it?

W

Aisia Robertson and state-ranked Bishop O’DowdOakland were banned from the playoffs for exceeding the maximum number of games. Jonathan Hawthorne/file

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By clay kallam | Contributor

hat seemed to be so difficult now looks so easy. Before Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland lost track of the number of games it played, it looked like the Northern California section commissioners were going to have a very difficult meeting when it came time to select eight teams for the Open Division. One big reason is the rule that each section can only send four teams into the NorCal Regionals, and the North Coast Section had five powerhouse teams that all seemed to belong in that top bracket. Bishop O’Dowd still belongs, of course, but can’t play because, according to a school press release, failed to list one of its allotted 28 contests as a scrimmage rather than a game. That gave the Dragons 27 games, one over the limit (teams are allowed 26 games and two scrimmages), and thus the North Coast Section barred them from postseason play. (The school’s explanation, however, does not fully address the violation, as NCS rules specifically state that game scores should not be kept in scrimmages, and 27 game scores are listed on O’Dowd’s MaxPreps site.) Now, Miramonte-Orinda is a heavy favorite to win the NCS Division III title, just as Carondelet is the clear frontrunner in Division II. The winner of the Division IV playoff, either Salesian or St. Mary’s-Berkeley, will be the third of the four possible representative. Barring upsets, that leaves just one spot. Prior to the recent St. Mary’s slump, it was assumed both Div. IV teams would move up, but now, it doesn’t look as certain. If, for example, St. Mary’s-Berkeley loses to Salesian again, by a large margin, and star Gabby Green is out for the year — no official announcement has been made regarding a re-aggravation of a shoulder injury which kept her out of the last three regular season games — it’s possible that the NCS Div. I winner (Berkeley, Deer Valley-Antioch or Monte Vista-Danville, say) could also be called on to advance. Assuming, though, that NCS does get four of the eight available berths one way or another, the question then becomes how to fill out the rest of the field. Central Coast Section has its own Open Division, and logic would suggest that the two teams that play for the CCS Open title should both move on to the NorCal Open, but there is a kicker: Teams must meet certain criteria to qualify for Upload photos and team stats! www.SportStarsOnline.com


the Open, and if one of the two finalists doesn’t qualify (as happened last year) then only one team will likely move on. Most probably, however, San Francisco schools St. Ignatius and Sacred Heart Cathedral would be expected to play in the finals. However, looking past Div. V powers Pinewood-Los Altos Hills or Eastside College Prep-Palo Alto or Div. IV Scotts Valley or Div. I Wilcox-Santa Clara could lead to an upset. And speaking of Div. V, last year Brookside Christian-Stockton was bumped up to the Open by the Sac-Joaquin Section, and not surprisingly was quickly eliminated. Still, Brookside Christian is loaded with talent (perhaps six future Division I players) and could join St. Mary’s-Stockton (barring disaster) in the top bracket. Then again, Sacramento could wind up there too, as the magnet school just upset McClatchy-Sacramento and could easily win the Div. II title (SJS does not have an Open Division). That would make eight (four NCS, two CCS, two SJS) — but don’t forget Enterprise-Redding, one of the best teams to come out of the Northern Section this century, and a school that crystallizes a lot of issues surrounding the Open. Realistically, Enterprise is not quite at the level of the Salesians, Carondelets and Miramontes, though its 24-2 record is very impressive. In fact, Enterprise might not even be the NorCal Div. III favorite if

O’Dowd and Miramonte are not playing, though certainly it would be a great opportunity for a Northern Section school to win a NorCal title and have a shot at a state championship. So one issue is whether any of those factors should be taken into account. If Enterprise is judged to be one of the top eight teams in Northern California, should it automatically be pulled into the Open? Or should its opportunity to win a California crown be part of the equation? Of course, the same could be said of Miramonte — which has never won a state title — and several other potential Open teams, so the decisions made when the NorCal section commissioners meet in March are far from cut and dried. And, as mentioned, there’s more going on than just the Open Division. Berkeley, Deer Valley, Monte Vista and Wilcox are all contenders for the NorCal Division I crown, and all have players to watch: Desire Finnie (Berkeley), Lily Wissinger (Monte Vista), Maranne Johnson (Deer Valley) and Joeseta Fatuesi (Wilcox). Archbishop Mitty-San Jose is certainly capable of making a run at the CCS Open title, but is more likely to wind up in NorCal Division II, conceivably with McNair-Stockton or Sacramento if one or both doesn’t wind up with an Open Division berth. In Division III, Enterprise looks good as long as St. Ignatius or Sacred Heart Cathedral stay in the Open

Monte Vista-Danville’s Lily Wissinger will be a player to watch this postseason. Phillip Walton photo

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Connor Peterson, Archbishop Mitty All records through Feb. 22, according to MaxPreps

1. (1)

— Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland

22-4

3. (3)

— St. Mary’s-Stockton

26-1

2. (2) 4. (4) 5. (6) 6. (5) 7. (8)

8. (10)

— Capital Christian-Sacramento — Monte Vista-Danville ▲ ▼ ▲ ▲

9. (13)

11. (8)

10. (15) ▲ 12. (12)

13. (9)

— ▼

14. (18) ▲ 15. (19) ▲ 16. (NR) ▲ 17. (16) ▼ 18. (17) ▼ 19. (11) ▼ 20. (NR) ▲

Folsom

El Cerrito

Newark Memorial

San Ramon Valley-Danville Modesto Christian

Archbishop Mitty-San Jose Sacramento

23-3 25-1 25-2 25-3 19-7 22-4 19-8 22-5 22-5

Cosumnes Oaks-Elk Grove

11-16*

Campolindo-Moraga

20-6

Jesuit-Carmichael

St. Joseph Notre Dame-Alameda Sacred Heart Cathedral-S.F. Serra-San Mateo

De La Salle-Concord St. Ignatius-S.F.

Moreau Catholic-Hayward

*—Forfeited 15 wins due to ineligible player

24-3 23-5

17-10 19-7 19-7 19-6 20-6

DROPPED OUT: No. 14 Archbishop Riordan-S.F. and No. 20 Del Oro-Loomis BIGGEST MOVERS: Archbishop Mitty, which had been on a gradual slide during February, jumped five spots back into the Top 10 after an impressive run through the West Catholic Athletic League playoffs. The Monarchs won the title with a 61-56 win over Sacred Heart Cathedral-S.F.. Sacred Heart moved up five spots too, re-entering the rankings at No. 16 after falling out a week prior. The Fighting Irish knocked off No. 14 Archbishop Riordan and No. 16 Serra-San Mateo en route to facing Mitty in the final. Former No. 20 Del Oro-Loomis (26-1) didn’t lose a game last week, but still dropped out of the rankings because Moreau Catholic’s early-season win over now-No. 5 Folsom was better than any victory owned by the Golden Eagles. TEAMS STILL RANKED FROM PRESEASON TOP 20: 16

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Kat Tudor and St. Mary’s-Stockton seem to be certain locks for the Open Division barring any major upsets in the Sac-Joaquin Section tournament. Jonathan Hawthorne photo — though if O’Dowd manages to convince the CIF that its penalty for violating North Coast Section rules should only impact North Coast Section playoffs, then it’s possible Miramonte could wind up back down in Division III. In Division IV, if St. Mary’s-Berkeley and Salesian both move up to Open, then Scotts Valley and Piedmont will mix it up with Cardinal Newman and Moreau Catholic, though really, this is a wide open race without the two powers. If Gabby Green is out, St. Mary’s could easily drop to Div. IV, and would then become the heavy favorite to win NorCals. In Division V, look for Pinewood and Eastside College Prep to renew their rivalry, and if Brookside Christian stays

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down it’s a three-team race. Also, don’t underestimate Valley Christian-Dublin. But by the time you read this, things could have changed again. Bishop O’Dowd could be back in CIF’s good graces, and in the Open Division, and Gabby Green could be healthy and St. Mary’s-Berkeley could be rolling over everyone. Regardless, it’s going to be a very interesting postseason for girls basketball, as Northern California may have its best overall collection of talent ever. That should not only make the Open Division big fun, but the trickle-down effect on the other divisions will create more than a little excitement in those brackets as well. ✪ Upload photos and team stats! www.SportStarsOnline.com


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Bradshaw Christian’s Big Four (from L to R): Seth Vandergrift, Bryant Stone, Zach Rogers and Grant Heisinger. Support Your Local Business • Say You Found Them In SportStars™

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Story by Jim McCue • Photos by James K. Leash

Don’t call Bradshaw Christian a small-school baseball power. The two-time Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI champion Pride wants to lose the “small-school” tag and be viewed instead as just a regional baseball power. “We are D-6 in school size only,” senior shortstop Grant Heisinger said. “Over the years, the talk has been about how Bradshaw Christian was a good D-6 program, but we just want to be considered a good program regardless of the division.” Heisinger, a top hitter in the section who came to the small private school from Pleasant Grove High before his sophomore year, is a big reason Bradshaw Christian is a clear favorite to repeat as section champions. But he is far from alone when it comes to legitimate talent on the team.

The Pride is loaded with seven returning starters, including several players with multiple section championships in the program. Heisinger, who batted .530 last year and has 94 hits in two seasons at Bradshaw Christian, is just one of many seniors on the roster who has accepted the responsibility of elevating the program to new heights while establishing a winning tradition for younger players to carry forward. “We have a pretty big senior class, and we know that one of our biggest responsibilities is to show the younger guys how we work and what we do each day, so that they will do what we do,” he said. Heisinger is an admitted quiet leader, so fellow seniors Seth Vandegrift and Bryant Stone handle the vocal side of passing on knowledge and tradition. The pair, both four-year starters, has seen the program grow under the direction of head coach Drew Rickert and assistant coach Greg Vaughn during their time on campus. “The program has grown because of the successes that we had,” Vandegrift said. “Back when I was a freshman, we had one or two really good players like Brady Dragmire who got some attention for the program. Then we got more players because people heard about us when we started winning.” The Pride has won continually, appearing in four consecutive section finals. It won the Div. VII title in 2010 and Div. VI championships in 2011 and 2013. Despite the victories, though, Bradshaw Christian was still often overlooked due to the school’s small size. That changed some last year when the Pride beat eventual Div. I champion Elk Grove 5-1 in late April under the lights at Sacramento City College. The win boosted the program’s status as well as the team’s confidence moving toward the postseason. “The kids were excited, and I think that it validated the program,” Rickert said of the victory over the traditional powerhouse. “I think it opened some eyes to the fact that we have some quality players. “People might have said ‘they are a good team’ and not just ‘a good small-school team’ after that win.” Rickert and Vaughn knew that they would have to play bigger schools to earn the respect they desired for the program, and their players embraced any and all opportunities to prove themselves through the years. Bradshaw Christian got its first shot at the big time in 2011 when the team hosted regional power Jesuit, losing just 10-8. It has faced larger schools including Placer-Auburn, KennedySacramento, and Monterey Trail-Elk Grove with success in the past few seasons. “We knew that we had the players to beat good teams, but never got the opportunity,” Stone said of facing Elk Grove last season. “When we finally got our shot, we played solid baseball and proved that we could compete and win.”

Coach Drew Rickert

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That trend continues when the Pride travels to Southern California in April to play in the Anaheim Lions Tournament for the second consecutive season as preparation for the postseason. Bradshaw Christian went 0-5 in the tournament a year ago, accounting for all but one of the team’s losses. Improvement down south is a goal for the team to show the improvement the players want as a program, considering that the Pride is seldom challenged in Sierra Delta League play. “We want to be more competitive in Southern California at the Lions Tournament and when we get the opportunity to play Jesuit and Franklin (of Elk Grove),” Vandegrift said. “Those games are great for us as a team because it teaches us to compete against anybody.” Rickert is anxious to see just how good this year’s team can be. Despite the loss of ace Austin Ragsdale, who combined with classmates Blake Stassi and Bradley Maybee to record 18 of the team’s 23 victories and log nearly 75 percent of the innings pitched, the coach believes the Pride can exceed last year’s success. “I think that our strength will be our defense and hitting,” Rickert said. “We don’t have overpowering pitchers, so we have to rely on good defense behind them. We preach to throw strikes and let them put the ball in play.” Junior Grant Dragmire could emerge as Bradshaw Christian’s ace this season, but the pitching staff will rely on depth while the rotation is established. Heisinger was 5-0 on the mound with a 1.35 ERA as a sophomore before throwing just four innings as a junior. He will see more time as a pitcher, and Dragmire, Stone, and senior Justin Sobcoviak will see action as well.

Pitching may be less of a concern due to the roster’s ability to hit for average and power. Vaughn, a Kennedy graduate who hit 355 home runs over a 15-year Major League career, tutors the players at the plate. His professional experience and knowledge has produced some gaudy hitting numbers for Bradshaw Christian. Heisinger and Stone both hit above .500 as juniors, and Vandegrift provides the power in the Pride lineup. He belted a team-high six home runs last year while batting .471 with 41 hits, 38 RBI and a .873 slugging percentage. Vandegrift also has a nifty glove at third base to give Bradshaw Christian a solid fielding and hitting left side of the infield while paired with Heisinger at shortstop. Senior Zach Rogers and freshman Alex Crouch round out the sound infield, but Rickert points to his outfield as his greatest defensive asset. “I think that our outfield is one of the best in the area,” Rickert said. “They are all very athletic, cover a lot of ground and catch everything.” The trio of outfielders is anchored by Stone in center while senior Kyle Betts will flank him in left and Dragmire will play in right when not pitching. With so much talent, it is no surprise that Bradshaw Christian is emerging as a power while still playing with something to prove on the field. “We have come so far as a program,” Stone said. “Now, I think that we go into every game expecting to win and knowing that we can. “More than league and section titles, I think that we have a goal of trying to show that we can play with big D-1 programs like Jesuit and Elk Grove.” ✪

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INFIELDERS

MICHAEL MAJESKI

P.J. FLOYD ■ SCHOOL: Whitney-Rocklin ■ YEAR: Senior ■ SCOUTING REPORT: The second baseman helped the Wildcats advance to the Division III semifinal series with a .455 batting average and .542 on-base percentage. He had 46 hits, scored 44 runs, and stole 17 bases in 19 attempts.

GRANT HEISINGER

■ SCHOOL: Bradshaw Christian-Sacramento ■ YEAR: Senior ■ SCOUTING REPORT: He followed up an amazing sophomore campaign with a solid junior season that featured 19 multi-hit games to finish with a .530 average, 33 runs and 34 RBI. His 44 hits, including 22 extra-base hits, were key to the Pride winning the Div. VI section championship.

HANK LoFORTE

■ SCHOOL: Franklin-Elk Grove ■ YEAR: Junior ■ SCOUTING REPORT: A starter at shortstop since his freshman year, LoForte was clutch in the field and at the plate for the Wildcats, who advanced to the Div. I North final after winning the title the previous season. He batted .398 with 26 runs scored from his leadoff slot.

DEVEN PETTENGILL

■ SCHOOL: Yuba City ■ YEAR: Senior ■ SCOUTING REPORT: Pettengill led the Div. III champion Honkers with 46 hits and 24 stolen bases. He batted .447 and scored 34 runs while posting a .536 on-base percentage.

NICO TONI

■ SCHOOL: Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove ■ YEAR: Senior ■ SCOUTING REPORT: He handled one of the best pitching staffs in the section from behind the plate and added plenty of offense as well. Toni batted .355 while scoring 33 runs and driving in 18.

outfielders DEREK HILL

■ SCHOOL: Elk Grove ■ YEAR: Senior ■ SCOUTING REPORT: Hill is a five-tool player whose stock has been rising at showcases like the Area Code Games. In 2013, he thrived batting behind Rowdy Tellez to the tune of a .417 batting average, 27 runs and 27 RBI. He also posted a .509 on-base percentage and stole nine bases.

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■ SCHOOL: Vista del Lago-Folsom ■ YEAR: Senior ■ SCOUTING REPORT: As a junior, he was a force on the mound and at the plate. Majeski helped the Eagles advance to the Div. IV semifinal series with a .400 batting average, 32 runs and 30 RBI.

MATT SMITH

■ SCHOOL: El Dorado ■ YEAR: Junior ■ SCOUTING REPORT: Smith is looking to build off an outstanding sophomore season in which he batted .523 with 46 hits, including10 doubles. He led the Cougars to a Div. IV playoff berth with a .590 on-base percentage, .715 slugging percentage, and a perfect 11 steals in as many attempts.

pitchers BRYCE DYrdA

■ SCHOOL: Oakdale ■ YEAR: Senior ■ SCOUTING REPORT: The right-hander posted an 11-2 record with a miniscule 1.07 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 65.1 innings pitched. Dyrda tossed a no-hitter during the regular season and was 2-0 with 12 strikeouts in the postseason, including four consecutive Ks to close out the Mustangs’ Div. IV championship win.

The UCLA-commit struck out 63 in 55.1 innings pitched and also batted .413 with 20 RBI.

utility MATTHEW HUSS

■ SCHOOL: Argonaut-Jackson ■ YEAR: Senior ■ SCOUTING REPORT: The fireballer struck out a section-best 143 batters in 72.2 innings pitched while posting an 8-3 mark to go along with 3 saves and a 1.64 ERA. At the plate, he batted .412 with 14 extra-base hits and 39 RBI to lead the Mustangs.

JAKE SOLA

■ SCHOOL: Lincoln ■ YEAR: Senior ■ SCOUTING REPORT: Sola was huge in the Fighting Zebras’ run to the Div. III semifinal series. The 1B/P batted .475 with 37 RBI. Twenty of his 47 hits went for extra bases, including three home runs. On the mound, the right-hander was 8-3 with a 3.34 ERA and tossed four complete games. ✪

TYLER SCHIMPF

■ SCHOOL: Capital Christian-Sacramento ■ YEAR: Senior ■ SCOUTING REPORT: At 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, the Texasbound Schimpf is about as imposing as they come on the hill. And his stats reflect that. He was 4-0 with a 1.05 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 20 innings of work last season. He had two complete games and hitters hit just .100 off of him.

Hank LoForte, Franklin-Elk Grove

MATT STAFFORD

■ SCHOOL: Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove ■ YEAR: Senior ■ SCOUTING REPORT: The crafty pitcher has great stuff and excellent control. He posted a 7-1 record with a 2.74 ERA and walked just five batters in 46 innings pitched. Stafford tossed a pair of complete-game victories during the regular season and won his lone playoff start last year.

MATT TRASK

■ SCHOOL: Davis ■ YEAR: Senior ■ SCOUTING REPORT: The Delta Valley Conference Player of the Year led the Blue Devils to a league title with his 7-2 record and 2.54 ERA.

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new look

same expecations

Derek Hill, Kaitlin Pires are dynamic for Elk Grove Section Championships

Baseball: 1981 (Division II), 1990, 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2013 Softball: 2004, 2010

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Spring in the air has always been a good sign at Elk Grove High School. The Thundering Herd can boast a combined nine Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championships in baseball (7) and softball (2) with playoff appearances a given for the past 12-plus years. It’s a tradition few other schools have enjoyed during the spring, and one that softball coach Jeff Alexander credits to the Thundering Herd players. “Coaching is like being a cabinet maker,” said Alexander, who is entering his 12th season at the helm. “If you are given good wood to work with, then you can make a quality cabinet. “We have been fortunate to have some real gifted athletes come through the program at Elk Grove to make me look like a pretty good coach.” The same can be said for the baseball team and 14-year coach Jeff Carlson. But, while most observers believe the Thundering Herd will again be a title contender in both sports, the teams will be taking on a different look than they did a year ago. Alexander’s squad lost just four players to graduation, but the Herd will be fielding a patchwork lineup to start the season as a pair of key starters work their way back from injuries. Senior catcher Morgan Evangelista will miss the first month with an injured knee while junior shortstop Morgan Lamb is not expected to play until mid-April after surgery to repair a ligament in her thumb. “We are beat up early,” Alexander said. “The replacements have done well and girls have moved around on defense to fill the spots, but we need them to stay healthy, especially at catcher.” Sophomore Jazmine Moreno is assuming the duties behind the plate and senior Kaitlin Pires, has shifted from second base to shortstop in the absence of Lamb. Despite the injuries and lineup shuffling, the goal remains contending for a section title. “We are always aiming for Wednesday night,” Alexander said in reference to the section championships held mid-week each year at the Sacramento Softball Complex. “We love competing on that final night and being a part of that.” The baseball team looks forward to the weekend. Last year’s team enjoyed a Saturday rout of St. Mary’s-Stockton to cap a twogame sweep of the Division I championship series for the program’s first title since 2007. Four-year starters Dom Nunez and Rowdy Tellez led a potent offensive attack to capture the championship before both were drafted and signed to professional contracts. Their offense and the steady pitching of graduated seniors David Smith and Micheal Wright will be missed this year, but the losses create opportunity for a new group of leaders to emerge. The early spotlight is expected to shine on senior outfielder Derek Hill and junior infielder Nick Madrigal. Hill, a five-tool player whose stock has risen with standout performances at various baseball showcases in the offseason, is ready to assume a leadership role and keep the Herd on track for another deep playoff run. “I definitely see myself as a leader, but I am not a guy enforcing rules,” he said. “I like keeping the guys loose and leading by example. I have to lead by showing guys that we can never take a play off.” Hill understands that the team’s path to the playoffs will have a much different look in 2014. “We don’t have the big power and pitching like last year, but we are a very close team,” he said. “I think that we will succeed more with fundamentals and by playing aggressively to produce runs. “We all know that we need to keep up the tradition. It’s not something that we talk about much, but it is always in the back of our minds.” ✪ — Jim McCue, Contributor

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1. St. Francis-Mountain View (29-4 in 2012-13)

The defending Central Coast Section Division I champions will begin the 2014 campaign right where they finished 2013 — atop of our NorCal Top 20. Even though the Lancers graduated 13 from their championship roster, including San Jose Mercury News Player of the Year Michael Strem, there’s still plenty of talent returning to the fold. It starts with left-handed ace John Gavin and his battery mate Tim Susnara, right. Gavin is committed to Cal State Fullerton after going 11-1 with a 1.28 ERA in 2013, and Susnara is ticketed for Oregon after batting .310 and driving in 27 runs a year ago. Complementing Gavin on the hill will be Arizona State-bound righthander Richard Boe, and senior infielder Tyler Deason returns after hitting .315 with 14 RBI last season. Corner infielder Blake Billinger will be another senior to keep an eye on.

2. Elk Grove (29-5)

Rowdy Tellez may be gone and now part of the Toronto Blue Jays organization, but the Thundering Herd will still have the most-feared hitter in the Sac-Joaquin Section in senior Derek Hill (.417, 27 runs, 35 hits, 27 RBI a year ago). Elk Grove also returns the junior infield tandem of Nick Madrigal and Carlos Mosely. Ty Madrigal and Chris Martin, who combined to go 9-0 in 17 appearances (five starts) last season, will hold down pitching duties.

3. Campolindo-Moraga (22-6-1) There isn’t a more consistent program in the East Bay than Campolindo, evidenced by the Cougars four consecutive North Coast Section Div. III titles. Their run to the 2013 banner may have been the most impressive yet as they closed the season with 17 straight wins and didn’t surrender a single postseason run. Cal-bound lefthander Matt Ladrech will be the feature arm. Denis Karas (also a Cal-commit) and Cody Kiriaze will be linchpins on defense and in the batting order.

4. De La Salle-Concord (19-8)

The NCS Div. I runner-up returns big hitters in Ben Polshuk and Chris Williams, as well as young Area Code-arm Justin Hooper.

5. Davis (22-8)

UCLA-bound Matt Trask anchors one of the deepest lineups in the SJS, and leads the pitching staff too (7-2, 1.52 ERA in 2013).

St. Francis Baseball

6. Valley Christian-S.j. (18-12)

The Warriors are primed for a big season after graduating just seven. Senior SS Bryson Brigman and junior RHP Theron Kay lead the way.

7. Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove (24-9) The Eagles have an embarrassment of pitching riches with starters Matt Stafford, Dalton Gomez and Brett Elgin.

8. Clayton Valley CharterConcord (22-5)

The Uglies have plenty of offensive firepower to support the arm of ace Austin Cannedy.

9. San Benito-Hollister (23-7)

CCS Div. I semifinalists have experience everywhere after graduating just five.

10. College Park-P. Hill (20-6-1) Joe DeMers and Trevor Larnach lead a special junior class that should eventually hoist a title banner. 11. Jesuit-Carmichael (21-8)

16. Amador Valley-Plsntn (18-10)

12. Bellarmine-San Jose (25-7) 17. Serra-San Mateo (27-7) 13. Woodcreek-Rsvlle (20-7)

18. Oak Ridge-El Drdo Hills (19-9)

14. St. Mary’s-Stockton (20-15)

19. California-San Ramon (19-8)

15. Bishop O’Dowd-Oak. (17-10) 20. Capital Christian-Sac. (25-5-1)

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1. Amador Valley-Pleasanton (22-3) in 2012-13

In softball, it almost always boils down to who has the best pitcher. And the Dons may have the best in the state. The UCLA-bound Johanna Grauer, right, returns for her senior season along with nearly the same supporting cast she‘s had the last four years. She was one of five freshman to start in the 2011 North Coast Section final, which Amador Valley won for what so far has been Grauer’s only NCS title. She lost the final 2-1 in 2012 despite striking out 17. Last year, after a regular season in which she posted a 0.09 ERA with 274 strikeouts in 152 innings, Grauer injured her ankle days before the postseason. The Dons were victims of a quarterfinal upset without her in the circle. With just one senior graduated from that group, Amador Valley entered 2014 ranked No. 7 in the nation (No. 3 in CA) in the StudenSports.com Preseason Fab 50.

2. Archbishop Mitty-San Jose (27-1) Just like Amador Valley, the Monarchs enter 2014 starving to right a wrong. Mitty was 27-0 before it inexplicably stumbled in its playoff-opener. The team returns nearly intact, having graduated just four from last year’s roster. The Monarchs are led by Cal-bound All-American Jazmyn Jackson, a five-tool shortstop who hit .542, scored 44 runs, had 52 hits (22 for extra bases, including eight HRs), stole 16 bags and had 29 RBI. The lineup also boasts a quartet of juniors — Danielle Bowers, Haley Wymbs, Desiree Severance and Madeleine Kim — who combined for 96 RBI in 2013. Severance returns to the circle where she was 22-1 with a 1.28 ERA.

3. Vintage-Napa (34-1)

While we know it’s a wine-related mascot name, it’s more than appropriate that a team featuring Baylee Robben calls itself the Crushers. The junior leads the defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champions after hitting .438 with 57 RBI a year ago. Of her 53 hits, 23 went for extra bases. The team will also return its ace, junior Emily Oestreich. She was an unbeaten 33-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 299 strikeouts as a sophomore.

4. California-San Ramon (21-5)

Grizzlies, who return pitcher Lindsey Chalmers (13 SOs in 2013), were one of two teams to beat Johanna Grauer last year.

5. Alhambra (23-3-1)

Senior Kylee Perez (.618, 46 runs, 51 RBI and 12 HR in 2013) and junior Nicole Curry (.474, 31 runs, 44 RBI, 12 HR) are the scariest 1-2 punch in the NCS.

Jonathan Hawthorne

6. Sierra-Manteca (25-2)

As long as senior Allie Walljasper (0.47 ERA, 12 shutouts, 227 strikeouts) is healthy and in the circle, the Timberwolves are good to go.

7. Concord (22-4)

Key offensive weapons and pitcher Kelly Drake return for a program that’s won three NCS Div. II titles in four years.

8. Christian BrothersSacramento (20-11-1)

Haley Snyder (0.53 ERA, 304 strikeouts, 30 walks in 171 innings) in the circle makes the Falcons a major SJS Div. II threat.

9. Carlmont-Belmont (25-4)

Two-way threat Rebecca Faulkner (.435, 7 HR and 21-3, 0.84 ERA) leads talented, experienced roster.

10. James Logan-Union City (26-1) Defending two-time NCS Div. I champs return plenty of offense, but must replace a four-year starting pitcher. 11. Terra Linda-Sn Rfl (23-5)

16. Casa Roble-Orngvle (24-5)

12. Rocklin (26-5)

17. San Benito-Hollister (25-3)

13. Pleasant Grove-E.G. (22-11) 18. Tracy (25-6) 14. Leland-San Jose (26-3)

19. Sheldon-Sac. (14-13)

15. Elk Grove (24-9)

20. Pioneer-Woodland (24-6)

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Pleasant Grove’s Celina Matthias delivers a pitch during the Sac-Joaquin Section Div. I championship series on May 22. The Eagles lost the series to Vintage-Napa, which ended a streak of seven straight Div. I titles for the Elk Grove Unified School District. 26

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For close to a decade, the SJS Division I softball title has gone through the schools of Elk Grove Unified — expect more of the same

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By trevor horn | Contributor

aybe it IS something in the water. Elk Grove High softball coach Jeff Alexander joked that the water is the reason the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship has been a second home to four different programs within the Elk Grove Unified School District in recent years. In seven of the last eight seasons, either Franklin-Elk Grove, Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove, Sheldon-Sacramento or Alexander’s Elk Grove team have walked away champions in the section’s big-school division. Even more astonishing in that eight-year span is that the four teams have comprised 13 of the 16 finalists. Oh, and five times since 2006 two of the four schools faced each other for neighborhood and section bragging rights. But why? “When you think about the last eight years, it’s amazing that you take a five-mile radius around Elk Grove High School, and there is just a ton of talent,” Elk Grove coach Jeff Alexander said. In his 12th season as coach for the Thundering Herd, Alexander has seen plenty of great players come through. Joleen and Danielle Henderson led Sheldon to a consecutive Div. I titles before both starring at Cal. Pleasant Grove was led by Ally Carda and Alyssa Tiumalu to capture the 2009 championship. Both are now teammates at UCLA, currently the ninth-ranked team in the NCAA. And before heading to Arizona, Chelsea Suitos led Alexander’s 2010 squad at Elk Grove to the title. St. Francis-Sacramento coach Al LaGuidice feels the strength is in

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numbers. “Elk Grove has development,” LaGuidice said. “Their neighborhoods are growing, people are having children and the kids are playing ball. I think it just makes for the numbers to have so many kids to choose from. And that’s the strength in their programs.” If the city of Elk Grove wants to reclaim the title of “Softball Town” in the section after Vintage-Napa beat Pleasant Grove last season, depth will be the key for each team this season. Elk Grove was hit with the injury bug in the offseason.  Morgan Lamb, who batted .419 as a sophomore last year, may not play this season, according to Alexander. Morgan Evangalista is also slowed by injury to start this season, but Alexander says his team is deep at every position. “We’ve always tried to be two-deep so that if someone goes down, we don’t miss a beat,” Alexander said. While most dominant teams rely on the arm of one standout in the circle like Christian Brothers-Sacramento and Haley Snyder, Elk Grove will platoon three hurlers this spring. Seniors Emily Bruecker and Kimberly Wilburn along with sophomore Courtney Riley, whom Alexander calls the ‘heir to the throne” will be the big-three pitchers. Once Evangalista returns, she will complement the lineup that includes senior Kaitlin Pires (.442 average in 2013) and junior Amber Wright (.534). This is actually the most veteran-filled Herd roster in several years, as it’s the first time in Alexander’s tenure in which he does not have a freshman on the team.

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Elk Grove’s Kaitlin Pires

Sheldon’s Mary Jo Truesdale “I’m actually really excited,” Pires said. “I know we have a lot of talent. I have big hopes for us to make it far in sections this year.” Sheldon sits five miles north of Elk Grove High, just outside of Elk Grove’s city limits. Under coach Mary Jo Truesdale, the Huskies have five Div. I titles, the second most in section history. All five have come in the last 12 seasons, including back-to-back titles in 2007-08 and 2011-12. The Huskies had a decade-long streak of 20-plus win seasons snapped after Sheldon finished 14-13 and were ousted by West-Tracy in the first round of the playoffs last spring. “I feel that we learned a lot from last season,” Sheldon senior Zamari Hinton said. “I feel that the way we ended last year made us more aggressive this year.” 28

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The Sacramento State-bound Hinton hit .458 last season. Along with fellow senior Anessa Kaylor, headed to San Jose State, the two should lead Sheldon back into the fold as a contender for another section title run. “I think we’ve got really good potential this year,” Truesdale said. “Everybody is coming back and we are a lot stronger than we were last year.” Pitcher Brooke Coyne will not return this season after posting a 2.33 ERA last year. But Truesdale said freshman Taliyah Miles will “help us out tremendously” in the circle. The most talented Elk Grove team may be the one that advanced to the Div. I championships last season. Pleasant Grove graduated just four seniors from last year’s squad, including Eastern Kentucky outfielder Amber Murray. The Eagles handed Vintage its only loss of the season earlier in the championship tournament, but lost consecutive games to the Crushers in the finals. The consistency of returning talent could put the Eagles right back in the driver’s seat in the ultra-tough Delta River League, and for a possible run at the program’s first title since 2009. Delaware State-commit Vanessa Washington is about as powerful as any hitter in the section. The senior hit 10 home runs last season while batting .391 and racking up 31 RBI.

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Along with fellow senior Marissa Maligad (Sacramento State commit) and junior Autumn Miller (.491 average last year), Pleasant Grove is a deep, talented team. Pleasant Grove and Sheldon will battle with St. Francis and Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills for the DRL title this season. Elk Grove is once again the favorite to finish atop the Delta Valley Conference. All three will play each other at least once this season, and will give fans plenty of times in March to see each program play other top area teams. Sheldon has non-league games against Del CampoFair Oaks, Christian Brothers and Pioneer-Woodland. Elk Grove will go against Woodcreek-Roseville and UC Riverside-bound Jenna Curtan, as well as 2013 Div. II champion Casa Roble-Orangevale which boasts Washington-commit Krystal Aubert. Pleasant Grove will play Rocklin, Christian Brothers and Davis.  In and out of their neighborhood, all three teams will have strong competition leading to the playoffs in May. For Truesdale, there is no other way to find out how good you are until you play other top programs.  “I think it’s going to be tough,” Truesdale said. “I think that competition in the area pushes you to be better.” ✪ Upload photos and team stats! www.SportStarsOnline.com


INFIELDERS KRYSTAL AUBERT

■ SCHOOL: Casa Roble - Orangevale ■ YEAR: Senior  ■ SCOUTING REPORT: Aubert will finish out her stellar prep career as the top player on her team after former, and future teammate at Washington, Ali Aguilar graduated. In three seasons, Aubert has hit .487 with 82 RBI and 16 home runs. 

ASHLEIGH HUGHES

■ SCHOOL: Antelope ■ YEAR: Senior  ■ SCOUTING REPORT: The Arizona-commit is eager to start the season. After injuries kept Hughes out to start the previous two seasons, the career .534 hitter is primed for a huge season. 

Elk Grove with a .525 batting average. With Wright in the lineup, the Herd shouldn’t miss a beat as a Div. I contender under coach Jeff Alexander. 

DANIKA BAILEY

■ SCHOOL: St. Francis-Sacramento ■ YEAR: Junior  ■ SCOUTING REPORT: Bailey batted .525 as a sophomore and will be a leader for a Troubadours team looking to bounce back after falling in the first round of the playoffs last spring.

pitchers EMILY OESTREICH

BAYLEE ROBBEN

■ SCHOOL: Vintage-Napa ■ YEAR: Junior  ■ SCOUTING REPORT: A stellar sophomore campaign ended with Oestreich in the circle pitching Vintage to a Div. I title. She went 33-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 299 strikeouts for the Crushers. 

ANESSA KAYLOR

■ SCHOOL: Christian Brothers-Sacramento ■ YEAR: Senior  ■ SCOUTING REPORT: The Stanford-bound pitcher was fantastic in the circle for the Falcons last season. Snyder posted a 0.53 ERA and struck out 304 batters in 171 innings. 

■ SCHOOL: Vintage-Napa ■ YEAR: Junior  ■ SCOUTING REPORT: The daughter of Crushers coach Rick Robben was an absolute force for the defending Div. I champs a year ago. She hit .438 with 53 hits (23 for extra bases) and drove in 57.  ■ SCHOOL: Sheldon-Sacramento ■ YEAR: Senior  ■ SCOUTING REPORT: Sheldon is once again a title contender thanks to the San Jose State-commit. After leading the Huskies with seven HRs and a .489 average last season, expect even more from Kaylor. 

VANESSA WASHINGTON

■ SCHOOL: Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove ■ YEAR: Senior  ■ SCOUTING REPORT: Washington’s big bat (10 HRs as a junior) was a big reason the Eagles reached their first Div. I title game since 2009. The Delaware State-bound Washington looks to lead Pleasant Grove in another title quest.

outfielders JENNA CURTAN

■ SCHOOL: Woodcreek-Roseville ■ YEAR: Senior  ■ SCOUTING REPORT: If Woodcreek wants to upend Rocklin, it will surely come under the leadership of the UC Riverside commit. The four-year starter has a career .413 average. 

AMBER WRIGHT

■ SCHOOL: Elk Grove ■ YEAR: Junior  ■ SCOUTING REPORT: The plus-defensive player also led

Emily Oestreich, Vintage-Napa

HALEY SNYDER

ALLIE WALLJASPER

■ SCHOOL: Sierra-Manteca ■ YEAR: Senior  ■ SCOUTING REPORT: Went 18-2 with a 0.53 ERA as a junior while leading the Buffaloes to the Div. IV section title. She also batted .482 and has been committed to LSU since her freshman year.

utility KRYSTEN McCUE

■ SCHOOL: Oakmont-Roseville ■ YEAR: Junior  ■ SCOUTING REPORT: McCue’s season will be slowed by injury, but if she is healthy, the Vikings have a chance of being a solid team after graduating just one senior from last year. McCue committed to Cal. 

KAITLYN LAGATTUTA

■ SCHOOL: Davis ■ YEAR: Senior  ■ SCOUTING REPORT: The Stanfordbound Blue Devil batted .389 as a junior and is a solid defender up the middle for long-time coach Art Guerra.  ✪

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As the state’s best wrestlers prepare for the ultimate tussle, we line up NorCal’s top medal hopefuls in each weight class The road to Rabobank Arena starts here. Well, for Northern California fans, it started two weeks ago with the unofficial start to the postseason — the Mission San Jose Invitational in Fremont. After sections have their championships during the last weekend of February, the California Interscholastic Federation Wrestling Championships are next up on March 7-8 in Bakersfield. While the North Coast Section appears a long shot to find individual gold this year, the SacJoaquin Section looks a safe bet to figure heavily on the final podiums and Gilroy looks poised to carry the Central Coast Section torch as always. Here’s our weight-by-weight look at what to expect from the first weekend in March. All rankings are provided by California’s definitive source for high school wrestling, TheCaliforniaWrestler.com. — SportStars staff

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■ THE FAVORITE: Justin Mejia (Clovis), Fr. ■ NORCAL’S TOP CONTENDER: Isaac Blackburn (Del Oro-Loomis), Sr. ■ NORCAL’S DARK HORSE: Logan Eaton (Oakdale), Jr. ■ PREDICTED CHAMP: Mejia. We’re cheating a bit by listing both Blackburn and Eaton, with Eaton ranked No. 7 and Blackburn No. 8 heading into the SJS meet. Both have four tournament wins to their credit, with Eaton owning the head-to-head advantage after a 7-2 win over Blackburn in the Temecula Valley final. Since that loss, Blackburn has captured the always-tough Tim Brown Memorial and won at Mission San Jose.

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■ THE FAVORITE: Adrian Camposano (Central-Fresno), Sr. ■ NORCAL’S TOP CONTENDER: Gionn Peralta (Vacaville), Sr. ■ NORCAL’S DARK HORSE: Jared Luty (American-Fremont), So. ■ PREDICTED CHAMP: Peralta. The Vacaville senior is ranked No. 1 in the state heading into section weekend, but Camposano is the defending champ after a late takedown gave him an 11-10 win over Peralta in last year’s state final. Camposano came north to defeat Luty 7-5 in the MSJ final. This could be a weight that the NCS plays a big role in, as Luty and Windsor’s Perez Perez are both ranked in the top 10 and Perez is a returning state placer (6th).

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■ THE FAVORITE: Israel Saavedra (Modesto), So. ■ SAAVEDRA’S TOUGHEST CHALLENGER: Anthony Hernandez (Vacaville), Jr. ■ NorCal’s DARK HORSE: Jacob Donato (James Logan-Union

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City), Sr. ■ PREDICTED CHAMP: Saavedra. Competing last year at 113 pounds, Modesto’s then-freshman phenom defeated Lemoore’s Sean Williams 5-3 in sudden death to win the state title. This year, he’s placed second at both the Clovis West Shootout (wrestling up at 126) and the Doc Buchanan. Hernandez placed seventh at the Reno TOC and Donato won the Mission San Jose crown. Watch for JesuitSacramento junior Anthony Wesley as well.

126 ■ THE FAVORITE: Mason Pengilly (Porterville), Sr. ■ NORCAL’S TOP CONTENDER: Angel Velasquez (Modesto), Jr. ■ NORCAL’S DARK HORSE: Nathan Cervantes (De La SalleConcord), Jr. ■ PREDICTED CHAMP: Pengilly. The defending state champion at 120 pounds, Pengilly will face tremendous competition from Clovis’ Khristian Olivas, who won at Mission San Jose, and Clovis West’s Michael Knoblauch, who won the Tim Brown Memorial. Both Velasquez and Cervantes have been wrestling up a weight (or two) for most of the season. Velasquez dropped to 126 for the Tim Brown and dropped a 4-3 decision to Knoblauch while Cervantes stayed up and won at 132.

132 ■ ■ THE FAVORITE: Zahid Valencia (St. John Bosco-Bellflower), Jr. ■ NORCAL’S TOP CONTENDER: Tom Yozzo (Amador ValleyPleasanton), Sr. ■ NORCAL’S DARK HORSE: Layne Embrey (Orland), Jr. ■ PREDICTED CHAMP: Valencia. Two years removed from winning a state title at 106 pounds, Valencia owns the Walsh Ironman and

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Doc Buchanan titles already this year. Yozzo checks in as the top-ranked NorCal wrestler at No. 10. One name to remember at this weight: St. John Bosco sophomore Aaron Pico. Pico, called by some the best pound-for-pound high school wrestler in the country, signed a professional mixed martial arts contract in late December, ending his amateur career.

138 ■ THE FAVORITE: Mike Longo (Santiago-Corona), Sr. ■ NORCAL’S TOP CONTENDER: PJ Klee (Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa), Sr. ■ NORCAL’S DARK HORSE: Jacob Macalolooy (James Logan), Sr. ■ PREDICTED CHAMP: Klee. Call us homers, but Klee owns titles from the Sierra Nevada Classic, Windsor King of the Mat, Tim Brown Memorial and Redwood Evmpire Classic. Longo owns the head-to-head advantage with a 5-4 win over Klee at Walsh Ironman. Emilio Saavedra, Israel’s older brother and already a two-time state placer, is a factor after placing second at the Doc Buchanan. Macalolooy is the defending NCS champion at the weight and recently won at Mission San Jose.

Jacob Macalolooy, James Logan Bob Larson file photo

145 ■ THE FAVORITE: Nicholas Villarreal (Gilroy), Sr. ■ VILARREAL’S TOUGHEST CHALLENGER: Ralphie Tovar (Poway), Jr. ■ NORCAL’S DARK HORSE: Lorenzo De la Riva (Folsom), Jr. ■ PREDICTED CHAMP: Villarreal. Gilroy’s long tradition is safe in Villarreal’s hands, as the senior already has two state titles to his credit. He has six big-time wins already this season, including the Zinkin Classic, Doc Buchanan and Temecula Valley. De la Riva doesn’t really qualify as a dark horse due to his No. 3 ranking, but the Folsom junior owns two pinfall victories over the next-highest ranked NorCal wrestler, Hayden Fry of Vacaville.

Nicholas Villarreal, Gilroy

Jonathan Hawthorne file photo

152 ■ THE FAVORITE: Paul Fox (Gilroy), Sr. ■ FOX’S TOUGHEST CHALLENGER: Tyler Zimmer (Clovis West-Fresno), Sr. ■ NORCAL’S DARK HORSE: Mason Koshiyama (Folsom), Jr. ■ PREDICTED CHAMP: Fox. While Vilarreal is trying to add to an already impressive list of state titles, Fox is looking to win his first after back to back runner-up finishes. The senior from Gilroy has also won six titles this year already. Zimmer has come north to win both his titles this season, winning at the Sierra Nevada Classic and Tim Brown Memorial. Ponderosa’s Zack Velasquez has three wins to his credit as well but don’t sleep on Koshiyama, who pinned Granada-Livermore’s Angel Beltran and owns two wins over No. 12 Alex Ingram of Sutter.

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■ THE FAVORITE: Bryan Salinas (Northview-Covina), Sr. ■ NORCAL’S TOP CONTENDER: Kaleio Romero (Oakmont), Sr. ■ NORCAL’S DARK HORSE: John Leal (Chico), Jr. ■ PREDICTED CHAMP: Salinas. The weight once dominated by Las Lomas legend Jason Welch now appears a fight for SoCal supremacy as the top six wrestlers in the class hail from the Southern, Central or San Diego Sections. Salinas has the biggest result in the weight class, defeating Calvary Chapel’s Aaron Negrette 3-1 in the Doc Buchanan title match. Romero and Leal rank seventh and eight, respectively, going into section weekend.

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■ THE FAVORITE: Anthony Valencia (St. John Bosco), Jr. ■ NORCAL’S TOP CONTENDER: Matt Penyacsek (Gilroy), Jr. ■ NORCAL’S DARK HORSE: Will Sumner (Nevada Union), Sr. ■ PREDICTED CHAMP: Valencia. The 126-pound champ two years ago lost a 5-3 decision in the 145-pound final last year. He’s won this year at the Walsh Ironman and Doc Buchanan. Penyacsek, who is ranked No. 3 heading into the CCS tournament, heads south with four tournament wins under his belt. One name that should be familiar to SJS football fans is Del Oro running back Dylan Kainrath, who enters ranked 25th in the state.

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■ THE FAVORITE: Nick Fiegener (Folsom), Sr. ■ FIEGENER’S TOUGHEST CHALLENGER: Johnny Beltran (Servite-Anaheim), Sr. ■ NORCAL’S DARK HORSE: Skyler Gonzalez (Rocklin), Sr. ■ PREDICTED CHAMP: Fiegener. He has wins at the Sierra Nevada, Doc Buchanan, Temecula Valley and Tim Brown and owns three wins over No. 2 Corey Griego of Sultana-Hesperia,

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Nick Fiegener, Folsom

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James K. Leash file photo

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two over No. 3 Alec Gamboa of Madera and a technical fall win over No. 4-ranked Beltran. It’s possible one of Fiegener’s toughest tests could come from his own section, as Gonzalez owns four tournament wins and a win over Mission San Jose champ AJ Nevills of Clovis.

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■ THE FAVORITE: Gabriel Gonzalez (Washington Union-Fresno), Sr. ■ NORCAL’S TOP CONTENDER: Clayton Hartwell (James Logan) Sr. ■ NORCAL’S DARK HORSE: Joey Banks (Franklin-Elk Grove), Sr. ■ PREDICTED CHAMP: La Costa Canyon-Carlsbad’s Ian Baker. Gonzalez is ranked No. 1 going into section weekend, a ranking based largely off results at 220 pounds, but Baker’s resume is equally impressive, with a runner-up finish at the Reno TOC and wins at the Cerritos TOC and Temecula Valley. Hartwell enters the NCS meet fresh off the Colts’ NCS dual championship and a title of his own at Mission San Jose.

Jeramy Sweany, Vacaville. James K. Leash file photo

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■ THE FAVORITE: Jeramy Sweany (Vacaville), Sr. ■ SWEANY’S TOUGHEST CHALLENGER: Victor Raigoza (Orland), Sr. ■ NORCAL’S DARK HORSE: Graham Grant (Saratoga), Sr. ■ PREDICTED CHAMP: Sweany. The Vacaville senior broke through for his first state title last year at 195 pounds. He’s backed that up this year with wins at the Chukchansi Invitational, Reno TOC, Temecula Valley and Puma Classic. Raigoza owns several wins in the Northern Section, including the Corning Invitational and he is a state placer already, having finished fifth last year at heavyweight. Defending champion Derrick Jones of Bloomington has missed the season due to a back injury.

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■ THE FAVORITE: Nick Nevills (Clovis), Sr. ■ NORCAL’S TOP CONTENDER: Jake Minshew (Casa Roble-Orangevale), Jr. ■ NORCAL’S DARK HORSE: Daniel Mendoza (Archbishop Mitty-San Jose), Sr. ■ PREDICTED CHAMP: Nevills. Clovis’ big man returns for his senior season with two state titles and a third-place finish to his credit. He has five wins this year, including the Doc Buchanan, Alliance Top Gun in Ohio and Mission San Jose. Minshew isn’t the top-ranked NorCal wrestler (Fremont-Sunnyvale’s Gary Miltenberger is No. 5), but Casa Roble’s junior heavyweight has six tournament titles already this year.

TEAM

■ THE FAVORITE: Clovis ■ NORCAL’S TOP CONTENDER: Gilroy ■ NORCAL’S DARK HORSE: Vacaville ■ PREDICTED CHAMP: Clovis. This one isn’t close. The Cougars have won the last three state team titles and already have eight team championships this year. Poway will do its best to get into the mix, and Gilroy and Vacaville should battle for NorCal’s top spot. ✪

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Jessica Rodriguez is the most decorated girls wrestler in section history after a fourth SJS title

Contributed photo

SOUTHBOUND

Following are the Sac-Joaquin Section qualifiers for the CIF Girls State Wrestling championships at the Visalia Convention Center Feb. 28-March 1.

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101: McKenzie Bacich, Bear Creek

126: Alyssa Gonzalez, Benicia

106: Natalie Brown, Grace Davis

131: Shelly Avelino, Benicia

111: Lauren Mason, Woodcreek

137: Maggie Douma, Napa

116: Gurleen Chahal, Livingston

143: Jessica Rodriguez, Lincoln-

121: Cassie Olive, Las Plumas

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150: Madisen Bozovich, Tokay 160: Jaclyn Fields, Ponderosa 170: Alexandria Glaude, Christian Brothers 189: Alyssa Cantu, Weston Ranch 235: Marlene Hernandez, River City

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Opportunity. Where most girls saw an undesirable “boys sport,” Jessica Rodriguez saw an opportunity. With few girls wrestling at the high school level, the Lincoln-Stockton grappler saw a chance to blaze her own trail. That trail has led to accomplishments never achieved by a female wrestler in the Sac-Joaquin Section, and has also led to an increase in female participation in the traditionally male sport. Rodriguez recently became the first female wrestler to win four section championships, and she will be making her fourth trip to the CIF State Girls Wrestling Tournament on Feb. 28. The Trojans girls wrestling team has grown from a couple of participants when Rodriguez was a freshman to more than seven wrestlers this year. As impressive as those accomplishments are, Rodriguez is not satisfied yet. “I wanted to be the first girl to win four section titles, but that does not mean as much as state and nationals to me,” she said. Rodriguez finished fifth at the national tournament last year — her highest finish at that level — and set her sights on exceeding that mark in her final high school season. Midway through this season, though, she suffered a knee injury that slowed her down. But the gritty senior was determined to finish her season before entertaining surgery. She will be reevaluated with an MRI in March after taking her final shots at state and national tournaments. “I think that I can still do it, but I need to wrestle hard and a little different than I have in the past,” she said of her pursuit of a second consecutive state championship. So far, opponents have not attacked her braced leg in competition, but Rodriguez expects her opponents at the state tournament to attempt to deny her quest for the 143-pound title using any means necessary. While Rodriguez certainly hopes to win a second championship in her fourth trip to state, she has goals to pursue on and off the mat beyond the tournament and beyond high school. She is looking at Western Oregon University to continue to wrestle while she pursues a degree in Fire Science. “There are a lot of opportunities for girls to wrestle in college, and I want to use it to focus on school,” she said. “My goal is to become a fire fighter.” Rodriguez first became interested in wrestling at age 7 when her older brother and uncle were involved in the sport. She has grown as a wrestler while the sport has grown both locally and nationally. As a freshman, she was slightly surprised by winning an SJS title and qualifying for state. She has since worked hard to improve her technique to stay on top and continue on her trailblazing journey. One opportunity at a time. ✪ Upload photos and team stats! www.SportStarsOnline.com


throwing injuries: hunter greene, m.d.

Pitching Common Sense Young athletes are taking to the baseball fields for the start of a new season, signaling a return to spring and invariably to the arm injuries related to throwing. Damage or tear to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is the most common injury suffered. This ligament is the main stabilizer of the elbow for the motions of pitching. When it’s damaged, it can be difficult to repair and rehabilitate.

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR

If a young athlete is throwing too hard, too much, too early and without rest, a serious elbow or shoulder injury can crop up. If you feel pain the day after throwing or moving the joint is painful or restricted compared to the opposite arm, it’s important to see a doctor who understands youth sports injuries.

PREVENTING OVERUSE INJURIES

Follow these tips to prevent an overuse injury from putting a damper on your baseball season: ■ Maintain fitness in the off-season ■ Warm-up properly by stretching, running and

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easy, gradual throwing ■ Rotate playing other positions besides pitcher ■ Concentrate on age-appropriate pitching ■ Adhere to pitch count guidelines established by Little League Baseball ■ Avoid pitching on multiple teams with overlapping seasons ■ If you have elbow or shoulder pain, don’t pitch and see a doctor ■ Don’t pitch on consecutive days ■ Don’t play year-round ■ Work on control, accuracy and good throwing mechanics ■ Talk with a sports medicine professional if you have any concerns about baseball injuries and for injury prevention suggestions. Enjoy your season and remember, prevention is always the best cure. ✪ Hunter Greene, M.D., is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Summit Orthopedic Specialists in Carmichael.

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training time: tim rudd for iyca

Core Forces One of the most common flaws I see with athletes is a lack of core stability when performing dynamic (performed under sub-maximal velocities) and ballistic movements (maximum velocities). Many are surprised that they lack core stability. But if an athlete just performs long-duration planks and hundreds of crunches and situps, it is no surprise that they don’t have much of a functional carry over to their sport. In all sporting environments, the core must be able to resist the ballistic movements demanded by the sport, such as extension, flexion and rotation when throwing, hitting, swimming, accelerating and so on. These movements create ballistic extension, flexion and rotational forces through a stable spine, transferring forces from the ground up through the feet, ankles, legs, hips and through the core to the extremities. A core that is ill prepared, results in inefficient movement that greatly affects the ability of athletes to reach their full potential. Athletes need to train their core to resist extension, flexion and rotation in all three planes of motion: ›› Sagittal Plane: Resist Forward Flexion / Backward Extension ›› Frontal Plane: Resist Lateral Flexion ›› Transverse (Rotational) Plane: Resist Spinal Rotation. They also need to make sure they progress from static-to-dynamic-to ballistic by building a foundation from the ground, to their knees and eventually to their feet. The goal when training athletes is to choose exercises that will give them maximum transfer to their chosen sport, while minimizing the chance of injury. They need to train the core to resist explosive movements in short burst intervals throughout a game for optimizing their performance. Long-duration planks are only good if athletes want to look good sitting on the bench. ✪ Tim Rudd is an IYCA specialist in youth conditioning and owner of Fit2TheCore.

Video Extra

To watch an example of a training progression that goes from static to dynamic to ballistic, scan this page now with your Layar app or visit this column at SportStarsOnline.com/TrainingTime81

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Snow sports are some of the most popular winter sports among young athletes, but every year thousands of athletes suffer from minor to very serious injuries on the slopes. Understanding common injuries and their prevention are critical to staying healthy and active on the mountain. Skiing and snowboarding are extremely physically demanding sports, requiring high endurance and strength, regardless of an athlete’s age. Athletes often snowboard or ski for an entire day, or consecutive days, which greatly fatigues the body and increases the risk of injury. Other causes of injury include participating when fatigued, participating above your level, improper equipment, inadequate altitude adjustments, going off trail, and dehydration. Because skiing and snowboarding are intense sports, we see many athletes with traumatic injuries from falls and collisions. This leads to a high incidence of fractures, concussions, and other serious injuries. But many non-contact injuries in snow sports can be prevented. These commonly involve the muscles, joints and ligaments of the knee and ankle due to the high degrees of leg movement involved in snow sports. The goal of the sports medicine team at UC Davis is educating athletes, parents, and coaches on ways to prevent some of these injuries. The most common injuries/conditions seen in both skiing

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March 2014

snow safety: Dr. Mo Mortazavi

and snowboarding are:       ›› Fractures and dislocations of the extremities (arms and legs) ›› Concussions, usually caused from falls on ice or collisions with other athletes or the ground ›› Ligamentous knee injuries such as medial collateral ligament (MCL) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears; MCL strains being the most common knee injury ›› Ankle sprains ›› Muscle strains of the lower extremities or the back ›› Altitude sickness Common ski injuries include thumb injuries, knee sprains, and ankle sprains. Injuries to the wrist, shoulder and head are more commonly seen in snowboarding. Wrist fractures commonly happen when the hands and arms are used to brace falls, and are commonly seen in beginner snowboarders.

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PREVENTION Injury prevention in snow sports starts with understanding your skill level and avoiding participation and terrain that is above your level unless being taught by an instructor. Regardless of a young athlete’s ability, wearing appropriate protective equipment is the best defense against injury: ›› Skiers and snowboarders should always wear helmets to prevent head injury ›› Athletes should also have eyewear, padded pants, and gloves to protect against the elements ›› Elbow and shin pads should also be considered for protection during falls Snow sports are strenuous activities with heavy demands on muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones. Athletes should be in good physical and cardiovascular condition prior to attempting these activities. Beginners should consider lessons to learn skills and critical safety tips such as how to take a fall on the snow. Like all contact and collision sports, appropriate preparation, coaching and protective equipment are essential to having a fun, safe, injury-free day on the slopes. ✪ Dr. Mo Mortazavi is pediatric sports medicine physician for the UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

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GRIPIT! powered by trucks: anthony trucks

Gloves and wraps help you hold your weights, but they’ll keep you from developing hand strength I remember walking into my college football weight room in Oregon in 2002 wearing a pair of black and white workout gloves and almost immediately finding all sets of eyes in the room on me. A few guys snickered, some shook their heads, but no one said a word. It wasn’t until my strength coach walked up to me, leaned in, and said, “we don’t wear gloves in here” in the sternest way you could imagine. The gloves just about flew off my hands as I was a brand new freshman and I didn’t quite know the rules yet. It wasn’t until much later I would realize the purpose of this. In football you have to have strong hands, especially as a linebacker like me, who eventually played in the NFL. You have to be able to tackle and hold on for dear life when you have a ball carrier in your grasp. This ability is built in the weight room day after day by hold-

ing heavy weight with just your hands and a thin layer of chalk. Gloves aid the hands’ gripping ability and actually take away from the strength that can be built by using a raw grip. All the weight you want to move is limited only by your ability to hold it, so using gloves makes it easier, but less functional since you don’t walk around with gloves everywhere you go. So if you are looking to build your grip strength up just simply lose the gloves and wraps and make your hands actually work. As for the calluses, don’t worry. When you get those rough hands you’ll easily avoid the question no one likes to hear, “Do you even lift bro?” ✪ Anthony Trucks is the owner of Trucks Training facility in Brentwood and covers weight training for SportStars.

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ReadeRs

Tune in March 20th for a SportStars SuperIssue — our 4th Annual Camps & Clinics Resource Guide. The Guide does the homework on over 500 camps. When it’s time to choose activities for the athletes in your family, you will have the quintessential resource at your fingertips. Read it in print at a store near you, be a subscriber or catch it online at SportStarsOnline.com

businesses/coaches The Camps&Clinics SuperIssue features extended shelf-life all Spring, Summer and Fall; your camp logo and listings; BONUS high-profile event exposure and print, mobile and digital editions to over 300,000 readers. RESERVE today. Deadline for placement is March 14. Call (925) 566-8500. Email Sales@SportStarsOnlline.com


❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒

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All American Sports Academy Clinic.................................................................................42 All Star Sports Baseball....................................................................................................41 Back Forty Texas B B Q Roadhouse & Saloon.....................................................................31 Big O Tires Northern California/ Nevada.............................................................................2 Bigfoot Hoops............................................................................................................17, 48 Boomers!..........................................................................................................................31 California Family Fitness.....................................................................................................5 Cascade Sports Camp.......................................................................................................41 Championship Athletic Fundraising.................................................................................12 Cheergyms.Com...............................................................................................................24 Children’s Hospital And Research Center...........................................................................35 Club Sport........................................................................................................................29 Club Sport Renaissance....................................................................................................35 Community Youth Center.................................................................................................44 Contra Costa Federal Credit Union....................................................................................15 Core Performance.............................................................................................................42 Core Volleyball Club..........................................................................................................41 De La Salle High School Summer Camps..........................................................................44 Diablo Futbol Club............................................................................................................40 Diablo Rock Gym..............................................................................................................42 Diablo Trophies & Awards.................................................................................................42 Dianne Adair Enrichment Programs.................................................................................45 East Bay Sports Academy.................................................................................................36 East Goes West Lacrosse Camp.........................................................................................40 Excellence In Sport Performance......................................................................................38 Fit 2 The Core....................................................................................................................41 Gregg Jefferies Sports Academy ......................................................................................25 Halo Headband................................................................................................................44 Hanabi Judo.....................................................................................................................41 Headfirst Baseball............................................................................................................42 Heritage Soccer Club........................................................................................................26 Home Team Sports Photography......................................................................................44 Impact Soccer Club...........................................................................................................42 Kangazoom......................................................................................................................41 M L B Scout Online...........................................................................................................42 Mountain Mike’s Pizza......................................................................................................13 Muir Orthopaedic Specialists............................................................................................37 National Scouting Report.................................................................................................40 National Wing- T Team Football Camps...........................................................................39 Palo Alto High School.......................................................................................................40 Passthaball.......................................................................................................................44 Pro Hammer Bat...............................................................................................................33 Ray Wear 5 Baketball Camps............................................................................................40 Rhino Sports Of Northern California.................................................................................20 Rocco’s Pizza.....................................................................................................................42 Sacramento River Cats......................................................................................................32 Saint Mary’s Athletic Summer Camps...............................................................................38 Sherman Swim School.....................................................................................................32 Sport Clips........................................................................................................................21 State Farm Lisa Truesdell Agent........................................................................................22 Stevens Creek Toyota........................................................................................................23 Summit Orthopedic Specialists..........................................................................................3 Sutter Health East Bay........................................................................................................5 The First Tee Of Contra Costa.............................................................................................44 Tpc / The Pitching Center..................................................................................................33 United States Youth Volleyball League.............................................................................47 Walnut Creek Soccer Club.................................................................................................20

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Derrick Rodigo of Del Campo-Fair Oaks gets airborne after finishing his slide in the Sac-Joaquin Section Div. II championship last May. The Cougars won the final 2-0 over Benicia. Photo by Doug Guler

Want to submit your pic for Photo Finish? Send it to us at editor@SportStarsOnline.com. Photos must be 300 dpi and at least 10 inches wide in the jpeg format. Please identify every person in the photo and include your contact information. 46

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SJ Issue 81, March 2014