BY BLAKE DORFMAN, PRESIDIOSPORTS.COM
Sports is in love with the story of the underdog. Cinderella will make an appearance or two this month during March Madness, and the short-handed Westmont women’s basketball team’s run to the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament Championship Game is an example right here in town.
But what about the “over-dogs” of the sports world?
At Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table luncheon, Santa Barbara High assistant baseball coach George Rempe saluted the recently crowned CIF-champion Dos Pueblos girls water polo team and Santa Barbara boys soccer team “for not only winning, but winning when you’re expected to win.”
Citing quotes from snowboarding superstar Shaun White and fallen-from-grace pitcher Denny McLain, the only 30-game winner in MLB history, Rempe made the point that sometimes the hardest thing to do is win when you’re supposed to.
The Chargers, who were all there in their CIF Championship t-shirts, went 31-0 en route to their third consecutive title. Santa Barbara’s soccer squad (which will be honored next week), went 29-0-1 and beat Dos Pueblos 3-0 in Friday’s title game at Harder Stadium in front of 8,000 people.
Both teams were the top seeds heading into the playoffs, and anything short of a championship would have been a letdown.
That’s a tough expectation to face.
Male Athlete of the Week Brian Joseff, a defender, wasn’t expected to score in the Dons’ big game considering he hadn’t all year, but he got the champs on the board in the 22nd minute and then assisted Christian Pardo on another eight minutes later.
WESTMONT WOMEN: The Warriors spent last week writing their own underdog story. Due to some key injuries and a lack of depth, coach Kirsten Moore was forced to play guards down low and make all sorts of other adjustments.
Undeterred, the Warriors opened the GSAC Tourney with a two-point win over No. 8 Point Loma, a team which Moore had never beaten and the Warriors had only beaten one other time in school history. In the semifinals, Female Athlete of the Week Vanessa Farias, a freshman, went 5-for-8 from long range and scored 20 points as the Warriors beat Hope International by 14.
Unfortunately, Westmont lost a late lead to No. 3 Vanguard late Monday night and was stopped short of the championship. It was only their second time ever playing in the title game of the powerhouse conference.
TRACK AND FIELD
UCSB: The NCAA outdoor track season is just getting started, and expectations are still being determined by Gaucho coach Pete Dolan.
“I’m not sure what I have yet other than a great attitude,” he said.
That’s not entirely true, because he already knows he has two female athletes ranked in the top-20 nationally. Jane Doolittle is 13th in the NCAA in the high jump with a mark of 5 feet, 11-and-a-half inches, and Barbara Nwaba is the country’s 19th-ranked heptathlete.
SBAA DONATIONS: Dolan, along with the rest of the track coaches present, gave thanks to Santa Barbara Athletic Association President Jim Sloan, who was there to hand out checks to local track programs. The SBAA is a running club which puts on numerous local races, including the Santa Barbara Half-Marathon.
“What we ask in return is that the track programs provide volunteers for our races,” said Sloan. “When you can, we appreciate your help.”
SAN MARCOS: The money will certainly come in handy for Royals coach Marilyn Hantgin, who’s got a super-sized program to run.
“I’ve got 190 kids on the track team this year, so we’re looking pretty good,” she said.
The Royals have been rained out thus far, but will be very busy starting this week. Hantgin introduced Jenny Haden, Vince Viola, Derrick Dallmeyer and Kira Plymire.
BISHOP DIEGO: Athletic Director Dan Peeters gave thanks to the SBAA as well as San Marcos for letting the Cardinals use their track. Bishop has 34 athletes on the team, which is an impressive number considering the size of the school. On Friday, they’ll be at Dos Pueblos for the Tri-City Relays.
Peeters brought along the two leaders of the girls team, Melissa Georgi and Nicole Poindexter. Georgi, a senior hoping to go to Notre Dame, has 10 varsity letters and a 4.2 GPA. Peeters said she’s like the “Mother Hen” of the young squad.
Poindexter, meanwhile, is just a sophomore but was a CIF-qualifier in the 100, 200 and long jump as a freshman last year.
“She’s by far our most talented track athlete, and she also carries a high GPA,” said Peeters.
WESTMONT: Warriors coach Russell Smelley pointed out that the SBAA does a lot more than hand out checks.
“It’s really changed the fitness level of Santa Barbara for people to be involved in these races,” he said.
Smelley is eagerly awaiting March 27th, when Westmont’s new all-weather track will be opened. With all the other track coaches talking about being rained-out, he pointed out that track meets shouldn’t be cancelled by rain (hence “all-weather” tracks).
Regardless, the coach is getting ready to take his team on a whirlwind tour of his home state of Virginia. The team will visit Gettysburg, Monticello and Appomattox Courthouse before competing in the Lynchburg Invitational on March 20th.
“We can make it a history trip with a track meet at the end,” said Smelley.
CARPINTERIA: There’s a lot of track and field history in Warrior Country, but coach Van Latham is keeping his expectations for Carpinteria High’s program in control this year.
“It’s a lot like CalTrans… Both of us have a lot of holes to fill,” he joked.
The Warriors will join Bishop at the Tri-City Relays on Friday after opening the season at the Rincon Races last weekend, where luncheon-guest John Bustillos narrowly missed out on winning the shot put competition. The 3-sport athlete also plays in the band (even at halftime in his football pads) and carries a 4.14 GPA.
Shelby Dunlap is another exceptional student with a 4.2 GPA. She’s one of the best female tracksters Carpinteria has ever had, and she will be trying to jump her height (5-3) for a school record in the high jump this year.
SANTA BARBARA HIGH: Rempe’s words about winning when you’re expected to are also pressing against the Dons baseball team, which was extremely young last year with seven sophomores in the starting lineup. This year, however, they’re all juniors and the “young” excuse isn’t in the cards.
The Dons have made it to the postseason 11 consecutive years and won three consecutive Channel League titles before last year. It’ll be up to the team’s three senior starters — Jack Crummer, Joey Gonzales and Trey Barrett — to provide the leadership. Rempe had Barrett stand up a second time just to make sure everyone noticed that he’s 6-foot-7 — length is a nice thing for a first-baseman to have when he’s stretching out on the bag.
SAN MARCOS: Royals Athletic Director Abe Jahadhmy used to coach San Marcos’ boys soccer team and congratulated the Dons for winning the title as well as having strong character throughout the season.
“That’s all about (coach) Todd Heil. He’s done a great job and he’s an outstanding coach,” said Jahadhmy.
He was pinch-hitting for baseball coach Rob Crawford, who couldn’t make it to the luncheon. The Royals are 2-0 thanks to a late comeback in their opener against Oxnard. The Yellow Jackets were up 3-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth before the Royals surged back.
Junior catcher Riley Moore, whom Jahadhmy said “will probably be a first-round pick” in next year’s MLB draft, was 2-for-2 with a triple in the game.
BISHOP DIEGO: Coach Casey Cloud’s last time at an SBART luncheon was when he played for Santa Barbara High and accompanied Rempe. He ‘s back as the first-year head coach for the Cardinals, who have “a depth of pitching” and some nice young talent for Cloud to try and develop.
“We’re gonna teach them how to compete. I think that’s where we need to pick it up,” said Cloud, who also coaches with the Santa Barbara Foresters in the summer.
Trent Speier is a versatile senior who can play third base, second base, outfield or pitcher and is also the No. 2 hitter — a key spot in the small-ball strategy that Cloud has implemented. So far, Bishop is 6-for-6 in stolen bases and 4-for-4 in bunts laid down.
Also introduced was junior Cody Yokubaitis, a pitcher who was honored with the Phil Womble Ethics Award earlier this year.
CARPINTERIA: Latham spoke for Warriors coach Pat Cooney, whose team is 1-1 after splitting its tradition season-opening double-header with Santa Ynez despite a pair of rain delays on Saturday. Sophomore Colton Rubio pitched a complete game in Carpinteria’s win, and Diego Carrillo hit one of the longest home runs ever hit on Carp’s field, according to Cooney.
WESTMONT: The Warriors are off to a 5-11 start, with one of those wins coming at Fresno Pacific. It is still the only loss suffered by the No. 9 Sunbirds this year.
First-year head coach Rob Ruiz brought along freshman Geoff Rocha, who is hitting .346 and is also one of the team’s starting pitchers. The Warriors host rival Biola in a doubleheader on Wednesday.
SBCC: The Vaqueros went 1-2 last week, and the victory was a wild 12-inning, 15-12 win over L.A. Mission on Thursday. Steven Keller scored the tying run in the ninth and drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th in that game. Dos Pueblos graduate Conner Rehage leads the team with five home runs on the year.
The Vaqs have 20 homers on the season, which is one more than they had all of last year.
SANTA BARBARA HIGH: Success comes as no surprise to the powerhouse Dons, who beat Cate and Laguna Beach 16-2 before placing third out of 112 teams last weekend at the California High School Tennis Classic in Clovis.
“I felt we played well enough to win it, but we didn’t,” said coach Steve Geremia.
He went on to say that the team’s primary goal, as always, is to win the Channel League. Although five key players are injured, Santa Barbara is working through it.
Senior “spiritual leader” Dan Diaz is playing with a torn ligament in his left wrist and has developed a one-handed backhand as a result. Chase Melton, meanwhile, is coming off of a season in which he beat some top-20 players in the country. Geremia proudly announced that Melton will be playing for his alma mater, UC Berkeley, next year.
SBCC: The Vaqueros are off to a solid 8-4 start, hitting .384 as a team with 15 doubles. The team carries 14 freshmen and just three sophomores. Western State Conference competition continues this week with Tuesday’s double-header at Oxnard followed by a road contest at Moorpark on Thursday.