It’s never too early to experience the feeling of winning a championship.
Westmont College coach Kirsten Moore’s unborn baby got to experience that wonderful feeling as the Warriors won their first Golden State Athletic Conference regular season women’s basketball title last week.
“We got to cut down the nets for the first time in program history,” a pregnant Moore told the crowd at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Cafe. “It was great to see each one of the girls climb the ladder and really take their moment to celebrate what we’ve accomplished.
“On a side note, I’m also thankful they taught ‘Baby Moore’ how to win a championship before it’s even born. I’m extra thankful to the team for that.”
With the regular season title comes a berth in the NAIA National Tournament for the Warriors.
“We’re headed to Frankfurt, Kentucky,” Moore said. “For those of you who don’t remember from your 5th grade states and capitals test, Frankfurt is the capital of Kentucky.”
Before heading to Kentucky, the Warriors will play host to the GSAC Tournament starting Wednesday. They’ll open against The Master’s.
Moore credited the effort of former Warriors in building a championship program.
“I’ve been there seven years and we’ve been talking about building to that point,” she said. “It’s been a fun culmination this year of a lot of work of a lot of generations of Warriors that have put in a lot of time and effort to get to this point.”
Westmont men’s basketball coach John Moore is excited about a new beginning for his club. After finishing the regular season with a loss at Azusa Pacific, the Warriors will return there on Thursday for a first-round game in the GSAC Tournament.
“I can’t wait to go back,” said Moore, whose team lost both regular season meetings against the Cougars. “I’ve said up here that it’s really hard to beat a team three times. That’s my moniker for the week with the players, and I can’t wait to go into this game against Azusa with this group of players I have.”
The UCSB men’s and women’s basketball teams have regular season games against UC Davis and Pacific before they enter March Madness.
UCSB men’s assistant David Campbell noted that five seniors will be playing their final home games this week. One of those seniors is Orlando Johnson, who last week became UCSB’s all-time leading scorer in just three seasons.
“It’s quite amazing he did it in three years,” Campbell said. “I was here when Alex Harris set the record a few years ago and I thought that was going to last for quite awhile, and it lasted only three years.”
UCSB women’s assistant Natalie Jarrett said the Gaucho season “has been a roller-coaster ride, but we’re definitely riding high right now.”
The Gauchos are coming off wins over first-place Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State. They finish on the road at Pacific (Thursday) and UC Davis (Saturday).
“If we take two games, we hope to get a home (first-round) game for the Big West Tournament,” Jarrett said.
The first round is played a home sites and the semifinals and finals are at the Honda Center.
The UCSB women’s swim team completed its conference championship meet and it took second place behind BYU.
“We had one of the best championship meets for women in the 28 years I’ve coached the women,” said coach Gregg Wilson.
He noted the difference in the meet came down to diving. “We lost by 33 points. BYU scored 196 points in diving and we scored 31.
“That will change,” he continued, “because of Ann Wright, our diving coach. I recruited divers this year, she’s recruited divers for next year.”
Wilson said Athlete of the Week Andrea Ward and Sophia Yamauchi are in good position to make the NCAA Championships in Auburn, Ala., in two weeks.
The UCSB men compete in the Pac-12 Championships this week.
“I think it’s going to be a big meet for us,” Wilson said. “They understand what they’re going into. We have a talented group of seniors and they give us a sense of security.”
Providence Hall Athletic Director Keith Luberto was singing the praises of his girls basketball coach Ariana Gnekow, who’s guided the Lions to the CIF Division 6 final.
“What an outstanding job she’s done,” he said. “We played 17 games against higher division teams. We played a Division 2 team and we beat a Division 3 school. The girls are peaking at the right time.”
Luberto introduced Athlete of the Week Sydney Hedges and post player Megan Hahs, who had six rebounds and six points and blocked several shots in the win over Valley Christian Academy.
Dos Pueblos wrestling coach Anthony Califano brought CIF Masters Meet qualifiers Chad Lampe and Yaskin Solano to the luncheon. Both missed qualifying for the State Meet by one match.
“They both set the bar high,” Califano said. “Being within one match is tough, but it doesn’t take away from the year they had.”
Lampe repeated as Channel League champion and placed in CIF for the second year in a row. Solano, in only his second year of wrestling, won a league title and went from an eighth seed in CIF to third place. At the Masters, he beat a 2011 state qualifier 11-0 and pinned another opponent who won a CIF Individual title.
“He had an incredible run. I’m very proud of him,” said Califano.
Carpinteria girls soccer coach Lucy Carleton expressed her confusion at how the CIF determines divisions for soccer.
“I’m not exactly clear on what the criterion is for Division 5 girls soccer,” Carleton said. “Carpinteria has 700 kids and Katella has 2700.”
The Warriors played well and lost the first-round match 1-0 on a goal scored during stoppage time.
“They far exceeded my expectations,” said Carleton, who brought juniors and three-sport athletes Aurora Zemjanis, Kylie Argerot and Jasmine De Oca. She’s counting on them to be the team leaders next season.
The UCSB women’s water polo team is in the middle of its season, and the Gauchos are close to cracking the top 10, said coach Cathy Neushul.
She noted team opened the season unranked, moved into the 20th spot after the first weekend of play and rose to 15th last week. After a win over No. 8 San Jose State over the weekend and a close game against No. 7 UC Irvine, a top-10 ranking could be on the horizon.
“We’ve far exceeded expectations, so far,” said Neushul.
She said a big reason for the team’s rises is goalie Ruth Milne, who has the school record for blocks.
Spring sports coaches started their migration to the press luncheon.
Longtime Santa Barbara High baseball assistant George Rempe said the Dons lost eight starters from last year’s CIF semifinalist team.
The team plays a tough preseason schedule, facing strong programs like Arroyo Grande, Harvard Westlake and Chatsworth.
Rempe said Dos Pueblos is the preseason odds-on favorite in the Channel League and San Marcos will be greatly improved this year.
Rempe brought pitcher Kees t’Sas and catcher Max St. John, who led Santa Barbara to a season-opening 2-0 win at Pioneer Valley.
Santa Barbara swim coach Mark Walsh introduced Kelsey O’Brien, Madeline Trabucco, Cristian Bridley and Nick Johnson as some of his strongest swimmers.
Chuckie Roth, the San Marcos girls swim coach, brought promising newcomer Jenna Phreaner and returning CIF qualifier Dasha Depew.
Roth said he’s looking forward to not coaching against his wife, Leslie, this season. Leslie Wiggins Roth switched from swim coach at Dos Pueblos to track coach.
The Royals and Chargers meet next week.
“The most exciting thing about that, for me, is I don’t have to lose to my wife again,” he quipped.
San Marcos boys swim coach Jeff Ashton said he has only 12 swimmers, “but they have a lot of talent.”
He introduced freshman Cameron Bebb and junior Daniel Chen.
San Marcos boys volleyball coach Roger Kuntz is counting on family ties to help his Royals have a successful season.
Royals Chris Newton, B.J. Elton and Aaron Duke all had older brothers play volleyball in Santa Barbara.
In his third season, Westmont baseball coach Robert Ruiz said his program is on the rise.
“It’s been a process of really trying to build a program,” he said. “We have upperclass leadership transforming our program. We’re seeing things come into play we started three years ago.”
Coby Cress is one of those upperclassmen leading the way. He is the program’s first academic All-American for baseball.
“It’s been a pleasure to coach him and work with him,” Ruiz said of his team captain. “I’m excited to see all the things he’s done to help me transform this baseball program. I know I wouldn’t be able to do it without him.”