The last couple weekends have been busy for Valley wrestlers, full of preparation, travel, and formidable competition. Both a gauge for potential and a forge for talent, pre-season tournaments like the Reno Tournament of Champions and the Modesto Junior College Western Invitational provide coaches with a chance to form long-term expectations for their wrestlers, individually and as a team.
The girls of Denair High got a taste of the playoffs last season for the first time in nearly a decade. Now, the Lady Coyotes are hungry for more and back on the court-well, almost.
Six years ago Denair High's wrestling program was virtually non-existent, boasting a three man roster and receiving little to no interest from the student body. This season's squad is still small compared to the likes of Turlock or Pitman High, but with 18 Coyotes in the wrestling room head coach Don Helnore can say that Denair wrestling is growing-and with a middle school wrestling program cultivating interest in the sport, it's safe to say that growth will continue for years to come.
Denair High is in the process of forging a new foundation for its boys basketball program, complete with a new scheme, a new approach, and a newish face at head coach.
Fresh off a Big Valley Christian Tournament Championship, Turlock Christian High put another feather in its cap with a 52-45 victory over Pitman High on Monday. Senior Halie Bergman once again led the Lady Eagles, scoring 27 points despite being double and even triple teamed throughout the night by the Pride.
Turlock High faced a big challenge on Saturday, a 6-foot 8-inch obstacle to be exact. After defeating Beyer and Modesto High in the first two rounds of the 36th annual Frank Godinez Tournament, the Bulldogs found themselves pitted against big man Malik Pope and his Laguna Creek Cardinals in the Championship round.
Turlock High drove through two of the Modesto Metro Conference's best teams on Thursday and Friday to earn a shot at tonight's Godinez Tournament Championship. The Bulldogs beat Beyer High by the skin of their teeth, 43-40, in the first round on Thursday and then proceeded to manhandle Modesto High 68-40 Friday night. But Turlock's biggest test lies in the form of Laguna Creek High who handedly defeated Davis and McNair High.
For the past nine years Turlock High's wrestling season has begun with a Madera High dual, and for the past seven years the Central Section stalwart Coyotes have stepped off the mat as victors. The Bulldogs hosted Madera on Wednesday and for a short time it looked like history would repeat itself.
Turlock Christian High's girls basketball team has found itself in a unique position this season. After claiming the Southern Athletic League title, competing for the SJS Division V Championship, and advancing to the quarterfinals of the Northern California Playoff Tournament, the Eagles return to the court with both star player Halie Bergman and some new faces that are set to be the future of TC girls basketball.
Turlock Christian High's boys basketball team struggled with numbers, height, and Southern Athletic League competition last season. How the Eagles stack up against the SAL in 2012 remains to be seen, but new head coach Eddie Sai has team size and height covered.
Five teams traveled to Hilmar on Saturday to join the Yellowjackets in the revived Hilmar Irwin-Stevinson Lions Invitational. Pitman, Buhach Colony, Atwater, Livingston, and Gregori High each competed in the tournament but only one walked away on top. That honor belonged to the Pride who finished the day 5-0 as a team, while Hilmar finished fourth with a team score of 2-3.
Last season Pitman High's girls claimed the Central California Conference basketball crown for the first time in program history, posted a season's best 11-4 record, and advanced to the post-season for the third year in a row. Now, the Lady Pride are back and ready to run the court again, equipped with new pieces to fit what they hope to be a repeat season.
High school coaches regularly deal with the need to replenish their teams each year as players are lost to graduation, but rarely do they find themselves in a position of replacing an entire starting lineup.
Pitman High's wrestling team is out to a good start to the 2012 season. With two returning Masters qualifiers, the Pride took first place in Saturday's Hilmar Irwin-Stevenson Lions Invitational, finishing undefeated as a team. Head coach Adam Vasconcellos believes Saturday's dual performance is the first in what will be a shockingly productive season.
There were smiles and a few tears, but mostly smiles on Wednesday when Pitman's Jordan Gonzalez and Hailee Baldwin signed their respective letters of intent to the University of the Pacific and Fresno State. Staying with Pride tradition, a large crowd gathered in the school's library to watch the culmination of the two athletes' energy, effort, and time and catch a glimpse of what their future might hold.
Pitman High entered Friday's home game against Downey High with a team characterized by its youth. With only two returning starters from last year's squad and the bulk of its roster comprised of juniors, the Pride knew that the Knights, back-to-back winners of the Modesto Metro Conference title, would be a difficult challenge to overcome in their season opener.
Turlock High began the 2014 football season the way every team hopes to -with a win. The Bulldogs traveled to Modesto to face Enochs High and came home with a tight 25-20 victory.
Denair's volleyball team has been through a rough patch the last three years, but 2014 is a whole new season.
Ty Pettigrew's girls golf squad has won three of the last four Valley Foothill League titles, and the Hilmar Lady Yellowjackets are looking to make it four out of five after the 2014 year concludes.
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