On Wednesday, the Journal ran Part 1 of our list of the most exciting and unforgettable sports moments of 2019. The continuation of that list includes consecutive league title winners and first-ever champions.
· Undefeated back-to-back CCAL seasons for Turlock High girls and boys water polo
The Turlock High varsity girls and boys water polo teams finished off another perfect season in the Central California Athletic League and capped it off with multiple all-league selections and two MVPs. The Turlock boys squad made history of their own, under the leadership of Colin Wenstrand, after they went a perfect 10-0 in the CCAL, and went 24-5 for the year after earning a berth in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I playoffs. They toppled No. 9 McClatchy in the first round, 16-3, before falling to No. 1 Rio Americano in the quarterfinal round. The girls side did the same thing as they once again saw an unblemished CCAL record of 10-0 under head coach Anne Cornell. Over the past two seasons, the Turlock High girls and boys water polo teams are 20-0 in CCAL games played. The girls went on to amass an overall record of 23-5 en route to a first-round playoff victory of their own in the D1 SJS playoffs over River City, before falling to No. 3 Granite Bay in the quarterfinal round. Drew Folly of Turlock High earned MVP honors for the CCAL while on the girls side, Sadie Bigler captured the CCAL MVP honors, proving why both teams were the best.
· Turlock High football repeats as CCAL champs
The Turlock High Bulldogs football squad has a perfect 10-0 over the past two seasons and have absolutely dominated league play over the past four seasons, amassing a perfect 22-0 league record, that also includes two CCC titles. This year’s 5-0 CCAL season, also saw the defense allow 61 total points in league play (12.2 per game). This past year was historical in its own right, however. They only lost to three Section Champs: No. 34 Clayton Valley Charter (D2 North Coast Section title), No. 7 Central of Fresno (D1 Central Section title) and No. 21 Oak Ridge (D1 SJS title). Turlock also made another mark on history, tying the Harvest Bowl series at 8-8 after they won their sixth consecutive Harvest Bowl. They beat Pitman 41-7, and earned a berth in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I playoffs where they toppled the defending D2 SJS champs, Del Oro, in the first round. They followed up with a tough contest against Oak Ridge, where they caused major headaches against quarterback Justin Lamson, who had his worst completion percentage game of the entire season for the D1 section champs. The ‘Dogs also sacked Central quarterback Jameson Silva seven times when they met and held him to his second worst completion percentage game of the year at .526. Turlock closed out the year at 9-3 overall and ranked No. 82 in California.
· Hilmar volley reaches 7th straight section semifinal, state tourney and 3rd straight undefeated TVL title; Turlock volley notches CCAL title and earns playoff berth for 6th consecutive year
Hilmar High volleyball’s long tradition of winning continued in 2019. They have now won three straight Trans-Valley League titles in undefeated fashion. During that streak they have gone 36-0, including winning six of the last seven TVL titles dating back to 2013. This past season was another testament to the program’s winning ways and head coach Patti Harris has been the rock. The Yellowjackets closed out this past season with an overall record of 31-12, and an unblemished TVL record that saw them not drop a single set all year long in league play. They reached their seventh straight Sac-Joaquin Section semifinal game after winning the last two D4 titles. They also clinched their seventh straight CIF State tournament berth and had over half a dozen All-Journal players including one half of the Co-Player of the Year in Liv Peterson. This season also marked the team’s 11th consecutive playoff berth clinched under coach Harris. Since 2012, Harris has led the ‘Jackets to a TVL record of 90-4.
For the second consecutive season, the Central California Athletic League title in volleyball stayed in the town of Turlock, after the Turlock High Bulldogs earned a share of the league title with Gregori after a 9-1 season. Turlock followed up after the Pitman Pride notched the inaugural title a year ago, but finished just below Gregori at 5-5, tying Enochs for the year. The league title for Turlock marked their third title in a five-season span dating back to 2015.
· Pitman Cross Country wins first ever league title
Pitman High cross country achieved something that no other prior Pride varsity boys cross country team has done—win a league title. It happened this past fall as the Pride boys squad clinched the Central California Athletic League title following a standout year in league play. In just their second season competing in the CCAL, Pitman took the league by storm, making history in the CCAL Championships from Legion-Tuolumne Regional Park in Modesto. The Pride girls took second for the second straight year while the boys absolutely dominated in their final league race of the season. Head coach Eren Fisher was happy with the results, and mentioned how his team showed they were the best team in league. They were, clinching five of the top 10 finishes in the race. Christian Balderas and Damian Garcia finished in second and third place, respectively. Ben Plaa took sixth for Pitman, Efren Sanchez finished in ninth and Ethan Robinson placed 10th, respectively. Neither are seniors, as the majority of runners return for coach Fisher.
· THS baseball wins CCAL title in first year
It will be tough for the Bulldogs to repeat the success that the 2019 Turlock High varsity baseball team had, but to have that large number of future collegiate players is also rare. This past season, Turlock High team had such a deep and talented roster that at times head coach Sean Gilbert made it known that he didn’t know what to do with so much star power, and multiple starters in various positions. They went on to amass an overall record of 22-7 while going 14-1 in CCAL play, and notching the first ever Central California Athletic League crown. They also reached the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I playoffs before falling to No. 2 Jesuit, 4-2. The starting pitcher for Jesuit in that game was Andy Owen, who has now returned back to THS for his senior year, after just one season at Jesuit. Owen, who is committed to University of Southern California, is one of multiple D1 players on the roster now, but could have made last year’s roster even more special. On top of Owen potentially being on the THS roster last year, the number of collegiate players was staggering. Casey Carr and Justin Hines (CSU Stanislaus) were regular starters while Garret Fountain (San Diego State) was the ace, but received a full-ride scholarship to San Diego State for football. Mason King (UC San Diego) was committed to playing baseball collegiately. Ethan Hurte (Nevada-Reno) was a relief pitcher who is now at a D-I college, while Justin Hill (University of Pacific) was just a junior and a relief pitcher for Turlock High last year and is now on the Pitman Pride pitching staff. Tyler Soderstrom was a junior last year but is already committed to powerhouse University of California, Los Angeles. Cole Carrigg (San Diego State) is committed to play baseball with the Aztecs. If that wasn’t enough, they also had sophomore Dom Rodriguez (Cal-Berkeley) who was committed to play with the Bears. That is one stacked and unique high school baseball team.