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Turlock beats rival to secure league title
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Turlock High’s Kristine Groteguth fires a shot against Pitman High on Thursday night at the Pitman pool. - photo by CHHUN SUN / The Journal

What’s the best way to put into words Turlock High’s capturing of the league championship in girls water polo?

“It’s been coming,” coach Sonja Raynes said.

Yes, it has. The Bulldogs have been a competitive bunch the past few years since Raynes — a former Bulldog herself — took over the program. Her coaching era reached a peak on Thursday evening at the Pitman High pool, where her Bulldogs came away with a convincing 7-1 win over the Pride in the league finale after Madeline Keesey once again led in scoring with four goals. Teammates Savanna Schaffer, Kristine Groteguth and Melinda Johnson each chipped in a score.

The win gave the Bulldogs a 9-1 record and a share of the league title with Merced High. It was the Bears who barely edged Turlock 5-4 in overtime on Oct. 21 to split the season series at 1-1.

Coaches from both squads have yet to meet for a coin flip to decide who will be the No. 1 or 2 seed in the CCC, as the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Tournament begins on Nov. 6 at Johansen High in Modesto.

 A final playoff bracket is expected to be completed by Monday.

The Turlock players and coaches have little time to enjoy winning the CCC title for the first time since 2005, it is believed. On Thursday, the Bulldogs worked on new offensive schemes against Pitman that they plan to use in the playoffs.

In the meantime, they’ll enjoy a league title, something they’ve worked for since the beginning of the season.

“We figured we’d be competitive,” Raynes said, “so we might as well work for it. And that’s what we were trying for. If you have a goal out there, the workouts seem a little easier when you’re trying to obtain that goal.”

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.