Warkentin finally makes it to Harry’s

He was a four-time Round Table Athlete of the Year at San Marcos, but he was never invited to a Monday luncheon.

That’s like a Hall-of-Famer who never made the Pro Bowl.

“I guess the only thing you have to do to make it to the Harry’s Plaza Cafe Round Table luncheon is to make the Olympics,” joked Mark Warkentin, who made history in Beijing by competing in the first-ever Olympic race for 10K open-water swimming.

Warkentin finished eighth in the race and was named USA Swimming’s open-water swimmer of the year.

He was former SBART president Dave Pintard’s guest this week, finally making it to the Ranchero Room.

Another athlete making his luncheon debut was Raymond Hooper, this month’s honoree for the Special Olympian of the Month Award. Hooper participates in a variety of sports, but perhaps his strongest event is cycling. He recently won the 5K road race down in Santa Clarita, and he had only one thing to say to coach Ken Doyle after crossing the finish line exhausted:

“That was hard.”

Hooper thanked the Round Table and also the community after accepting the award.

Speaking of awards, this week’s female Athlete of the Week selectee was a no-brainer. It’s no small feat to be crowned the Channel League singles champion in girls tennis, especially with the amount of talent there is between Dos Pueblos, San Marcos and Santa Barbara.

Lauren Stratman is only a freshman, yet she took down a pair of seniors en route to the title last week. Stratman was not able to attend the luncheon because she was playing in another tournament, but her mother Sheryl was present and accepted the award on her daughter’s behalf.

DP coach Liz Frech acknowledged her co-head coach, Heather Bailey, and reported on what was a phenomenal regular season for the Chargers. The team went 17-3, and much of that can be credited to Stratman, Erica Cano and the top doubles team of Amy Logan and Amy Sagraves — they went 48-6 in Channel League play on the year.

Stratman defeated teammate Cano in the league championship match, and it was the first all-DP final since 1979, when the Chargers had a pair of doubles teams go toe-to-toe for the final.

The Chargers host Esperanza in the opening round of the CIF playoffs on Thursday.

This week’s male Athlete of the Week was receiver Andrew Mendoza of Santa Barbara High, who was the leading receiver for the Dons on a night when their offense was unstoppable in a 49-28 win over San Marcos in “The Big Game.”

Mendoza replaced top receiver Bryson Lloyd, who caught passes of 24 and 27 yards before leaving the game with an ankle injury on the third play.

The Dons’ quarterback, John Uribe, threw for 524 yards and six touchdowns in the game, breaking the single-season county records for touchdown passes and passing yardage in the process. He was awarded with the Gary Blades Memorial Trophy — given to the game’s MVP — for his efforts.

Coach Will Gonzales congratulated San Marcos on a good game and pointed out that high school sports is “cyclical,” and that the Royals will surely be back with a vengeance soon. Gonzales also brought along one of the big (literally) reasons for Uribe’s success, center Memo Gutierrez.

San Marcos coach Dare Holdren has had a tough weekend.

“I’ve been having nightmares about John Uribe for the last two nights,” he quipped after congratulating the Dons. “They just whooped our butt.”

The Royals will wrap up their season against the mighty Seraphs of St. Bonaventure on Friday.

Also present was Bobby Brown, a longtime local coach and the mentor of the San Marcos JV squad this year. The team was 0-10 last year but has been revived under Brown’s leadership and won the city championship on Friday.

“Great hire by me, eh?” said Holdren.

Roger Kuntz is a former head football coach at San Marcos, and has now led the Royals’ girls spikers to a CIF berth after sweeping Ventura to close out the regular season.

San Marcos faces Arroyo Grande — the team which knocked them out of the playoffs last season — on the road Tuesday night. The Eagles are 26-2 on the year, but the Royals are a seasoned team after playing the likes of DP and Santa Barbara all year.

Kuntz brought along opposite hitter Kristin Beifuss, setter Robin Zelko and Lindsey Weintraub, who served five straight points against Ventura to help San Marcos seal the first set.

The Carpinteria Warriors were the victors in the “Little Big Game” on Friday, defeating Bishop Diego 35-14 and sneaking into the playoffs. That’s quite an accomplishment for a team of 21 players in a tough conference like the Tri-Valley League.

Coach John Hazelton said that Cardinals coach Tom Crawford did an outstanding job considering Bishop has had to rely heavily on underclassmen.

The Warriors are in the postseason, but they’ll have to deal with a big, tough Santa Clara on the road this week before playoff action begins.

Coach Hazelton was accompanied by offensive lineman Garrett Wokal and Jeremy Stein, who is one of the TVL’s leading tacklers at linebacker and is also a top-tier punter.

The SBCC Vaqueros are on fire, having won five consecutive games after an 0-4 start, the latest win a 55-52 decision over L.A. Valley. It is the longest Vaquero winning streak since 1991.

Coach Craig Moropoulos said that he never gives up in anything, and his players are showing that as well. He also had a message for Uribe, saying “there’s a place for you at SBCC if you want it.”

The coach took a moment to thank City College Athletic Director and Round Table cookie-monster Mike Warren before introducing two players that were key to Saturday’s big win.

Jakhari Murphy did a Devin Hester impersonation and racked up 198 return yards, while Santa Barbara High alumnus Jeremy Ybarra kicked a pair of big field goals.

On the 8-man front, the Cate football team has made the playoffs after beating Dunn 47-21 on Saturday.

“This is our third year in a row going to the postseason and we’ve only had football for four years,” said assistant coach Richard Alvarado, who went on to tell of the remarkable game played by quarterback Michael McMahon.

McMahon takes the snaps, but he also played every defensive position on Saturday as well as serving as the team’s punter and placekicker.

Sounds like one-man football, not 8-man.

DP football coach Jeff Uyesaka was making his final appearance of the season at the luncheon. The Chargers won’t be in the playoffs this season, but they have a great chance to end the season on a high note Friday with a win over visiting Buena.

The team has had to deal with knee injuries, concussions and broken bones all season, but players like wide receiver Joey Valencia have bounced back and returned to action to contribute. Cory Micheel contributed the only seven points of the game for DP in a recent game at Ventura, returning a first-quarter interception 60 yards for a touchdown.

Former DP star Kyle Shotwell, fresh off of a stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, stopped by the luncheon. He was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs later on in the afternoon.

–NOTES: All fall sports teams are welcomed to come to the luncheons while they are still in postseason competition… This week’s Friday Night Football game is Santa Barbara vs. Ventura, and will be broadcast live on AM 1490 at 6:45 p.m.