You can bank on the luncheons, thanks to the bank

If the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table is anything, it’s local.

That’s a word that Santa Barbara Bank and Trust also values as a cornerstone, and the bank let it be known at Monday’s SBART Luncheon.

SBART board member and Santa Barbara Bank and Trust representative Dale Rhine presented a $10,000 check to Round Table President Rick Wilson for further sponsorship of the weekly luncheons and other events the organization puts on. That’ll feed plenty of hungry coaches and athletes, and there were plenty of them packing the Ranchero Room this week.

Taking up an entire table to themselves were the players from the recently crowned CIF Division I  champion Dos Pueblos girls water polo team.

“They’re all wonderful people, and we really came together as a family this year to overcome adversity,” said coach DanelleLittle, who brought the championship trophy along with the players who earned it.

This week’s Athlete of the Week picks were both college basketball players — appropriate considering March Madness is on the very near horizon. Both UCSB teams still have high hopes of making the Big Dance by winning this week’s Big West Tournaments.

Lauren Pederson won the award for the second time this year. She scored a career-high 28 points in the UCSB women’s team’s 65-59 win at Riverside, which clinched the top seed in the conference tourney and an automatic berth into the semifinals. She then scored 15 points in 19 minutes of play against Long Beach State.

Freshman James Nunnally capped a spectacular week with a memorable moment for the men’s team. The youngster scored 15 points against Riverside and 20 against Long Beach, including a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer against the 49ers which caused the Thunderdome crowd to spill onto the court in celebration. The Gaucho men won seven of their final eight regular-season games, and earned a first-round bye thanks to Nunnally’s shot.

Both Nunnally and Pederson were named Big West Players of the Week, and women’s coach Lindsay Gottlieb was named the conference’s Coach of the Year after a 15-1 league record in her first year at the helm.

Gottlieb’s not the only women’s basketball coach in town eyeing a run in a national tournament.

“It’s March and I’m here, which is great,” said Westmont’s Kirsten Moore, whose Warriors are headed to the NAIA tourney in Jackson, Tennessee after finishing third in the Golden State Athletic Conference.

Westmont defeated The Master’s in the opening round of the GSAC Tournament before falling on the road to Point Loma Nazarene. Moore has now led the Warriors to three straight national tournament appearances, and the team’s 20 wins are tied for the most in school history.

Dos Pueblos graduate Amber Stevens was named to the All-GSAC first team for the Warriors and is still awaiting to hear about her All-American status.

Five of Westmont track coach Russell Smelley’s athletes were fighting for All-American status last weekend at the NAIA Indoor Track and Field Championships at Tennessee State University. Kasey Kearin finished second in the long jump to be named All-American, but fifth-year senior Lorin Milotta missed out in heartbreaking fashion.

Milotta set the school record in the preliminaries of the 60-meter hurdles, but fell when an official stepped in front of her during her practice start in the next race. She was hampered by the fall and missed out on qualifying for the finals by .05 seconds.

She still has the outdoor championships, however.

The Warrior track program is currently practicing on grass at Lovik Field, as the school’s track is being completely re-done. Smelley also has a big hand in helping rebuild faculty housing up off of Westmont Road which was destroyed in November’s Tea Fire. He took a moment to thank Santa Barbara Bank and Trust for its help.

“They are a local bank, and in a bad economy they’ve stayed personally involved… They’ve stood by us by holding our loans open and helping make sure we can get things put back together,” said Smelley, whose home was one of the many destroyed by the fire.

Carpinteria High’s track is in tip-top shape as always, which is part of the reason why the Warriors host so many meets each year. The first was the annual Rincon Races held last week, in which the inexperienced Warriors struggled but showed lots of upside, according to coach Van Latham.

The team of about 90 athletes includes only four girls and four boys who return with varsity experience.

Latham brought along his four captains, multi-sport athletes John Bustillos, Grant Coleman, Amanda Burch and senior Lauren Colomy.

Marilyn Hantgin’s voice was a little hoarse, which is understandable considering she’s got 210 athletes in the San Marcos track program.

“We’ve been blessed with a lot of athletes again, and especially a lot of young kids,” said Hantgin.

She was accompanied by four of the team’s leaders — Jenny Haden, a distance runner with a 5.0 weighted GPA, thrower Kallie Hill, thrower Travis Fultz and middle-distance runner Janson Dahill.

The Royals host Santa Barbara on Thursday.

Bishop’s track program is much smaller with 40 athletes, but athletic director/coach Dan Peeters pointed out that it is still about 40-percent of the student body. He introduced three seniors who have been on the squad all three years that he has coached the team — Pat Burgess, Lauren Sener and Elisa Muñoz.

UCSB track coach Avery Blackwell was at the luncheon to report on solid finishes by the Gauchos at Cal State Fullerton’s Ben Brown Invitational. He brought along 800-meter runner Jeff Campbell and distance-runner Scott Smith.

Peeters pinch-hit for Bishop baseball coach Brian Moulton, who was unable to attend the luncheon. The Cardinals dropped their opener to Santa Ynez last week, but have high hopes for the season as they transfer into the Tri-Valley League. Dylan Jamison is a 2-time All-Frontier League first-teamer with a 3.95 GPA, and ace pitcher Paul Gherini is the reigning county Player of the Year.

Like the Cardinals, the Carpinteria baseball team has also moved up into the TVL. And like the Cardinals, the Warriors opened up on the losing end against Santa Ynez. The Warriors dropped both games of their traditional double-header against the Pirates, but have plenty of reason for optimism in following up last year’s stellar season.

Head coach Pat Cooney, who recalled being taken to Harry’s by Santa Barbara High coach Fred Warrecker 25 years ago, brought along a pair of senior right-handers in Kyle Geary and Nathan Saito.

“Having the two of them is a real relief for me,” said Cooney.

After hearing about all of the stellar GPAs in the room, first-year San Marcos baseball coach Rob Crawford reported that the three players he brought with him have a GPA of 4.0 — when added together.

It was a joke, of course, but what isn’t a joke is Crawford’s quest to turn around San Marcos’ recent lean years in the Channel League.

“We’re going to have a great season at San Marcos,” he said.

If ace pitcher Sam Marshall’s debut was any indication, he might be right. Marshall allowed just four hits with no walks and one earned run in the season-opener against No. 2 Oxnard, which ended up a 2-1 loss.

Crawford also introduced Pat Cavalier and Victor Acevedo.

Nate Mendoza is Dos Pueblos’ first-year coach, and is somewhat of a local himself hailing from Lompoc. He paid homage to the Charger poloists and to his colleague, coach Little.

“I can only hope to accomplish what you have. You do a great job with the water polo team,” he said.

DP opened with a 10-0 loss to Thousand Oaks before beating St. Bonaventure 6-3 the next morning. Josh Paden hit his first career homer against the Seraphs, and Bradley Tirador tossed 6 2/3 innings on the mound to pick up the win.

UCSB’s baseball team has worked its way up to No. 25 in Baseball America’s national rankings, and is coming off of a 4-game sweep against a solid Loyola Marymount team.

“We pretty much did everything well this weekend,” said coach Bob Brontsema.

Reigning Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year Mario Hollands pitched a one-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts in Friday’s series opener for the Gauchos, who play at UCLA Tuesday before heading north to Moraga for a 4-game weekend series at St. Mary’s.

San Marcos wrestling coach Tony Becerra has done some considerable in-state travel over the past two weeks for the CIF Masters met and this past weekend’s State Tournament.

“I got to see two great cities — Temecula and Bakersfield — in the last two weeks,” he said sarcastically. “I’m gonna move for beach towns next year for both of those events.”

Zach Belway didn’t seem to mind where he was as long as he was wrestling. The senior 171-pounder, who carries a 4.74 GPA, defeated a CIF champion from Sultana at the Masters meet. Beating a champ traditionally receives a steak dinner from Becerra, but Belway is a vegetarian so praise at the luncheon on his top-10 state finish would have to do.

San Marcos’ Jarrod Bradley has removed his hoops hat and was at Harry’s Monday to talk about his boys tennis team, which is off to an 0-2 start despite some promising play, particularly in doubles.

“Even though we’re young, we’ve had a lot of guys work tremendously hard in the offseason to improve and it’s something we’re very excited about,” he said.

Bradley introduced Travis Enholm and the team’s lone senior, Sean-Michael Gaudefroy. The coach said that with a 3.85 team GPA, the Royals are in contention for a CIF academic title this year.

Liz Frech was the day’s first speaker, as she had to leave early with her players to get to a match. She brought along her top singles player, reigning team-MVP Sasha Gryaznov, as well as Richard Cheng, whom she described as “a ball of energy” on the court.

While Bradley’s coaching versatility is admirable, Bishop’s Ray “Slash” Vazquez is truly a man for all seasons. He was at Harry’s in the fall with his cross-country team, then came in the winter to report on his boys hoops squad. This season he’ll be back to talk about the Cardinals’ boys tennis team.

There aren’t any luncheons in the summer, but chances are if you stop by Harry’s at noon on a Monday in July, he’ll be there wondering where everybody else is.

His netters are off to a 1-1 start, and he was accompanied by top singles player Jordan Ekola and Art Gonzalez, who flipped his shaggy hair nicely for the crowd.

Becerra had it rough in Temecula and Bakersfield, but Marty Davis‘ weekend with the UCSB men’s tennis team was in a much less desirable place, as they lost to UT-Artlington in a high-wind advisory outside of Dallas. Well, the Gauchos are back home now, and if you wear one of their yellow shirts to a match you get free pizza.

Davis introduced his “mild-mannered Dane” Alex Konigsfeldt, who has the nickname of “Killer” for his change of demeanor when on the court.

UCSB women’s coach Pete Kirkwood said that the good news is that his team is 8-3. The bad news? All three losses are in Big West play, leaving the Gauchos with a 2-3 mark in the league. There’s still plenty of tennis to be played, however. Kirkwood brought along sophomores Michelle Murphy and Jill Damion.

Sports Information Specialist Dave Loveton was on hand to give everyone a round-up of SBCC athletics. The Vaquero softball squad had struggled up until a breakout two-game set Saturday in which the team produced 23 runs on 22 hits in a pair of wins. The baseball team is 12-9 overall and 1-4 in the WSC, trying to climb out of a rough patch after a 10-1 start. The men’s golfers suffered their first WSC loss of the year, but are still at the top with a 20-1 record.

— SCHOLAR ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: This year’s SBCC honoree for the Scholar Athlete Award is Amber Siddiqi, a standout in cross-country and track for the Vaqueros.

Siddiqi said that she was never into academics too much until arriving at SBCC, where she had an “academic epiphany” of sorts. She currently carries a 3.71 GPA in courses like Macroeconomics, Biology, English and Symphonic Band. She was an all-WSC selection in cross-country and is on the President’s Honor Roll for her academics.