Good things come in pairs for this mad March

Did you know that there are two local basketball players who will be starting for their respective college teams heading into March Madness?

Jeff Lavender quizzed the audience at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table luncheon, and no one was able to come up with both answers. Lavender was there to talk about the Santa Barbara High boys golf team (he’s an assistant coach for the team), but as a former Westmont basketball player and coach for the Dons and San Marcos, he couldn’t help but slip some hoops into his turn at the podium.


Dos Pueblos graduate Julyan Stone is a guard for the UTEP Miners, who have a No. 12 seed but have been receiving buzz as a possible Cinderella team. The other player is Omondi Amoke, a forward for the Cal Bears. He graduated from Oxnard High, but played for Lavender at SBHS as a freshman.

SPECIAL OLYMPIANS OF THE MONTH: Along with two March Madness players, there were also two Special Olympians of the Month honored at this week’s luncheon. Blair Rodriguez is in her first year on the San Marcos swim team and also swims in the Special Olympics.

“Blair is the fun of our team. She comes in every day and she’s happy, she dances and she sings. She loves to swim,” said coach Janet Crane.

Kim Williams, meanwhile, started out as a swimmer and now competes in triathlons for the Special Olympics.

“She works really hard. She’s competing in the triathlon, which is something I couldn’t do, so I’m really in awe of the fact that she’s doing that,” said Crane.


SANTA BARBARA HIGH: Continuing with the “two” theme, most everybody in the athletic community knows that we had two local high school soccer teams competing in SoCal Regional Championship finals this past weekend. While both Santa Barbara High and Dos Pueblos lost their title matches, the Dons beat the Chargers in front of 8,000 at Harder Stadium two weeks ago for the CIF-SS Division II title.

As a result, Santa Barbara’s entire team was at Harry’s to be recognized for their historic season, taking up and entire row of tables in the Ranchero Room.

“We pretty much descended upon you over there, so thank you very much for having us,” said coach Todd Heil.

Santa Barbara finished up at 31-1-1. Their 115 goals were the sixth most in CIF history, and their 21 shutouts rank fifth on the CIF all-time list. Their 32 consecutive games without a loss is the sixth most in CIF history.

Heil had each player stand up for an applause, and also thanked his longtime assistant coach, Alfredo Martinez. He also spoke about the thrill of the championship game at Harder Stadium.

“It was the most exciting event I’ve had probably, except for my wedding. I should put that in or else my wife might get upset,” he joked.


UCSB: Male Athlete of the Week Mario Hollands is now tied with two other Gaucho pitchers — Walt Rehm and Barry Zito — for most strikeouts in a single game after fanning 16 batters in an 8-1 win over Northern Illinois last week.

“He has been outstanding. He’s our Friday-night guy, and the Friday-night guy holds a bigger role than just coming out on Friday night to pitch. We have a pretty tough schedule, and he has to pitch against other teams’ Friday-night guys, which are some of the best pitchers in the country,” said coach Bob Brontsema.

Hollands also received National Pitcher of the Week and Big West Pitcher of the Week honors for his performance.

Also at Harry’s was fellow junior Jesse Meaux, who is 3-0 on the year with a Big West-leading 1.5 ERA. The Gauchos are 8-4 and have won five consecutive games.

SAN MARCOS: Royals coach Rob Crawford was one of the many speakers who congratulated the Dons soccer players for their incredible season.

“Even San Marcos was rooting for you guys as you guys went through that. That’s amazing,” he said.

On the diamond, San Marcos has been playing a tough preseason schedule in preparation for the Channel League, which begins Friday for the Royals against Santa Barbara. Crawford brought along his two captains, shortstop Matt Roberts and the versatile Payton Moore. Moore is a quadruplet, and two of his brothers play on the squad.

SANTA BARBARA: “We’re not losing, but were struggling,” is how longtime Dons assistant coach George Rempe described Santa Barbara’s start to the season. Two of their wins have been in dramatic comeback fashion, while the tie was from a game against Righetti called due to darkness.

Rempe introduced juniors Pepe Gil and Collin Dewell.

“Pepe’s not only a good student, but he’s very active in the community. You should remember the name, because I tease him every year that he’s probably gonna be the Governor or senator from California one day,” said Rempe.

Dewell, meanwhile, had the game-winning hit against Santa Ynez last week.

DOS PUEBLOS: Coach Nate Mendoza has high expectations for his Chargers after leading the team to a Channel League championship last year.

“We’re 2-2 right now. We’re not very happy where we’re at but hopefully we’ll continue to get better,” he said.

He brought along senior captain Jesus “Chuy” Salas, who is an ironman catcher. He didn’t have a backup last year and ended up catching 24 games. This year’s second-stringer is out for the season with an injury, so Salas will have to stay healthy and stick it out for every game once again.

Sophomore Joe Huthsing was also at Harry’s, and the youngster is making quite an impact hitting .390 as well as pitching nine scoreless innings on the mound so far.

CARPINTERIA: Since their last visit to the luncheon, the Warriors defeated Villanova and split their annual double-header against Cabrillo.

Coach Pat Cooney brought along two players, Robert Thornton and Diego Carrillo, who provide somewhat of a Yin and Yang element to the squad.

“Robert is vocal and emotional and plays with reckless abandon. Diego is silent, virtually unemotional and steady, and it’s real calculated but the balance between the two of them seems to be an inspiration to others,” said Cooney.

The Warriors host Northglen of Colorado this week before opening Tri-Valley League play against Fillmore next week. Cooney wished everybody a bit of “Irish Luck” on this week of St. Patrick’s Day.

SBCC: There certainly haven’t been any power outages for the Vaqueros, who have hit 24 home runs in 16 games. At 8-8, they’ve averaged 11.6 runs in their eight victories.

Dos Pueblos graduate Conner Rehage is hitting .444 with a team-high seven homers and a team-high five steals. The Vaqueros open Western State Conference play on Tuesday at Moorpark.

WESTMONT: The Warriors split last week’s 4-game series against rival Biola. Jacob Regalado pitched eight innings in Thursday’s 5-2 victory and allowed just two runs. In the final game of the series on Saturday, the Warriors preserved a one-run lead by ending the game on a play at the plate.

Westmont will play at Vanguard for a series beginning on Thursday.


UCSB: The Gauchos are already five weeks into the season and have struggled a bit in their non-conference schedule, currently holding a 7-16 record.

“From the start we’ve talked about that it’s all about the Big West Conference,” said coach Brie Galicinao, who realized the other day that only two starters from last year’s team are still in the lineup.

She said that the team’s constantly improving and looking forward to the start of conference play. She introduced junior third-baseman Jessica Beristianos, a biology major whom Galicinao said always giggles after making a great play at the hot corner.

SANTA BARBARA: The Dons have a new coach in Tiffany Henning, who has seven seniors to help the adjustment. She introduced two of them, Sam Ferries and Katie Rodman.

“We’ve only played two games, so we’re still really fresh in our season, and we look forward to some good things and hopefully the best season we’ve had in a couple years,” said Henning.

SAN MARCOS: The Royals are 3-1 on the year heading into Channel League play, which begins this week. Luncheon-attendee Corrine Yingling is the team’s pitcher this year, and recently helped her own cause against Channel Islands by belting a 3-run homer in the first inning. Also at Harry’s was senior Jenise Fretz, who has had multiple hits in all four games so far.

CARPINTERIA: JV coach Chris Meloy announced that Carpinteria’s softball program has a whopping 43 players playing between his squad and the varsity this year, which is twice as many as last year. He brought along two varsity returners, Myriah Diaz and Ciera Kephart. The Warriors play Hueneme and Santa Paula this week.

BISHOP DIEGO: The Cardinals are coming off of a solid performance in the Santa Ynez Tournament. Coach Tom Beamer introduced senior first baseman Devon Stein, senior center-fielder Brittany Gignac and outfielder Portia Van Wingerden, whom Beamer said has one of the best arms on the team.

Gignac went 4-for-4 at the plate in one of Bishop’s tournament games over the weekend.

SBCC: The Vaqueros beat Oxnard 4-2 last Tuesday and are 9-6, 1-3 on the season. Their next game is on the road at defending state-champion Mt. SAC on Wednesday, and they will host L.A. Pierce on Thursday.


SAN MARCOS: Roger Kuntz brought some serious height along with him. Six-foot-6 Matt Welsh is a valedictorian candidate who is in his first season as a volleyball player.

“His learning curve is unbelievable right now,” said Kuntz.

Six-foot-5 Josh Guild is in his second year of volleyball and, like Welsh, is fresh off of the Royals’ Channel League-championship basketball season. Six-foot-4 Ian MacFarland is the most experienced of the three and is back healthy after breaking his ankle in a surfing accident over Christmas break.

The Royals won their pool at the Arcadia Tournament last weekend before falling in the quarterfinals. On tap for this week is a showdown with Santa Barbara on Thursday.

SANTA BARBARA: The Dons are 2-1 on the young season, and coach Chad Arneson was accompanied by his two team leaders, Alec Smyth and Clifford Anderson. Smyth is the team’s leader in kills, while the six-foot-7 Anderson leads the team in blocks. Arneson, aware of the size of the crowd and amount of coaches there to speak, admirably took just 53 seconds at the podium.

BISHOP DIEGO: Athletic Director Dan Peeters reported that the Cardinals finished second in the Silver Division at the San Luis Obispo Tournament over the weekend. Bishop plays Oak Park at home on Tuesday.

SBCC: Two local players are leading the Vaqueros, who are currently 6-4 overall and 1-2 in the WSC. Miles Evans, a Dos Pueblos graduate, leads the state in kills while Santa Barbara High grad Pete Aronchick had 22 kills in a game against Long Beach last week.


SANTA BARBARA: The Dons once again have an exceptional team as they go for their fourth consecutive league title, and top college programs have taken notice. Lavender brought Shane Lebow, who will play for Stanford on scholarship next year, as well as Jack Perry, who will be taking his talents to Northwestern.

The Dons play San Marcos at Sandpiper on Tuesday.

SAN MARCOS: Aaron Solis pinch-hit for golf coach Dave Siordia, and imparted some golf wisdom on the crowd.

“As we all know, half of golf is 90-percent mental,” said Solis.

Dodge Ward has been the most consistent player on the squad and has a low-round of one-under on the season. Sophomore Thayer White, a state qualifier for CIF, has also shot under par this year.

BISHOP DIEGO: The Cardinals recently shot 210 as a team, with four players shooting 81 or lower. Peeters introduced Bryan Herrera and Tim Swann. Herrera carries a 3.9 GPA while Swann carries a 3.8.

FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: UCSB high-jumper Jane Doolittle cleared 5’10” (1.78m) last week at the NCAA Indoor Championships, hosted by the University of Arkansas. Doolittle was one of eight athletes to clear 5’10”, which was the fifth-highest bar cleared on the day. The top athlete to clear 5’10” was placed at eighth, but Doolittle was placed 15th based on misses at earlier heights. Doolittle was the first UCSB competitor to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships, in the women’s track program’s second year of indoor competition.