Track meets on track thanks to Smelley, Latham

Putting on a track meet can be exhausting work, but it was a welcomed task for Russell Smelley and the Westmont Athletics Department this past weekend. The Warriors got to put their new state-of-the-art track facility on display to the rest of the Golden State Athletic Conference as they hosted the conference championships.

Smelley reported that everything went smoothly at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon.

“It’s really a superior facility that the college has built,” said Smelley, who has run the program for over 30 years. “After 33 years of college coaching, I have not seen any facility better for the college athlete to compete on than what we have there right now. We hope to host a lot of meets in the future.”

Two Westmont athletes earned GSAC titles, and the men’s javelin throw was particularly intriguing. Brent Legace won the event with a school-record mark of 68.15 meters. His friend and teammate, Andrew Kolodinski, broke the record right before that with a throw of 64.77 meters. Both marks earned automatic qualification into the NAIA National Championships. The women’s winner was Kasey Kearin, who bested the field in the long jump with a leap of 18 feet, 1.75 inches.

Smelley said he couldn’t have pulled off the meet without the help of Sports Information Director Ron Smith, as well as the baseball team and the workers at the school’s Physical Plant.


Speaking of event organizers, this month’s honoree puts together one of the biggest events around. Armando “Mondo” Requejo organizes and directs the Mothballs Criterium — a local cycling race which takes place in February and attracts 400-500 competitors per year.

It’s all done through Echelon Santa Barbara, a cycling club founded in 1984 which promotes the sport locally. Echelon also runs a youth program which has produced the likes of Olympian Adam Duvendeck, who told award presenter Joe Howell that Echelon and Mondo were instrumental in his success.

Requejo has been on Echelon’s Board of Directors since 2001.

“Mondo truly represents what every successful community group and every successful sports organization needs — someone who works hard for the organization, is passionate about its purpose and is not concerned about getting credit,” said Howell.


CARPINTERIA: Van Latham has been running track meets at Carpinteria High for decades, and it’s been a busy couple of weeks for the longtime coach. Two weekends ago the Warriors hosted the 91st annual Russell Cup, which included 43 schools and 1,500 athletes. This past weekend they hosted the County Championships, which featured well over 1,000 athletes.

In between those two events, Carpinteria hosted a dual meet with Tri-Valley League foe Oak Park. Latham thanked the other Santa Barbara schools at the County Meet for their help in setting up the facility.

“It’s a big undertaking. It’s very difficult to run two major invitational meets back-to-back, and without them we wouldn’t be able to do it,” he said.

It’s a rebuilding year for the Warriors, who have not been competitive as a team in most meets, but have been exceptionally competitive when it comes to personal-best marks. Latham and the Warriors set a goal at the beginning of the season to have each athlete record six personal-bests during the year. The season isn’t over, and they’ve already done it 444 times — 6.09 per athlete.

He introduced Grant Coleman, who pr’d in the 800 over the weekend, and Melissa Tovar, who took second in the county in the frosh/soph mile. Also at Harry’s was Trinidad Martinez, whom Latham described as “as valuable as anybody on the team” due to his willingness to help the program in any way possible.

DOS PUEBLOS: The Chargers won the Grand Sweepstakes at the County Championships for the second straight year in a close battle with San Marcos. Chargers coach Dave Kuderka also knows how laborious it can be to run a meet, and said that relying on team captains to help out is a big key.

He introduced Nathaniel Block, an 800-meter runner whom he described as “a captain’s captain.”

“He’s reminding me I need things before I remember I need things, which is great to have” said Kuderka.

Hurdle captain Chris Gomez has consistently under 16 seconds in the 110 hurdles, while Tim Park has excelled in numerous events. He cleared 12-6 in the pole vault on Saturday and also pr’d in the 100. Sprints captain Cliff Lekas ran 11.15 in the 100 and id hoping to break the 11-second barrier by the end of the season.

Michelle Gee won the 110 hurdles on Saturday and also broke a 27-year-old school record in the 300 hurdles, finishing second to San Marcos’ Elysia Hodges.

SAN MARCOS: It’s difficult to win Athlete of the Week twice in a season, but San Marcos junior Hannah McDaniel has done it in the span of three weeks. McDaniel won the high jump, 200 and 400 at the County Championships, and also anchored the 4×400 relay team which set the meet record.

“She’s one of the most amazing athletes at San Marcos in a long time,” said coach Marilyn Hantgin.

Also winning multiple medals was luncheon atendee Bennie Kirkwood, who was tops in the high jump and 110 hurdles. Hantgin also introduced senior J.D. Duran, who was on the winning 4×100 team and also posted strong times in the individual sprints. On the girls side, Hantgin brought along Kailyn Koopmans, a double-winner in frosh/soph events, and varsity 800 winner Marie Brashears.

SANTA BARBARA: The Dons, unfortunately, do not have a regulation track at Peabody Stadium, so they have to go to La Playa Stadium twice a week for practice. Assistant coach Jess Martinez introduced four seniors, including long-jumper Michael Troley.

“He practices on a cruddy pit at Santa Barbara High School, yet he goes over 18 feet and that’s marvelous for us,” said Martinez.

Also there for the luncheon were jumper Christina Miller and sprinters Bert Esparza and Liz Cuthbert.

BISHOP DIEGO: Cardinals coach Matt Capritto took a moment to thank Hantgin and the Royals for allowing Bishop to use its facilities for practice. He was joined by Bruce Garcia, a football player who came out for track to improve on his core strength. He ended up winning the shot put at the first Frontier League meet. Also at the luncheon was three-sport varsity athlete Janelle Kohler, a senior and the team’s top female thrower.


SBCC: Taking a vote was hardly even necessary for the Male Athlete of the Week this time.

SBCC’s Zach Edgington, a 6-1 left-hander, baffled Ventura last Thursday with a school-record 21 strikeouts in a 4-2 baseball victory at Pershing Park. Edgington gave up one earned run and held the Pirates to six hits in his second complete game of the year. He struck out the side in the first and ninth innings and didn’t walk a batter until there were two outs in the ninth.

“That was a pitching performance like I’ve never seen,” said 10th-year SBCC coach Teddy Warrecker.
Edgington (6-3), who has a 2.74 ERA, struck out at least two batters in eight of nine innings. Eight of his Ks came with batters looking at strike three, including all three outs in the ninth.

He ranks second in the state in strikeouts with 97, just seven behind Kyle Petter of El Camino.

The Vaqueros (19-14, 9-8) are in third place in the WSC North with three games remaining and Warrecker feels his team will get a playoff berth if they finish in third.

SBCC has three games in four days this week — Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. at home against Hancock, Thursday at Cuesta and Friday at 1 p.m. at home vs. Cuesta.

UCSB: The last time the Gauchos were 17-17 was in 1983, after which they went on to win 25 of their next 28 games.

“I’m anxious, really anxious to have history repeat itself with this deal,” said coach Bob Brontsema.

The most important news out of the program, however, is that pitcher Nick Capito is okay. The junior lefty took a line drive right between the eyes in Saturday’s game at Long Beach State.

“That’s something you never want to see in your lifetime,” said Brontsema.

The coach believes that the ball first hit the bill of his cap, and the bill bent downwards in between the ball and Capito’s forehead. Miraculously, he’s even told Bronstema he wants to pitch in Tuesday’s home game against USC.

WESTMONT: The Warriors split a doubleheader against 15th-ranked Point Loma over the weekend, and coach Robert Ruiz has an extra edge on the opponent heading into the GSAC season’s final series against Azusa Pacific.

“It’s the college that I coached at for the last five years. I recruited and coached almost every kid in the lineup, so hopefully we’ll have a good scouting report and a good plan against them,” said Ruiz.

He brought along Charles Whitman, a fifth-year senior from Baltimore who has been playing this season with a torn labrum. Despite that, he went 4-for-7 in the doubleheader and had the game-winning sacrifice fly in the Westmont victory.

DOS PUEBLOS: The Chargers turned their season around last week, posting back-to-back wins against Santa Barbara to jump right back into the thick of the Channel League race at 3-4. Coach Nate Mendoza brought along two whiz-kids who played a big part in the wins.

ASB President Matt McClenathen, who carries a 4,2 GPA, went 4-for-7 over the two games. Senior Class President Bradley Tirador, a 4.0 student, pitched a complete game against the Dons on Friday that Mendoza called the best performance he’s seen in his two years as coach.

SANTA BARBARA: Dons assistant coach George Rempe congratulated the Chargers for playing so well against Santa Barbara, citing it as an example of this year’s Channel League being the most competitive he’s ever seen. The Dons are a half-game behind first-place Ventura heading into Tuesday’s home game against the Cougars.

Rempe recognized Will Martin and Robert Crawford. Martin, a pitcher, has been dealing with an injury but has served as a pinch-runner numerous times this season. Crawford, son of San Marcos coach Rob Crawford, plays third base and had his first homer of the season against DP. The younger Crawford, who was the top student in the SBHS junior class last year, wore a blue shirt to Harry’s.

“I assume he’s wearing blue to honor his dad instead of wearing green,” joked Rempe.

SAN MARCOS: The elder Crawford took responsibility for the shirt.

“Since he doesn’t shop for himself, all we buy him is blue shirts,” he chided.

The Royals beat Buena twice last week and are also in the thick of the league race, as no team is more than a game-and-a-half out of first place. Crawford’s three luncheon guests have all been key contributors this year. Junior outfielder Lino Reveles has saved a lot of runs with his glove in left field, while Jimmy Brakka — the team’s only sophomore — had three hits in a win over Buena last week.

Senior Shane Wieland has battled injuries this year, but returned to the mound in a 2-2 ballgame and pitched three scoreless innings against Buena.

BISHOP DIEGO: The Cardinals split a pair of games against rival Carpinteria last week, and Hank Vanderfin turned in a memorable performance in the first game. Carpinteria went up 9-0 in the first inning, but Vanderfin came on in relief and pitched nine scoreless innings as the Cardinals chipped away and eventually won 10-9 in the 10th.

Coach Casey Cloud also brought along senior first baseman Joe Salda, who had been a catcher for three years before yielding those duties to his little brother, Jon, this year. Cloud said that he has been a great older brother all season.


SANTA BARBARA: Chad Arneson and the Dons are hungry for payback against Dos Pueblos after the Chargers snapped their 40-game Channel League win streak earlier this season. They’ll get the chance when DP visits J.R. Richards Gym on Tuesday night.

Arneson introduced two sophomores — Casey Slaught and Holden Ploch — who are showing flashes of future stardom this season. He also brought along Mark Outwater, who has stepped in at the libero position and provided solid defense for the Dons.

SAN MARCOS: The Royals are 9-8 and took the Dons to five sets last week before eventually falling a bit short. They are in the hunt for the third and final playoff spot out of the Channel League. Coach Roger Kuntz introduced sophomore Spencer Johnson, who is in his first year of volleyball but already has quite an arm-swing. He recently blasted one down the line that went into Kuntz’s thumb, and the coach still can’t move it around all that well.

Also at Harry’s were Ben McKenzie and John Workfield, the team’s new setter. The Royals won the CIF Academic Championship and will be at Angels Stadium on Tuesday night to be honored.


SAN MARCOS: Aaron Solis pinch-hit for coach Alex Sheldon, who had classes to teach during the luncheon. The Royals have one of the best all-around freshman athletes in town in Hannah Ball, who is a three-sport varsity player as a ninth-grader. She’s hitting over .500 on the season and recently had a grand slam against Santa Barbara. Solis also introduced Natalie WIlliams, who is hitting over .300 in her third year as a varsity player.

BISHOP DIEGO: Tom Beamer’s Cardinals are 10-9 on the year, but have fallen victim to the “one bad inning” disease in most of their losses. Beamer even waved his checkbook in the air offering payment to any coach who had the cure.

He brought his two team captains, Diana Sleep and Annette Gonzales. Both are hitting .400, and Gonzales was wished a happy birthday by the large crowd packed into the Ranchero Room.