Press Luncheon: Southern Section Commissioner in the house

The Santa Barbara athletic community broke bread with CIF Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon.

Wigod was in town to promote a number of CIF initiatives, including a sportsmanship program called “Pursuing Victory with Honor” and a commemorative team made of its 100 greatest athletes celebrating the Southern Section’s 100th year.

Round Table president Rich Hanna introduced Wigod.

“Thank you very much, that’s not very often that the CIF gets claps and applause,” he joked.

“I’m always happy to be somewhere where student-athletes are being recognized for their great achievements, not only for the success they have in the on the courts, and in the pools, and on the places in the fields, but also for the kind of young people they are.”

The Southern Section includes 579 schools with over 800,000 students.

Twenty two of those students were in attendance with their coaches, including special honorees Tyler Heffernan and Madeline Trabucco.

Santa Barbara High's Tyler Heffernan

Santa Barbara High’s Tyler Heffernan

Heffernan was introduced as the Phil Womble Award recipient for Santa Barbara High while Trabucco was the Female Athlete of the Week.

Trabucco was the MVP of the weekend’s Tournament of Champions, where the Dons won the title from an extremely tough 16-team field. Trabucco is the goalkeeper for Santa Barbara High’s girls water polo team, which now shares the No. 1 ranking in Division 1. Trabucco was the backbone of a defense that allowed a tournament-low 19 goals in four victories.

Heffernan, a junior, plays water polo and is on the swim team while also carrying a GPA of 4.75 in the classroom.

“He really is one of those special kids,” said Santa Barbara High aquatics coach Mark Walsh. “Obviously in the classroom he does a great job but also in the pool he’s as dedicated as all the kids. But really it’s the extra integrity, it’s the character.”

Walsh credited Heffernan for his work ethic as well, saying he’s often the first to practice and the last to leave.

Heffernan thanked Walsh along with his family and Santa Barbara High principal John Becchio and athletic director Joe Chenoweth.

“I’m just so honored to have kids like that in the program,” Walsh said.

Westmont College’s Preston Branson was the Male Athlete of the Week.

Branson led the Warriors’ basketball team to a pair of GSAC victories last week, including a 77-61 dusting of rival Biola. Branson posted point totals of 23 and 27 points, both team highs.

“We’re having a great season,” said Warriors head coach John Moore, whose team is ranked No. 8 in the country. “A lot of that has to do with the competitive spirit of this big-time Warrior.?It’s a privilege to coach him.”

Moore started with words of support for Westmont women’s coach Kirsten Moore.

“Kirsten Moore is a remarkable woman, and if you didn’t notice that today then you need to get a heartbeat,” John Moore said.

Saturday was the Alex Moore Classic, a double-header at Westmont in honor of Kirsten Moore’s late husband Alex.

“Really my main goal today is to somehow express how overwhelmingly full my heart is of thanks to this community,” Kirsten Moore said before giving a report on her team, a national championship contender featuring Olympian Tugce Canitez.

Many at the luncheon were wearing bracelets handed out on Saturday that read “Do the Work.”

Santa Barbara High is another local women’s basketball team with a high ranking. The Dons, No. 2 in Division 3-AA, are shooting as well from outside the 3-point arc as they are from inside it.

Dons head coach Andrew Butcher wondered if that meant his team should just shoot three-pointers all the time then.

Bishop Diego head coach Jeff Burich has three players who love to shoot the three.

“If they heard that, that they’d only be shooting threes, they’d all be going over to Santa Barbara,” he said.

Luckily he brought with him two post players, Charlie Fling and Daisy Poindexter.

The upcoming Women and Girls in Sports Luncheon is coming up on Monday, February 4. Local female student-athletes will be attending Earl Warren Showgrounds to hear Olympian swimmer Kaitlin Sandeno speak.


Harrison Rios, San Marcos Wrestling
Christian Garcia, San Marcos Wrestling
Charlie Fling, Bishop Diego Basketball
Daisy Poindexter, Bishop Diego Basketball
Brendan Fay, Santa Barbara High Basketball
Nicky Von Weisenberger, Santa Barbara High Basketball
Alyssa Cosio, Santa Barbara High Basketball
Melissa Lemus, Santa Barbara High Basketball
Benjie Sorenson, Laguna Blanca Basketball
Lesly Zapata, Carpinteria Basketball
Morgan Wallace, Carpinteria Basketball
Steven Kohler, Bishop Diego Basketball
Grant Sexton, Bishop Diego Basketball
Ashley O’Brien, Providence Hall Basketball
Ozie LeSage, Providence Hall Basketball
Matt Eaton, Providence Hall Basketball
Betsy Hendrix, Santa Barbara High Water Polo
Sophie Trabucco, Santa Barbara High Water Polo
Maddie Trabucco, Santa Barbara High Water Polo
Hannah Koper, San Marcos High Water Polo
Riley Heiduk, San Marcos High Water Polo
Tyler Heffernan, Santa Barbara High Water Polo
Preston Branson, Westmont Basketball