by Darian Nourian and Steve Breazeale
Tritons Hit the Pool, Courts and Courses
The fall sports season is already underway at San Clemente High School. While some teams are in a rebuilding phase, others are primed to make runs at league and CIF titles. The 2011 girls cross country team hung a State title banner up in the rafters and this year’s team is poised to bring back another. The girls volleyball squad is the reigning South Coast League champs but lost a good amount of seniors to graduation. Will they be able to bounce back? As usual at San Clemente High, there are all kinds of storylines going on. Here is what you need to know heading into the 2012-2013 fall sports year.
Make sure to get your updates and game stories in our sports section at sanclementetimes.com and follow our brand new sports Twitter feed @SouthOCsports for up to the minute news and scores.
Girls Cross Country
The San Clemente girls cross country team enters the 2012 season not only as the No. 10 ranked team in CIF Division I, but also as the defending CIF Southern Section and State Regional champions.
With a core group of last year’s team returning the Tritons have high expectations for this season. According to head coach Dave Proodian, the team has a great shot at hanging another banner in the gym.
“We are looking to keep the inertia from last year’s team and keep rolling with our success,” Proodian said.
Proodian mentioned that his team has a very strong core group of 11 girls, but since he can only run seven each race, the restrictions could pose some problems down the road.
“It takes seven girls running on all seven cylinders each race in order to be successful,” Proodian said.
Proodian, a science teacher at San Clemente, likes to take his classroom teachings and apply it to the cross-country team. He states that, like an atom, the runners need to have strong nuclear bonds to one another if they are to succeed. In cross country, “pack running” is the way to maximize points, as all a teams’ runners ideally finish at around the same time, according to Proodian. With that in mind, Proodian stresses the importance of his runners sticking together.
Leading the way for the Tritons this season will be the reigning back-to-back South Coast League Champion, junior Melissa Eisele, who is already getting looks from Division I college programs, according to Proodian.
“Our team has worked hard and together and all of our training has really paid off,” Eisele said. “Hopefully, we can win our league this year, and repeat as CIF and state champions.”
After losing the South Coast League title to Trabuco Hills by only one point last season, winning league is one of the main goals for the Tritons this year, according to coach Proodian.
“It’s one of the toughest leagues in the nation and this year is no exception, as Capo and Tesoro both look really good, in addition to Dana Hills and Trabuco Hills,” Proodian said.
With the Tritons pegged as an early preseason favorite, they look to have another strong season and playoff run. –Darian Nourian
9/8 Laguna Hills Invite @ Laguna Hills 8 a.m.
9/15 Woodbridge Invite @ Woodbridge 3 p.m.
9/22 Dana Hills Invite @ Dana Hills 8 a.m.
10/3 SCL Cluster Meet @ Irvine Regional Park 2 p.m.
10/13 OC Championships @ Irvine Regional Park 8 a.m.
10/20 Mt. SAC Invite @ Mt. SAC TBA
11/1 SCL Finals @ Irvine Regional Park 1 p.m.
11/10 CIF Prelims @ Mt. SAC TBA
11/17 CIF Finals @ Mt. SAC TBA
11/24 State Meet @ Fresno TBA
Boys Cross Country
In 2012, the San Clemente boys cross country team will transition out of the demanding South Coast League into the almost equally brutal, Sea View League. With the league including some of the state’s top teams in Capistrano Valley, San Juan Hills and Aliso Niguel, the Tritons are just looking to be in the hunt for a CIF berth when league finals roll around.
“We have a really good group of young guys,” coach Dan Johnson said. “We have a solid, core group of five guys, but we are still looking to fill those two remaining spots, either with a couple of our returners, or with a couple of our young guys.”
The Triton’s top runner this year is senior Sergio Flores, who will be running his third year on varsity.
“My goal this year is to run under 15:30 and make CIF,” Flores said.
It seems to run in the family, as Flores’s brother, Mario, was a top runner at San Clemente years ago. The elder Flores now runs at Cal Poly Pomona and is helping out with this year’s varsity team.
Senior Bryan Dunne and juniors Matt Parker, Dylan Gemma and Kevin Mariano, who is currently injured, round out the top five for the Tritons. -DN
9/8 Laguna Hills Invite @ Laguna Hills, 8 a.m.
9/15 Woodbridge Invite @ Woodbridge, TBA
9/22 Dana Hills Invite @ Dana Hills, 8 a.m.
10/2 SVL Cluster Meet @ Irvine Regional Park, 1 p.m.
10/13 OC Championships @ Irvine Regional Park, 8 a.m.
10/20 Mt. SAC Invite @ Mt. SAC, TBA
11/1 SVL Finals @ Laguna Hills, 1 p.m.
11/10 CIF Prelims @ Mt. SAC, TBA
11/17 CIF Finals @ Mt. SAC, TBA
11/24 State Meet @ Fresno, TBA
This season ushers in a new era for the San Clemente girls golf team, as coach Mike Hurlbut welcomes one of the youngest teams he has ever had.
“This is the first time ever having four freshmen make the varsity golf team,” Hurlbut said.
This talented group of freshmen brings back glimpses of Michigan basketball’s “Fab Five” from the 1991 season. This “Fab Four” at San Clemente is made up of freshmen Sarah Duncan, Juliet Duralde, Isabella Seeburger and Madison Wiedeman.
While the Tritons have a large group of young talent, they also return some players with experience. Those returning are: seniors Elyse Kojima, Paige Yomogida, Anne Williams, Amanda Huffman and sophomore standout Alex Cooper.
With this combination of young talent and esteemed veterans, the Tritons are hoping to reach the postseason after not qualifying last year.
They will host the ninth annual Rainbow Sandals/ Lady Triton Invitational this Saturday, September 21, at San Clemente Municipal Golf Course. The tournament will feature over 100 players from more than 20 schools from around the area. -DN
9/4 El Toro @ Shorecliffs, 2:30 p.m.
9/6 El Toro @ Talega, 3 p.m.
9/13 Trabuco Hills @ Dove Canyon CC, 2:30 p.m.
9/14-15 Palm Desert Tourney TBA, TBA
9/18 Laguna Hills @ Laguna Woods, TBA
9/20 Laguna Hills/Palm Desert @ San Clemente Muni, 2 p.m.
9/21 Rainbow Sandals/Lady Triton Invite @ SC Muni, 12:30
9/25* Tesoro @ Tijeras Creek, 4 p.m.
9/27* Tesoro @ Bella Collina, 2:30 p.m.
10/1 LB Wilson Tourney @ Recreation Park , 7 a.m.
10/2* Dana Hills @ El Niguel CC, 2:30 p.m.
10/4* Dana Hills @ Bella Collina, 2:30 p.m.
10/8* Trabuco Hills @ Bella Collina, 2:30 p.m.
10/10* San Juan Hills @ San Juan Hills Golf Club, 3:30 p.m.
10/11* San Juan Hills @ Talega, 3 p.m.
10/15-16 SCL Finals TBA, TBA
*-denotes league match
After losing some key players to graduation, the Tritons return a very young team with little experience at the varsity level. There are only three players from last year’s South Coast League championship team on this year’s roster.
“We have a group of all-around good volleyball players, but we are still working on meshing as a team,” head coach Rob O’Rear said. “That strong team bond should improve as the season goes on and will come about after we establish some confidence and rhythm.”
The team returns a two-year varsity letterman in senior libero/defensive specialist Makenzie Northrup, who is committed to play volleyball at Villanova University.
Coach O’Rear also mentioned that the team returns a couple of offensive weapons this year in junior outside hitter Taylor Brubaker and senior middle blocker Haley Kool, who was a starter last year before she was sidelined due to injury.
With a team of two freshman, four sophomores, five juniors and only two seniors, the Tritons will be considered one of the youngest teams in the county this year, but under the instruction of long-time head coach Rob O’Rear, should be in the hunt for another South Coast League title and a CIF playoff berth. -DN
8/30 Chaparral @ San Clemente, 5:15 p.m.
9/6 El Toro @ El Toro, 5:15 p.m.
9/11 Huntington Beach @ Huntington Beach, 5:15 p.m.
9/18 Edison @ Edison, 5:45 p.m.
9/21-24 Dave Mohs Tourn. TBA, TBA
9/27 Capo Valley @ Capo Valley, 5:15 p.m.
9/28-29 Capo Valley Tourn. @ Capo Valley, TBA
10/2 Trabuco Hills @ San Clemente, 6:15 p.m.
10/4* Tesoro @ Tesoro, 6:15 p.m.
10/9* Mission Viejo @ San Clemente, 6:15 p.m.
10/11* Dana Hills @ Dana Hills, 6 p.m.
10/12-13 California Challenge Tourn. TBA, 3 p.m./8 p.m.
10/18* Trabuco Hills @ Trabuco Hills, 6:15 p.m.
10/22* Tesoro @ San Clemente, 6:15 p.m.
10/24* Mission Viejo @ Mission Viejo, 6:15 p.m.
10/29* Dana Hills @ San Clemente, 6:15 p.m.
*-denotes league match
The Tritons girls tennis team is a relatively young one this year after losing 10 players to graduation, six of whom were starters. Among those who graduated was the team’s top player, Sophia Bott, who is now playing at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
The team has three returning starters from last year and four players returning altogether.
“With lots of new players, we are working hard and the girls are improving on a week-to-week basis,” head coach John Stephens said.
The Tritons top two players this year will be returning seniors Ashlynn and Kayleigh Hall, who make up the No. 1 and No. 2 singles spots on the team. Junior Julia Yeam is the No. 3 singles players and will also play a role on the Tritons No. 1 doubles team.
The team also welcomes some young talent this year. Natalie Nasonghkla, Stephie Nielson, Taylor Bonghi and Kendall Hawkes are all freshman newcomers to the varsity team and will all be playing a role, according to coach Stephens.
“It’s hard to make up for the lost talent, but we have a great group of girls and our goal is to finish in the top three of our league and clinch a CIF playoff berth,” Stephens said. -DN
9/20* Tesoro @ San Clemente, 3 p.m.
9/25* Mission Viejo @ Mission Viejo, 3 p.m.
9/27* El Toro @ San Clemente, 3 p.m.
10/2* Dana Hills @ Dana Hills, 3 p.m.
10/3 Capo Valley @ San Clemente, 3 p.m.
10/9* Tesoro @ Tesoro, 3 p.m.
10/11* Mission Viejo @ San Clemente, 3 p.m.
10/16* El Toro @ El Toro, 3 p.m.
10/18* Dana Hills @ San Clemente, 3 p.m.
10/22 SCL Prelims @ LN Racquet Club, 12 p.m.
10/23 SCL Finals @ LN Racquet Club, 12 p.m.
*-denotes league match
The Tritons (4-0) cruised through their first three games of the season, outscoring those opponents 135-20. Their most recent game, against La Costa Canyon on September 14, was a tougher test. The Tritons went on to win the game 21-10 but took a hit to their depth chart in the process.
Senior quarterback Sean Donnelly injured his throwing shoulder and has been diagnosed with a minor strain. Backup quarterback Sam Darnold was put in the game but quickly injured his throwing hand and had to leave as well. Darnold was set to visit a specialist this week and is listed as day to day according to head coach Jaime Ortiz. That left junior third stringer Loren Applegate as the Tritons only option and he filled in effectively and helped seal the Triton victory by playing for about a quarter and a half.
The Tritons take to the road this week to play Newport Harbor on September 21. Check www.sanclementetimes.com for a full game recap/schedules and more. –Steve Breazeale
Boys Water Polo
Coach Marc Parker really likes this year’s version of the boys water polo team. There are five returning seniors who played significant roles in the Tritons run to the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS playoffs coming back and a solid mix of what Parker likes to call “blue chip” underclassmen have emerged on this year’s squad. The blue chippers include several sophomores and a freshman that have stepped up in the summer and look to make an impact.
“I think we have great senior leadership…It’s one of the best (groups) I’ve had in years,” Parker said. “It’s going to be a tough go with El Toro and Dana Hills (in league), but I think we have enough talent to win.”
Parker has preached the importance of defense to his team in the early goings. The offense has historically always been there for the Tritons (4-2) and sometimes the defense has been slightly overlooked, according to Parker. He is trying to remedy that situation by focusing mainly on his team’s ability to defend over the summer.
The young Triton team has already had success in the six games they’ve played this season. They picked up three wins last weekend at the Clovis West Tournament, where they lost in the quarterfinals, and picked up another solid, non-league victory over Clovis West.
Look for senior captains Robby Stiefel (outside attacker) and Derek Cousineau (center) to lead the way for the Tritons. Stiefel is a skilled shooter and can go on streaky scoring sprees at any given moment, according to Parker. Cousineau is just now returning to the Tritons lineup after suffering a hip injury. Freshman Damjam Kertesz is one of Parker’s blue chip players who has worked his way into getting more playing time. -SB
9/20-9/22 South Coast League Tournament TBA, TBA
9/25* Capistrano Valley TBA
10/1 Tesoro TBA
10/4 Carlsbad TBA
10/5-10/6 So Cal Invite TBA
10/9* Aliso Niguel TBA
10/12 Villa Park TBA
10/16* Dana Hills TBA
10/18* El Toro TBA
10/20 University TBA
10/23* Capistrano Valley TBA
10/30* Aliso Niguel TBA
11/1* Dana Hills TBA
*-denotes league match