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By Steve Breazeale
The spring preps season is underway at San Clemente High School. In our annual preview, we get you caught up to date on all of the Triton programs that will be in action this year.
For in-game updates, scores, news and more for all of the Triton spring sports programs, follow us on Twitter @SouthOCsports.
The end of the 2016 season was a tough pill to swallow for the San Clemente baseball team, but the Tritons are putting things behind them and coming together quickly in preparation for the new season.
San Clemente sat in first place heading into the final stretch of the 2016 Sea View League season but faltered down the stretch and missed out on the playoffs.
San Clemente’s pitching staff will be anchored by junior UCSB commit Mike McGreevy and seniors Nathan Fleuriau and Evan Banks. The staff does not have a flame-throwing power arm, but features a trio of experienced pitchers who pitch to contact and rely on the defense behind them.
The Tritons lineup features several impact bats. Anchoring the middle of the lineup will be Spencer Bramwell, a Colorado Mesa University commit, Charlie Loust, a junior outfielder and catcher, and Cade Conrad, the team’s leadoff hitter.
Junior Laguna Beach transfer Jeff Bruynjens is in the process of becoming eligible, and will give the Tritons roster a game-changing boost when he is cleared, according to coach Dave Gellatly.
The Tritons moved to the South Coast League this season, which features top Orange County teams like El Toro, Mission Viejo and Aliso Niguel.
Expectations are high this season for the San Clemente boys volleyball team, and for good reason.
The Tritons return six talented starters who were part of a team that advanced to the quarterfinals of last year’s CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs.
As usual, the Tritons boast an impressive mix of height and talent across the board. Standouts Kyler Presho, Jess Hunt, Kian Feiner, Bryce Curtis and Sean Carroll all return. Carroll, an All-South Coast League libero, is currently nursing a leg injury, but is expected to make a major impact once he returns, according to head coach Ken Goldstone.
Goldstone has led many talented teams in his tenure, but he anticipates this group to be one of the best in recent memory.
“I really think if we’re healthy, the sky is the limit. We can match up with most teams,” Goldstone said.
San Clemente will be tested early and often as they navigate through one of the toughest schedules in program history. The Tritons opened with a five-set win over Edison on Feb. 28 and lost to Newport Harbor and Laguna Beach on March 2 and March 7, respectively.
The San Clemente boys tennis team will have a chance to extend its impressive league winning streak this season, but they will have their work cut out for them.
The Tritons have won the South Coast League for six consecutive seasons, and after an offseason with a lot of senior turnover that depleted their roster, the Tritons will have to get a well-rounded effort if they want to stay at the top.
San Clemente lost its top two singles players from last season to graduation, but will be anchored by returning junior Caden Spencer.
Like he’s done each of the past three seasons, senior Chris Torcaso will be part of the Tritons’ top doubles team.
The Tritons will start just one senior, Torcaso, and will start freshmen Griffen Wolfe and Corey Angeli.
The Tritons were top-heavy with talent in singles and doubles last season and essentially earned automatic points as a result. They don’t have that luxury this time around.
“They have to rely on themselves and not other players because this year is not a guarantee,” coach John Stephens said. “They’ve got more pressure on them but also more responsibility, which we think is a good thing in the long run.”
Girls Track & Field
Out of the large group of athletes that make up the San Clemente girls track and field team, there are only eight seniors. Those seniors have valuable years of experience, which has made for an interesting dynamic in offseason training.
The young Triton group can easily identify the athletes with experience and are learning how to compete and train in preparation for the new year.
“Because we have just a few seniors, the other girls know who (the seniors) are and can get to know them,” coach Dave Proodian said. “If the seniors play it right, they can be great leaders. All of the younger girls can learn from that.”
Returning to the mix is a strong group of distance runners. Senior Chandler Horton is looking to parlay her strong cross country season into the 400 and 800-meter events. Freshman Hana Catsimanes has emerged as a top distance runner.
Pole vaulter Kirra Schulz has a chance at breaking the school record this season, and junior Chloe Patterson is looking to continue her dominance in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles.
The Tritons will make a move to the competitive South Coast League this season.
Boys Track & Field
As a result of their continued success in the Sea View League, the San Clemente boys track and field team has been moved to the South Coast League in 2017. The Tritons won the Sea View League each of the last three seasons.
This year, the Tritons’ main strength is their depth, and their roster features impact athletes across the board.
Juniors Jack Shippy and Austin Whitsett, standouts on the CIF State Championship football team, will help anchor the sprint team.
CIF-SS qualifier and Navy commit Sean Kelsay figures to get plenty of points in the pole vault.
In the distance events, senior Carlos De Jesus will make an impact following a strong cross country season.
Both the boys and girls track and field teams are looking forward to hosting the annual Triton Invitational on campus on March 18.
Things are aligning for the San Clemente girls lacrosse team this season, and if their early-season success is any indication, this could be the breakout year the program has been waiting for.
Coach Josh Cain’s squad is 2-1 on the young season, and the team has shown signs it can compete at a high level. The Tritons’ loss was in overtime to a talented Newport Harbor team that is expected to compete for a CIF-SS title. San Clemente defeated San Juan Hills on March 2, and they will play a tough schedule that features nonleague games against Foothill and Los Alamitos.
The Tritons return their top-two goal scorers from last season in juniors Kiley Buckley and Shay Hefft. Returning midfielder Jessica De Collibus will be the playmaker charged with igniting the Tritons’ talented goal scorers.
“For us to be right there with (Newport Harbor) in game one of the season is really exciting,” Cain said. “If we can already compete now I’m excited to see where we’ll be at the end.”
The San Clemente softball team is off to a good start to the season and has a solid nucleus of returning players it will rely on in 2017.
Grace Krantz and Raeonna Flores give San Clemente a dynamic one-two punch from the pitching circle. Both players anchored the rotation last season and picked up valuable experience. Krantz relies on a solid fastball while Flores utilizes several offspeed offerings.
The Tritons are also versatile in the field. Returners Mikaela Mak, Amber Vaccaro and Jillian Gellatly have the ability to play multiple positions and will be fixtures in the lineup.
San Clemente has reached at least the second round of the playoffs each of the last two seasons, and are gunning for an even better showing this year.
“We have a bunch of kids that try hard and they don’t give up,” Malcolm said. “We’re in a tough league so (the playoffs) is one of our big goals because we know we can hang there.”
For the first time in three years, the San Clemente boys swim team defeated longtime rival Dana Hills in a nonleague dual meet. The meet was decided by just two points, but the Tritons’ depth proved to be key.
That depth is something the Tritons will continue to rely on as the season progresses.
Returning to the pool is junior Weston Rowan, a versatile junior who spent most of last season out of the water battling stage 4 Burkitt lymphoma. Rowan’s health has rebounded and he has not missed a beat since returning to competition, coach Thomas Dollar said. Rowan will look to pick up points in the 100-meter backstroke and 200 individual medley.
BYU commit Brad Prolo returns to swim the 200 IM, 100 butterfly and 100 breast stroke. James Gamette, Dorian Johnson, Spencer Burress, and water polo standouts Sean Edwards and Josh Morer (spell) add to the Tritons depth.
Like the boys swim team, the San Clemente girls swim team celebrated a big victory over Dana Hills in their season opening meet. The Tritons are hoping to carry that momentum into the new season.
The girls swim team’s numbers have swelled this season, and the Tritons return roughly 35 swimmers with experience, according to coach Brad Kerr.
Leading the way for the Tritons will be Lauren Amigleo, a 100-meter butterfly and 50 freestyle swimmer. Tera Richardson, a standout water polo player, also returns and will pick up points in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle.
The San Clemente boys golf team will field a formidable lineup this season as it looks to defend its South Coast League championship.
Leading the way will be junior co-captain Alex Pak, a standout that already has a tournament win under his belt. Pak captured the Servite Invitational title on Feb. 27. Joining Pak at the top of the Tritons lineup is Christian Wentzel, who placed 29th in the CIF SoCal Regional Championship last season. Pak placed 21st at the event.
The rest of the San Clemente roster is battling for spots in the lineup, which is a good situation for first-year head coach Marc Parker.
Freshman Drayton Joseph, senior co-captain Logan Manning, senior Ryan Moore and Troy Nueva help round out what is one of the deeper lineups in the South Coast League.
“The depth of the team is impressive and so is their ability to get the most out of each other,” Parker said. “Each player will be fighting all year long for a final spot in matches.”
Through two games, the San Clemente boys lacrosse team’s offense has scored an impressive 33 goals. The Tritons, who return nearly every offensive piece from last year’s team, have a new coach and a new system, and so far, they have breezed past the opposition.
San Clemente, which ran away with the South Coast League title in 2016, is under the guidance of first-year head coach Brendan Finnerty. Finnerty came to the program following a successful three-year stint at Beckman.
Because the Tritons have so many returning standouts, Finnerty wants them to push the tempo and play with speed.
The Tritons are led up top by returning attack Nick Lemus, Matt Keany and Liam Nelson. David Howren, Josh Sanchez, Branden Wilson and Omeed Farhadi will man the midfield.
First-year starting goalie Harrison Webb and the Tritons defense have stood strong through two games and have allowed just 11 goals.
The Tritons will not have to wait long before opening their league title defense. San Clemente will face El Toro in the league opener on March 17.