San Clemente High School spring sports teams gear up for new season
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The diamond will be full of returning starters and players on this year’s San Clemente baseball team, which bodes well for the Tritons as they look to build on their historic 2013 season. The Tritons won a school-record 23 games last year, highlighted by a 12-game win streak, and made it to the second round of the CIF-SS Division 2 Championships. The finish was slightly disappointing, according to head coach Dave Gellatly, but the season as a whole was a success.
The Tritons return standout junior left-handed pitcher Kolby Allard, who pitched most of last year with a nagging back injury that limited his pitch count and workload. Despite the limitations, Allard turned heads by maintaining a 1.43 ERA in 54 innings pitched, striking out nearly twice as many batters as he walked. Gellatly said Allard is healthy and has turned into more of a power pitcher, having been clocked as high as 91 mph in the offseason.
Junior pitcher Will Tribucher will be the No. 2 starter. In all, the Tritons have 12 players who Gellatly feels comfortable putting on the mound, which makes the rotation deeper than it was last year.
Position players Lucas Herbert (catcher), Trevor Beard (third base) and Kent Burckle (infield) will again play important roles on the field and in the lineup.
“We did not score a lot of runs last year and our pitching kind of carried us through. This year I think we’re better on the mound, defensively and I think we’re better offensively,” Gellatly said. “I don’t think there’s an automatic out in the lineup no matter who starts.”
Last season, the San Clemente boys volleyball team had the luxury of fielding several standout seniors who powered them to appearances in both the CIF-SS Division 1 and CIF Regional semifinals. With a majority of the Tritons starters now gone to graduation, this year’s squad is preparing to fill their predecessor’s shoes.
San Clemente’s lone returning starter will be senior outside hitter Shawn Stephens. Due to injuries, senior Peter Van Liefde saw considerable playing time in the final third of the season and will make a contribution to a veteran outside hitter unit.
The Tritons will have to adjust to their new 6-foot tall senior setter Nick Goldstone, who is taking over for the team’s former setter, 6-foot-4-inch All-CIF selection Jack Yoder, who was able to dish out lofty sets high above the net.
Goldstone, along with the passing abilities of the team’s outside hitters and liberos—where newcomers Kyle Hunt, Marcus McGuire and Cale Foreman figure to be in the mix—will be crucial to the Tritons attempt at another deep playoff run.
“We have good size, especially at the net. That translates both to blocking and hitting, so we’ll be consistent there,” head coach Ken Goldstone said. “If we can pass the ball consistently and serve-receive, everything else will fall into place.”
First-year head coach Bill Malcolm will attempt to right the ship for the San Clemente girls softball team, following a 5-20 effort in 2013. The Tritons were very young last season, fielding a number of underclassmen. Many of those same players now return with valuable varsity experience.
Malcolm brings 25 years of travel softball coaching experience to the table, and so far, he has been impressed by the Tritons efforts in the offseason. Playing in the President’s Day Tournament in Anaheim last month, the Tritons went 4-2.
“We’re going to have a good year. They’ve got all the things that make a good team,” Malcolm said. “For just throwing them together and shuffling the cards and seeing where we are going, I’m pleased.”
The Triton pitching rotation will feature the right-handed juniors Lauren Kane and Jordyne Prussak. Kane also projects to be a middle of the order bat in the Tritons lineup that features other power hitters like senior catcher and captain Shannon McCasland, junior shortstop Kelsey Horton and junior outfielder Lauren Gonzales.
Head coach Mike Hurlbut said the 2014 version of his team is one of the most talent-laden squads he’s seen. The Tritons, who placed third in the Sea View League and advanced to the CIF Division Championships in 2013, return four of their top-6 players from last year and have picked up three freshmen who are already looking to make an impact at the varsity level.
Sophomore Shane Barriera and junior Sammy Schwartz, the team’s top duo, along with senior Reese Wahlin and junior Austin Briggs, make up the core returning group. Freshman Beau Hagan and Ryan Moore have already made it into the starting rotation, with fellow freshman Brannon McCabe waiting close behind in the wings.
Right now, the Tritons top six players hold a scoring average of 43 or below, with Barriera (35 stroke average) and Schwartz (36) leading the charge.
“This is the first time we’ve had this quality of talent try out,” Hurlbut said. “We’re really excited to have our returners coming back. Having three freshmen on the team is also a definite bonus.”
Boys Swimming and Diving
The San Clemente boys swim and dive team has not won a league title since 2004, and head coach Marc Parker believes the team’s depth and a key offseason transfer gives them a good shot at finally bringing home a championship banner in 2014.
Aidan Pastel, who specializes in the 200-meter freestyle, is a sophomore who transferred from Washington D.C. He will join a Tritons relay team that sent three units to the CIF-SS Prelims last season. Junior Chase Hamming, who was a part of the relay teams in 2013, figures to be a part of the group yet again, as well as being a part of the one-two punch in the 200-freestyle alongside Pastel.
Reigning South Coast League diving champion Caleb Dixon will help the Tritons rack up valuable CIF points.
Seniors Coby Larinde (500 and 200 freestyle), Ben Chong (200 individual medley and 100 backstroke) and John Chetwynd (50 and 100 freestyle) return.
“We are trying to focus on that league title. We haven’t had one in 10 years so it’d be nice to get one of those and put it on the board for us. Our depth will be the key for that,” Parker said.
Girls Swimming and Diving
The San Clemente girls swim and dive teams went undefeated in Sea View League dual meet action last year. But when it came time for league finals, where teams can field four swimmers in each event, a lack of depth tripped them up and they placed second behind Mission Viejo.
Winning by slim margins became the trademark of last year’s team. The Tritons won two head-to-head matches against the Diablos and Dana Hills by a combined two points.
The Tritons will rely on a large returning group that includes distance swimmers Raselle Chetwynd, Flora van der School (backstroke), El Seabern (breaststroke) and Elizabeth Cruz (butterfly).
The Tritons are particularly deep in the freestyle and will plug incoming transfer Emily Gough into the rotation.
The girls diving team will again be a strength when it comes to CIF competition. A group featuring senior Makena Chamoures, Haley Farnsworth and Sophia George earned more CIF points for the Tritons than the entire swim team in 2013. All three divers return this season.
The three-time defending South Coast League champion San Clemente boys tennis team took a hit to graduation but return a handful of impact players that should keep them in contention.
Senior Nic Valko was on the team’s top doubles duo last season but will make the switch to singles in 2014. Jay Yeam returns and will be in the top three of the singles rotation. Freshman Michael Bott has already impressed head coach John Stephens and will likely break through into the singles unit.
The doubles team of Matt Greenberg and Billy Whitaker was almost unbeatable last season and the two will return to play alongside one another this year. Greenberg and Whitaker went 56-1 overall last year, going undefeated in league play. The rest of the Tritons doubles teams will be made up of returning players and few call-ups from last year’s junior varsity squad.
“It’s definitely a whole new team … But we have some very good recruits this year,” Greenberg said. “It won’t do any good to just have individuals here, we have to all work together and keep up our two and three doubles teams.”
After a two-win season in 2013, San Clemente girls lacrosse head coach Joshua Cain and his staff began implementing a zone defense, hoping it would not only help the team defend better, but improve their concept of team play as well.
Every girl on the team is a returning player and for many of them, this will be their third year playing alongside each other. After playing together for all those years, Cain believes the team is starting to reap the benefits. He has seen the team transform over the offseason, from one that relied on a few individuals to a more cohesive unit.
“We’re switching from where it was a couple of them as individuals, taking the ball because they didn’t quite trust their teammates to pass. Now they feel super comfortable together, the chemistry is there and they’re really working well as a team,” Cain said.
Leading scorer Katelyn Miner, defender Shelby Thompson and midfielders Olivia Merlino, Emily Twilegar and Ariana Petrikas return.
A talented group of seniors will lead the San Clemente boys lacrosse team into the new year. Senior captains Peyton Garrett, Stone Sims, Collin Zines and Austin Streeter headline what head coach Mike Hutnick described as a “phenomenal and powerful core.”
The Tritons finished second behind South Coast League rival Tesoro last season, losing two games to the Titans by a combined three goals. If the Tritons are to get over the hump and into the top of the league standings this year, the four captains will be crucial to their efforts.
Garrett (High Point University), Sims (Albany) and Streeter (Bellarmine) are the program’s first-ever Division 1 commits. Garrett, the reigning back to back league Offensive Player of the Year, led the team in 2013 with 63 goals and 29 assists. Streeter scored 36 goals and tallied 20 assists while collecting a team-high 91 ground balls. Zines had 26 goals and 15 assists. Sims, who had a team-high 32 forced turnovers, will anchor the defense.
Hutnick says the team worked on fine tuning the little things in the offseason and a rigorous preseason schedule, including a trip to play top programs in Colorado, will help their progress.
“There’s a lot of talent on this team and when they put it all together it’s a beautiful thing. So we’ll be making a push this year that’s for sure,” Hutnick said.
Girls Track and Field
The distance runners will again be a strength for the San Clemente girls track and field team. The Tritons one- and two-mile racers will be led by standout cross country runners like Melissa Eisele, Sydney Szabo, Kelsey Carroll, Katie Carroll and Gracie Georgi. Senior Jessica Erickson will run the 400-meter as well as other distance events.
Head coach Dave Proodian expects the Tritons throws team to excel and possibly compete for South Coast League individual titles. Anna Gillis, Madison Chronister and Haley McCabe all compete in the shot put and discus and could be valuable point-getters for the Tritons this season.
The Tritons lost a good amount of sprinters to graduation but will be led by returning senior Tanaz Nourian.
“It’ll be interesting to see because there’s always someone who comes out of nowhere. We know how our distance girls will be because of cross country. We know how our returning throwing team will be … So it will be ok. It’s a tough league,” Proodian said.
Boys Track and Field
If the 2014 California State All-Comers & Indoor State Leaders Meet on Feb. 21 is any indication of things to come, the San Clemente boys track and field team can look forward to getting plenty of points out of their field event athletes in 2014.
The Tritons top throwers, seniors Rocky Fenton and Kelsey Benoit, and triple jumper Arik Nesbit all had impressive showings at the preseason meet.
Fenton posted the seventh best mark in the shot put (56-7), the fifth best mark in the weight throw (58-2 3/4) and the longest mark in the discus (181) at the meet. Fenton’s discus throw was nearly four feet longer than the next closest competitor.
Benoit, who finished seventh in the shot put at the CIF State Championships last year, threw the third farthest mark.
Nesbit’s triple jump of 46-9 1/2 was the fifth highest mark.
Adding depth to the Tritons other events will be the likes of Clayton Skinner (110-meter and 300-meter hurdles) and Kevin Mariano (400, 800).