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Tritons Ready for New Season
By Steve Breazeale
The spring prep season at San Clemente is right around the corner and for some teams, their year has already begun. Some squads have league title aspirations, others are focused on staying competitive, and all of them are coveting the ultimate goal of succeeding in the CIF playoffs.
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Girls Track and Field
League realignment is something that will affect the two-time defending Sea View League champion San Clemente girls track and field team in 2013. Only time will tell if that is good or bad for them.
Over the past two seasons, the Tritons have had their way in league competition. But this season could be different, as the team moves to the historically tough South Coast League.
“It’s definitely not going to be a cake walk like it was before,” head coach Dave Proodian said of his team’s shift to a new league.
The reason for so much optimism in the Tritons camp is a strong group of returning players spread out over multiple events.
The San Clemente distance runners should be a bright spot in the new season, as most of them are members of the reigning South Coast League cross country squad. Senior Sara Kebede and junior Melissa Eisele are poised to continue their solid year in distance running.
Senior Brittney Thornton, who will compete in the 100 and 300-meter hurdles, as well as the relay teams, likes what she sees in the team so far.
“Compared to last year, I think our team is pulling in real strong … hopefully we can win league again,” Thornton said.
Boys Track and Field
Head boys cross country coach Dan Johnson was expecting his team to claim its second consecutive Sea View League title last year, but a slew of unexpected injuries to key athletes derailed the Tritons’ hope at a repeat. This season the Tritons will be joining the girls in a jump to the South Coast League, relying on some returning talent, as well as bright up and comers to carry them to success.
Kelsey Benoit and Rocky Fenton are a pair of throwers who have stepped up and impressed in the offseason. Johnson believes both have the potential to go to state in the discus and shot put events.
There’s been friendly competition between the Tritons hurdlers, as senior Corey Casler has been attempting to break the school’s 300-meter hurdle mark. Right now he is half a second away from besting the old record. Junior Clayton Skinner has been right behind Casler in practice and the two are set to be the teams’ top hurdlers heading into the season.
“We’ve got a bunch of hurdlers this season … I can’t wait to see what kind of talent people have to offer when the season rolls around,” Skinner said.
Longtime swim and water polo coach Marc Parker is hoping that an influx of water polo players and club swimmers will lead the San Clemente boys swim team in 2013.
After coming on as head coach midway through last season, Parker inherited a team that was fairly competitive in the South Coast League and went on to place third.
This season, the Tritons will be competing in the Sea View League and a few key additions have Parker excited about the teams’ prospects.
“As a team, we’re a little stronger (than last year) because of the club swimmers … I think we have an outright shot at winning the league title,” Parker said. “I think with our depth, if we put people in the right places, we’ll be able to win the title.”
Sophomore Josh Schwartz will look to bounce back after a promising season in which he qualified for CIF in the 100-meter backstroke but was not able to race due to illness.
Three senior water polo players looking to make an impact will be Andy Reyes, Derek Cousineau and Robby Stiefel. Parker stressed how their freestyle ability will add depth to the Tritons roster.
Freshman Caleb Dickson will also dive for the Tritons.
Last season the San Clemente girls swim team won their first dual meet in three seasons. This year’s version of the squad will feature plenty of returners along with a strong crop of freshman swimmers that have impressed veteran head coach Don Laster.
In fact, Laster has so many strong young swimmers on his roster, he left his preseason varsity roster a little bit shorter than usual. With so many athletes fighting for spots on varsity, Laster will wait a little while longer to see who really emerges.
“It’s a good problem to have,” Laster said. “Everything kind of fits in right … I’m really excited for this season,” Laster said.
Freshman freestyle swimmer Flora van der Schoot and freshman breaststroke swimmer El Seabern will be among the new faces looking to make an impact.
Raselle Chetwynd will be the lone CIF qualifier returning to this year’s squad. Chetwynd has the ability to swim in almost any event, according to Laster.
There will also be three girl divers on this year’s team, a trio that includes junior Makenna Chamoures, who finished third at CIF last season.
The Tritons senior No. 1 pitcher Danny Atkinson recently suffered a shoulder injury and is on the mend, which has left holes that head coach Dave Gellatly and his coaching staff are attempting to fill.
The Tritons have a wealth of arms and many of them have stepped up in the early goings. Senior Cody Maples figures to be at the top of the Tritons rotation. A pair of sophomore arms in Kolby Allard and Will Trabuco will help round out a group that also features returning senior Marshall Pautsch and senior lefty Garrett O’Toole.
“Obviously you lose your No. 1 guy and that makes you rethink things. But I think we’ve got a lot of arms and kids who can throw strikes. I think the kids will step up and fill those holes when it’s necessary,” Gellatly said.
A new addition to the Tritons roster will be sophomore catcher Lucas Herbert, who has already committed to UCLA. Gellatly projects Herbert, who has big power, to hit third in the Tritons lineup for years to come.
A solid group of senior veterans that includes Shane Elias-Calles (LF), Jake Terkoski (1B), Dan Caresio (CF) and Brock Eissman (RF) return for the Tritons, who will compete in the Sea View League this season.
Nine players return to this year’s San Clemente boys tennis team, which bodes well, considering they took home a share of the South Coast League title the previous two seasons. The Tritons roster is full of players who have seen success both at the league and CIF levels.
Junior Nic Valko will return as the Tritons No. 1 projected singles player. Valko, a three-year member of the varsity team, is the teams’ resident grinder, who wins a lot of matches with his ability to extend long points and wear his opponents down.
Freshman Jay Yeam has proven to be a nice addition to the team, according to head coach John Stephens. Stephens pegged Yeam as an all-around talent and expects the young, tournament player to make some noise in his first season with the Tritons.
Senior Ryan Mariano spent time playing both singles and doubles last season and will continue to do so this year.
Sophomore Billy Whitaker and Matt Greenberg, who make up one of the Tritons top doubles teams, finished second in the South Coast League last season and are set to play alongside one another yet again.
The 2013 San Clemente softball team might be short on experience, and in fact, they might be one of the youngest teams in school history. But that doesn’t worry head coach Paul Hill in the slightest.
The Tritons—who feature one senior, one junior, seven sophomores and four freshmen—have already shown they can play at a veteran level.
Due to a shift in county-wide preseason procedures, the team was able to play several scrimmages against some tough competition in the offseason. The results of those games have Hill thinking that the Tritons can compete for a second consecutive league title.
Sophomore transfer pitcher Lauren Gonzales-Willis and sophomore Lauren Kane will provide a dynamic one-two punch from inside the circle this season. Hill described Gonzales-Willis as a pure power pitcher while Kane relies on her precise location to get batters out. Both sophomores also excel from inside the batter’s box and Hill expects them to be in the top three or four spots in the batting order.
“The key will be how we handle our competitive maturity. The talent is there. That’s without question. (The competitive maturity) will just be the big thing,” Hill said.
After coming up short in the US Lacrosse Division 1 South Championship game last May, the San Clemente boys lacrosse team figures to be in the mix yet again under first-year head coach Mike Hutnick.
Several players, who were a part of the Tritons deep playoff run from last season, will be returning to the team, including senior Robbie Burns, who set a school record by scoring 70 goals in 2012, and junior attack/mid Peyton Garrett (who committed to D1 High Point), the reigning South Coast League Offensive Player of the Year. Also returning are senior Jordan Riggs, who recently signed to play at the collegiate level with D3 Southwestern next fall, and seniors Thomas Ahola in goal and defenseman David Anthony.
Hutnick brings a defensive emphasis with him to San Clemente and has been busy implementing that mindset throughout the Tritons offseason. Hutnick has only been coach for a short while, but appears to be liking what he sees.
“Last year they made it to the big show, but fell slightly short, and I know they’re still chapped about that,” Hutnick said. “Across the board I’ve seen fantastic improvement with this team, and I look forward to seeing them perform towards the end of the season.”
The Tritons boys volleyball team is coming off a solid 2012 season that ended with a run to the CIF-SS quarterfinals, capping a year in which they placed second in the South Coast League.
In 2013 San Clemente will have three all-league players returning to a roster that is built around height and athleticism.
The highly-touted Yoder cousins will be among the centerpieces of the Tritons game plan. Jack Yoder, a setter, gives San Clemente a versatile option at the net. Head coach Ken Goldstone likened him to a Swiss-army knife because he can receive and initiate high passes as well as hit from the outside. Lucas Yoder is one of the team’s primary outside hitters that will fuel the Tritons attack. Both Yoders are committed to play at USC in the fall.
Goldstone also pegged senior middle blocker Garrett Costello, a second-team all-league returner, as a player who is poised to have a solid year.
“We have a number of guys who can play at the net and we have good size and ball control … It’s a matter of making sure everyone knows their role and plays hard every night,” Goldstone said.
Editor’s note: This article initially incorrectly stated that Lucas and Jack Yoder were brothers. They are cousins.
The six returning starters on the San Clemente boys golf team know that they now have the experience to build on last season’s performance.
After a down season, Tritons head coach Mike Hurlbut sees a drive inside his players to step things up as they head into Sea View League play in 2013.
“They realize we haven’t had the success in the win-loss area that we’d like to, so they want to beat teams. They want to defend their home course … and they don’t want to be left out of CIF (team playoffs) again,” Hurlbut said.
Leading the charge is standout sophomore Sammy Schwartz, who broke through to play for the varsity squad as a freshman and was the team’s No. 1 player. Schwartz had a busy offseason and qualified to compete in the prestigious SCPGA Toyota Tour Cup.
“He drives the ball better than he drives a car,” Hurlbut said of his young player. “He has a lot more experience driving a golf ball than a car.”
Four-year varsity player and senior Matt DePalma returns, as does senior captain Alex Haines, who Hurlbut relies on to keep the team internally motivated. – Andrea Swayne contributed to this report.
The San Clemente girls lacrosse team is on the rise in 2013 and after seeing a growing level of interest and numbers, head coach Josh Cain is excited about his team’s prospects heading into the new year.
There is a lot of new talent on the Tritons roster, and most of them are underclassmen. Only two seniors and six juniors are on the Tritons varsity roster.
USA Lacrosse Women’s National Team defender Holly Mcgarvie-Reilly has been brought in to assist Cain in coaching duties. Her presence has paid dividends for the young Tritons and she has been effective teaching advanced technique and mechanics, according to Cain.
Cain was hired the day before the Tritons 2012 campaign and has since helped build the program by implementing his system.
“This year we have a lot more team play and communication,” Cain said. “We’re more pass oriented, getting everyone involved.”
Junior attacker/midfielder Olivia Merlino returns to the team and has taken on a leadership role, according to Cain. Sophomore standout attacker/midfielder Katelyn Miner is poised to have a breakout year and figures to be among the Tritons leading scorers.