By Paul Meadors
From July 20 through August 2 there’s a “dead period” for California high school sports. No organized practices are allowed during this period which is a gift for our Valley kids considering that the temps got as high as 108, hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. But you can bet that fall sport coaches were chomping at the bit to get the party started once again on August 3, the day team practices can resume. And they do with a vengeance.
But players often have a different perspective going into this two-week period – they refer to the two weeks of practice leading up to the start of school as “hell weeks.” You can imagine why, football teams usually practice in the morning and then in the evening, sometimes until dusk. The dreaded two-a-days. But the best doesn’t rest and the start of the season is right around the corner – the first volleyball game is August 27 and Friday Night Lights begin August 28.
Before team play begins, let’s piggy-back on our last issue where we shined the spotlight on four TRAC athletes and their busy summers. Let’s check out how some more big-time athletes spent the past few months.
Sarah Snyder: Clovis West water polo
Sarah Snyder had just returned from playing water polo in the Jr. Olympics in Orange County for the U18 Division and what word did she use to describe her time: “Surprised.” Not surprised at the quality of her play (she averaged 3-4 goals per game) but at the attention she garnered during the event – no less than 13 college coaches talked to her about attending their school next year.
First, it was the Pac-12 coaches and schools who showed aggressive interest: Stanford, Cal, USC, and UCLA have all made contact and Snyder has already made an official visit to Cal. But then the big surprises started trickling in – the Ivy League – including serious interest from Brown University.
“This was a big recruiting summer for me,” said Snyder who has been a part of two Clovis West D-1 Valley Championship titles. “I’ve trained my butt off and had a big finish to the summer.”
Snyder was recently named to Swimming World Magazine’s all-American first team. While honored by the honor (see what I did there?), what motivates Sarah is another Valley title – for a variety of reasons.
“What motivates me is the chance to be a part of another Valley championship not only for my teammates but for Scott (coach Torosian),” said Snyder, also an accomplished swimmer. “Hopefully I will be able to set an example for the younger girls, who will be carrying on the Clovis West legacy and show them how to represent the Clovis West aquatics program on and off the pool deck.”
What a refreshing summer and promising senior year to come for the talented Snyder.
Donovan Mitchell: Buchanan basketball
Donovan Mitchell is the Bo Jackson of the TRAC: volleyball is his hobby and basketball is his meal ticket. The last time we talked to and saw Mitchell he was pounding volleyballs in the Valley championship game, leading Buchanan to the 2015 Central Valley D-1 title. But his future lies on the hardwood where the silky-smooth 6-foot-7 inch standout strutted his stuff this summer in Las Vegas in the FAB 48 AAU tournament.
Playing for Team Superstar coached by his farther, Mitchell took his game to another level and garnered even more interest from major Division 1 colleges. According to Eric Bossi, a national recruiting analyst from rivals.com, Mitchell’s stock increased tremendously: “The 6-foot-7 shooter has certainly come into his own. He finished off an excellent July and has shown that he is a Pac-12 caliber recruit because of his size and ability to soften defenses with his shooting.”
Mitchell was pleased with his performance: “I feel as though I played pretty well. I have a lot of major schools contacting me so that’s a good sign.” I would say so, he dropped 30 points in the second game of the tournament in a win.
Mitchell expects to make a final statement and commit to a school in November. Where are you Fresno State?
Trey Semien: Clovis East football and basketball
Balancing football and basketball is a tough proposition for any student athlete, let alone for an elite athlete, but Clovis East’s Trey Semien said he does just fine. The talented returning quarterback and basketball guard juggled workouts this summer for both sports. Coordinating practice times and sharing athletes is always a slippery-slope between coaches but the Clovis East coaches do a great job of communicating according to Semien, who was happy with his improvement in his basketball game due to the tutelage of head coach Adrian Wiggins.
“He was great this summer,” said Semien referring to the coaching of Wiggins. “He helped me a lot and we won a few tournaments and in the tournaments we didn’t win we played really well.”
Football is where Semien absolutely excels and teaming up with sophomore running back Marcus Washington will be a blast to watch this season.
Grant Gambrell: Buchanan baseball
Fresh off a D-1 Valley title, Buchanan’s Grant Gambrell was picked for a very prestigious event – the Area Code Baseball Games, a big-time showcase held in Long Beach August 4-11. The pitcher with the low-90s fastball is playing for the 30-member Oakland A’s. Even though Gambrell has verbally committed to Oregon State, there’s a chance the 6-foot-4 inch, 220-pounder could be a high draft pick in next year’s MLB draft.
More state awards for TRAC athletes
Cal-Hi Sports released their annual list of top performers by class and two Clovis High student-athletes received high honors, both from the historic wrestling program.
Sophomore Justin Mejia was named Sophomore of the Year for his undefeated season capped off by winning a State Title in the 113-pound division. He won the state title his freshman year in the 106-pound division and has already committed to attend Iowa.
Seth Nevills received top honors as a freshman from Cal-Hi sports after going a perfect 44-0 on the season, joining his older brother Nick, who was named Cal-Hi Athlete of the Year last year. Nevills capped off his first high school season with a pin in the second period over Bullard’s Bevan Brandt to capture the 220-pound state title.
Cal-Hi Athletes of Honor from the TRAC include: Hannah Waller, junior (Buchanan track and field), Adam Prentice, junior (Clovis wrestling and football), A.J. Nevills, junior (Clovis wrestling).
Soccer ended back in January but topdrawersoccer.com just named their winter state all-star team and some of our TRAC soccer stars made the list. Buchanan had five total players including Ryan Arkelian, Diego Banda, Jonah Biechler, Viktor Dolberg and Oliver Dolberg. Clovis High’s Nick Sabbatini and Clovis North’s Estevan Salgado also made the team.
On the girl’s side, Buchanan four-year starter Caitlyn Kreutz was also named All-State, capping off a sensational career that saw her win four straight Valley titles and ending as the leading goal scorer in school history.
Paul Meadors can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @paulmeadors