Around the TRAC: Boys volleyball, CW headlines all-league basketball honors, 28 athletes sign letters of intent, Buchanan runners shine at West Coast Relays

Clovis, Buchanan and Clovis East contend for boys volleyball title

Clovis North’s Miles Olson (10) attempts to put a kill past Clovis’ Lovepreet Sran (1) and Joseph Hawkins (9) while Grant Lake (2) is waiting in the Cougars 3-0 win on April 4. Clovis is currently 26-2 and 3-1 in league while the Broncos are 22-11, 2-2. (Contributed by Severance Digital Studio)

Clovis and Buchanan were expected to be the top dogs in boys volleyball this season, despite each team losing a great senior class. Last year, the Cougars rolled in league play with a 10-0 record only to lose to Bears in an epic match in the D-I Valley title game in five sets. However, Clovis went on to win the D-II CIF SoCal State Championship, coming home with the most impressive hardware.

Certainly, it’s a new year with some new players, but the race to the top of the TRAC is wide open as Buchanan (15-5-1, 3-1), Clovis (25-2, 3-1) and Clovis East (22-8, 3-1) are each tied heading into the middle of league. Clovis North (22-11, 2-2), Clovis West (17-6, 1-3) and Central (15-15, 0-4) round out the rest of the TRAC.

After playing in tough tournaments like the Best of the West in Poway, the Las Vegas Easter Classic and the SLO Town Invitational, it’s now time to focus on what matters most – a league and ultimately a Valley championship. Clovis East won the Sanger Slam back in February, not dropping a set all tournament.

“The competition in league has been good,” said Buchanan 6-foot-9 senior hitter Spencer Heimerdinger. “It forces you to play well every night because on any given night anybody can beat anybody in this league.”

And true to form: in Round 1, Buchanan beat Clovis 3-1; Clovis beat Clovis East 3-2 and Clovis East beat Buchanan 3-1. However, Heimerdinger, a Fresno Pacific University basketball signee, missed the Clovis East game with an ankle injury.

Heimerdinger was honest about the Clovis East match, praising the Timberwolves.

“Clovis East is a very solid team that won’t beat themselves,” Heimerdinger said. “We didn’t play our best volleyball that night and they deserved that win. Because I was out with a sprained ankle, that thrust some young players into a prominent role but Clovis East thoroughly outplayed us.”

Buchanan is led by Heimerdinger and his 147 kills in only 37 sets and senior setter Kyle Merchant’s 367 assists, a 9.2 average per set.

Clovis is young but hungry with a terrific sophomore duo in David Hawkins (279 kills, 4.4 average) and setter Grant Lake (402 assists). Senior Chase Direito has 137 kills on the season.

Clovis West headlines All-League boys and girls basketball

Clovis West boys and girls basketball almost had a clean sweep of the TRAC Special Awards, repping MVP and Coach of the Year honors as All-League teams were recently announced.

Clovis West junior Maddie Campbell was named league MVP after leading the Golden Eagles to a 10-0 league record, continuing their league winning streak of 60 and winning their sixth straight D-I Central Section title. They advanced to the CIF Southern Section Finals, ended the season at 32-4 and ranked No. 5 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports.

Campbell holds almost 30 Division I offers and averaged 20 points per game in league.

“The moment was never too big for her and when a play needed to be made, she would step up and make it,” said Clovis West coach Craig Campbell, Maddie’s father and also the 2017-18 TRAC Coach of the Year. “She also made the players around her better which allowed for our team success. That’s what great players do.”

Girls TRAC Most Valuable Player: Madison Campbell, Clovis West; Coach of the Year: Craig Campbell, Clovis West; First Team All-League: Rowan Hein, Savannah Tucker, Grace Webb – Clovis North; Champney Pulliam, Aari’yanna Sanders – Clovis West; Morgan Mathis – Buchanan; Jasmine Heu – Clovis.

The boys MVP honors went to a pair of Clovis West players – freshman Cole Anderson and senior Brandon Recek after leading the Golden Eagles to a 9-1 league record. How rare is a freshman earning MVP? Well, coach Vance Walberg, in his second year of returning to the helm after 13 years spent as the Golden Eagles coach from 1988-2001, has never had a freshman make All-League, let alone be the MVP.

“Cole ia a very talented scorer who has a ton of confidence and can really shoot it,” Walberg said about the 6-foot-2 guard who averaged 16.8 points per game on the season, including 92 three-pointers. “The great thing about Cole is how he relates and respects his teammates.”

Recek averaged 18 points per game and “could score with the best of them,” according to Walberg.

Clovis senior and all-time leading scorer Anthony Martinez was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Year after averaging 23 points per game.

Boys TRAC Co-Most Valuable Players: Cole Anderson, Brandon Recek – Clovis West; Offensive Player of the Year: Anthony Martinez, Clovis; Coach of the Year: Vance Walberg, Clovis West. First Team All-League: Jonah Crumpton-Murray, Spencer Heimerdinger – Buchanan; Terri Miller – Clovis North; Cashemin Williams, Uriah Carter – Central.

28 CUSD athletes sign National Letters of Intent

On April 11, 28 CUSD student/athletes signed their National Letter of Intent, a binding pledge to play sports at the collegiate level. For many, it’s a day that culminated years and years of hard work, and for all it’s a massive sigh of relief. Choosing a college can certainly be stressful experience, but one that certainly is well worth it. Listed below are all 28, with their sport and college.

Buchanan
R.J. Bernal, baseball, Fresno Pacific University; Alyssa Destasio, track, Cal State Northridge; Sydney Fox, track, Fresno State; Hayden Hansen, track, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo; Spencer Heimerdinger, basketball, Fresno Pacific University; Clare Hernandez, track, American University; Wyatt Peverill, wrestling, Ottawa University; Evan Rocha, baseball, CSU Monterey Bay; Anthony Tolbert, water polo, Air Force Academy; Tristan Zamilpa, wrestling, Concordia University

Clovis High
Oscar Rubalcava, soccer, Biola University; Andrew Scherf, track and field, University of Oregon

Clovis East
Jared Aguilar, baseball, Fresno Pacific University; Caitlyn Jimenez, golf, Providence Christian College; Gavin Lane, swim, Oklahoma Christian University; Morgan Polley, golf, CSU Long Beach; Crystal Valtierra, water polo, University of Hawaii

Clovis North
Evan Belli, water polo, Chapman University; Helen Harris, swim, Biola University; Hannah Kharazi, water polo, CSU Monterey Bay; Michael Jia, swim, Washington University in Saint Louis; Tiffiny Jones, cross country/track and field, CSU Monterey Bay; Savanna Meinert, volleyball, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; Miles Olson, volleyball, Marymount University; Chloe Sharp, track and field, Pepperdine University

Clovis West
Aya Enkoji, golf, California Baptist University; Madeline Letterman, volleyball, The Master’s University; Charlie Sawyer, cross country/track and field, Colorado Christian University; Briara Robles, track and field, Fresno State

Buchanan’s Lowe, Smith; Clovis’ Woods shine at West Coast Relays

Buchanan’s Meagen Lowe (left) placed first in the 1,600 and 3,200 at the West Coast Relays at Veterans Memorial Stadium on April 14. Corie Smith (right) placed second in both events. Lowe, a junior, broke the school record in the 1,600 with a time of 4:49.50, currently the fifth best time in the state. (Contributed photo)

They did it again, and there’s unquestionably plenty more left in the tank. 

Buchanan distance stars Meagen Lowe and Corie Smith were at peak performances at the West Coast Relays at Veterans Memorial Stadium on April 11, going one-two in both the 1,600 and 3,200 and undeniably setting themselves up for big runs the rest of the season.

The two were coming off a cross country season that saw the best friends flip first and second place in Division I in the CIF Cross Country Championships, with Smith besting Lowe by a mere 3.1 seconds. 

Lowe, broke the school record in the 1,600 with a blistering time of 4:49.92 and then punctuated her day in the 3,200 in a stout 11:01.90. Her time in the 1,600 is ranked No. 5 in the state.

Smith’s time in the 3,200 was 11:20.3 and in the 1,600s was 4:56.50.

“This is definitely one of my best races I’ve ever had,” said Lowe, the standout junior. “It felt the smoothest and the most in control, which is a huge part of running fast. I am overall very happy with my performance but I have to look forward to the next race.”

A week earlier, the girls competed in the prestigious Arcadia Invitational where Smith placed sixth and Lowe placed eighth in the 3,200.

It took a bit of a different mental and physical approach going into the 1,600 as Allyissa Brewer of California High, last year’s state 800 winner was in the race. Despite a good kick of her own, Lowe didn’t want to get into a final sprint that wouldn’t play to her strength.

“I did something that I don’t usually do – take the lead,” Lowe said. “I felt really good during the first two laps, just staying smooth and as consistent as possible, and I really tried to push the last 800, especially last 400. I had the school record in mind because I previously ran two seconds off, but I just wanted to go out and run my race and not focus on time.”

For reference, Lowe’s time of 4:49.92 would have been good for second place at last year’s CIF State Track and Field Championships.

Other highlights of the meet include:

The Clovis North boys 4×100 relay team of Christian Wood, Naythn Scruggs, Caleb Foster and Kurtis Kobzeff won with a time of 41.77.

Foster also won the long jump with a jump of 22-4.5. Foster is the brother of 2016 state long jump champion and current Oregon Duck Rhesa Foster.

Clovis senior Jake Woods had an excellent meet, winning the 110 high hurdles in 14.50 and the 300 hurdles with a PR of 38.27.

Elizabeth Funk of Clovis West placed first in the pole vault with a jump of 11-10.00

Buchanan thrower Christian Johnson won the discus with a throw of 176-02 and placed second on the shot put with 53-03.5.

Maren Butler broke a Buchanan school record in the shot put with a throw of 42-10.5, placing second.