Around the TRAC: Respectin’ and hittin’ all the big stories in the Tri-River Athletic Conference

Clovis West’s No. 13 Maddy Letterman and No. 9 Sarah Armendariz attempts to block a Liberty player’s kill attempt in the D-1 Central Section finals. The Golden Eagles lost in straight sets. [Photo by Nick Baker]

By Paul Meadors | Sports Editor
paulmeadors@gmail.com
@paulmeadors

I’m just going to go ahead and say it with all due respect to the Clovis/Buchanan wrestling dual – the biggest rivalry in Clovis today is the Clovis West and Clovis football game. OK, I’ll wait until the arrows whiz past me but I think most (maybe 68% of you out there) would agree. The annual game dates back to 1979, and is now the last game of the regular season between the two oldest high schools in the Clovis Unified School District.

The stories are legendary – back in the early days people would post signs down streets around school that would read “What do we eat? Eagle meat.” Clovis would host school bonfires the night before the game. Students would sneak on their opponents campus and decorate it with colors of their own school. Ah, the good old days of good old fashioned innocent fun.

Clovis holds eight Valley championships: 1970, 1974, 1979, 1984, 1991, 1997, 1999 & 2002. Clovis West has nine: 1985, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2004, 2008 and 2010.  

In fact, the two schools have met a total of seven times in the Valley championship games. Clovis beat Clovis West in 1991, ‘99 and ‘02. The Golden Eagles beat the Cougars for titles in 1985 and ‘87 and also in back-to-back years in ‘92 and ‘93.  

The history is there – no doubt about it – and in the 2016 version Clovis West beat Clovis 41-27 behind quarterback Adrian Martinez’s big night accounting for 415 total yards and four touchdowns. The win boosted the Golden Eagles record to 4-1 in league and left the Cougars reeling at 2-3 after a promising 6-0 start.

And wouldn’t you know it, these two teams will meet on Friday, Nov. 18 in the second round of the D-I Central Section playoffs at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Who knows – perhaps we’ll have another game for the ages?


Clovis West junior Janie Ellis won her second straight Central Section girls' individual tennis title. She cruised to the title with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Buchanan’s Lasya Gudipudi. [Photo contributed]
Clovis West junior Janie Ellis won her second straight Central Section girls’ individual tennis title. She cruised to the title with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Buchanan’s Lasya Gudipudi. [Photo contributed]
Janie Ellis wins Valley tennis singles title

Clovis West’s Janie Ellis had a perfect singles season – literally.

Ellis, only a junior, won the Central Section individual tennis championship on Nov. 5 in a near-flawless 6-0, 6-1 victory over Buchanan’s Lasya Gudipudi, defending her title and wrapping up an undefeated 29-0 season at the Bakersfield Country Club.

“She played with a lot of confidence and she really just came out every match on the offensive,” said Neil Castro, Clovis West’s head coach. “[She] attacked the ball which caused her opponents to get even more defensive. She did a great job of staying within herself and just kep coming at them with her big forehand.”

Ellis had little trouble in the two-day event, beating Woodlake’s Katie Pfaff 6-0, 6-0 and Liberty Roche from Bakersfield Christian 6-1, 6-0 on the first day and then Bakersfield Christian’s Delaney Roche 6-1, 6-1 in the semifinals to reach the final.

A truly dominate year for a dominant player.

“She was very consistent all year with her play and attitude,” said Castro. “It’s hard to play at the top spot and trying to defend being the No. 1 player section, but she was rock solid the whole year.”


The Clovis North girls’ tennis team won the D-1 Central Section championship 5-4 over two-time defending champion Buchanan. It was the Broncos first D-1 championship. [Photo contributed]
The Clovis North girls’ tennis team won the D-1 Central Section championship 5-4 over two-time defending champion Buchanan. It was the Broncos first D-1 championship. [Photo contributed]
Clovis North wins Valley team girls’ tennis title

The Clovis North girls tennis team rose to the occasion in winning the school’s first D-I Central Section tennis title – led by a stirring victory at No. 1 singles by Elizabeth Schulz.

The No. 2 seed Broncos beat No. 4 Buchanan 5-4 on Nov. 8 on their home court, a back and forth match that saw singles play tied at 3-3 before entering doubles. The key was Schulz’s 6-1, 6-3 win over Bears’ nemesis Laysa Gudipudi. Schulz had lost twice earlier in the season to Gudipudi in league play but had beaten her in the individual TRAC tournament three week ago.

“Elizabeth answered the bell to win the biggest match of her career,” said head coach Bryan Juinio. “Without her win in singles, I don’t think we win the championship.”

The championship match was played after the teams were tied 4-4 entering the final pairing – the No. 3 doubles where Clovis North’s Mizna Akbar and Manu Javangula defeated Buchanan’s Maddy Fraser and Amber Simonson 6-1, 6-4.

The emotions of the team after the final game was won – joy mixed with relief.

“Going into the match the girls knew what we were playing for, so there was a bit of stress,” said Juinio. “But the girls handled it well. We all knew Buchanan had been the standard for girls tennis the past few seasons, so we didn’t have experience to draw on before the final. What we had was we beat them twice in the regular season, but in playoffs it’s a new season.”

Clovis North’s other two singles wins came from Aliya Kusumo over Katie Jackson 6-3, 6-0 and Nadini Nair over Stephanie Foanene 6-3, 6-4. The Broncos’ other doubles win came from Schulz and Jordan Pickett over Grace Moore and Jackson 6-1, 6-1.

At No. 2 singles Buchanan’s Moore defeated Picket in 6-1, 6-2, No. 3 Kelly Yang beat Diana Beihl 6-1, 6-3 and No. 6 Mikayla Marini beat Alyssa Melillo 6-1, 6-1.  

“I think the character of this team – I had seven seniors in my top 12, and their experience the past 6 years [Granite Ridge and Clovis North] playing together, knowing each other, and most important, growing together which made this such a special season,” said Juinio. “The seven seniors were able to celebrate a culmination of their commitment to Bronco tennis with a Division I title.”


Top seeds roll on in water polo playoffs

All the top seeds from the TRAC  have held court so far in the Central Section D-I water polo playoffs heading into the semifinals on Nov. 15 for both the boys and the girls.

In the girls division, defending champion and No. 1 Clovis defeated No. 9 Clovis East 12-2 behind four goals from Callie Woodruff and three from Adie Collard. Isi Sonkoly scored two while Shelby Vidmar, Trystyn Vuori and Abby Mammen each scored one. The Cougars will take on No. 4 Clovis North at home at 4 p.m..

The No. 2 Clovis West girls team thrashed No. 7 Bullard 16-6 with Caitlyn Snyder scored five goals, Ally Clauge scored 4, Maddie Loggins, Lisa Moreno and Lauren Cotton scored two and Emily Mayer tallied one. They take on No. 3 Sanger at home at 5:30 p.m.

The No. 1 seeded Buchanan Bears, who are on quite a roll blasted San Joaquin Memorial 18-3 behind a balanced attack. In fact, five Bears scored two goals and eight scored one goal. They take on Golden West at 5:30 p.m. and will try and avenge their upset loss to the Trailblazers from last season.

And finally, the No. 2-ranked Clovis Cougars defeated No. 7 Clovis East 10-2 in the quarterfinals and will face Clovis North at home at 4 p.m.

Both Central Section finals will be held on Saturday, Nov. 19 at the higher seeded home pool.


photo-1-tiersa-bailey
Clovis West’s Tiersa Bailey pounds a shot against Liberty. Bailey, a senior, registered nine kills in the Valley title game. [Photo by Nick Baker]
Clovis West volleyball falls in Section finals

Clovis West was riding high coming into the Valley championship against top seeded Liberty, but unfortunately so was their opponent as they were swept in straight sets 25-17, 31-29, 25-17 at Golden Eagle Arena at West Hills College in Lemoore.

After dropping the first set, a set where the Clovis West actually led 13-10 before a 15-4 Patriot run, the second was an absolute back and forth battle. There were eight lead changes and 19 ties in the game, and actually the Golden Eagles had three set-winning chances but couldn’t put the game away.

In the third game, mistakes plagued Clovis West when they committed three straight errors, turning a 9-7 lead into a 9-10 deficit, one they would not recover from.

“The game was really tough and a tough loss,” said senior Tiersa Bailey. “The atmosphere was surreal and although the loss was disappointing I’m so grateful that we proved ourselves and made it there in the first place.”

Clovis West blocker Maddy Letterman, a six-foot junior. uses her strength and length to reject a shot by Liberty’s No. 3 Kaitlan Tucker. [Photo by Nick Baker]
Clovis West blocker Maddy Letterman, a six-foot junior. uses her strength and length to reject a shot by Liberty’s No. 3 Kaitlan Tucker. [Photo by Nick Baker]
Micah Hebert had 14 kills and five digs, Bailey registered nine kills and Aubrey Olson seven kills and 23 digs. Sarah Armendariz had nine kills and 21 assists.

Clovis West’s season continues with a home game as a No. 7 seed in the CIF D-I State Playoffs on Wednesday, Nov. 16 against No. 10 Beckman from Irvine.

“It was extremely special to be there with all of us seniors who have been playing together for so many years,” said Bailey about the experience of playing in the Valley title game despite the loss. “I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.”