The 2014-15 high school sports season officially came to a close Saturday with a booming fireworks display at the end of the CIF State Track and Field Championships at Veterans Memorial Stadium, and in the nearly ten months of fast and furious competition in the TRAC, it was a season of unforgettable highs for our local Clovis schools. In fact, TRAC schools accounted for an unbelievable 20 out of 23 Central Valley D-1 championships.
Among hundreds and hundreds of games, meets and matches and after attending many of these contests, bearing witness to the skill level and competitiveness of the players, intently watching and analyzing coaches and their staffs, and actively conversing with athletic directors, this is the best of what I saw.
Announcing the 2014-15 Best in TRAC Awards:
Team of the Year: Clovis High Wrestling
The credentials: Fifth consecutive CIF State Wrestling Championship, Central Section Master’s Champions, TRAC champions, three state individual gold medalists and five in top-three. Finished season ranked No. 5 in the nation by intermat.com and No. 1 in the state.
The story: Absolute dominance in the Central Section and at the state levels makes the Cougars the choice as 2014-15 TRAC Team of the Year. Undefeated against Central Section opponents the Cougars traveled to Illinois to compete against the best in the nation and earned national respect. After winning the CIF Master’s Championship they blew away the competition at the state meet in Bakersfield with a record 276.5 points and an unprecedented fifth straight state title.
The major players: Sophomore Justin Mejia, freshman Seth Nevills, senior Hexton Coronado were state gold winners. Khristian Olivas, Dominic Kincaid, Josh Hokit, AJ Nevills and Adam Prentice were also state medal winners. Coached by Steve Tirapelle, Adam Tirapelle and Ben Holscher.
They said it: “To win five state championships in our sport is unparalleled, obviously. A lot of things have to happen for that to take place. Luck, skill, work ethic, mental toughness, all of these things and many more play a factor when you are able to accomplish something of this magnitude. It is a true testament to everything and everyone who is involved in their program.” – Buchanan wrestling coach Troy Tirapelle.
Coach of the Year: Craig Campbell Clovis West basketball
The credentials: 26-5 overall, 10-0 TRAC, D-1 Central Section Champions, first round CIF State Open Division win against Alemany from the Southern Section.
The story: Starting four sophomores and one senior Campbell didn’t skip a beat, continuing to set the standard of what a successful basketball program looks like, going undefeated in TRAC, winning a Valley title and the opening round game in the state’s open division playoffs with nary a loss to a Valley opponent. In his ten seasons guiding the Golden Eagles his teams have gone 233-67 and 97-3 in league play. Identifying players early through his Little Hoopsters camps and AAU programs Campbell builds relationships, establishing his unique system based on pressure defense and the ability to dribble-drive and shoot. And look out, there’s a talented group of just-graduated 8th graders ready to join the fun.
They said it: “Craig is very driven and passionate to be the best. He expects all of his players to compete, give great effort and execute the entire game. I think outsiders see this and form the wrong opinion of him. I joke with Craig by saying he is not for everyone. What I do know is that the girls who play for him, know how much he cares about them and how invested he is in making them not only better players but successful adults.” – Clovis West Athletic Director Matt Loggins.
Honorable mentions: Rich Lake Clovis volleyball, Tom Donald Buchanan baseball, Tom Deal Clovis West boys’ golf, Mike Noel Clovis softball
Boys’ Athlete of the Year: Zach Ashford Buchanan
The credentials: Starting center fielder and co-TRAC player of the year for D-1 Central Section championship baseball team batting .478 with 33 runs scored, 28 stolen bases and stellar defense. Starting wide-receiver in football earning all-TRAC honors and scoring eight touchdowns. Attending Fresno State on a baseball scholarship.
The story: Small in stature at 5’10” and 160 pounds Ashford was an absolute beast for TRAC and Valley opponents this season, starring on the Bears football team who upset Bullard in the first round of D-1 playoff then transitioning to the 29-4 baseball team where he was a fixture at the top of the lineup and led with a quiet confidence. Whether it was wreaking havoc on the base paths or
catching a long-bomb in football, speed and quickness are his strengths, but it’s his toughness and competitiveness that set him apart which helped earn him Boys’ Athlete of the Year.
They said it: “Zach Ashford is a talented young man who doesn’t rely on the talents on loan from God. He is a driven young man who wants to be the best player on the field whether it’s a football game or a baseball game. His willingness to put in the work in good and bad times is what separates him from other players.” – Buchanan baseball coach Tom Donald.
Honorable mention: Adam Prentice Clovis wrestling and football, Bolu Olorunfunmi Clovis North football and track, Austin Flores Clovis North wrestling, Caleb Kelly Clovis West football.
Girls’ Athlete of the Year: Cayla Broussard Clovis High
The Credentials: Four year varsity softball player who this season hit an eye-popping .492, scored 49 runs, stole 32 bases as the starting shortstop for D-1 Central champion Clovis earning 1st team all-TRAC honors. Starting at the libero position in volleyball and a defensive specialist on the D-1 Central Section championship volleyball team, she earned all-TRAC 2nd team honors. Attending Azusa Pacific University on softball scholarship.
The Story: The total package with leadership, respect for the game and athleticism, it was no coincidence that Broussard’s senior year produced two Central Section championships in volleyball and softball going a combined 65-13. Whether it was diving for a volleyball and hopping right back up to do it again or slapping a single past a drawn-in third-baseman she did it all for her Cougars, leaving behind a legacy not only on the court and field but on her campus.
They said it: “Cayla’s willingness to do what’s needed for her team to win is why she was a big part of two valley titles this year. It’s not an accident. Players with Cayla’s abilities are not always willing to get out
their comfort zones and do things required for victory. She never backed away from that challenge.” – Clovis softball coach Mike Noel.
Honorable mention: Caitlyn Kreutz Buchanan soccer, Maddie Olgas Clovis volleyball and badminton, Hannah Waller Buchanan track, Mikaela Smith Clovis North track, Sarah Snyder Clovis West swimming and water polo.
Proving tougher to hit a rise ball from Clovis pitcher Daniele Lung, more challenging than trying to pound a volleyball past Buchanan’s 6-10 Patrick Gasman, and a more Herculean task attempting to catch Buchanan’s Hannah Waller in a 400 race, here are the rest of the Best of TRAC season.
Boys’ Team of the Year: Buchanan Baseball
The credentials: 29-4 overall record, TRAC title at 13-2, D-1 Central Section championship, ranked No. 3 in state and No. 16 in the nation.
The story: The perfect balance of timely hitting, solid defense, phenomenal pitching and team chemistry, Buchanan rolled through the D-1 playoffs, cruised to a 15-1 victory over rival Clovis for the Central Section championship and are the boys’ TRAC Team of the Year. There is no secret to the Bears success as Coach Tom Donald and his experienced staff relied on senior leadership and a mindset to get better every day at practice no matter if they won or lost as their team mantra. Scorching hot the last five games of the season they outscored opponents 43-3 highlighted by Chandler Bengtson’s grand slam and pitcher Connor Loeprich’s complete game pitching victory in the title game.
The major players: Seniors CF Zach Ashford, 1B Chandler Bengtson, 3B Ross Dodds, P Connor Loeprich and DJ Martinez, SS Levi Zosky, 2B Michael Beltran. Junior P/1B Grant Gambrell, sophomore C Zach Presno. Coached by Tom Donald and his experienced staff.
They said it: “The biggest thing I’ll take away from this team is cohesiveness, leadership, mentoring, and hard work. Guys were dialed in and took care of each other. I really had a lot of fun. They played so hard with a lot of confidence but not over confident. We saw the result of a daily process.” -Buchanan Coach Tom Donald.
Honorable mention: Clovis West tennis, Clovis Swimming, Clovis West golf, Buchanan volleyball.
Girls’ Team of the Year: Clovis Softball
The credentials: 33-6 overall record, TRAC champions, D-1 Central Valley champions, ranked No. 17 in state.
The story: Making it their mission to win a Valley title from the beginning of the season, the Clovis Cougars put it all together in the middle of the TRAC season, sealing the deal behind freshman phenom Danielle Lung’s no-hitter in the D-1 Central Section title game, beating Central 2-0. Batting .365 as a team with a .448 on-base-percentage, a 1.49 team pitching ERA, and outscoring opponents 280-63 on the season the 2015 Cougars flourished with team defense and chemistry in Coach Mike Noel’s 20th season at the helm.
The major players: Seniors shortstop Cayla Broussard, catcher Cameryn Reichle, center fielder Mackenzie Emmett, right fielder Taylor Tiger, third-baseman Alyssa Caballero, first baseman Kristina Ortiz, pitcher Brielle Vidmar, freshman pitcher Danielle Lung. Coached by Mike Noel and an experienced staff including two alumni.
They said it: “Top to bottom, their lineup was full of tough outs. The Clovis High defense was sharp, rarely opening doors with errors or miscues. Their greatness was in their style of play that included every member of the team. Although there were some standout players, what made the team standout as a whole was that they worked as a unit.” – Bullard softball coach Jamie Maxey
Honorable mention: Clovis West basketball, Clovis volleyball, Clovis West water polo, Buchanan track and field.
Boys’ Game of the Year: Clovis vs Clovis North water polo
In front of an overflow crowd Clovis defeated Clovis North in the D-1 Central Section championship game in one of the most intense games you’ll ever witness in any sport. In overtime Clovis senior Kyle Eoff assisted on a goal to Garrett Couchman, then prevented Broncos super-stud Carson Ivancovich from getting off a shot as time expired.
Girls’ Game of the Year: Clovis vs Central softball
No. 1 Clovis vs No. 2 Central for the D-1 Central Section championship game didn’t disappoint as the Cougars defeated TRAC rivals Grizzlies 2-0 behind freshman Danielle Lung’s no-hitter and Alyssa Caballero’s solo home run in the bottom of the fourth. Central had previously beaten Clovis two out of three games during the season.
Boys’ Performance of the Year: Clovis swimming 200 free state gold relay team
In front of a pro-Clovis crowd at the CIF State Swimming and Diving Championships held at Clovis West the team of Seth Nabors, Ryan McVicars, Zach Koch and Graham Hauss struck gold with a time of 1:23.60, setting off a massive celebration and highlight of the event.
Girls’ Performance of the Year: Hannah Waller Buchanan state track 400 gold
Blew away the competition all year long in the 400, and demolished the field in the grand-daddy of them all at the CIF State Track and Field Championships on her home track with a time of 53.13, good for a Central Section record and sixth best in the nation on the year.
Boys’ Play of the Year: Brandon Goldman Buchanan soccer
In the biggest game of the season, a most unlikely star emerged from Buchanan as Ryan Goldman blasted a goal off a corner kick pass in overtime in the D-1 Central Section championship game against Liberty Bakersfield to win 1-0. It was only the senior’s second goal of his career.
Girls’ Play of the Year: Clovis West basketball’s first quarter playoff game versus Hanford
A most perfectly executed 8:00 minutes of basketball saw the Golden Eagles throttle playoff nemesis Hanford 28-2 in the first quarter of the second round of the Central Section D-1 playoffs in the most dazzling start to a playoff basketball game in recent memory.
Boys’ Eye of the Tiger Award: Adrian Antunez Clovis West basketball
The sophomore single-handedly tried to will his team to victory against Bullard in his team’s D-1 Central Section semi-final loss, scoring 32 points of his team’s 68 points with an array of drives to the basketball and jump shots.
Girls’ Eye of the Tiger Award: Natalie Zimmerer Clovis North volleyball
In obvious pain due to a hip issue wrapped heavily in the D-1 Central Section championship game against Clovis, the athletic Zimmerer didn’t relent, hobbling around the court, continuing to play all-out for her teammates and school until the bitter end.
Boys’ Upset of the Year: Clovis West tennis player Addison Weil over Bullard’s Viran Batth
Taking the edge off the drama of a D-1 Valley championship match, Weil beat Batth in a battle of number ones, securing the Golden Eagles title before doubles even began.
Girls’ Upset of the Year: Clovis North beats Buchanan in D-1 Cross Country
Clovis North unseated the 14-year reign of Buchanan cross country by winning the D-1 Cross Country Championships at Woodward park led by Lauren Moffett and her Bronco teammates.
Feel Good Story of the Year: Clovis North Valley Children’s Basketball Tournament
Head boys’ basketball Coach Tony Amundson, his players, and the students of Clovis North spearheaded a basketball tournament where participating teams visited sick kids at Valley Children’s Hospital with all proceeds going towards the hospital.