As always it was a banner year for local college programs. None won a national title but there were many in the running. Today’s countdown, the top 10 coaching jobs of the school year. Heavy emphasis placed on teams that won conference titles or were close.
10. Kristin Dowling, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s basketball
Gets major props for how far her team came in the course of a season. She got the job so late admissions were closed so she was left with whatever players remained. She had to get a tennis player and another who had never played before just to round out a roster of eight. The Athenas lost a lot of games early but were competitive by the end of the season. Can’t imagine how well she will do given a full year and chance to recruit.
9. Kristen Hauge, San Bernardino Valley College women’s soccer
The Wolverines (14-3-5) regained their Foothill Conference title and did so with a freshmen-laden roster. Some of the sophomores she did have, were ones with limited experience. Some minor injuries along the way also proved problematic but the Wolverines made their usual run deep into the playoffs. She also plays a difficult schedule and does a wonderful job of moving players on to the next level.
8. Bill Mierzwik, San Bernardino Valley College baseball
The Wolverines won their first Foothill Conference title since 2004 and they did it without a Pitcher of the Year or Player of the Year as those went to athletes from other schools. He might have been higher on the list it weren’t for a quicker than expected departure from the playoffs.
7. Chris Krich, University of La Verne football
The Leopards went 4-5, which was a repeat of the previous season. But it was a much better looking and more competitive 4-5. Let’s not forget how bad this program was when he took over three years ago. Numbers were down, interest was down. This should be the year the Leopards really turn the corner and make a significant impact.
6. Ben Cooper, Chaffey College men’s soccer
The Panthers went 16-5-2 overall, won the Foothill Conference and won three playoff games before falling to favored Golden West 3-1. The Panthers did it without a what you would call a “dominant” player. This is definitely a program on the rise.
5. Greg Kamansky, Cal Poly Pomona men’s basketball
Another one that is going to be on the list every year. The Broncos (28-3) won what is one of the toughest conferences in the country by a whopping four games and they advanced to the West Regional semifinal. Kamansky did it with two experienced players in Mitchel Anderson and Terrence Drisdom. After that, Kamansky had a bunch of unproven role players. Yet the beat goes on for the Broncos.
4. Frank Pericolosi, Pomona-Pitzer baseball
The Sagehens (29-16) finished second in the SCIAC to Cal Lutheran and were given at at-large berth in the NCAA Division III regional. We have come to expect good things from the Sagehens because they have always delivered. But this year’s team exceeded expectations. Pericolosi lost three pitchers and a catcher for a good portion of the year with injuries. One of the pitchers also plays first so it was like losing two players. Let’s not forget the high academic standards which can make it tough to contend. Bonus points for playing a strong schedule that included three games against No. 1 Linfield (Ore.)
3. Laurie Nevarez, University of Redlands softball
The Bulldogs lost their All-American and career home run leader Amanda Lievanos to a knee injury before the season started and they didn’t have an experienced pitcher after workhorse Kayla Uphold. Still the Bulldogs won a ninth straight SCIAC title and came within one game of playing for the regional final and their 36 wins equals a program record.
2. Kim Cherniss, Cal State San Bernardino volleyball
Yes, she could collect a Coach of the Year honor pretty much every year. But this year was one of her best jobs. Maybe the Coyotes didn’t make it to nationals like they had done the previous four seasons but they did make it to the West region final, despite having graduated seven seniors. So this year’s run came with a senior setter and a boatload of freshmen yet the still won the CCAA by three games. If someone else didn’t win this year, they may never win. An absolute travesty that a coach with a sub-.500 record got Coach of the Year honors this season in the CCAA
1. Jeff Klein, Chaffey College men’s basketball
The Panthers (27-7) had the best season in school history, making it all the way to the state title game before falling to Mt. SAC 102-88. Most impressive was an 87-85 win over previously unbeaten San Francisco in the state semifinal. The Panthers had a solid, united core of sophomores that were the foundation for that success. They played hard, they played together, played with poise and were not in awe of their surroundings no matter what the situation. That’s a reflection of the coach and his staff.