Clarendon finalist for U19 National team

After working out this past weekend at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Cajon senior guard Layshia Clarendon was named as one of 14 finalists for the Under-19 National Team Sunday. Clarendon, a 5-9 point guard who will play for California next season, will return to Colorado Springs July 9 to compete for a spot on the final roster, which will consist of 12 players. The 14 finalists were culled from a pool of 27 high school and college players that tried out this past weekend.

The United States’ Under-19 National Team then will travel to Thailand for the 2009 FIBA World Championships, which start July 23.in Bangkok. Past standouts that have played on this team include Lisa Leslie, Rebecca Lobo and Don Lugo alum Diana Taurasi.

Clarendon in Colorado

Cajon senior guard Layshia Clarendon continues to rub her elbows with the elite in girls basketball, as she is in Colorado Springs currently working out with top high school and college players at the U.S. Olympic Training facility according to an e-mail sent by Cowgirls coach Mark Lehman.

Clarendon is among a handful of high school players chosen to compete with college players for spots on the Junior National Basketball Team, which will compete in the World Championship Games this summer. More information on the event can be found at www.usabasketball.com.

Roenicke wins the gold

Tara Roenicke and Summer Ross capped off a dominating run at the Australian Olympic Youth Festival Sunday afternoon Sydney time, sweeping the Australian duo of Mariafe Artacho and Zina Stone 21-17, 21-9 to capture the gold medal in girls beach volleyball.

Roenicke and Ross didn’t lose a game in their run to the gold, winning all 10 of them en route to the championship.

“We had a goal of coming over here and not losing a game,” Roenicke said. “We felt pretty good about how we matched up with all of these teams and we did it. I’m so excited right now I don’t know what to do.”

Roenicke called me on the tram in Sydney en route to watch the U.S. boys soccer team, which plays Australia in the gold medal game of that event. To get their gold medals, Roenicke and Ross toughed out a tight first game before turning it on in game two.

“Once we got that first game, I think they gave up a bit,” Roenicke said. “It was so exciting. With every point I was just sitting there thinking ‘Just one more.’ It’s an unbelievable feeling and I really don’t even know how to act right now.”

The third time in an international event was certainly the charm for Roenicke. She’s competed the last two summers in the Under-19 World Championships in Poland and The Netherlands, respectively. She didn’t receive a medal in those events, but the experience she obtained in those events definitely paid off.

“I felt real confident going into the gold-medal game,” Roenicke said. “When I competed in Poland (in 2007), the team I was on was able to beat that team. I have a different partner, but I had a good feeling about this match coming in. I felt if we could beat Norway (in the semifinals) we’d have a good shot.”

Roenicke, the United States’ flag-bearer in the opening ceremonies, will hang out in Sydney for the closing ceremonies before flying back to Los Angeles on Tuesday and heading back to Los Osos Wednesday. And even though the resulting jet lag – Roenicke leaves Sydney Tuesday afternoon Australia time and arrives in Los Angeles Tuesday morning California time – will cause her to spend most of Tuesday adjusting, Roenicke knows the first thing she’s going to do.

“I’m hanging up my gold medal in my room,” Roenicke said.

Roenicke one away from gold

Just got a text message from Tara Roenicke in Australia. Roenicke, who is representing the United States in the beach volleyball portion of the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney, told me that her and Summer Ross defeated Norway today (Saturday in Australia) to advance to the gold-medal game against the host Australians.

Roenicke and Ross, from Carlsbad, defeated the Norweigan duo of Linn Lehre and Mari Aase Hole (not a made-up name, trust me on this) 21-16, 23-21 on what Roenicke called a day with “crazy wind.” Roenicke and Ross will play Mariafe Artacho and Zina Stone in the final at 11:30 a.m. Sunday Australian time, which is about 5:30 p.m. Saturday here in California.

Roenicke regulating in Australia

Just received a call a little bit ago from Los Osos senior volleyball player Tara Roenicke, who is competing in the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney. Roenicke and beach volleyball partner Summer Ross of Carlsbad have cruised thus far, defeating teams from Australia, China and the United Kingdom to move to 3-0 in the tournament.

“It’s going pretty well,” Roenicke said. “The winds were really crazy and it was hard to get used to, but we are playing pretty well right now.”

Roenicke and Ross defeated Australia’s No. 2 team, 21-16, 21-14 ,and China, 22-20, 21-13 Thursday while adding a victory over the United Kingdom, 21-11, 21-11, Friday to move on in the playoff round, where they’ll next play Norway on Saturday. Play ends Sunday with the medal round.

The volleyball has been part of a whirlwind few days for Roenicke, who took a 14-hour trans-Pacific flight out of Los Angeles Sunday night that landed in Sydney Tuesday morning Australian time. Of course, losing a day was made up by the cushy ride, as Roenicke and Ross were upgraded to business-class seating.

“The flight out was nice,” Roenicke said. “We had these huge seats that we could stretch out, watch movies and sleep. It was weird losing a day, but we were ready to go once we got off the plane.”

Roenicke carried the United States flag in Wednesday’s opening ceremonies, giving her a chance to mingle with athletes from all 25 competing countries. And although Roenicke is no stranger to international competition, the experience of carrying the flag was something that will always stay with her.

“The opening ceremonies were so awesome,” Roenicke said. “They were so organized and everything was just so beautiful and well-run. It was such an honor to hold the U.S. flag and getting to meet the athletes from other countries and talk to them. It’s been such a rewarding experience.”

We’ll continue updating Roenicke’s progress at the Olympic Festival throughout the weekend, so check back. Results also can be found here.