Players talk about the memories as North beats South 10-1 in Sunday’s Seventh Annual San Gabriel Valley All-Star Game at Mt. SAC

Keith Birmingham’s All-Star Photo Gallery

By John Honell
– The seventh annual San Gabriel Valley Tribune All-Star Game was an easy win for the North, which jumped on top early and coasted 10-1 on Sunday night at Mt. San Antonio College.

The victory gave the North a 4-3 lead in the series.

Coach Ken Carlson (Bonita High School) filled out his lineup card with four players – Danielle Marvidis, Danielle O’Toole, Laura Swan and Brandi Harkness – from CIF-Southern Section Division 3 semifinalist St. Lucy’s at the top of the order.

“I wanted to stay with some continuity,” Carlson said. “These kids are used to playing with each other and St. Lucy’s has the largest representation of senior all-stars.”

Marvidis led off the game with a single. After a forceout, Swan tripled to drive in the first run and Harkness followed with a double to give the North a 2-0 lead.

“I wanted them to be on the field at the same time. Plus, they’re very good,” Carlson joked. “They have sure made me look good.”

O’Toole started in the circle for the North and pitched four shutout innings. She also doubled in the fourth inning and stole third.

“This is really sad,” O’Toole said. “It’s my last game with my best friends. I’m trying to just play and have fun.”

The South’s only run came in the bottom of the eighth when Taylor Castro (West Covina) hit a home run over the center-field fence.

Castro didn’t arrive at the ballpark until the seventh inning because of prior commitments.

“I played three travel ball games today,” she said. “I was a little late and a little nervous but felt I had to come through because we were down.”

The South was missing six players at the start of the game. Four of them showed up to play the final two innings.

“We were hoping to have a better showing,” South coach Scott Fisch (South Hills) said. “The hardest part of coaching an all-star team is making sure everyone gets playing time. The kids are great and will play different positions, hit in different orders or do whatever you ask. We had four-five that showed up at the end so that changed some things but we tried to keep them all happy.”

The North scored three more runs in the third inning. With two outs, Harkness walked. Brandi Wilson (Glendora) tripled off the fence to drive in Wilson. Denise Gonzales (Alhambra) then homered to center for a 5-0 lead.

Gonzales hit four home runs during the regular season.

“That felt great,” Gonzales said. “I’ve played travel ball but never with any of these girls, so hitting that home run was amazing.”

O’Toole doubled in Monique Villasenior (Charter Oak) and Taylor Langdon (Glendora) in the fourth inning for a 7-0 lead.

“That could be my last at-bat ever,” she said. “The chances of me hitting in college (San Diego State) are slim so I just went for it and I got it.”

Jennipher Solis (Los Altos)started in the circle for the South. She had a 14-3 regular-season record and led the Conquerors to the Hacienda League title.

“It’s been a fun year,” Solis said. “We felt like we were underdogs in league so that gave us some incentive to win. I was a little tired tonight because I had a travel ball game earlier, but this was a great experience.”

South catcher Britney Rodriguez (South Hills), who gave a verbal commitment to UCLA her freshman year and signed last November, is eager to try the next level.

“This was a fun game but I’m ready to move on,” Rodriguez said. “I had always liked UCLA and I went to a tournament as a freshman. They told me that if I kept up my grades and kept playing the way I was, they’d give me a scholarship.”

Portrait of winning North Squad

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Track: Damien’s Jarrett Gonzales wins the state title in 300 hurdles in Clovis

Clink Link for all CIF-State Track Finals Results

By Miguel Melendez, Staff Writer
- The San Gabriel Valley was well-represented at the CIF State track and field championships with South Pasadena’s Claire Kieffer-Wright and Damien’s Jarrett Gonzales bringing home titles Saturday in front of 7,123 at Buchanan High School.

Kieffer-Wright is a sophomore who showed a lot of promise early in the season. She hit her stride Saturday in the high jump by clearing 5 feet, 10 inches to win the West San Gabriel Valley’s first state title since South Pasadena’s Sam Pons two years ago in the 3,200 meters.

Gonzales made quite the turnaround, from not even reaching the Serra League finals because of an injury to capturing a state title by winning the 300 hurdles with a time of 37.30 seconds.

Kieffer-Wright got off to a shaky start Saturday and missed her first attempt at 5-3.

“It was really nerve-wracking missing my first attempt,” she said. “I was a little shaky but I knew I had to compete. That’s the main thing in the high jump besides form and technique, to be able to brush off mistakes and be mentally tough.”

After clearing the winning mark, Kieffer-Wright opted to continue and made an attempt at clearing 6-0 3/4, the qualifying mark for the Olympic trials. Kieffer-Wright made two attempts and ended there because of back problems, but the mere fact she had the opportunity to do so showed the giant strides she made since narrowly qualifying at the Masters Meet on May 25.

“At Masters my legs didn’t feel ready,” she said. “Today I felt ready and felt a lot more confident than on my third attempt at 5-5, which luckily I got over so I can come and do this.”

Gonzales said a gust of winds right off the blocks worried him a bit, but it wasn’t long before he hit his full stride and felt it was his race to lose.

“Coming off the last hurdle on the curve and just opening up my stride and sprinting all the way through,” said Gonzales when asked when he felt the race was his.

He didn’t break a personal mark, but the UCLA-bound Gonzales said it was an amazing accomplishment. Gonzales pulled a left hamstring and rolled his left ankle in a meet before the start of league his junior season.

“I had an opportunity to run at the world youth trials,” Gonzales said. “I asked my coach and he said I should recover and rehabilitate.”

In the same race, Diamond Ranch’s Andrew Fischer finished ninth with a time of 38.35.

Maranatha’s Ebony Crear accomplished her goal of reaching the state finals in the 100 hurdles. She finished seventh in 14.18.

Crear, the sophomore daughter of two-time Olympic medalist Mark Crear, almost didn’t finish the race.

“The third hurdle I hit it with my right leg and buckled,” she said.

“But I’m just happy I was able to recuperate and keep going. Just do my best because I hit the hurdle.”

In the 400, Arcadia’s Alex McElwee finished seventh at 48.86 while San Marino’s Kyle Ezold, in his first year running track, was eighth at 49.50.

Bonita sophomore Nikki Wheatley finished eighth in the triple jump with a mark of 37-8 3/4.

La Salle’s Daniel De La Torre finished fourth in the 1,600 with a time 9:06.60.

Arcadia’s Sergio Gonzalez, who scratched from the 1,600 preliminaries, finished fifth in 9:10.46.

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Chino Hills wins first softball title since 2005, beats South Torrance 3-0 for D-3 title

Congratulations to Chino Hills, the 2012 Division 3 softball champions. Check out the Inland Insider Tom Kiss’ video highlights and postgame interviews …

Chino Hills pitcher Nikki Innamorato was solid again, surrendering just two hits in the 3-0 shutout over South Torrance. All the Huskies runs were unearned, scoring twice in the third and again in the sixth on crucial South Torrance errors, but credit the Huskies for keeping the pressure on and capitalizing when they had to capitalize. It was their second title and first since 2005.

Chino Hills High School’s softball team is an incredible collection of talent. But in order to win a CIF-SS title, you have to be more than an incredible collection of talent. You have to be an incredible team.

Top-seeded Chino Hills (32-3) became that incredible team in 2012 by winning the CIF-SS Division 3 title on Saturday with a 3-0 victory over unseeded South Torrance at Deanna Manning Stadium.

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Covina hires longtime Torrance assistant Terence DeWan to become its next baseball coach; Walnut announces three resignations

Covina’ hires DeWan: Covina High School thought outside the box with its recent hire, naming Terence DeWan, an assistant with Torrance High since 2000, to become its next head baseball coach. DeWan was part of six league championship teams and reached two finals in 2009 and ’10 with Torrance. DeWan wrote that he’s excited to coach in the San Gabriel Valley and came across of our blogs during Torrance’s epic regular season and playoff battles with Bishop Amat in recent years. Just because of that, I already like the guy. If you remember, Amat beat Torrance in a memorable semifinal in 2011 en route to its title. Torrance knocked Amat out of the 2010 playoffs. In any case, sounds like a great hire by Covina and when I speak with DeWan over the next week, I’ll share his thoughts.

Walnut coaching departures: Walnut girls soccer coach Lorraine Hansen, who led the Mustangs to three straight CIF titles during her tenure, along with Mustangs baseball coach Darren Hoff and softball coach Marissa Beemer, have resigned from their positions, the school has informed us. We’ll have more next week, but anyone interested in those positions should contact the Mustangs’ athletic department.

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Bonita finishes the job with 5-1 victory over Alhambra to claim its first CIF title since 1951, Justin Garza hurles masterful three-hitter

Video highlights and interviews from the Inland Insider Tom Kiss on Bonita’s historic victory

Keith Birmingham’s championship photo gallery of Bonita’s 5-1 win over Alhambra

Bonita opens it up with four runs in the third and Justin Garza finishes his high school career with a three-hit shutout to give ‘Cats first title since 1951

By Fred J. Robledo, SGVN
— Bonita High School’s baseball team can finally exhale, the drought is over.

The Bearcats’ extraordinary season ended with a masterful 5-1 victory over Alhambra to claim the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 title in Friday’s championship at Dodger Stadium, giving Bonita its second title in history and first since 1951.

Bonita’s Cal State Fullerton-bound senior pitcher Justin Garza cemented his status as one of the San Gabriel Valley’s all-time greats, ending his high school career with a complete game victory to finish 12-1 and a remarkable 25-1 over the last two years – a span in which he only allowed 15 earned runs.

Garza allowed just three hits in Friday’s win and retired the final 12 batters, ending the game with his seventh strikeout.

“To be able to persevere with all the pressure he’s gone through, with all the scouts coming out and with everybody knowing how good he is and trying to take it away is what sets him apart,” Bonita coach John Knott said of Garza. “(Alhambra) came out ready for the fast ball, they were fouling off pitches and got a run early, but for a kid to not be emotional and not let his highs get too high and to be able to stay the course and be consistent is something I’m not sure I’ll see again as a high school coach.”

Bonita, the division’s top-seed, set a school-record for victories in finishing 32-2 while denying Alhambra, making its first title appearance since 1927 — a shot at its first CIF title. The Moors finished 24-4.

For Garza, he can finally relax after fending off batter-after-batter all season.

“It was just a journey and a grind,” Garza said. “It took a lot of blood, tears and sweat to get here, but that’s how it had to be done. Nothing is ever given to you, you have to work to be successful, and it wasn’t just me, we all earned this.

“You could tell from the beginning of this year we were going to bond. Our team is scrappy but I always felt it (championship) was going to happen. We had that vibe and we finally did it.”

Bonita, which had lost in title games in 1974 and two years ago in 2010, ended a 51-year drought.

Third baseman Thomas Castro, the only player who started on Bonita’s 2010 team that lost in the finals, was 2-for-2 with a run scored. Justin Row had a double and scored twice as Bonita pounded out seven hits in all.

“It was a great journey,” Castro said. “From the beginning of the season we told each other we’re going to always fight and never back down. It’s amazing to see all that hard work come together in the end.”

The Bearcats broke a 1-1 tie by tacking on four runs in the third inning and taking advantage of a big call at first base that turned the tide.

With Tanner Diebold on third and Row on second, Garza’s one-out sacrifice squeeze down third easily scored Diebow, but Alhambra pitcher Mario Briones’ hurried throw to first to get Garza was scooped up momentarily by first baseman Juan Morales as Garza made contact, knocking the ball out of Morales’ glove.

Garza was ruled safe on the juggled ball and while the Moors disputed it, Row rounded third and scored to give the Bearcats a 3-1 lead. The bleeding continued for Alhambra. Tyler Heslop singled home Garza and Castro scored on a wild-throw to third after Nolan Henley’s infield single, allowing the Bearcats to take a commanding 5-1 lead.

“First of all, I thought we recorded the out before the ball trickled away,” Alhambra coach Steve Gewecke said on the play at first base. “Then I thought (the runner) was inside the line, which means he’s out. The umpires thought it was different, and we’ll live with that. ”

Row helped stake the Bearcats to a 1-0 lead when he reached first on an error and advanced to second on a pass ball in the first inning. Castro picked him up with a one-out single to center, but the Moors came right back in the top of the second.

After Jeremy Duran stole third and Blake Kuehnle walked to put runners on the corners, Briones belted a two-out single up the middle to bring in Duran to tie the score, 1-1.

It was the last hit and run the Moors would get off Garza. The Moors also didn’t help their cause by committing four errors.

“We just didn’t have enough today,” Gewecke said. “That’s the bottom line. We lost to
a good team. You can’t give Garza five, he’s going to make it standup. I thought
we hit the ball hard. But they made some great plays and deserved to win.”

For Knott, he felt the relief of winning his first title as coach.

“I’m so proud of our kids,” Knott said. “Obviously to do this isn’t simple or teams would
be doing it every year. I’m so proud of our defense. They fed off (Garza), but they made the plays behind him and didn’t get overwhelmed by the surroundings or the moment.

“And look, I have a ton of respect for Alhambra. They fought all the way through and I know they’re not happy to have those four errors behind them, but their hitters had tough at bats and they fought until the last out.”
626-962-8811, ext. 2161

PREGAME PREVIEW: While Bonita is searching for its first title since 1951, Alhambra is making only its second appearance since 1927

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Track: State Prelims today and Finals tomorrow at Buchanan High in Clovis

For up-to-the-minute track updates from the state championships in Clovs, click here

By Keith Lair, Staff Writer
South Pasadena High School’s Claire Kieffer-Wright jumped 5 feet, 10 inches in a Rio Hondo League dual meet in March. Temple City’s Philippe Ueng cleared 15-8 in the pole vault at the Rosemead Invitational, also in March.

Neither has hit that mark since. But the pair are hoping their fortunes change starting today. The jumpers are among 13 San Gabriel Valley and Whittier area athletes who have qualified for the CIF State meet at Buchanan High School in Clovis. It is one of the largest contingents of area athletes competing in the two-day meet in a decade.

Ueng showed what he is capable of doing in a practice session on Wednesday at Mt. SAC. He cleared 16 feet for the first time.

“He’s hot right now,” Temple City jumping coach Chris Branson said. “He’s been breaking new ground, and getting 16 feet with a stiffer pole and a 16-foot pole. That is a good sign.”

Ueng and Kieffer-Wright, if they piece together masterful performances, have legitimate shots at winning state titles.

“It has not been a rut thing,” South Pasadena jumps coach C.B. Richards said of Kieffer-Wright’s season of late. “She’s been doing a lot of different things. Now she is focusing on the high jump. We know what she has in her. She just has to put all the pieces together and have a good day.”

A handful of other area athletes have a shot at a state title.

Damien’s Jarrett Gonzales enters the meet with the state’s fastest time in the 300-meter hurdles. Cantwell Sacred Heart’s Adam Aguirre is making his second consecutive appearance in the meet.

“I know what I have to do already,” Aguirre said. “I’m just going to prepare the same.”

Arcadia’s Alex McElwee, La Serna’s German Fabela and San Marino’s Kyle Ezold are all among the state leaders in the 400, and Rowland’s Nick Rivera and La Salle’s Daniel De La Torre are among the state leaders in the 1,600.

“I’ve been waiting for so long,” Rivera said of making it to state. “I finally get my chance that I always dreamed of. At one point I thought I would never actually go out and do it.”

De La Torre will be the lone area athlete attempting a double. He will also run in Saturday’s 3,200, and will be joined by Arcadia’s Sergio Gonzalez, who qualified in both events, but opted to concentrate on just the 3,200. He won the CIF State Division I cross country championship just a few miles west of Saturday’s meet six months ago.

Maranatha’s Ebony Crear has lowered her own school-record 100 hurdles time in the last three races, running a time of 14.09 seconds in the CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet. Nikki Wheatley of Bonita qualified in the triple jump. Both are among the state leaders. Diamond Ranch’s Andrew Fischer has one of the top times in the 300 hurdles.

Kieffer-Wright has focused only on high jumping for the last month, and returns to the city were she went 5-8 in the indoor state championships in January.

“I do better when the pressure is on,” the sophomore said.

She will likely have to clear 5-5, which she did at the CIF-SS Masters Meet, in today’s qualifying session.

Ueng is finally over the ankle injury that created devastating results last year.

“He’s jumping well again,” Branson said. “He could go 16-6 and win it.”

Qualifying for all but the 3,200 is today, starting at 3p.m. In the running events, the heat winners and the fastest other competitors will round out the nine-athlete final. In field events, 12 athletes could advance if there are ties.

Saturday’s meet is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m.

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