The memories will endure
Auburn’s sports scene was filled with record-breaking performances, dramatic victories and inspiring turnarounds in 2010.
The Endurance Capital of the World got another major feather in its cap as the Amgen Tour of California rolled through town, then made plans to return for the start of Stage 3 in 2011. Thousands followed online and in person as three Western States Endurance Run rookies took the 100-mile foot race to a new level. And the prep football season was as vibrant as ever, with Del Oro, Colfax, Placer and Bear River thrilling fans with epic seasons.
The following is a rundown of the top 10 Auburn Journal sports stories of 2010, as determined by the Journal sports staff:
1. Rookie Roes demolishes Western States record
By Todd Mordhorst
Journal Sports Editor
There were moments Saturday when Geoff Roes couldn’t help but question the blistering pace of the leaders at the Western States Endurance Run.
By Saturday evening, Roes was setting the standard — a historically fast one.
The 34-year-old from Juneau, Alaska shattered the course record in the 100-mile race from Squaw Valley to Auburn, winning with a time of 15 hours, 7 minutes, 4 seconds.
Roes remained unbeaten in 100-mile races, outlasting Anton Krupicka, who finished seven minutes behind to take second place. Krupicka led for much of the race, but Roes flew past him around the 90-mile mark and steadily pulled away.
The showdown everyone was waiting for materialized just like many anticipated.
“Everybody knew there was potential for some special things to happen today, but there was also potential for some disasters to happen,” Roes said.
Killian Jornet Burgada helped push the punishing pace early. The 22-year-old ran alongside Krupicka up until around the 80-mile mark. Jornet settled for third place, finishing at 9:04 p.m. Nick Clark, a first-time Western States runner from Colorado, took fourth.
It looked like Jornet and Krupicka might duel it out for the win after they built a lead of about 12 minutes at one point between Devil’s Thumb and Foresthill. But Roes made up a huge chunk of time after crossing the middle fork of the American River at Rucky Chucky Crossing and eventually passed his two top competitors.
“I wish I could say it was a strategy, but I was feeling really bad at about mile 40,” said Roes, who won the Way Too Cool 50k and the American River 50-miler earlier this year. “I had a rough patch there. When I picked up my pacer Dave Mackey, we pushed it pretty hard right away, a little too much, so I told Dave I wanted to hold back a bit. Then it just really started to flow.
“I remember saying to (Mackey), ‘If I don’t win this race it’s not going to be because of me, it’s because they run the most phenomenal race imaginable. Somewhere around mile 70 or 75, it started to feel good. I finally got warmed up, I guess.”
Another Western States rookie - Tracy Garneau - raced to the women’s title in just over 19 hours.
2. Del Oro completes rebound with section title run
By Cecil Conley
Gold Country News Service
SACRAMENTO — Casey Taylor and his Del Oro High football team were in no hurry to get out of the rain back on Dec. 3. The Golden Eagles soaked in the thrill of victory for all it was worth.
Del Oro entered the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs as the No. 11 seed. The Golden Eagles finished as champions by defeating Oakdale 21-0 at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento.
A season that began in the scorching heat of August ended on a damp Saturday night in December. The Golden Eagles weathered much more than Mother Nature in a season to remember.
Senior Tyler Adair did not mind that the rain was turning the black paint on his face into a mess. He also did not mind that he had to play this season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
“This means everything,” Adair said. “We knew we could do it.”
Del Oro was 2-4 after a 27-18 loss to Rocklin on Oct. 8. The Golden Eagles then got on the right track, winning their final four Sierra Foothill League games and four postseason games.
A season that was on the verge of being derailed two months ago ended with Del Oro roaring back to win eight consecutive games.
“We had to get it together,” junior linebacker Alex Bertrando said. “We knew we had the talent.”
Kai Vonalvensleben sealed the deal for Del Oro (10-4) when he intercepted a tipped pass and dashed 52 yards to the end zone to make it 21-0 with 4:16 to play. That was enough to send Oakdale fans to the exits.
Defense was the difference for Del Oro on Saturday night and throughout the playoffs. The Golden Eagles did not allow more than nine points in any of their four postseason wins. Del Oro picked the perfect time to record its first shutout of the season.
Vonalvensleben’s interception return was one of three big plays that produced one memorable victory for the Eagles.
The first was a 72-yard touchdown pass from Bobby Heatherington to tight end Shoichi Martinson with 8:39 left in the first half. The second was Russell Smith’s 65-yard return of the second-half kickoff to make it 14-0.
3. Tour of California cruises through Auburn
By Todd Mordhorst,
Journal Sports Editor
Four breakaway riders raced through town just after 1 p.m. on May 16, followed by a 124-man herd of cyclists, including stars Lance Armstrong and three-time Amgen Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer.
The parade of support vehicles zoomed through and an enthusiastic throng of fans on Lincoln Way roared their approval. Many fans lingered in Auburn’s newly updated Central Square to watch the finish in Sacramento, where Mark Cavendish won a thrilling sprint to the finish.
Sierra Foothills Cycling Club president Larry Matz was thrilled with the way the event turned out.
“Amgen is looking at Auburn as a model city,” Matz said. “The city’s preparation was fantastic. We had a great turnout and excellent participation all the way around.”
Tour organizers were so impressed with Auburn they made plans to return. On Oct. 7, the announcement was made in Auburn’s Central Square.
Auburn will be the start city for Stage 3 of the 2011 race, which runs to Modesto and takes place Tuesday, May 17.
4. Colfax overcomes adversity to win unlikely PVL title
By Todd Mordhorst, Journal Sports Editor
The Colfax High football team overcame a tumultuous start to the season, edged Placer in a true classic in October and brought home a most unlikely Pioneer Valley League championship banner in November.
Led by hard-charging senior tailback Tommy Baldoni, Colfax thwarted every PVL challenger to finish 5-0. The run included a double-overtime win over the rival Hillmen, who had been favored to win their first PVL title. Matti Geissler’s field goal was the difference after Falcon Josh Moreno had a huge game on defense and caught a touchdown pass from Austin Young to send the game to overtime.
Colfax took care of Lincoln and Bear River in dominant fashion to finish off the PVL schedule. The Falcons made it to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV semifinals, before running into a loaded Escalon team. Colfax lost 41-6 and finished the year with a 10-3 record. Meanwhile Escalon went on to win the CIF State Division III Bowl game.
5. Placer falls to Oakdale at muddy Le Febvre
By Todd Mordhorst, Journal Sports Editor
One point doesn’t describe how close the Placer High football team came to beating Oakdale Friday night at Le Febvre Stadium.
One Hillmen field goal attempt bounced off the left upright. An extra-point attempt sailed slightly right and as Placer fans prayed, crossed their fingers and wrung their hands, one last kick missed left by a matter of inches.
Justin Martin’s extra-point boot grazed the left upright on its way through and it made all the difference as the Mustangs beat the Hillmen 7-6 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III quarterfinals.
Placer led 6-0 at the half, but Oakdale put together a determined drive to open the third quarter. The Mustangs when 67 yards on 13 plays, capped by Marcus Hernandez’s 1-yard touchdown run.
Martin’s extra-point made it 7-6.
The two teams traded possessions throughout the rest of the half until the Hillmen got the ball back with just under four minutes to play and 70 yards to go for a touchdown.
Senior Josh Turney motored 42 yards down the Placer sideline to set up a dramatic final two minutes. The Hillmen took it to the Oakdale 6-yard line, but with time running down, they had to spike the ball twice in three plays to stop the clock. Sophomore Isaac Brahce, who was filling in for injured senior Darren Centi, trotted out for a 23-yard field goal attempt. After two Oakdale timeouts, his kick drifted just left of the goalposts and the Mustangs celebrated wildly.
Placer coach Joey Montoya said he didn’t consider anything but a field goal attempt as the clock was winding down.
“Nothing else even crossed my mind to,” he said. “I just thought if we got down there, we’d go with the smart option and give ourselves a chance. We just came up a little short.”
Placer finished the season 9-3.
6. Del Oro girls basketball stretches SFL win streak to 50 games
The Del Oro HIgh girls basketball team was spectacular in 2010, but the best may be yet to come.
The Golden Eagles finished 26-6 in 2009-10, won a fifth straight Sierra Foothill League title and lost to Valley Christian of San Jose 68-63 in the second round of the CIF Northern California playoffs.
Heading into the 2011 schedule, Del Oro has won an incredible 50 straight SFL games.
Del Oro returned all five starters, including UC Santa Barbara-bound guard Madeline Campbell. The Eagles won their first nine games of 2010 and have hopes of bringing home their first section title since 1996 this spring.
7. Tragedy inspires Bear River football
The Bear River High football team turned tragedy into inspiration. Junior Justin Butler died in a “choking game” accident in September, just two days after scoring a touchdown against Woodcreek.
The Bruins dedicated the rest of the season to him, made the playoffs and lost a heart-breaking playoff opener at Marysville.
The signature win of the season came at River Valley on Sept. 24 - the first game following Butler’s death. The Bruins dug deep to pull out a 14-7 win in Yuba City, setting off a tear-filled celebration.
Bear River finished the season 7-4.
8. Bruins win fourth straight section softball title
By Todd Mordhorst, Journal Sports Editor
The Bear River High softball team only made it look easy.
In truth, the Bruins’ fourth straight Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title season included a couple of setbacks that might have derailed other teams. But Bear River peaked in the postseason, crushing Center 11-1 May 21 at Arnaiz Stadium in Stockton to win the championship.
The Bruins beat the Cougars 13-1 in Friday’s semifinal and nearly duplicated their performance Saturday. It was a sweet ending for seniors Katie Mathis and Courtney Ceo, who will go down as two of Bear River’s all-time great athletes.
“As a coach you only get kids like that once in a while and it’s special,” Bear River coach Duane Zauner said. “They play the game with every fiber in their bodies. They’re extremely hard workers. In their careers they scored 230 runs and combined for more than 200 RBIs between them in four years. That just tells you what they did for the program.”
Sophomore pitcher Erin Nichol scattered six hits and struck out seven while getting plenty of offensive support. Ceo closed out her brilliant career with a 4-for-4 day at the plate while Mathis was 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs.
After winning section titles every year of their high school careers, Ceo will play at Oregon next year while Mathis is headed to San Diego State.
9. Del Oro girls cross country wins fourth straight section title
By Journal Sports Staff
The Del Oro girls edged Sierra Foothill League rival Woodcreek by the slimmest of margins to win the Division II title and earn a state berth. Senior Caitlin Devitt-Payne raced to first place in 19:02. Del Oro and Woodcreek tied with 59 points, but the Golden Eagles had the lower overall time and claimed the section crown.
After winning three straight championships in Division III, the Eagles made it four in a row despite facing a very tough Div. II field.
Emma Freeman (20:06) finished 13th, Alex Lua (20:06) was 14th, Jessie Rozario (20:30) was 22nd and Desiree Bacchi (20:38) took 26th to round out the Del Oro scoring.
10. Barry loses eligibility battle with CIF, but creates recruiting buzz
By Journal Sports Staff
Remi Barry was one of the most talked about basketball players in the region despite never playing in a high school game.
The French transfer student graduated from Del Oro High in June after being denied basketball eligibility last winter for what the California Interscholastic Federation deemed an athletically motivated transfer from a private school in Florida.
Barry appealed the decision and eventually took the CIF to court, where judges upheld the ruling. He watched from the bench as the Golden Eagles fell to Center in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III quarterfinals.
Despite missing his entire senior season, Barry generated impressive recruiting buzz. He whittled a field that once included suitors like Colorado, UC Berkeley and Washington down to his favorite three —- UCLA, Arizona State and St. John’s.
However, he eventually landed at New Mexico State. He was not eligible to play this season, but should finally be on the court for the 2011-12 season.