Around the TRAC: From tennis to volleyball to golf to Clovis Unified’s all-time best, we have it all

Contributed photo
The Clovis North tennis team won their first Central Section D-1 team title when they defeated defending champion Clovis West 6-0.

 
By Paul Meadors, Sports Editor
paulmeadors@gmail.com
@paulmeadors

Photo by Nick Baker Buchanan senior Logan Riding kills it against Sanger in the Valley title game on May 19. The Bears reached as high as No. 4 in the nation on the season.
Photo by Nick Baker
Buchanan senior Logan Riding kills it against Sanger in the Valley title game on May 19. The Bears reached as high as No. 4 in the nation on the season.

As we wrap up another banner year for Tri-River Athletic Conference schools, there’s no denying that change is in the air, and I’m not talking about the summer heat that’s about to hit us like a ton of bricks. Graduating seniors are a mixed bag of emotions; altogether anxious, excited, nervous, longing for the freedom of the future yet saying goodbye to the safe and familiar. Ah yes, the rite of passage transitioning to adulthood.

But before we get too mushy and misty-eyed there are still some sports to be celebrated before we can call this year over and so far this spring alone, every Central Section champion will come from a Clovis school. And looky-looky, both the baseball and softball finals feature all-TRAC schools – Buchanan and Clovis in softball and Buchanan and Clovis North in baseball. Both these games were played over Memorial Day weekend. Well, kind of – the baseball game was played on a Tuesday, but that’s another story.

And to cap off this grand year, we have the best and brightest high school track and field stars in our grand state of California heading to our own backyard June 3-4 for the CIF State Track and Field Championships. This is a big deal. So big in fact, that countless hours were spent by Clovis Unified administrators and coaches readying the event and adding many upgrades and improvements to the venue. Many around the country have taken notice saying things like “This is really a high school stadium?” Yep, and it’s all ours.

What a perfect way to say goodbye to the 2105-16 school year and I hope to see you all there, but don’t blink because you just might miss something incredible.

Clovis North wins D-1 Valley tennis team title, Daly upset in individual finals
Daly Meinert said he’s been waiting for this moment for three years, and when the final point was decided it was time to celebrate Clovis North’s first D-1 Central Section tennis title.

And they did after their 6-0 rout of the No. 2 Clovis West on Wednesday, May 18 at Copper River Country Club on a perfect 78 degree day.
Meinert, only a junior who has two Central Section individual titles his freshman and sophomore years, took care of business in his No. 1 singles match 6-2, 6-2 victory over Jacob Vander Beek. But, Daly’s real goal was sharing a team title with his teammates, the band of brothers.

“Ever since I was a freshman I always wanted a team championship,” said Meinert. “After my first individual title this is a great feeling, there’s nothing like a team championship. To have 13 guys share it together with is a great experience.”

It was Daly, Derek Yao, Alex Tacescu, Billy Schulz, Stephen Pimentel, and Miles Hale who jump started the Broncos to a 6-0 start, where the Golden Eagles couldn’t catch up. So, that meant it was over, no comeback, nada, zip, done-for. They didn’t even bother playing doubles.

But, Clovis West did bring the crowd, the loud and rowdy student section, looking to wreak havoc on the Broncos. It was a fun atmosphere, indeed, and one Meinert doesn’t mind.

“They have a dynasty over there at Clovis West so I was going against 100 to 150 people out there,” continued Meinert. “I was proud that we could all come out on top.”

Meinert, the No. 1 overall seed in the individual tennis tournament was upset by No. 2 Dylan Simonsen of Garces 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, (7-4) in the finals on May 21 in Wasco.

 

Photo by Nick Baker The Buchanan Bears (33-4) won the Central Section D-1 volleyball title for the second consecutive year, defeating Sanger 3-0. Then, as the No. 2 seed in the Southern Section, lost in the first round of the state playoffs to Beckman.
Photo by Nick Baker
The Buchanan Bears (33-4) won the Central Section D-1 volleyball title for the second consecutive year, defeating Sanger 3-0. Then, as the No. 2 seed in the Southern Section, lost in the first round of the state playoffs to Beckman.

Buchanan volleyball beats Sanger for Valley championship, upset in first round of state
Elation quickly turned to disappointment for the nationally ranked Buchanan boys volleyball team in a matter of days, when the Bears lost in the first round of the state playoffs just four days after beating Sanger for the D-1 Central Section championship.

The Bears (33-4) were dominant against Valley opponents all year while amassing an impressive win total, only losing five games all year. But, the season came to a crashing halt on May 24 as the No. 2 seed lost at home to No. 7 Beckman in five sets 19-25, 25-16, 25-22, 22-25, 16-14.

But, let’s focus on the positive – a second consecutive Valley title for the Bears, which is always the main goal. The Bears behind the powerful hitting of 6-foot-9 Donovan Mitchell, swept Sanger 25-23, 25-21, 25-18. Mitchell registered 16 kills while Nik Gettman and Logan Riding had eight each.

“A lot of credit goes to Sanger,” said head coach John Jay. “It was a competitive game. We have been playing well, taking care of the business on our side of the court and even though we won in three we still had to fight.”

Jay also praised the play of senior setter Taj Sangha, sophomore Kyle Merchen and senior Myles Dornhofer.

Mitchell is attending Wake Forest on a basketball scholarship but this volleyball season and the Valley championship game will be on his mind for a long time.

“It feels good, we really worked hard for this one,” Mitchell said. “This season has been a lot of fun.”

Contributed photo The golf team from Clovis North swept TRAC, North Area and the D-1 Valley championships this season behind a strong, balanced team.
Contributed photo
The golf team from Clovis North swept TRAC, North Area and the D-1 Valley championships this season behind a strong, balanced team.

Clovis North golf sweeps Valley titles
It was a clean sweep for the Broncos golf program.

First, Clovis North followed up their TRAC and North Area titles with a Central Section title on May 16 at Valley Oaks Golf Course in Visalia. Then the Broncos Kyle Stewart won the boys individual title with a 5-under-par 67 at Buena Vista Golf Course in Taft on May 23.

In the team championship match, the Broncos dethroned perennial champion and TRAC rival Clovis West behind the strong play of Justin Lagera (69), Bryce Loosigian (70), Peter Faragia (71), Stewart (73) and Blake Hathcoat (74). As a team, they shot a 3-under 357 beating the Golden Eagles by five strokes.
The individual championship is where Stewart shined in making five birdies in a one-stroke victory. Bronco teammate Hathcoat and Peter Kuest of Clovis West tied for third with a 70.

A pretty good week of golf for the Bronco program I say.

 

Clovis Cassidy Crouch wins prestigious B’nai B’rith Award
Cassidy Crouch said she was as surprised as anyone in the room when they announced her name as the recipient of the B’nai B’rith Award on May 16. But one would think: why not her?

Photo by Nick Baker Clovis senior Cassidy Crouch, a standout water polo, basketball and badminton player, won the B'nai B'rith award, given to a student/athlete athletic ability, scholastic ability and community activities. She is attending UC Davis in the fall.
Photo by Nick Baker
Clovis senior Cassidy Crouch, a standout water polo, basketball and badminton player, won the B’nai B’rith award, given to a student/athlete athletic ability, scholastic ability and community activities. She is attending UC Davis in the fall.

The Clovis High senior carried a GPA of 4.47, was an active member in the community and was a successful three-sport star in water polo, basketball and badminton for the Cougars. She is attending UC Davis in the fall.

“It meant the world to me to win this award and to be the winner out of 16 schools and fifteen other nominees is such an honor,” said Crouch. “It’s so nice to have my hard work over these past four years in academics and athletics be recognized. To say I was surprised is an understatement.”

The B’nai B’rith is a Jewish service organization recognizing the greater Fresno area’s top student athletes since 1952.

She played goalie and was a two-time D-1 Central Section champion in water polo, where her play in the Valley championship game against Clovis West was exceptional. Crouch also played three years of varsity basketball, earning defensive MVP her junior season and as a sophomore won a badminton section title and two runner-ups.

While she’s undecided on life after college (her ever-changing list includes: crisis negotiator to teacher to chiropractor) Crouch is ready for the challenge after an eventful four years of high school.

“My high school experience has been a crazy one but I wouldn’t change a single thing about it,” said Crouch. “Whether it’s winning Valley Championships and acing tests or losing Valley championships and failing tests, I’ve done it all and am ready to leave that all behind in high school and start a new journey here in a couple of months.”

CUSD Hall of Fame inductees announced
The first annual Clovis Unified Hall of Fame inductees were announced by District Officials on May 17 in front of administrators and selected guests at the Clovis Unified Professional Development Building and what an impressed first class it is.

Headlining the list is Dr. Floyd Buchanan, the Clovis Unified Superintendent for 31 years who was the architect of the high standards upon which Clovis Unified is founded. Starting next year, there will be a special award that will be given to an individual or program in his honor.

Here is the list of the first ever Clovis Unified Athletic Hall of Fame honorees: Daryle Lamonica, Clovis High football and baseball, class of 1960’s. Dennis DeLiddo, Clovis High wrestling, class of 1970’s. Ruth Lawanson, Clovis West volleyball, basketball and track and field, class of 1980’s. Amanda Scott, Clovis softball, class of 1990’s. Chris Hernandez, Clovis West basketball, class of 2000’s, Tim Simons, football coach, Clovis and Clovis North from 1970’s, 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s, the 1968 Clovis High boys basketball team and the 1970 Clovis High football team.

An awards presentation called the Night of Champions is scheduled for Saturday, November 5, 2016 at Shaghoian Concert Hall at Clovis North High School, honoring these inductees and CUSD section champions from the 2015-16 school year.
We’ll be there.