Around the TRAC: Ushering in the 2016-17 year like a boss

Featured photo – Josh Hokit was honored at the Aug. 31 Clovis Unified board meeting after receiving the 2015-16 Clovis Roundup Boys’ Athlete of the Year. Hokit, who now plays football for Fresno State as a freshman walk-on, was the state’s wrestling title (187) and was the TRAC Football Player of the Year. [Photo by Nick Baker]

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

So, the first couple of weeks are in the books to begin the 2016-17 school year. Doesn’t 2016-17 sound crazy? Isn’t there supposed to be time travel and flying cars and stuff like in “Back to the Future” by now? Seeing the dates 2016 and 2017 is kinda surreal don’t you think?

Well, while there’s no Doc Brown talking about 1.21 gigawatts or Biff’s Sports Almanac predicting the outcome of ball games, we over here at the Clovis Roundup were out and about the past two weeks checking out some primo football games. From Sunnyside to Lamonica Stadium to McLane to Veterans Memorial Stadium for a total of eight, yep eight, games. And yours truly was there for six of them, wrapping them all up in nice, tidy stories for y’all to read.

And you know what – I loved every single minute of it (especially the carne asada taco, rice and beans at Veterans Memorial Stadium). Buchanan and Clovis took care of business in the first two games and were the only TRAC teams to start off 2-0, while Clovis North, Clovis West and Central went 1-1 and Clovis East 0-2.

The only football games we weren’t able to cover were the two away games – Clovis East at St. Ignatius in San Francisco in Week 1 and the nail-biter Clovis played up in Turlock. If we only had that bullet train up and running, we would have seen them all!

But, football isn’t the game in town, and fall marks the beginning of girls volleyball, water polo, cross country, girls golf and tennis, and we like those sports too.

So as we dive in full bore into the 2016-17 school year, be sure to check out your favorite Clovis Unified athletic event. And if you’re not quite sure which one to check out, simply look for those Friday night lights illuminating the Clovis sky and head towards them – we promise you won’t be disappointed.

 

Lauren Winslow is the new girls’ volleyball coach at Clovis East. Winslow is a Clovis West graduate who played volleyball at Fresno Pacific and Fresno State (seen here) and inherits a team that won their first volleyball Valley championship last season. [Photo contributed]
Lauren Winslow is the new girls’ volleyball coach at Clovis East. Winslow is a Clovis West graduate who played volleyball at Fresno Pacific and Fresno State (seen here) and inherits a team that won their first volleyball Valley championship last season. [Photo contributed]
Clovis East hires new girls’ volleyball coach

Clovis East has a new girls’ volleyball coach, just a year after they won the school’s first Valley championship in the sport, turning to Lauren Winslow to continue to upward swing in the program left by coach Vicki Samarin.

Samarin stepped away from the varsity job to follow her son, Aaron, who’s playing volleyball at defending NCAA national champion Ohio State.

Winslow, a Clovis native, graduated from Clovis West in 2009 and was named the 2008 TRAC co-MVP. She continued her volleyball career to Fresno Pacific, winning the national championship as a freshman before transferring to Fresno State where she played for three years.
“I am ecstatic to be a Timberwolf and from every single person: administration, teachers, staff and other coaches have been so supportive and have welcomed me right into the Wolfpack family,” said Winslow.  

And the Timberwolves have not skipped a beat coming into the season. Winslow states that the team has worked hard all summer in open gyms and in the weight room saying: “I am thrilled to be coaching a group of girls who are willing to work hard and with grit along with an awesome coaching staff behind me.”

The team returns seniors Jocelyn Rodriguez, Madi Mosette and Abby Edwards from last year’s 37-9 team that also won an outright TRAC championship. Sophomores Taylor Diley and Alessandra Quisado are great additions to the team as well.

Winslow, who is also a first-time English teacher at the school, doesn’t feel any pressure being the DI Valley champs, but notes it’s a goal to compete well enough this season to put them right back in that position again.

“We are focused on taking one day at a time, one game at a time and I think if we focus on our process and what it means to be a part of Wolfpack volleyball, the success will follow,” Winslow said.

The Timberwolves (1-1) are traveling to the San Luis Obispo Tournament the weekend of Sept. 9-10 and open up TRAC play on Sept. 27 at Clovis High.

 

Senior goalie Kyle McKinney is one of many experienced water polo players for Buchanan. The Bears are hungry after losing in last year’s D1 semi-final playoffs after receiving the No. 1 seed. [Photo courtesy of Buchanan water polo]
Senior goalie Kyle McKinney is one of many experienced water polo players for Buchanan. The Bears are hungry after losing in last year’s D1 semi-final playoffs after receiving the No. 1 seed. [Photo courtesy of Buchanan water polo]
Buchanan boys’ water polo primed for big season

Buchanan boys’ water polo is equated with winning, with eight TRAC championships and seven Central Section championships in school history.

But last year, the No. 1-seeded Bears were bounced in the playoff semifinals by a scorching hot No. 4 Golden West, and left scratching their head for answers.

This year’s team is looking to erase last year’s memory from the banks, returning a strong core of players, with many arriving from a very impressive summer of 2016. As of Sept. 4, the Bears are 3-1 to start of the year.

The guys are very motivated to improve upon last year,” said head coach Nic Maes. “Thirteen of our 17 players are returners from last season.  They know what it feels like to lose the last game of the season, and they don’t want to have that feeling again.”  

It certainly helps when you have four returning starters such as seniors Kyle McKenney (Goalie, four-year varsity letterman), Robert Phillips (four-year varsity letterman) and sophomores Kaleb Archer and Gabe Putnam – guys with size, speed and strength.

According to Maes, Putnam was a starter for the USA Cadet National Team (born 2001 and younger) that won the Silver Medal in an International Competition in Budapest, Hungary in June. He was also the youngest member of the Youth National Team (born 1998 and younger) that played in the US Open in July.  

Buchanan senior Robert Phillips is a top returning water polo player for Buchanan. Phillips scored 49 goals for the Bears last season when they won the TRAC title, going 22-7 on the year. [Photo courtesy of Buchanan water polo]
Buchanan senior Robert Phillips is a top returning water polo player for Buchanan. Phillips scored 49 goals for the Bears last season when they won the TRAC title, going 22-7 on the year. [Photo courtesy of Buchanan water polo]
A total of 10 players participated this summer with the Royal Water Polo Academy teams that competed at the Junior Olympics National Championships in July. Three were on the 18U team that finished 20th and seven were on the 16U team that finished 15th. Archer earned 16U National All-American recognition for his play in the tournament.

“Having that many guys competing at the elite national level in the offseason gives us a lot of high-level experience for the fall,” said Maes.

The season starts off with a bang as the Bears headed to the Bay Area for a tournament in San Jose on Labor Day weekend, then later this month they have tournaments in Lafayette (Bay Area) and Coronado (San Diego) and their final tournament, the Memorial Cup in San Jose in October.  

 

CUSD student/athletes honored before school board

A myriad of student/athletes were honored at the Aug. 31 Clovis Unified School District board meeting, including all the 2016 Spring sports Valley championship teams and Best of the TRAC award winners from the Clovis Roundup.

Those Spring champions that were honored were: Clovis boys state champion freestyle relay teams, Clovis West boys and girls swim teams, Buchanan baseball, badminton, softball, boys volleyball, boys and girls track and field and Clovis North boys tennis and golf.

The Clovis Roundup honored the following in the June 28 issue (and if you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for? It’s 3,000 words of Clovis sports goodness!): Girls’ Performance of the Year: Rhesa Foster; Boys’ Performance of the Year: Clovis swimming 200 and 400 freestyle; Girls’ Team of the Year: Clovis West basketball; Boys’ Team of the Year: Buchanan wrestling; Coach of the Year: Tom Donald Buchanan baseball; Girls’ Athlete of the Year: Sienna Swain Buchanan; Boys’ Athlete of the Year: Josh Hokit Clovis; Team of the Year: Buchanan baseball.

Hokit is a walk-on freshman for the Fresno State football team and Swain will be playing softball at the University of Reno.

 

Clovis girls’ volleyball wins Clovis Volleyball Challenge

Clovis winning their own Clovis Volleyball Challenge is a big deal, but it’s even a bigger deal when you see how they did it.

Over the two-day event from Sept. 2-3, the Cougars (9-0) swept the competition in winning eight matches and losing only one game en route to taking the championship trophy home. Overall, they went 18-1 in games, beating TRAC foe Central in the championship 2-0. Their only game loss was to Bakersfield Christian in the semifinals.
Taylen Ballard, the 6-foot-3 outside hitter who broke her ankle midway through last season, led the team with 17 kills in the match against Central and has 125 in nine games so far. Senior Erin Mossette had 18 assists in the championship game.