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Porterville Unified School District announced Tuesday that fall sports will resume voluntary, outdoor workouts for students beginning Monday, Oct. 12. 

Fall sports for the 2020-21 athletic season are boys and girls’ cross country, boys and girls’ water polo, volleyball, and football. The fall season is not scheduled to begin until December so all workouts prior to the official practice dates are voluntary and not required.

“We want to emphasize that this is all voluntary, these are not mandatory workouts,” PUSD athletic director, Richard Rankin said. “The first official practice date for our fall sports is Dec. 9. So everything that we do before then is strictly voluntary. Nothing will be held against a kid because they can’t make it. It’s purely optional.”

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Two local volleyball clubs, NU Breed and Pipeline, merged together last week to create the largest volleyball club in the area.

Job Lara, the director of the non-profit NU Breed club, reached out to Pipeline’s director, Pete Rasmussen, to make the merger happen. Both Lara and Rasmussen agreed this was the right move with COVID-19 limiting resources and the two clubs wanting to increase their competitiveness. 

“It is something that I’ve been wanting to do for awhile because I think both Pete and I have some gifts in us that compliment each other,” Lara said Wednesday via phone. “And I always thought that together we could be stronger and serve the south Valley volleyball community better. And so, this provided a perfect scenario for us to work together.”

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Organized sports are on hiatus but there’s still no days off in Job Lara’s backyard.

With over 30 years of volleyball coaching experience, Lara continues to train athletes who are working on their game during this extended offseason. He does so by focusing on fundamentals. 

“When you have the fundamentals, then you can be creative,” Lara said. “I share with them how Michael Jordan and some of the greats talk about how they worked on fundamentals all the time, even at their peak, because that allowed them to be great. 

“Once they have the fundamentals, they know where to move and body positions, then they can make those plays they see other people do. But without the fundamentals, you’ll never,” Lara said.

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In the midst of a pandemic, Roxana Orozco found something to smile about.

The Granite Hills High School graduate returned to campus Wednesday to sign a National Letter of Intent to play women’s soccer at California Miramar University, Montebello. Orozco received an athletic scholarship and will play for the Fighting Falcons in their inaugural season next year.

Even with a mask, Orozco’s excitement about the future was apparent. Although the face covering did serve as a reminder that she would have to wait a little longer for this next adventure.

“It’s exciting,” Orozco said. “But it’s kind of bad because then I’m not going to start when I want to start.”

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. – Education-based athletics participation continues to increase in California and is at an all-time high for the eighth consecutive year according to the 2019-20 California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Sports Participation Survey. Up by 0.16% since the previous 2018-19 survey, 815,313 student-athletes are competing in education-based athletic programs in California.

“We are encouraged to see steady growth in education-based athletics,” states CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti. “The CIF looks forward to continuing this trend and will remain focused on its goals of expanding participation opportunities for girls as well as providing additional opportunities for all students at our member schools.”

Along with the overall participation increase in education-based athletics, there were a few sports that saw noticeable increases across both genders. Of the top 10 sports, volleyball saw the largest percentage increase, a combined 2.68% or 1,830 more participants, followed by track and field with a 2.03% or 2,050 more participants, and swimming and diving with a 1.07% increase or 552 more participants.  

Football (11-player) continues 

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Most new head coaches don’t get a standing ovation when they take over a program, but Keith Thompson is different. 

A 2006 graduate of Monache High School, Thompson has been a part of the football community in Porterville for decades. On Tuesday, after nearly 10 years since he began his coaching career, Thompson was named Porterville High’s new head varsity football coach.

“Yesterday I came out, there was a big -- they gave me a standing ovation, so it was nice,” Thompson, 32, said.

Thompson has led the Panthers summer workouts ever since they began on July 1, but having everything become official made him happy.

“They let me take the lead since we started so just getting the official word that I’m the official guy kind of made me happy, made my family happy,” he said. “And then the community’s been supporting me so I’ve got a lot of support from the community so far.”

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Schedules announced in CIF, section decisions 

Friday night lights are moving to 2021 under the Central Section’s schedule for the upcoming athletic season.

Soon after the California Interscholastic Federation released its section, regional and state championship calendar, along with amended rules for the upcoming season, the Central Section shared its schedule in a tweet Monday.

The section’s calendar is now made up of two sports seasons with fall sports beginning practice on Dec. 14 and spring sports beginning on dates in February and March of 2021.

Making up the fall sports this year are cross country, water polo, volleyball and football. Football teams will go through their acclimatization period for the first five days, which moves their first competition date to Jan. 7. All other fall sports can have their first games on Dec. 28.

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Another blow to local high school athletes came in the form of the cancellation of the 12th Annual Central Section Soccer All Star Game due to COVID-19.

Two weeks ago, All Star Game coordinator Benjamin Orozco posted on the game's Facebook page that there was still a chance that they could have a game. But on Wednesday afternoon, Orozco took to Twitter (@LindsayAllStar) to say the games were canceled.

The announcement from the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) about the fate of fall sports is coming soon. On June 12 the CIF put out a press release that stated it would make the announcement by July 20, which is now just five days away.

“As our member schools begin planning for the reopening of school, the CIF, in collaboration with our 10 Sections, will be determining by July 20 if Fall Sports will continue as currently scheduled,” the CIF stated. “The CIF is prepared to offer alternative calendars if it is determined by July 20 that Fall sports may not start as scheduled due to ongoing public health and safety concerns.”

The fall sports season is scheduled to begin on July 27 with football’s acclimatization period followed by cross country, water polo, volleyball, girls’ golf and girls’ tennis teams having their first practices on Aug. 3.

The Strathmore High School Football Boosters are having their second annual golf tournament this Saturday. There is still time to sign up and play for the fundraiser or become a Tee Sponsor.

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Director of Learner Empowerment and Athletics is a mouthful of a title but John Caesar is ready for this big new role with Lindsay High School.

COVID-19 is keeping Caesar off campus but he's already hit the ground running by going over new rules for return to play with coaches, and connecting over Zoom with everyone from the CIF to the maintenance workers to start building relationships.

“I like to build relationships,” Caesar said. “I like to hear what people’s expectations of me is and just have really honest conversations. I like to be able to share my expectations. It’s nice to work that way. I’m a relationship guy. That’s really where my big opportunities come, is in building relationships.”

Caesar is taking over athletic duties from former Dean of Students, Michael Langton. Langton served as the Cardinals’ athletic director until February of this year and is now the principal of Laton High School.

No gyms, no weight rooms.

Less than a week after area teams were given the go-ahead to begin summer workouts, Porterville Unified School District put a stop to indoor workouts for the next two weeks starting today because of a rise in positive COVID case numbers in Tulare County.

“The word we got today is starting tomorrow, for two weeks, we are not allowing anything indoors,” PUSD athletic director Richard Rankin said Monday. “So no gym, no weight room. Our outdoor practices will continue but everything indoors has been shut down.” 

PUSD began allowing high school teams to start summer workouts last Wednesday with strict return-to-play rules. A decision by the CIF on the upcoming fall season is expected by Monday, July 20.

Offseason summer workouts started this week for Lindsay High School football but some of the directions coaches gave Wednesday morning sounded a little different.

“Five yards apart,” LHS offensive coordinator, Marcus Alonzo, called out to his group of players. “Make sure you’re staying in your cone.”

Like many teams across the state, the Cardinals have started their summer workouts by following the CIF’s Return to Physical Activity/Training and their district’s own guidelines.

By doing so, Lindsay keeps groups to 10 players or less and uses small cones to mark where everyone can stand. Players also keep their water bottles spread out around their group workouts so they can remain socially-distanced during their water breaks.

LHS head coach Casey Higginbotham said he, the coaches and the players all had Zoom meetings so they’d understand the new rules and what was expected of them. So far, everything is going well.

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Ben Orozco is staying positive. 

The coordinator and founder of the Central Section Soccer All-Star Game is still hopeful that he’ll be able to get an all-star game off this summer despite COVID-19 delaying the return of sports all around the state.

Orozco announced Monday on Facebook that he is awaiting word on permission for field use from four different school districts. In its 11-year history, the All-Star Game has always been played at Lindsay High School but because of the virus, Orozco is keeping his options open.

For the games to have a real chance of being played, the state would need to at least be in stage three of its COVID-19 reopening plan but it's been in stage two since May 8.

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Porterville High School is in search of a new head football coach.

On Thursday night, former PHS head coach Michael Machado was approved by the Tulare Joint Union High School District Board as Mission Oak’s new head coach. A Tulare native, Machado was an assistant coach at both Tulare Western (2003-04, 2009-10) and Mission Oak (2010-13) in previous years.

Machado became the Panthers head coach in January of 2017. In his three years leading the Panthers, Machado led the Panthers to the CIF Central Section Division IV playoffs twice with the team earning a No. 1 seed in 2018 and making it to the semifinals as the No. 4 seed in 2019. He finished with an overall record of 20-14 in his time with Porterville. 

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It was a long time coming but on Thursday, Porterville Unified School District announced that voluntary summer workouts for high school athletics can begin next week on July 1.

However before players can start practicing, they and their parents must sign a COVID-19 Parent Waiver and Release Form. The forms are provided by the schools.

Following the recently released Return to Physical Activity/Training Guidelines from the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), PUSD also released a COVID-19 Action Plan that details how teams can be safe while beginning their transitions back to sports.

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Some of his office is already packed up, but where Jim Crichlow sits at his desk, there’s no signs of the CIF Central Section Commissioner retiring anytime soon.

However at the end of the month, Crichlow is saying goodbye. 

After 19 years as the head of the Central Section, the Porterville-native is ready to step aside and make the most of his time with his wife in Maui where they have a home. 

“I really still enjoy it, I don’t mind coming to work at all,” Crichlow said. “...But I just think the age. Seventy-five and you never know how much longer you’re going to live so it’s time to get out and relax and enjoy some stuff.” 

Crichlow took over as the section’s commissioner in 2001 after serving as Monache High School’s athletic director since 1991 and spending his final year as the Marauders’ athletic director and the section’s president-elect. 

Pursuing Victory With Honor Scholarship awarded to seniors

Tulare County Office of Education's CHARACTER COUNTS! program announced Wednesday that four Pursuing Victory With Honor scholarships were awarded to Tulare County scholar-athlete seniors.

Recipients of the scholarship were Jacob Buckley (Monache High School), Clarence Harmon (Porterville), Alicia Fregoso (Golden West) and Sadee Perez (Mt. Whitney).

The scholarship program, now in its eighth year, awards four Tulare County seniors $500 each for their academic achievements and for their exemplary character on and off the field.

Offseason practices are beginning to return and Porterville Unified School District is looking to become one of the next districts to allow their athletes to start up play.

Last week the CIF released return-to-play (RTP) guidelines that PUSD is using to work on restarting offseason athletics for Porterville, Monache, Strathmore and Granite Hills High Schools.

PUSD athletic director Richard Rankin said he and the four high school athletic directors discussed return to play plans Tuesday and were working on finishing the process Wednesday. The plans will then go to PUSD Superintendent, Nate Nelson, for approval.

It’s BYOWB -- bring your own water bottle -- when sports return. 

The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) announced last Friday a decision on fall sports would come by July 20. In the meantime they provided everyone with a 10-page Return to Physical Activity/Training Guidelines (RTP) document for how teams should begin transitioning to start their seasons.

The RTP comes after the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) put together their own guidelines on May 19. The two sets of guidelines are similar except the CIF is allowing students to use a 30-day, Pre-participation Physical Examination waiver due to COVID-19 delaying doctor appointments for physicals. 

The RTP has two phases for "(allowing) for a directed approach to "transition" the athlete back to full activity levels in a supervised and progressive fashion."

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“I always have a gut feeling someone’s right behind me,” she said. “Like no matter what, there’s always going to be someone right behind me wanting to take my spot, just waiting for me to stop. So that’s what I keep in mind. And that’s what pushes me.”

Vasquez’s mindset is a good one to have as she heads into the college arena. Last year, the Cardinals top female runner signed with, and received a partial scholarship from, California State University, Sonoma -- a NCAA Division II program. She will run cross country and track for the Seawolves.

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PHS girls basketball receive rings for Valley title win

There was plenty of bling on display Saturday afternoon as the Porterville High School girls basketball team received their rings for this year's Valley championship win.

The No. 1 Panthers (31-3) dominated both the East Yosemite League and the CIF Central Section Division III, with their season accomplishments accumulating in a 65-39 Valley title win over No. 2 Arvin (28-5) at Fresno's Selland Arena in February.

Three area athletes affected by the suspension of upcoming season

The California Collegiate Athletic Association announced on Tuesday the suspension of all fall sports for the upcoming year.

The CCAA, a NCAA Division II conference, is home to 12 California State Universities (Pomona, Dominguez Hills, East Bay, Los Angeles, Monterey Bay, San Bernardino, San Marcos, Chico, Humboldt, San Francisco, Sonoma, Stanislaus) and the University of California, San Diego.

The CCAA’s decision followed CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White's Tuesday announcement that the 23 schools in the CSU system would use online learning for the majority of classes during the fall semester due to COVID-19.

However in a Wednesday press release on Chico State’s website, chicowildcats.com, Chico State Director of Athletics, Anita Baker, clarified that the suspension was only a suspension, not a cancelation — at least for now.

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Monache senior committed to FPU’s cross country and track programs

Before he was a standout runner for Monache High School, Isaiah Sotelo was drawing attention in middle school and at the elementary level.

Now the senior looks to do the same as a member of Fresno Pacific University’s track and cross country programs after committing to the NCAA Division II Sunbirds.

“I chose Fresno Pacific because of how coach Ray Winter sold me on the program,” Sotelo said via email. “They are an up-and-coming program that has a lot of potential. Hopefully, through hard work and dedication, we can achieve something over the next four years. It means a lot to continue my career in college (with) new goals, new people. It is a blessing to be able to continue something that I enjoy doing.”

Along with running at FPU, Sotelo plans to major in criminal justice before moving on to law school and becoming a district attorney. At FPU Sotelo will receive $11,000 in academic scholarships ,and the rest in grants and athletics, to cover the total cost according to MHS head coach Seth Ishida.

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Neda Velasquez was all set to hang up her running shoes after high school and simply continue her education at California State University, Chico.

But as running became more of a passion and a part of her life, she decided to give it a collegiate try and reached out to one of her top college choices, the University of California, Merced, for an opportunity. Now the senior is committed to competing in cross country for the Bobcats — an NAIA program in the California Pacific Conference.

“With track season ending early I noticed that running became a part of my life, and as a runner with little experience I wanted to see my full potential,” Velasquez said. “So I decided to commit to UC Merced athletics since it's a growing program and I'm still finding my full potential in running.”

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Porterville High School’s Brandon Rose is continuing his football career with Montana State University-Northern after signing with the NAIA Lights in mid-April.

Stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic prevented Rose from actually getting to visit the campus in Havre, Mon., let alone have a signing ceremony, but the senior said being offered a nearly full-ride athletic scholarship and a new experience helped him make his decision.

“I talked to the coach for a while, we had a lot of long talks and stuff,” Rose said. “And he always talked about how nice the weather is up there and how they get snow and stuff like that. And I thought it would just be like a really cool, new experience.”

Rose, who has a 3.5 GPA and plans to major in biology en route to a career in dentistry or nursing, was also thankful for an opportunity to continue playing football. 

The girls Central Section Basketball Champions being honored on these commemorative cartons are (Open) Clovis West High School, (D1) Bakersfield High School, (D2) San Joaquin Memorial High School, (D3) Porterville High School, (D4) Caruthers High School and (D5) East Bakersfield High School.

Four other locals make Pag Meter’s Fab 40 Team

Strathmore High School’s Jazmine Soto was named Pag Meter’s Co-Offensive Player of the Year earlier this week.

The recognition comes weeks after the junior was selected the Cal-Hi Sports Division V State Player of the Year, The Recorder’s 2019-20 Orange Belt Girls Basketball Player of the Year and the East Sequoia League’s Most Valuable Player.

According to MaxPreps.com, Soto was second in the nation and state in total points scored with 989, which set a new Central Section record. She finished her third year on varsity with 2,498 points, a Tulare County record, and is set to break the 3,000-point milestone early next season.

Wrestling in college was always the goal for Tyler Avila, but the Porterville High School senior accomplished his dream of signing with NCAA Division I California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, Tuesday afternoon at Porterville High.

The signing was a long time coming after Avila verbally committed to the Mustangs in early March. Avila received an athletic and academic scholarship to attend Cal Poly, turning down scholarships and offers from several schools including Div. I CSU Bakersfield, Cal Baptist and a President’s Honors Scholarship from Fresno State’s Smittcamp Family Honors College. 

“Feels good,” Avila said. “They put a hold on (the paperwork) for the NCAA cause of the whole coronavirus thing, so I was really just anxious waiting for it. It’s really nice to have it done.”

Senior runner Jorge Sanchez undecided about future

On Wednesday, Porterville High School baseball, softball and track and field coaches held a parking lot drop-off for athletes to return their uniforms after seasons were cut short by COVID-19 and the resulting pandemic.

“We were supposed to be in Delano right now,” track and field head coach Robert Steigleder said.

A couple dozen players made it by to drop off their uniforms and see their coaches for one last time this season.

“See you next year!” one player returning her softball things called out to her coaches.

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GHHS’ Rene Lopez threw to two no-hitters before season ended

Rene Lopez was playing lights out. 

The senior from Granite Hills High School had thrown the baseball program’s first back-to-back, no-hitter and was getting ready for his next big game when his and the rest of the country’s high school and college seasons came to a stop.

The Grizzlies were set to host Strathmore on Friday, March 13, when Porterville Unified School District announced a district-wide cancellation of athletic events through the weekend in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the games were never resumed, and on April 3, the California Interscholastic Federation announced the end of the spring season.

“I was sad,” Lopez said. “I didn’t know how to do it because baseball is like everything to me. I love playing baseball. Having that taken away from me really just sucks.”

Former LHS grad in as Cardinals’ new varsity head coach

A familiar face is taking over the reins of Lindsay High School’s football program.

Casey Higginbotham is the Cardinals’ new varsity head football coach after spending the last four years as the program’s junior varsity coach, as well as a varsity position coach for the past five.

“To me it’s a dream job,” said Higginbotham. “I get to coach football for my alma mater, give back to the community that raised me, and help the players (and) youth reach their potential.”

Higginbotham graduated from Lindsay in 1995 and played for both the Cardinals and the College of the Sequoias. After a year with the Giants, he started his coaching career as an assistant with Tulare Western then another year with Lindsay before becoming a police officer for the next 17 years. He is now also a teacher in the public safety and mock trial pathways for Lindsay.

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Perseverance: Porterville senior became team's first state placer in six years

 

If there’s one thing Tyler Avila’s wrestling journey at Porterville High School can teach someone, it’s that no matter what happens, you never give up on your dreams.

Year after year Avila faced setbacks but never stopped pursuing his dream of one day standing on the podium at the CIF State Championships. This season he accomplished that.

In his final year with the Panthers, the 182-pounder won an East Yosemite League, Central Section Division II and Masters’ championship before becoming one of just two non-Div. I wrestlers from the Valley to place at state. He is The Recorder’s 2019-20 Orange Belt Boys Wrestler of the Year. 

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A test of faith: Monache junior overcame illness to take second at state

 

Charlotte Kouyoumtjian is nothing short of remarkable.

The Monache High School junior began making her case for the greatest female wrestler in school history before she even set foot on campus. But this season she showed everyone that the reason she is so great and so accomplished is because there is never a time when anyone can count her.

Battling a serious viral infection early in the season, Kouyoumtjian missed a chunk of the regular season only to return in a dominating fashion. 

Guided by her faith, the 116-pound wrestler won every match and every title in the postseason leading up to the CIF State Championships. The two-time state qualifier continued to battle and earned a spot on the podium with a second-place finish after becoming the first-ever female Marauder to be a state finalist.

Finishing the season with a 33-2 record, Kouyoumtjian is of course The Recorder’s 2019-20 Orange Belt Girls Wrestler of the Year -- an award she received last season as well.

But this season and last season were completely different for Kouyoumtjian. And not just because she took second at state rather than third. But because she did so after becoming extremely ill.

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The Transfer: Porterville guard won EYL title, All-EYL co-MVP

Nash Wobrock wearing the orange and green of Porterville High School was a sight to behold this season.

And not just because he was a top transfer from crosstown rival Monache, but because of how well he handled the consequences of his move and excelled for the best season of his high school career.

Wobrock thrived with the Panthers (19-11, 8-2 EYL), leading them to an East Yosemite League title and proving himself to be one of the best players in the area with an All-EYL co-MVP selection, as well as being named The Recorder’s 2019-20 Orange Belt Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

At Monache, Wobrock won an EYL title as a sophomore and was one of the team’s top players junior year. But even so, he knew since sophomore year that he really wanted to transfer to Porterville.

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‘A diamond in the rough’: Strathmore junior is the nation’s second leading scorer

Jazmine Soto is the real deal.

Her stats are mind blowing and borderline unbelievable, but when you watch her play it all makes sense. The Strathmore High School junior is simply in a league of her own, playing at an elite level.

This season Soto scored more points in 34 games than most players score in their entire four-year varsity careers. But it was more than her total points that made her The Recorder’s 2019-20 Orange Belt Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

Soto single-handedly carried the Spartans to their first Central Section final appearance in three years, led them in nearly every single statistical category and became just the second back-to-back All-East Sequoia League MVP for Strathmore in recent memory.

But of course, the point totals are pretty cool too.

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The future: GHHS forward was state’s 11th leading scorer

Ask Daniel Ruiz about any goal he scored this season and you’re likely to just get a scrunched up face as he tries to remember the particular moment.

The Granite Hills High School sophomore scored a lot of goals — 36 to be exact — so it’s no surprise he has a hard time remembering each one. But what he does remember are all the wins and leading the Grizzlies boys soccer program to their most successful season ever.

With Ruiz at forward, Granite (19-5-2, 7-3-2 ESL) upset both Porterville and Lindsay, took second in the East Sequoia League and were the CIF Central Section Division VI runner-ups.

And those 36 goals? They all happened in 17 games and made Ruiz the state’s 11th, and the section’s third, leading scorer.

Proving himself as the future to continued success for the Grizzlies, Ruiz was also the program’s first-ever All-ESL Most Valuable Player and The Recorder’s 2019-20 Orange Belt Boys Soccer Player of the Year.

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Follow the leader: Forward led MHS in scoring and to playoffs

There’s always something to be said about the players who lead by example with their consistency and play rather than with their voice — players like Zoe Rios.

A captain and forward for Monache High School girls soccer, Rios, was usually the quietest player on the field but her skill spoke volumes especially when the ball was at her feet.

Rios led the Marauders (12-9-3, 4-6 EYL) in scoring and assists, and was the only area player — boy or girl — to score against two eventual CIF Central Section Champion teams. She is The Recorder’s 2019-20 Orange Belt Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

Porterville College guard headed to Rocky Mountain College

Porterville College men's basketball standout Tayshawun Bradford has signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his academic and athletic career at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana next season.

"Tayshawun is a guy we are very excited to have joining our program," said Rocky Mountain head coach Bill Dreikosen. "He is going to bring toughness, scoring ability and size to our backcourt next year. We are very impressed with Tayshawun's humble maturity on the court and in the classroom. It is hard to point out his best quality but he is definitely a high character, hard worker with excellent athleticism."

A total of seven players from Porterville and Monache High School boys soccer made the All-East Yosemite League first and second teams this season.

The All-EYL MVP was junior Jesus Enriquez from EYL champion, Tulare Union. Enriquez had 10 goals and eight assists in league play. He finished the season with 32 goals and 16 assists

Strathmore High School’s Jazmine Soto is the All-East Sequoia League’s Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row. 

The junior guard averaged a league-high 33.2 points and 6.3 steals a game. Soto also finished sixth in the league with 75 rebounds. 

Through 28 games, Soto scored 838 points — 12th most in the nation -- while averaging 29.9 PPG. She also led the Spartans in rebounds (165), steals (158), assists (52) and double-doubles (seven).

Freshman forward, Isabella Duran, earned the top spot in postseason honors with an All-East Sequoia League Most Valuable Player selection.

The Lindsay High School girls soccer player was one of two Cardinals to receive high honors with teammate, junior Nicole Barriento, being named the league’s Best Goalie. High honors also went to Strathmore’s Izabella Baez (Best Offensive Player), Sierra Pacific’s Makayla Cawley (Best Defensive Player) and Christa Smith (Coach of the Year). 

Ten players from Lindsay (14-9-3, 10-2 ESL), Strathmore (11-9-1, 6-4-1 ESL) and Granite Hills (10-14-2, 4-7-1 ESL) also made the All-ESL first and second teams.

For the first time in program history, the Granite Hills High School boys soccer team produced an All-East Sequoia League Most Valuable Player with the selection of sophomore forward, Daniel Ruiz.

“It’s an honor,” GHHS head coach Pedro Gonzalez said. “I have a bunch of players that can be MVP but if you think about it, there’s people watching my players and agreeing that this is one of the best players in the league. It’s a lot for the school and for him.”

Other top honors in ESL went to Corcoran’s Vicente Rojas (Defensive Player of the Year) and Miguel Orozco (Goalkeeper of the Year), Woodlake’s Richard Rodriguez (Offensive POY) and Farmersville’s Michael Jordan (Coach of the Year).

Along with Ruiz, six other Grizzlies and two Cardinals from Lindsay were also selected to the All-ESL first and second teams.

Six players from Porterville and Monache High School girls soccer programs made All-East Yosemite League first and second teams this season.

The MVP of the league was Jaci Maze of EYL champion Tulare Union (23-5-1, 8-1-1 EYL). Maze led the league in scoring and assists with seven goals and five assists. She had 29 goals and 19 assists for the overall season. The Tribe were also the CIF Central Section Division II runner-ups.

MONACHE (12-9-3, 4-6 EYL)

Making the All-EYL first team for Monache (12-9-3, 4-6 EYL) were senior forward Zoe Rios and junior forward Jiselle Batres. 

On top of winning the East Yosemite League title with Porterville High School boys basketball, Nash Wobrock capped off his final season with an All-EYL, co-Most Valuable Player selection as well.

Wobrock shared the MVP title with Mikey Ficher, a junior from Tulare Western (22-8, 7-3 EYL). Five other players from the area -- two from Porterville (19-11, 8-2 EYL) and three from Monache (22-8, 7-3 EYL) -- also made EYL first and second teams.

Six others make all-league team from PHS, MHS

Jazlynne Medrano and Jewelia Maniss.

The two seniors were the heart and soul of Porterville High School girls basketball and their contributions to bring the Panthers' back-to-back, undefeated East Yosemite League titles was recognized with the two being named the All-EYL co-Most Valuable Players.

Along with Medrano and Maniss, three other Porterville (31-3, 10-0 EYL) players and three Monache Marauders (18-7, 7-3 EYL) were selected to All-EYL teams.

Six locals receive all-league honors

A total of six area boys basketball players made the All-East Sequoia League list this season with Lindsay High's Issac Munoz and Mohamed Kourain, and Strathmore's Owen Patterson, making the first team.

Senior guards Munoz and Kourain were the team's leading scorers and instrumental in leading the Cardinals (21-9, 9-3 ESL) to a shared second-place finish in league with Sierra Pacific (13-15, 9-3 ESL).

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But CA governor says schools likely to remain closed

High school athletic programs around the state continue to hold their breaths after the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) announced Tuesday that no decision had been made about the future of this season's spring sports due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

However that decision came less than an hour before California Gov. Gavin Newsom said California schools are likely to remain closed through the rest of the school year.