Dec 11

A farewell and thanks

Hi all,
Just wanted to announce that Alex Jankowski is stepping in as the new high school sports reporter (as of this week).

I’ve done the job for the past year and a half and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you all and covering some dramatic moments in local sports.

I’m returning to news, covering Morro Bay, Los Osos, Cal Poly, business and more.

Thanks for all your help with sports coverage and in highlighting the local sports scene! Onward and upward with all your endeavors!

Best wishes,
Nick

Oct 11

San Luis Obispo High hires new boys soccer coach

By Nick Wilson
nwilson@thetribunenews.com

San Luis Obispo High has a new boys’ soccer coach — James Boscaro — who brings a wealth of experience to the Tigers’ program this season.
Boscaro started coaching 18 years ago. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he played Division 1 soccer as a goalkeeper.
He has trained and coached kids of a variety of age groups with soccer clubs in Southern California, including San Clemente United and the Southern California Storm, according to San Luis Obispo athletic director Jeff Brandow.
He also previously was an assistant coach at Atascadero High School.
Boscaro also has taught middle school and high school social sciences for more than five years in Southern California.
Former Cal Poly standout Patrick Sigler will be joining the staff as an assistant coach at the varsity level. His coaching career looks very bright. Former Cal Poly player Jeff Strickland will be staying
on as JV coach.
Boscaro replaces Frank Marotti Jr., who coached the team last year.
Two years ago, the Tigers compiled a 10-1-1 PAC 7 League record, earning a league championship, and a 19-3-3 overall mark.

Sep 27

Volleyball season is upon us and I’m enjoying the action!

By Nick Wilson
nwilson@thetribunenews.com

The fall sports season is well upon us now and I’m digging the level of play in local girls volleyball.

I had a chance to see San Luis Obispo and Atascadero this week and it was a tremendous match.

The Tigers look extremely skilled. And despite losing star setter Maggie Eppright to graduation, among other key players, the team looks really strong and maybe even strong this year compared with last.

Sophomore Holland Boege is a force. Her serves are powerful, her hitting is strong, and she seems to bolster San Luis Obispo’s offense when it needs it most.

The scary thing to for the rest of the PAC 7 League is that they have a young roster.
Freshman Kaitlyn Kimball had eight kills to join a group of strong hitters for the Tigers.

That being said, I think Atascadero is right there with SLO. The Greyhounds could have won if they’d had some breaks and come up with the clutch points since the first two sets were decided by a couple of games.

I think it will be a great contest the next time these two teams meet – which happens to be Oct. 17 at 6 p.m. in Atascadero. So mark your calendars volleyball fans.

Another local team that deserves significant credit is Templeton High’s squad coached by Jodi Kelly.

The Eagles were good last year and they’re outstanding this year. At 9-4 and 3-0 in the Los Padres League, they have already knocked Atascadero, Arroyo Grande, and St.
Joseph in nonleague play and they shouldn’t have too much trouble this year in the LPL already off to a great start.

The Eagles feature some key returners from last year. Stars include Mari Stewart and Autumn Russell. They’re both tall girls with good jumping ability and athleticism.
Mari is going to be a great basketball player this year and give her team a shot to win the LPL now that Hannah Gilbert has moved on to Cal Poly from Morro Bay.

Other Templeton volleyball standouts are sophomore Lauren Ralston, junior Julie Cates, and junior Lucy Portillo who each have more than 30 kills this season.

It was obvious to anyone who watched the dominance of players like Millisa Morrow and Alyssa Koenig that Arroyo Grande was going to miss the two best players in the county this year. Both graduated.

But the Eagles have played well nonetheless. Any Ernie Santa Cruz team is going to be well-prepared, it seems.

And they have a core group of leaders. Megan McGuigan has posted 116 kills, Ashlyn Herlihy leads the team with 123, and Alaina Hogeboom has tallied 321 assists.

Hogeboom stepped into the setter role well last year as a sophomore and this year seems that much better.

The Eagles have a chance to compete as well for the PAC 7 League title.

All in all, this will be a good one. Volleyball is so much fun. The timing, the jumps, the hitting, the rhythm. It’s really an art. Like a ballet of sorts. And when it all works well, it’s a lovely sight to see.

Sep 13

Plenty of surprises, twists, turns in young football season

By Nick Wilson
nwilson@thetribunenews.com

There have been some interesting surprises early in this year’s high school football season. One in particular is the play of the San Luis Obispo High team.
The Tigers lost two of the best players in the PAC 7 League last season in Garrett Giovannelli and Jack Ferguson.
But they’re off to a solid start at 2-0 and the excitement on the practice field was noticeable this week as the team gears up for its first home contest versus Oxnard Friday at 7 p.m.
I’ll be out there covering that one and it should be a battle with Oxnard bringing a hefty front line and the Tigers trying to counter with their quick punch, triple option schemes.
Tigers coach David Kelley referred to his defense, which recorded its first shutout in two years against Dos Pueblos in a 17-0 win last week, as a bunch of “crazed Tigers” who swarm to the ball.
And you can take that literally too because they are “Tigers.”
Quarterback Thomas Orradre has been a nice fill-in for Giovannelli, who was league MVP last year.
Orradre has good size – about 6 foot 2 and 180 – and a good head on his shoulders. He interviews well and so far has been a good decision-maker in a position that demands it.
Another team that impressed last week was Arroyo Grande. I thought the Eagles played a decent game against Lompoc in the first week, losing 28-16, and if they’d eliminated a few of their mistakes it could have been very tight at the end.
The Eagles’ first year starting quarterback Mikey Gutierrez looked sharp with his passing in a preseason workout I saw and nearly had a perfect passing night in a 44-6 rout of Nipomo last week.
Gutierrez is not as athletic on the ground as his predecessor, Matt Willkomm, but he limits his mistakes and his strength may be his accuracy – particularly short throws.
Lompoc is still a powerhouse and easily could win out the rest of their regular season in their last year in the Los Padres League after losing 28-16 in their last matchup against Frontier High of Bakersfield. It has been a few years since the Braves lost a regular season game.
The Braves play Pioneer Valley Friday and then Dos Pueblos on Sept. 20.
If you see a Lompoc game this year, watch for Ainuu Taua. He’s a beast at 6 feet, 280 pounds, who does just about everything on the field. He bowls over blockers on the pass rush, creates holes as big as trucks on the offensive line, barrels through the defense for short yards as a power runner, and he even punts.
It is an interesting sight to see such a big dude punt. But that shows how versatile he is. He’d be a good guy to see now because over the next few years he’ll play in a big time program – whether it be UCLA, Michigan, Ohio State, Washington, Wisconsin, San Diego State, Fresno State, or Cal. All have recruited Taua and offered him scholarships.
And if you go to a game and aren’t sure who is he is on the field, just look for the guy with the long, wavy locks similar to Troy Polamalu’s famous hairdo.
As for other local revelations, Mission Prep showed its mojo from last year with a win over Rio Hondo Prep.
Royals running back Patrick Laird posted a tweet before the game showing a poster and calling it a “revenge game” since Rio Hondo won the CIF divisional title last year against Mission.
That was a bold move considering the Royals got trounced in the first week, 42-0, to Christian.
Laird and his team responded beautifully with a 24-21 thriller in SLO that may be the spark they need to energize their season.
Laird was the game’s workhouse, going for 229 yards on 41 carries. That’s a lot of ground and pound.
As for Atascadero and Paso, do not count them out. I know both teams are excited about their chances and they’re known for their toughness. Atascadero, I’m sure, wants a better overall record than their 6-7 mark last year despite making the semis in the playoffs. And quarterback Robbie Berwick is the kind of dynamic athlete that can thrill a crowd at any moment with his clutch play. Never count out that team after what they showed last season.
All in all, good stuff the first two weeks. And plenty more to come.

Aug 30

Football Season is Here! Check out local high school coaches’ preseason polls

By Nick Wilson
nwilson@thetribunenews.com

The football season gets underway tomorrow night and teams are starting to get that fall buzz.
There’s nothing like that first big hit of the season for players to know the battle is on.
And now in late August, everybody is on the same playing field in terms of record and anticipation.
And for those passing teams, the mild weather and clear skies should make for good action.
Six of seven Pac 7 coaches we contacted entered their preseason polls for projected end-of-the-year standings.
And five of seven Los Padres League football coaches entered their polls.

Here are the results:

PAC 7
1–Atascadero (3 first place votes)
2–Paso Robles (1 first place vote)
3–Arroyo Grande
4–SLO (1 first place vote)
5–St. Joe (1first place vote)
6–Pioneer Valley
7—Righetti

LPL
1—Lompoc (4 first place votes)
2—Nipomo (1 first place vote)
3—Santa Ynez
4—Templeton
5—Morro Bay (tie w/ Cabrillo)
5—Cabrillo (tie w/ Morro Bay)
7—Santa Maria

Apr 25

Five Teams in Playoff Hunt in PAC 7 Baseball Race

By Nick Wilson
nwilson@thetribunenews.com

The PAC 7 League baseball race is getting interesting.

Five teams are fighting for playoff positions at the top of the league. They are Righetti High (10-4), Arroyo Grande (7-3-1), San Luis Obispo (8-4), Atascadero (5-5-1), and Pioneer Valley (6-7-2).

It should be a fun final stretch of the season.

Two of the key series to watch in coming days are Atascadero versus San Luis Obispo next week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well as Atascadero against Arroyo Grande May 7, May 8, and May 10.

Some of the key players in the league include Kyle Brown, Garrett Ball, and Chris Davidson of Arroyo Grande; Garrett Giovannelli, Nick Hill, Sinjin Todd, and Joey Benadiba at SLO High; Joe Johnson, Corbin Meikle, and Zac Austin of Atascadero.

All have had standout seasons thus far and figure to play big roles for their teams as the playoff picture clears.

Of course, I’m sure there will be other heroes in big games and we’ll do our best to highlight their play.

Apr 04

Templeton baseball/Nipomo softball showing small schools can play

For most of the year, Templeton and Nipomo have looked up to the big boys and girls in the county in local sports.

When it comes to football, volleyball, basketball, and other fall and winter sports, those two have a tough time competing against the Arroyo Grandes and Atascaderos of the world.

And that’s understandable considering the PAC 7 schools are more than twice as big in student enrollment.

But this year in baseball, watch out for the Eagles, who are nearly perfect, losing only once so far this season in their 10-1 campaign (3-0 LPL). And already, Templeton has beaten San Luis Obispo and Atascadero and placed third in the Atascadero Easter Tournament this week.

The Eagles’ stars include senior Michael Frigon who’s hitting close to .600 thus far. Tyrus Yamagata and Andy Garretson both are hitting over .400 and Garretson is posting a 2.15 ERA in six appearances. Freshman Mac Lardner is 4-0 with a 1.18 ERA to lead the staff.

As for Nipomo, will they be beaten this season? Not if Courtney Cuzick has anything to say about it. The senior pitcher, heading to Penn next year, has won eight of the Titans 10 games and struck out 99 batters while posting a 0.52 ERA. Nipomo is 10-0 on the season. Junior Ashley Ruiz is batting .448 with a home run and 10 RBI and Dystiny Fryckman is at .467 with a homer and 5 RBI.

Nipomo’s victims this season have included Arroyo Grande, Atascadero twice, and Paso Robles.

It’s cool to see a little role reversal in terms of local dominance, and to see the underdogs’ bark get a little bit louder.

Mar 14

Five Cities AYSO Crushing Vipers team is venomous in thirst for state title

I typically write about high school sports but a local girls AYSO team called the Crushing Vipers in the under 12 age division deserves some mention this week.

The team of 11 is made up of players from the Five Cities and their overall record is 25-1-1 this season.

They’re heading to the state finals in Davis on Saturday where they’re among the Final Four.

To get there, they’ve gone 14-0 in tournament play, beating teams from Visalia, Malibu, Bakersfield and Santa Ynez.

No team from the Five Cities area (Region 83) has advanced this far in more than a decade.

The Vipers, coached by Sheri Aguilera, include Kate Anselm, Amara Johnson, Kayla Stennett, Alana Johnson, Kaitlyn Aguilar, Helena Bolle, Olivia Sommer, Emma Johnson, Mikayla Quam, Keriann Aguilera and Carina Womack.

Congrats to the team’s success and good luck this weekend.

From top left to right Kate Anselm, Amara Johnson, Kayla Stennett, Coach Sheri Aguilera, Alana Johnson, Kaitlyn Aguilar, Helena Bolle.  Bottom Olivia Sommer, Emma Johnson, Mikayla Quam, Keriann Aguilera, Carina Womack.

From top left to right Kate Anselm, Amara Johnson, Kayla Stennett, Coach Sheri Aguilera, Alana Johnson, Kaitlyn Aguilar, Helena Bolle.
Bottom Olivia Sommer, Emma Johnson, Mikayla Quam, Keriann Aguilera, Carina Womack.

Mar 07

Michael Jackson’s daughter appeared at Mission Prep game; Mitch Kupchak at later game

Kind of an interesting development took place that I was unaware of at the Mission Prep CIF-Southern Section final against Buckley on Saturday.

At Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Paris Jackson, daughter of Michael Jackson, the king of Pop, was cheerleading for Buckley, which beat the Royals 54-46 in the section title game.

Jackson has cool black hair and seemed to be having a great time if you read this blog:

I was at the game but unaware of the situation.

Buckley also has another cheerleader that impressed everyone who can do some tremendous eye-popping hand springs, including one after another after another after another.

Mission could face Buckley in the semifinals of the state basketball tournament if both teams continue to advance in the Div. 5 postseason.

So, if that happens come watch the Royals and a fascinating cheer team for Buckley. I’ll keep you posted.

Lakers’ general manager Mitch Kupchak was at his son’s game Saturday as well after Mission Prep played. His son, Maxwell Kupchak, is a 6-6 sophomore for Brentwood, which lost to Pacific Hills in its final.

You get down to the LA area and you might see some stars, I guess.

Feb 22

Three local teams still standing in playoff basketball

Three local teams remain in the CIF-Southern Section basketball playoff picture. Their matchups this weekend are the following:

• Canyon (21-9) at Arroyo Grande (21-8) – The Comanches (third-ranked team) will play the Eagles (11th ranked team) at 7 p.m. Friday in Arroyo Grande in the quarterfinals of CIF-SS Division 2A. Players to watch include JoJo Ballestero who averages 18 for Canyon (Anaheim) and Matt Willkomm who averages about 17 for the Eagles. Both teams have had fairly comfortable margins of victory thus far in playoffs.

• Mission Prep (22-7) at Flintridge Prep (22-5) – The Royals (3rd ranked team) will travel to La Canada (L.A.) to play the second-ranked Rebels at 7 p.m. Friday. Flintridge beat Mission 61-47 in January. Their star, Robert Cartwright, 6-2 junior guard, averages 22 points and six rebounds. Mission has had a balanced scoring attack of late; Andy Rowley had 20 in their first postseason game and Quinton Adlesh had 16 in a nail-biter against Saddleback Valley Christian on Tuesday.

• Chaminade (25-3) at San Luis Obispo (18-10) – The Eagles (top team in division) will face the Tigers on Saturday at 6 p.m. in San Luis Obispo. The Eagles’ 5-11 senior forward Mi’Chael Wright drops 13 points and grabs 10 boards per game. The Tigers not only have made significant strides during this season, they’ve improved from a 1-23 record two years ago and a 9-16 mark last year. They’re led by senior Erica Chandler (13 points, 5 boards per game) and junior Jessica Judge (8 points, 8 rebounds).

Each of the three county teams has stepped up in big games in the playoffs and seem to be peaking at just the right time. All three also seem to emphasize defense.

San Luis Obispo’s coach Dan Monroe likes to follow the motto that “your team might not always have a great offensive night, but you can always have a great defensive effort.”

By keeping teams to an average of about 37 points per game, the Tigers’ identity is a strong defense.

Monroe said he hopes to see a large crowd “come out and support the team” on Saturday that has played so hard this year to get to where they are – just one game away from the finals.

I’ve noticed a great concerted effort to take care of the ball on the part of the Tigers, who turned the ball over much more frequently in a mid-season game against Atascadero than they have of late.

As for Mission and AG, good coaching and good senior leadership appear to have gotten those two teams past the first two rounds.

Connor Woolpert and Andy Rowley, along with bruisers Tyler Baty and Michael Cardwell, have locked down teams on defense and have come up with clutch plays on the offensive end. Quinton Adlesh may be the best sophomore in the county for the Royals.

I’ve thought that Arroyo Grande has had a very promising team that had some hiccups in PAC 7 League play, dropping to the fourth place position at 7-5. But they were right there with the top teams in the league and easily could have done better.

Willkomm is a steady force for the Eagles and a really fun player to watch. Just like his quarterback play in football, he has a knack for making the right decisions on the court and reading the flow of the game.

DeSean Scott, who scored 13 in a first round playoff game, is a defensive presence at 6-4 and a high leaper who will serve them well in plugging the paint. Scott can go stretches without scoring much and sometimes I think he needs the ball more for the Eagles to get good looks down low.

But the Eagles can light it up from the 3-point line, especially when Cobe Williams and Willkomm get hot together. They’re a team that doesn’t shy away from an open shot and that confidence under pressure can really get them back into games quickly and build big leads when they’re firing on all cylinders.

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