Rocklin High Thunder

A preseason look at 2011
By: Andrew Hazard Placer Herald Sports Correspondent
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Placer Herald Sports takes a look at Rocklin High School’s title chances in 2011. Cross Country Rocklin High School’s varsity cross country head coach Dan Pereira said he hopes all levels of his team make the Sac-Joaquin Section finals with the hopes it would be his entire team with some individuals making it to state meet. Heidi Greenwood and Mikaela Yerkes are key returners from last year’s varsity girl’s team. Ryan Jones, George Miao, Ty Medd and Zachary Skalet are key returners for the boys. Jones also competed at the Junior Olympic national meet this summer. The Thunder will be without a few top performers from 2010. “We will miss Parker Ahlf, Cody Fikes, and Jessica Skalet from last year’s team,” Pereira said. “All three have been to the state meet.” The boys’ biggest opponent this season will be Woodcreek High School. The girls’ toughest matchup should be against Del Oro High School. Pereira said winning is always important but it’s not his program’s main goal. “My number one priority is to help foster a lifetime of fitness,” he said. Girls Golf Rocklin’s varsity girl’s golf team should be really good this season. “We have strong positions at one and two, with lots of new talent,” said Rocklin head coach Susan Espana. “We should be competitive.” Virtually all the Thunders’ key players from 2010 return; Espana said Camille Wagg returns after her All League performance as a freshman. Natalie Pinna (senior) and Devyn Peterson (junior) are both back and looking stronger; senior Katie Taylor also returns. The Thunder will add four freshmen this season in Taylor Sims, Serena Straub, Rachel Thorstenson and Kelly Whelan. “This is a team that should continue to develop over the next two years,” Espana said. She understands her squad is in a tough division. Granite Bay has Paige Lee, probably the best Sierra Foothill League player. Nevada Union will be very strong again, and a number of the teams are very competitive. Espana said, “This is a very strong league, and (I) think the league in general is getting more competitive as overall play in girls golf improves. We will be a stronger team this year, but we will have to really step up and play our best to win matches.” Boys Soccer The forecast for Rocklin is really good. The Thunder’s varsity head coach Grant DePue said his squad has high expectations for 2011. “I expect to be one of the top two teams in our league (SFL) and one of the top three teams in Division II,” DePue said. Rocklin has eight players returning and DePue is excited about the juniors and sophomores who are new to the team. He said there is no key athlete, which DePue said is fine since he needs all players to perform at their best when taking on a team like Granite Bay. The Thunder will definitely miss Seth Casiple who graduated. Casiple was the Gatorade Boys Soccer Player of the Year last year and, he is about to begin his first season at UC Berkeley. DePue said the Thunder has a tough schedule but they are ready to begin the season. “Our biggest opponent this year will be Granite Bay because we see them twice in league and possibly in the section finals as well,” DePue said. “Bella Vista will also be good this year as they were finalists last year and only graduated three players.” Girls Tennis The Thunder varsity girl’s tennis team looks to return to the playoffs this year, but the competition only gets tougher. With three playoff spots on the line, the Thunder must battle it out against Roseville, Del Oro, and perennial power Granite Bay. “We have so many good teams that we must come ready to play every day.” said Rocklin girl’s tennis head coach Dale Eckenburg, “We’ve scheduled the top teams in the pre-season to put us in position to make a run at league.” Already the Thunder has an impressive showing against section runner up from last year, Bella Vista, with a 7-2 victory in a scrimmage. Against Division I powerhouse Oakridge, the ladies came ready to play and showed that they can compete against the field. Returning from their section quarterfinal run of a year is ago is No. 1 Stefanie Studen. She has led the Thunder the past three seasons and looks to improve. Junior Shelby Kubota returns at the No. 2 spot, which was kind to Shelby in 2010 as she posted an impressive season after moving up from No. 6 as a freshman. “Shelby and Stefanie have worked extremely hard this summer and have really added depth to their games, which should translate into some impressive victories,” said Eckenburg. After going 15-8 as a junior, senior captain Shannon Peiffer returns to No.3. Peiffer is a leader who continues to improve her all-court game, and that is rapidly maturing into a winning formula. Sophomore Molly Garcia-Kaer jumps up to No. 4 with a solid game and improved sense of strategy. She has a powerful forehand to complement her athleticism. Jessica Miller returns to No. 5 where she posted 16 wins as a sophomore. She developed a net game to go along with an array of shots that can frustrate any opponent. “Jessica is an amazing athlete who plays comp soccer.” Eckenburg said. “She can track down any ball, but can also end points when needed.” Rounding out the top six is sophomore Farrell Ahlf, who moved all the way up from 13 to singles over the summer. Like Miller, Farrell comes to tennis via a soccer background, which allows her to play a consistent game. Against Bella Vista Farrell outlasted her opponent for a 7-6 victory in the third set after 2:30 minutes of action. Doubles returns vets and sophomores eager to get a piece of the action. Senior Holly Petersen returns as well as juniors Rachel Kim and Christina Dyok. “These upperclassmen were instrumental in our success last season and I look forward to them improving their skills as well as helping out the younger girls,” said Eckenburg. Sophomores Sangeetha Ramamurthy, Angie Tran, Liz Goldner, Alyssa Matchen, Valerie Todd, and Jenna Fusenig, with juniors Amber Calzada, Rachel Buxton and Taylor McDougall, will compete for the remaining three spots in the starting lineup. “It’s a good position to be in as a coach,” said Eckenburg. “The girls are real close and are competing real well for playing time.” The Thunder returned to the court this week against Division I powerhouse Davis, Division II section semi-finalist Rio Americano, and next week meet section qualifier Christian Brothers in preparation for the playoff push in the Sierra Foothill League. Visit the teams website: