Whitney High Wildcats

A preseason look at 2011
By: Andrew Hazard Placer Herald Sports Correspondent
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Placer Herald Sports takes a look at Whitney High School’s title chances in 2011. Cross Country Whitney High School head coach Mark Snow said he is excited to see the direction the Wildcats’ cross-country program is headed. “This is our seventh year and we now have a good base of athletes and are really looking forward to a great season,” Snow said. Snow said Whitney has very high expectations and should compete for the Capital Athletic League title. He said the Wildcats’ set a league title as their year’s No. 1 goal every year, and the second goal is to advance to the section finals with a shot at making it to the California State Meet. Snow said his teams should be really good this year. Their numbers have progressively grown each year leading to a better competitiveness between the runners on the team. Snow should have some really strong varsity athletes back with a lot of kids to complement them. Juniors Ryan Hodgens and Jacob Zufelt are the boy’s team captains. They were both All-League runners last year, and are expected to make All League again this year. Snow said Hodgens should contend for an individual league title as well as an individual section title in Division III. Nate Wellington is a sophomore newcomer to cross country. “He had a very strong freshman track campaign and is looking very good to garner an All League citation,” Snow said. Senior Sean Donovan, and sophomores Nicholas Pulido and Devin Valdez are all varsity runners who Snow expects will round out a really good varsity squad. The girls have junior captain Megan Hall, an All League and state meet qualifier last year. Freshman Jenica Dodge was All League last year, and had an outstanding track season. Sophomore Taelor Hatch is the last returning varsity runner. The Wildcats will have newcomers this year in freshman Faith Gottenberg, senior Nicole Kreutzberg, and junior Alexis Oranen. Anthony Pulido graduated, but most of the boy’s squad returns. The girls lost All League Kyrah Vaughn, who now runs at American River College. CAL opponents El Camino and Rio Americano are the biggest tests for the Whitney boys. Outside of league they will have to face Division III opponents Placer, Sonora and El Dorado. “They are all young and very talented and we have our work cut out for us if we want any chance of making it to the state meet,” Snow said. Rio Americano and Cordova will be the Whitney girls’ toughest opponents. “Especially Rio Americano,” Snow said. “They are defending league champions and essentially return everyone.” Snow said his team is excited to compete this year and there is a lot of anticipation for the league season to start. Girls Golf Whitney’s girls golf moved from the Pioneer Valley League to the Capital Athletic League in 2011. However, Wildcats’ varsity head coach Laura Faber said her team’s goals remain the same. “Stay mentally tough, be competitive, take the league championship for the third year in a row, blend the new players smoothly with the returning players,” Faber said. “Have memories and experiences both on and off the golf course through fun events for the girls, further the skill levels of each girl regarding of the starting skill level and take Kelsey back to the state meet again this season.” Faber returns sophomore Kelsey Ulep, team captain/senior Michelle Latini, and junior Mallory Andrada. The Wildcats only lost one senior, who was new to the team; but referred to by Faber as a “wonderful, wonderful person.” Faber said she is not yet sure if the transition to the CAL is good or bad. She said Rio American was their biggest opponent last year, but they lost five players. “Our last year with the PVL we won the league and the teams were all so much stronger,” said Faber, “so coming to the CAL was not a great move for our sport.” Faber said not many people pay attention to girl’s golf so they stay under the radar. However, she had high praise for players, and their parents. “We are definitely a family and stay in contact year round,” she said. “I have coached so many sports, boys and girls tennis, dance teams for years, softball, and without a doubt my experiences with girls golf has been the most rewarding.” Girls Tennis Last year was the varsity girl’s tennis team’s first season as a team. The Wildcats took third in the division and won a playoff match. “This season we expect the same thing, with Rio Americano and Mira Loma in our league it will be difficult to do much better than that,” said Wildcats’ head coach John Bosco. “Our girls are excited and working hard to achieve success.” Bosco will have Kristina Mojsich, Kasey Holm, Sarah Tucci, Jennifer Golditch, Sammy Datta, Christina Han, Mariah Sasaki, Alexis Wrate, Reema Patel, Lina Tran and Ayda Sadeghian returning from next season. Newcomer Rebecca Walsh could also have a big role. Bosco said his girls have a tough schedule. “We have matches against Bella Vista, Rocklin, Woodcreek, Del Campo, Casa Robles, and River Valley,” he said. “Our league consists of Rio, Mira Loma, Antelope, Cordova and El Camino.” Bosco said he cannot wait to get the season started. “We have a really fun team with great girls,” Bosco said. “We are looking forward to a great season with lots of fun.” Water Polo The varsity boys water polo team is ready for the 2011 season, however; the Wildcats are young and might have a bumpy road ahead. Head coach Steven Casperite said his guys have been working really hard. “This summer we had our first summer polo program which goes a long way to helping the team build skills and team play for the fall season,” Casperite said. He said by next year they hope to have a summer polo program in place. He said that would give younger players a chance to learn about the game and develop skill sets needed to play at the high school level. Casperite said he hopes his guys can finish third in league. “(Third place) will give them their first-ever postseason playoff berth,” he said. Some of the Wildcats’ key returning players are Logan Osterman, Shawn Parker, Alex Mowry, Dane Sherman, Nolan Eger, and Garrett Butts. Myles Christiansen, and Kane Prudhoe have graduated and moved on. Whitney’s two toughest opponents will be El Camino and Rio Americano. Casperite said those programs have strong, experienced and seasoned teams. In his third season at Whitney Casperite said he hopes his team tries to improve each and everyday. “Each season we make incremental improvements and gains,” Casperite said. “If we can keep the momentum up, I can see Whitney water polo in another five years becoming a respected team in the Sacramento water polo community.” Girls _ While Whitney’s varsity boys try to make a name for themselves, the Whitney varsity girls water polo team has already done so. Head coach Kari Ustaszewski said the girls are expecting to finish in the top two in the CAL. “Last year we finished third so we’re hoping to move up a spot or two,” Ustaszewski said. “We also expect to qualify for the Division II section playoffs again this year.” This could be the fourth year in a row the Wildcats make the playoffs. This year Ustaszewski would like to see her club win a few more playoff games than they did last year. Whitney’s key returning players are senior three-year varsity player Rachel Holes, senior captain/four-year varsity player Colleen Daley and junior Stephanie Henderson. “We are going to miss our vocal leadership from our group of seniors last year,” Ustaszewski said. “Our team is going to need to work on being more vocal in the pool. They are a little too quiet for water polo.” The Wildcats’ toughest competition should be against El Camino and Rio Americano. Rio Americano is the defending section and league champion. Ustaszewski said both clubs are experienced with a lot of talent. The Wildcats are ready and excited for the season to begin. “We have a lot of quick, young players that are going to add some new strength to our team,” Ustaszewski said. “We are very optimistic about this coming season.”