June 27, 2009
Grant dup sparks North win in Optimist All-Star game

Marvin Lamb and Howard Warren wagered a friendly bet among buddies this week.

The MVP of the 53rd Optimist All-Star Game would collect a tidy sum of $20. So confident were the two graduated Grant High School playmakers, they never even considered the prospect of someone else actually garnering MVP honors. It was going to be one of them.
Warren won the 20 spot, earning MVP honors Friday in the charity contest, but he was honorable enough to split it with Lamb.

It could easily be argued that Lamb was the MVP of the first half and Warren the second as both keyed the North's 21-7 cq victory over the South cq at steamy hot American River College in front of 4,332 fans who caught the official end of what has been a spectacular 2008 prep season cq.

And one thing about Grant players. They're all about versatility, thirsting for the big plays and relishing the big-stage moment. Lamb caught the winning touchdown to beat nationally ranked No. 2 Long Beach Poly in the Open Division State Championship Bowl game that capped a dream 14-0 season for the Pacers in December, and against the South, he returned a first-quarter interception 46 yards for a touchdown. In the second half, it was Warren who personally pulled the North out of an offensive funk.

Known for his defensive back abilities, Warren scored on a shifty 11-yard touchdown xqin the third quarter then iced it with a spectacular 34-yard touchdown burst cq, breaking three tackles, with 4:09 to play cq.

And another thing about Grant players such as Lamb and Warren. They're as giddy and goofy as they are polite and proud.

"I can't take all of his money," a grinning Warren said, ribbing Lamb, who was next to him. "We both earned the $20. The whole team did."

Per the norm for a lot of these all-star gatherings, the offenses looked a bit out of flow, with only a week to prepare. The North defense, headed by a superb defensive line, allowed only a handful of big plays, including a 5-yard touchdown from Burbank's Miles Freeman cq to Sacramento's Denzel Pruitt cq. Other than that, the South had to punt nine times and it surrendered four sacks, two by Josh Fields of Rio Linda, whose two stops amounted to 30 yards in losses.

Lamb is off to the University of Maryland for summer school next week where he plans to make more big plays for the football program. Warren is off to Utah to play the slot, much like his brother, Paris, did earlier this decade after his storied Grant career. Paris Warren is now employed by the New Orleans Saints cq and watched kid brother shine Friday.

All told, it was a fine finish for Grant. North coach Mike Alberghini had 10 Pacers on the roster. He coached a number of Grant players in the Holiday Classic All-Star game in December to victory, and Friday made his 2008 season in which he was named National Coach of the Year feel like a 16-0 season mark. He also moved to 3-1 cq lifetime in the Optimist game as a head coach and 5-1 overall, having served as defensive coordinator in two other contests.

Alberghini's co-coach for the game was Casey Taylor, whose staff ran the offense. Taylor said a fresh Warren made the difference in the second half, saying, "he was the spark we needed."

Other highlights included: Fullback David Kilson of Florin and the South plowing over two opponents on a kickoff return, showing that he has recovered just fine from a knee injury that sidelined him at midseason; linebacker Jeremiah Toma of Grant nearly cut a guy in half with clean, hard breakup of a screen pass; linebacker Daniel Cox of Christian Brothers and the South recovering a fumble and making an interception; Travis Snider of Jesuit and the South and Aaron Matthews of Franklin and the South making interceptions in the end zone. For the North, Manasa Kikau of Rio Americano and Ben Holland of Rocklin had interceptions.

June 25, 2009
A closer look at the Optimist All-Star football stars of yesteryear

The Optimist All-Star football game still has staying power. There isn't a longer running all-star game west of the Mississippi. And the alumni list reads like a who's who roster of all-time area greats.

The 53rd annual game is Saturday at American River College, 7 p.m.

Here's a closer look:

Virgil Carter, Folsom, 1963
For a fellow who wasn't even initially picked for the game, not a bad career. Carter joined the Optimist as a fill-in and he guided the Sacramento County stars to a 21-8 win over the Northern California stars. He went on to BYU and played in the NFL.

Artimus Parker, Sacramento, 1970The anchor to some of the greatest Sacramento High teams - and there were a bunch - the guy who went by "T" became a consensus All-American defensive back for USC, a star for one of college football's most famed teams (1972). The NFL's first big safety, he played four NFL seasons.

Craig Penrose, Woodland, 1971
He keyed a 10-0 Woodland team in 1970, including an epic triumph over Cordova. Later, he excelled in Don Coryell's pass-heavy offense at San Diego State. He played four seasons as a Denver backup - including Super Bowl XII - before joining the United States Football League.

Jim Breech, Sacramento, 1974
Breech got the invite to this game because there was a sudden need for a kicker after Butch Edge of El Camino was drafted in the first round of the major league draft as a flame-throwing phenom. Breech got the call, earned a scholarship to Cal then enjoyed a 14-year pro career that included 243 field goals and a near MVP in the Super Bowl (blame Joe Montana's late heroics).

Eason Ramson, Christian Brothers, 1974
A man-child at CBS, Ramson caught passes from Jeff Tisdel. He played at Washington State and logged seven NFL seasons, five with the 49ers.

Joe Rose, Marysville, 1975
The big time tight end talent from a tiny school, Rose still holds the Optimist receiving record of 183 yards. He played at Cal and was a member of two Miami Dolphins teams that played in the Super Bowl.

Tony Eason, Delta, 1978
The state Small School Player of the Year who powered an 11-0 Sac-Joaquin Section title romp played at American River College before emerging as a first-round pick out of Illinois as part of the famed '83 QB Draft that included John Elway, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly and lifetime pal Ken O'Brien. Eason led the New England Patriots to Super Bowl XX.

Bo Eason, Delta, 1979
Tony's younger brother was every bit of an impact player in high school and college, hammering foes as a safety. He was an All-American at UC Davis and logged four NFL seasons before going on to a career as an actor.

Charles Mann, Valley, 1979
Mann was a classic late bloomer, a scholar who was urged to give football a try by Valley coach Dave Hoskins. Once Nevada coach Chris Ault saw Mann on film, a scholarship was in order and a career was born. The defensive end played in four Super Bowls, winning two with Washington and one with the 49ers.

Don Rogers, Norte Del Rio, 1980
The best football talent to come from a school that wheeled out quite a few, Rogers was a superb option quarterback, though he was especially skilled as a defensive back. He became an All-American free safety at UCLA and the MVP of the 1983 Rose Bowl Player when he delivered one of the hardest hits in bowl history, against Michigan. Rogers was a first-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns, a rising star. His cocaine overdose death in 1986 still hovers as the darkest of dark clouds in Del Paso Heights as those who knew him still can't comprehend his end.

F.P. Santangelo, Oak Ridge, 1985
F.P. was a superb receiver in high school, scholarship worthy who happened to be even better in baseball. He hammered out a long major league career, including a stint with the Giants and A's.

Tedy Bruschi, Roseville, 1991
Still the best defensive prep player - or lineman, too - I have seen, and The Bee's No. 1 all-time player from a list we put together in 2000. He became a two time All-American at Arizona, the NCAA's all-time sack leader and a three time Super Bowl winner for the New England Patriots.

J.T. O'Sullivan, Jesuit, 1997
He led Jesuit to its first Sac-Joaquin Section title, in 1995, the graduated from UC Davis as the all-time leader in passing yards and total yards in earning Division II West Region Offensive Player of the Year his senior season. Has been a very reliable NFL backup, though he started most of last season with the 49ers.

Seneca Wallace, Cordova, 1998
He was recruited to play all sorts of skill positions and defense but he wanted to play quarterback, his love, and he did so in setting records during and All-American career at Sacramento City College and then making a run at the Heisman Trophy at Iowa State. A very solid backup with the Seattle Seahawks.

Donte Stallworth, Grant, 1998
As good as he's been in college and the NFL as a receiver, he was amazing as a defensive back for Grant, including earning Bee Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1997.

Lance Briggs, Elk Grove, 1999
The Bee's Player of the Year in 1998 when he powered Elk Grove to a 14-0 season as a hard-charging fullback and instinctive and destructive linebacker, Briggs was superb at linebacker at Arizona. He is a four-time Pro Bowl stopper now with the Chicago Bears.

Onterrio Smith, Grant, 1999
Smith's senior season in 1998 included setting a bounty of regional, NorCal and state records in rushing and scoring. Major recruit who played for Tennessee and Oregon and for a spell in the NFL. Still the most prolific, relentless and entertaining back in regional history.

David Ball, Dixon, 1999
For a small-school wonder, Ball sure could pack a punch as a lineman, as did his twin brother, Mat. Both made big plays in the Optimist game and then had superb careers in the trenches.

Paul Pinegar, Woodland, 2000
The former Wolves star led Fresno State to three bowl victories and passed for 10,136 yards as a four-year starter.

June 25, 2009
A historical look at Optimist All-Star football games, players

The Optimist All-Star football game still matters.

It matters for the charities, matters for the graduated high school seniors who wear their school colors for the last time and it matters for the prep followers who have been a part of the event for 52 years.
The 53rd game is Saturday at American River College. Yes, quite a few top talents declined invitation due to scholarship commitments, but there's still a ton of talent to see. Here's a look at some highlights over the years, from a story by The Bee' Bill Paterson from three summers ago and memory and archives.

Memorable players
Jim Mikacich - Bishop Armstrong, 1958
Although he already had been named the MVP in the North-South Shrine Game, played in front of 65,000 fans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and earned a full-ride scholarship to his dream school, Notre Dame, a few weeks before, he wasn't about to miss the second Optimist game.

"Probably the biggest memory is that the (Shrine and Optimist) games ended in ties," said Mikacich, a longtime Sacramento attorney. "We didn't play the big offensive games you see nowadays."

In Los Angeles, Mikacich made a game-saving tackle to help the North preserve an 8-8 tie. After receiving MVP honors, Mikacich remembers then-Fighting Irish coach Terry Brennan entering the locker room, congratulating the players and then making scholarship offers.

Mikacich didn't hesitate to accept. He had wanted to play for Notre Dame since junior high school.

The Optimist game was played on a smaller stage, in front of a crowd of 8,600. But Mikacich, a fearsome linebacker who played for the Sacramento County All-Stars, had no thoughts about taking it easy against the Northern California All-Stars.

"The one thing I remember is that the players were as good, if not better than in the Shrine Game," he said of a game that ended in a 6-6 tie. "I don't remember too many highlights because everything was pretty much between the 20-yard lines."

It was during practices for the Optimist game that the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Mikacich realized his days as a running back were over.

"I wasn't fast enough with all the good quality running backs, so I switched to center on offense," Mikacich said.

Mikacich was a reserve tight end, defensive end and center at Notre Dame, but the longtime Optimist member said his fondest memories are of his high school days.

"I'm very proud being associated with it, not only as a player but as an Optimist member."

Al Biancani - Norte Del Rio, 1959
Biancani got hit low, which wasn't surprising as a 5-foot-8, 145-pound player.

"I went over to the sideline, threw up, then came back in the game and scored a touchdown," he said.

By the time he was done, Biancani was named the outstanding back, he said, and his South team had won 22-12 in the third Optimist game.

A track star who had run 100yards in 9.7 seconds, Biancani gave football a try as a senior. He said he was unstoppable through four games, averaging nearly 11yards per carry, before a broken collarbone knocked him out for the rest of the season.

"It was a lot of fun," Biancani said of the Optimist game. "I scored either two or three touchdowns, and I had a 79-yard kickoff return. I didn't score, but I must have run 100yards in trying to get away from people."

The opposing North team was made up of players from as far north as Chico and Red Bluff.

"It was a real honor to be selected back then because it's not like it is now, where you play against guys on the other side of the river," Biancani said. "We were playing against cats from all over Northern California."

The Optimist game was Biancani's last football hurrah, though he later gained recogntion as the Kings' strength and conditioning coach. Biancani, who retired in 2005 after 18 seasons, now has dozens of high school, college and pro athletes, including Chris Webber and Derrek Lee, working up a sweat through his personal training business in Natomas.

Dan Bunz - Oakmont, 1973
For a guy who would go on to win two Super Bowls and be an inspiring leader of a gifted 49ers defense, Bunz admits to being one scared pup when he showed up for his first Northern California team practice (it was NorCal vs. Sac County All-Stars that year).

"These were all the top athletes in the area, and they all looked a lot more mature," Bunz said. "I was still 17 and not very developed."

He wasn't sure if he'd even get in the game.

"Their middle linebacker was a stud, so I knew I wasn't going to play there, and the tight end was from Colusa, where the coaches were from, so I figured there wasn't much hope for me there, either," Bunz said.

But when one of the coaches noted the team had no outside linebackers, Bunz raised his hand and said he could play the position.

"I was lying through my teeth," Bunz said. "I knew nothing about it, but I wanted to get on the field."

That might have been a mistake.

"All I know is that it was the worst game of my life," Bunz said of his team's 28-14 loss. "I didn't even go home. My parents were having something after the game, but I was too embarrassed to show my face."

Bunz said the debacle might have been the best thing to happen to him.

He hit the weights and ran with ferocity the rest of the summer. Bunz played as a freshman at UCRiverside before transferring to Long Beach State, where he was the Pacific Coast Athletic Association MVP as a senior and played in the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl.

Bunz played with the 49ers from 1978 to 1984 and forever will be remembered for stopping Cincinnati's Charles Alexander at the 1-inch line to help preserve the 49ers' 26-21 win over the Bengals in Super Bowl XVI, the first of five NFL titles for San Francisco.

Bunz now is a teacher and owns a personal training business in Rocklin.

Robbie Bosco - Roseville, 1981
His name is etched in the Optimist record books for two feats that likely won't be equaled -- most passes attempted (41) and most interceptions (five).

Bosco, who went on to a BYU Hall of Fame career, still wasn't able to prevent an 18-15 loss to the South.

"I remember losing the game, but it was a lot of fun to play," Bosco said. "You play football all year long, and you hear about the players in the area. To be able to compete with them and against them was special."

Bosco had an idea he might be throwing a lot.

"Nate Harris was the coach, and he told me before the game we were going to break some records," Bosco said.

Bosco succeeded Steve Young as BYU's quarterback and led the Cougars to the national championship and a 13-0 season in 1984.

In the last win, 24-17 over Michigan in the Holiday Bowl, Bosco threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, finished 30 of 42 for 343yards, and did it despite tender ribs, a bruised knee and a severely sprained right ankle.

He received the Sammy Baugh Award as the nation's top quarterback that season.

Bosco was a third-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 1986, but his pro career was shortened by a shoulder injury. Bosco spent more than a decade as BYU's quarterbacks coach and now is the executive director of the BYU Varsity Club.

Greg Benzel - Lincoln, 1986
The confession is voluntary.

"Between me and you, you're the only one that knows," said Benzel -- one of a handful of men to play and coach in the Optimist All-Star Football Game -- in recalling his performance 20 years ago in the annual tussle between some of the area's top graduated seniors.

Benzel, a 1,000-yard rusher as a Lincoln senior, was trying to help the North team hold a six-point lead with two minutes to play.

Then, during a bad exchange, Benzel couldn't handle the ball, the South recovered the fumble, and Troy Taylor capped a 61-yard drive with a one-yard quarterback sneak with 43 seconds remaining to tie the score. Brad Warner's PAT gave the South a 14-13 victory in front of nearly 11,000 fans at Hughes Stadium.

"It's not an exciting memory for me," Benzel said. "I basically helped set up the South's winning touchdown.

"That's my claim to not-too-much fame, although no one really knew it because, in the paper the next day, it said that Pat Birdsong of Nevada Union had fumbled."

This time, Benzel hopes to bring home a victory tonight as the North coach.

"I still consider it a special honor to have played," said Benzel, now the head football coach at Rocklin High School. "It was great to be associated with a great group of players and for such a good purpose."

Troy Taylor - Cordova, 1986
After leading Cordova to a 14-0 season and the Sac-Joaquin Section championship, the future Cal and New York Jets quarterback wasn't quite done.

Playing for his high school coach, Max Miller, on the South team, Taylor led a late 61-yard drive, scoring on a one-yard plunge with 43seconds to play to give the South a 14-13 victory.

"I know I wanted to win," Taylor said. "It's just being competitive. But when you put two weeks into it, you want to win the game, especially when it's your last game as a high school player."

The last drive was typical Taylor, as he scrambled for key gain after key gain.

"I remember a couple of big third-down plays, running for one and throwing for one," Taylor said. "Then Max, who is the most competitive person you are ever going to meet, called the sneak. It was great that we could win all 15games that season."

If there is anything that bothers Taylor about the Optimist game these days, it's that the top players aren't competing because they aren't interested or have to head to college early.

"The game is important to Sacramento," Taylor said. "It's always a great game to watch growing up, and it was such an honor to play in."

He said one of the neatest aspects was getting to play with and against players he had read about through the years.

More importantly, it was a chance to play some defense.

"I wanted to play on defense, an idea Max didn't like," Taylor said. "He had made a bet with the defensive coordinator that I wouldn't get in at all on defense.

"Well, he snuck me in for one play at the end of the second quarter just so he could win the bet from Max."

Taylor went on to a stellar career at Cal and played for two seasons with the Jets. He coached football at Folsom High School for four seasons but stepped down last year to do color commentary on Cal football games.

"I miss coaching, but it's a blast doing the radio and being able to watch Cal football," Taylor said.

June 17, 2009
A look at nominated girls for The Bee's Athlete of the Year

Here's a look at other girls who were nominated for The Bee's Athlete of the Year by coaches, administrators, teammates, friends, family and fans.
The winner will be featured in a story in Thursday's Bee. In addition, Fox 40 will do profiles on the girls and boys winner on Wednesday and Thursday nights with Jim Crandell at 10:40 p.m.

* Hannah Davidson, St. Francis - Four year starter in soccer, a two-time captain and a three-time section champion; MVP of the Delta River League who had a 4.0 grade-point average.

* Kaleigh Durket, Oak Ridge - MVP, team captain, leader and dominating talent for Trojans volleyball team that steamed to section title; MVP of the Optimist All-Star game; three-year starter in lacrosse; off to Colgate on a volleyball scholarship.

* Giavanna Hampton, Franklin - Three-year softball star and an honors student; off to Humboldt State on scholarship.

* Shannon Harcus, Placer - Pioneer Valley League champion in cross country and a section champion; has a 4.21 grade-point average.

* Jolene Henderson, Sheldon - Capped a dominating and memorable pitching four-year career as an all-time area great, leading the Huskies to the No. 1 ranking in the country at one point this spring; off to Cal.

* Maria Malone, Folsom - A cross country and track and field star with a 4.33 grade-point average; school valedictorian headed to Stanford.

* Jessica Miller, Folsom - Swimming, cross country and track and field star with a 4.15 grade-point average off to UCLA.

* Jocelyn Moore, Valley - Steady play keyed best Vikings basketball team in years; upset defending champion St. Frances in the playoffs to reach first D-II section final.

* Laura Nasseri, Rio Americano - Soccer star led Raiders to the D-III section title, scoring the winning goal; off to Creighton University on scholarship.

* Kayla Neto, Christian Brothers - Four year impact player in volleyball who helped her club win four section titles, two Division IV NorCal titles; Bee Player of the Year is off to Fullerton on scholarship.

* Ashley Noda, Loretto - Second in the section golf tournament, in tying the school record for the lowest 18-hole round, shooting a 70 at Empire Ranch; maintained a 4.0 grade-point average.

* Brianna Parker, Grant - Helped lead the Pacers back to the level of area elite in basketball; honors student.

* Molly Pon, Davis - Set the Blue Devils to another Delta Valley Conference title.

* Kirsten Shimizu, Kennedy - Steady point guard led Cougars to another D-I section championship; honors student.

* Alyssa Ward, Ponderosa - Three-year varsity starter at catcher, hit .402 as a senior in earning Sierra Valley Conference MVP honors.

* Shakara Young, Sheldon - The point guard and defensive leader for a Huskies team that reached the finals of the Division I section tournament and advanced to the NorCal large-school field.

* Lindsey Ziegenhirt, Sheldon - A terrific catcher who helped the Huskies win league and section titles; a superb student who will head to Cal.

June 17, 2009
A look at nominated boys for The Bee's Athlete of the Year

Here's a peek at other boys who were nominated by coaches, administrators, teammates, friends and family for The Bee's Athlete of the Year (the winner to appear in The Bee on Thursday with TV segments Wednesday and Thursday nights on Fox 40 with Jim Crandell at 10:40 p.m.)


* Tristan Baer, Casa Roble - Star receiver for a 13-0 team, starting point guard and leading scorer and impact track and field man who also maintained a 4.0 grade-point average and student body president.

* Devontae Booker, Grant - The next top-flight tailback in Pacers lore; led Grant in rushing and played key role in 14-0 season.

* Clayton Daly, Folsom - track and field and cross country runner; off to Cal Poly.

* James Derrick, Natomas - A swimmer and tennis player who qualified for section meets while graduating with a 4.5 grade-point average.

* Matt Evanoff, Ponderosa - A three-year varsity starter as a left-handed pitcher had an 0.81 ERA as a senior and batted .406; off to Cal on scholarship.

* Chris Gaschen, Granite Bay - four year starter in soccer who set school records for career goals (94) and career assists (51), among others; three-time SFL MVP in soccer who carried a 3.85 grade-point average.

* David Graves, Folsom - Bee Player of the Year was latest standout quarterback to come through the section; superb passer, runner, leader; off to Hawaii.

* Kipeli Koniseti, Grant - Leader of the greatest Pacers football team of them all, and an all-time section great team that went 14-0; played quarterback and special teams; off to Arizona State.

* Ryan Lacey, Bella Vista - The Capital Athletic League Rasmussen Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year; first-team All-CAL and team captain in three sports as a senior - soccer, lacrosse, basketball; a 4.43 grade-point average off to Northwestern University.

* Brendan Lane, Rocklin - Greatest basketball player in school history is one of the area's all-time greats, too; led Thunder to Division II NorCal title; played water polo and competed in track; off to UCLA.

* Jim Little, Jesuit - MVP of the Sacramento Lacrosse Conference with a letter of intent to compete at Dominican University.

* Ryan Loder, Granite Bay - A two-sport star who was a three-time All Sierra Foothill League linebacker and a Bee All-Metro performer; in wrestling he was a prep All-American.

* Mason Magleby, Del Oro - Superb at quarterback and in baseball, including tossing Del Oro's first playoff perfect game; off to Nevada to play quarterback.

* Frank McDonald, Jesuit - All-League performer in baseball as a third baseball who played a key role in the Marauders repeating as D-I section champions; All-League in football.

* Brogan Miller, Ponderosa - Keyed the Bruins rise to sudden water polo section power by downing Granite Bay 11-8 in the D-II finals; leading scorer who found the back of the net despite being triple teamed; three-time league MVP and a 4.4 grade-point average; off to Stanford.

* Tremaine Moore, Sheldon - A steady player and a defensive ace on a star-studded Huskies boys basketball team that qualified for the playoffs.

* Mike Moreno, Roseville - Impact leader and performer for the Tigers in football, willing his team to a stirring win over then top-ranked Granite Bay; All-Metro QB.

* Sean Nill, Laguna Creek - Dominant two-way lineman was a chore to block and deal with; superb leader and example of scholar-athlete; special talent in drama and theater; off to Sacramento State.

* Matt Sturges, Laguna Creek - Two sport performer who was the staff ace in the spring in leading the Delta Valley Conference in strikeouts and led the club in home runs; played different positions for a football team that reached the City Championship for the first time.

* Justin Sutter, Granite Bay - Versatile and dangerous in football for a team that was ranked No. 1 by The Bee for half the season, he also earned a scholarship to Arizona in track and field, with highlights including winning the section title in the long jump.

* Alex Yamamoto, Mira Loma - Matadors point guard was All-CAL pick, a three-time team captain and boasts of a 4.83 grade-point average.

* Seth Young, Woodland - An All-League performer in football and baseball who impacted playoff teams for both sports; school defensive lineman of the year had a 3.5 grade-point average.

June 14, 2009
Classy Sypkens helps save day for undermanned Sac stars in Oakland

Ryan Sypkens is a glass half-full guy.

When the Franklin High star point guard and Bee All-Metro first team selection realized he was one of only three players that showed for the Sacramento stars in their match-up with the Bay Area stars on Saturday at Laney College, the classy young man didn't pick up his basketball and go home.

"I just looked at it as more minutes for me," said Sypkens, a 6-foot-3 graduated senior headed for UC Davis in the fall on scholarship. "It was an honor to be picked, and I had a lot of fun playing."

Sypkens scored 32 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and helped make Fairfield's 6-5 John Dickson look like the second coming of LeBron James in Sac's 109-103 loss. Dickson put on a show of athleticism in scoring 45 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

This game, one of four in the day-long Battle of the Best Showdown, turned out to be a poorly organized bust.

Only Sypkens, Dickson and Sierra of Modesto's Christian Williams showed for the Sacramento stars, despite the event's web-site listing a who's who of top players having been invited.

So the Sac stars added two players from the Bay team and played the first half with five guys.

As a few more players trickled in, Bishop O'Dowd's Justin Brue, who had eight points in the first half for the Bay stars, was traded to the Sac stars at halftime and wound up scoring six more points. Another late arrival, also added to the Sac roster, lasted less than a minute when he twisted an ankle.

On Wednesday, event organizer Bryan Gardere admitted his group was having trouble getting players. But Gardere posted a revised 13-player Sac roster posted just before the game that included Sac High's Chase Tapley, Pleasant Grove's Xavier Thames and Modesto Christian's Reeves Nelson. The Bay's no-shows included Damon Powell of McClymonds and Chris Brew of St. Mary's of Berkeley.

Even after giving some of their players to the other team, the Bay stars still had plenty of firepower in McClymonds guard Will Cherry (Montana), Miramonte's Eric Obeysekere (Holy Cross) and De La Salle's Brandon Smith (Cal).

The 6-9 Obeysekere, the tallest player in the game, took game MVP honors with 23 points and 28 rebounds, but only because his team won. Cherry topped the Bay stars
with 26 points and Smith added 15.

However, Sypkens and Dickson, who looks like a steal for Sacramento State men's basketball coach Brian Katz, were clearly the game's most entertaining players.

They combined for 77 points and 22 rebounds and Sypkens was one of the few guys on the floor playing some defense.

He made six three-point shots and had at least three other mega-distance attempts rim out. He made 10 of his first 12 shots and had 21 points at halftime.

Sypkens didn't plan to play in the game until a last-ditched lobbying campaign by the desperate organizers. His experience at last year's event at Capital Christian High School had been disappointment.

In that contest, featuring Sac's top sophomores and juniors, he barely got off the bench.
"I played about a minute, and I don't really know why," Sypkens said. "We did have a lot of guys and I missed the practice they had before the game, so maybe that was it. But I didn't have a very good time."

As chaotic as Saturday's game turned out to be, Sypkens still had a blast, especially teaming with Dickson, who he knows through summer basketball camps.

They presented a nice on-court contrast in personalities. Sypkens is all business with his expressionless demeanor. The effervescent Dickson smiled constantly.

He made 20 of 32 shots from the field (3 of 4 from the foul line), including two three pointers. Most of his shots came around the rim, including several dunks.
"John can jump out of the gym," Sypkens said. "All I had to do was toss the ball toward the rim."

The duo will stay close to home, although Dickson will come to Sacramento and Sypkens moves a little closer to Fairfield.

They should cross the Causeway to face either other for several years to come.
"Now we are going to be rivals, which will be fun." Sypkens said.

Since leading Franklin to a 24-9 record and Sac-Joaquin Section D-I championship runner-up finish with averages of 14.6 points and 4.1 assists, Sypkens has been working to further hone his skills.

He works out with highly respected trainer Phil Handy, he's been playing with his future Aggie teammates in open gym sessions and hopes to play some games in the San Francisco Pro-Am summer league before it all starts for real for coach Gary Stewart at UC Davis this fall.

"I've been working on my game every day since the season ended to get ready for the next level," Sypkens said.

He is looking forward to being reunited with former Franklin teammate Julian Welch, who will be a sophomore next season, and playing for a program that appears on the rise.

UC Davis went 13-19 last season.

June 13, 2009
Grant's Alberghini hopes to strike on scheduling while iron is hot

Grant High School football is a hot commodity these days, but one that could cool quickly if scheduling isn't done prudently.

That's the view of Pacers football coach Mike Alberghini.

"We've earned the right to be considered among the top programs," Alberghini said. "But you are only a couple of losses from having to go back and develop your (reputation) all over again."

It was tough building that reputation.

After going 13-0 in 2006, the Pacers, in a bid to improve their profile in the eyes of California Interscholastic Federation officials for state bowl consideration, played back-to-back games on the road in Bakersfield and Utah the next season.

They took long bus trips and the Bakersfield game was delayed several hours because of heat and smog. Grant lost both contests and wound up 7-4, the worst record in Alberghini's 18 seasons as head coach.

"We took terrible trips in that we got beat up early," Alberghini said. "We won't allow that to happen again."

Grant, of course, bounced back nicely to go 14-0 last season and win the CIF State Bowl Open Division championship.

June 12, 2009
College interest grows for Yuba City's pitching standout Lowden

A baseball player to watch will be Yuba City's Michael Lowden.

The right-hander has a tremendous upside as he showed in compiling a two-year 20-0 varsity record for the three-time Sac-Joaquin Section D-III champions.

Lowden, a senior who graduated last week, is currently deciding about his future. He's received offers from UC Davis, St. Mary's and UC Santa Barbara and also has generated interest from San Jose State and Nevada, where former Honkers star Brock Stassi is pitching.

Two-time Bee Player of the Year Max Stassi caught most of Lowden's games the last two years, so he has an appreciation for Lowden's skills.

"He was 20-0 for his varsity career and that just shows you how much hard work he puts into the game," Stassi said. "Whatever college gets him is getting a good investment."

The Bee All-Metro first team pitcher throws a fastball in the mid-80s, so he relies heavily on change-ups, curveballs, and location for success. He added to his repertoire by developing a "cut fastball" this season, a pitch that shifts inwards or outwards by a few inches as it arrives toward the plate.

"If you can locate the ball on both sides of the plate like he does, you are going far in this game," Stassi said.

Added Honkers coach Jim Stassi: "Michael has been tremendous on the hill for us all year long. The big thing is he can can throw three or four pitches for strikes (he walked 14 batters in 72 innings), and that's critical at this level. He puts in a lot work so he can command those pitches."

Lowden, who had a 1.17 earned-run average this season, is modest about his achievements.

Even after pitching the Honkers to an 8-0 win over Benicia in the May 25 D-III section title game and setting a new school strikeout record of 102 after striking out nine and allowing two hits, Lowden was quick to deflect any praise.

"That means I'll have (the strikeout record) for a year - until Jake Stassi breaks it next year," the low-key Lowden said of the junior standout.

Lowden no doubt was a beneficiary of the attention college and pro scouts were paying to Max Stassi, one of the area's most heavily recruited preps.

But he also knew that that in some cases college scouts were there to watch him.

"A lot of them are looking at me right now," he said after pitching the Honkers past Rodriguez 3-1 in the semifinals. "I know that schools like San Jose and UC Santa Barbara don't come up this way too often. But you can't worry about whose up in the stands.

"All year they've there, but you have to turn a blind eye to them because it's about the team. I just try to do what Coach Stassi says: 'Play against the game.'"

June 11, 2009
Oakland scouting director loves Stassi, but can they sign him?

Many around the baseball world are surprised that the Oakland A's selected Yuba City's Max Stassi with a fourth-round pick in the Major League Baseball draft on Wednesday.

The "Moneyball" franchise of general manager Billy Beane is a small-market team not noted for offering big signing bonuses.

It was believed the reason that the catcher didn't land as a late first-round or early second-round pick had less to do with concerns about the shoulder tendinitis that plagued him his senior season and more to do with so-called signability concerns.

Jim Stassi, Max's father, told the Marysville Appeal-Democrat that they were looking for "top-20 money" when talking with teams before the draft.

Although Stassi wouldn't reveal financial figures, that would be in the neighborhood of $1.5 to $2 million based on those who signed in the first round last year between selections No. 12 to No. 19.

Fourth-round picks command far less, one reason why one big league scout told MLB.com on Wednesday that the A's would have the steal of the year if they are able to get Stassi to forgo a scholarship to UCLA.

Baseball America called the failure of Stassi to be taken in the first three rounds of the draft "one of the biggest surprises" of Tuesday's first day. SportingNews.com said he was the top high school catching prospect in the nation going into the draft.

In its draft preview issue, Baseball America projected Stassi as a first-round pick, going 28th to the Boston Red Sox. Boston's decision to work Stassi out on Monday at Fenway Park and that general manager Theo Epstein had watched Stassi play in a game May 19 in Sacramento only fueled rumors that he could be headed to the Red Sox.

So what are the chances of Stassi becoming an A's product after being the 123rd player selected?

Unlikely based on past considerations.

The A's have a record for tight purse strings; baseball commissioner Bud Selig has asked teams to cut bonuses by 10 percent; and most fourth-round picks last year signed for less than $300,000.

The top fourth-round signing in 2008, according to pgcrosschecker.com., was Missouri high school pitcher Tim Melville, the 115th player taken, who signed with the Kansas City Royals for $1,250,000. The lowest reported signing was Long Beach State pitcher David Roberts, the 141st pick, who signed for $200,000. The A's signed pitcher Anthony Capra of Wichita State, the No. 124 pick, for $260,000.

But A's scouting director Eric Kubota, who selected six catchers in the draft, sounds enamored of Stassi.

"We just felt like the opportunity to get a first-round talent was worth whatever risk was involved," Kubota told MLB.com Wednesday night. "I think we have a very good chance of getting him....He's the best high school catcher I've ever scouted."

Kubota also made a surprise first-round selection, the 13th overall, by taking USC shortstop Grant Green. He is being advised by Scott Boras.

MLB.com reports that the A's haven't selected a Boras-represented player since Kubota took over the scouting department eight years ago. Signability is always a question when dealing with amateur players represented by the controversial Boras, a former Elk Grove High School player.

June 11, 2009
Valley Christian's busy Gunter offers kudos to wife, assistant and students

Brad Gunter Jr. says he'd be unable to do the multiple duties of Valley Christian Academy administrator, teacher, coach and father of three without supportive wife Megan or his "right-arm man", assistant baseball coach Todd Conroy.

"I couldn't do this without Megan's clearance of this kind of schedule," Gunter said. "Todd runs my summer program and when it comes to baseball, with so many hats for me to juggle, he's always the one there when practice starts."

Gunter, The Bee Coach of Year, has built the Roseville private school into a Sac-Joaquin Section small-school baseball power.

The Lions have won 12 consecutive league baseball titles and two straight D-VII section banners. As athletic director, he also oversees a pretty competitive and extensive sports program that includes varsity football and elementary school sports.

Even while coaching boys varsity basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring he found time to coach his 11-year-old son Micah's boys basketball team and the girls basketball team that includes 9-year-old twins Claudia and Cloe.

He was raised on the grounds of Valley Christian, a school his father Brad Gunter Sr., a pastor, started as an offshoot of Tabernacle Baptist Church.

So for long stretches, Gunter often spends more time at school than at home.

"I just mowed the lawn," Gunter said. "It was the first time the front yard was touched in 10 months, so there were weeds so high. My wife was nice. She never said a word. But that's how it is. The baseball field always looks good, but not the coach's house."

Until recently, the 6 1/2-acre, 30-year old campus housing school and church has gone unscathed from the vandalism and graffiti that sometimes hits nearby homes and businesses.

But in recent months, several buildings were "tagged", a large American flag stolen and two soda machines damaged.

While baseball is his love - he was a pretty good college pitcher at one time - watching his players mature is what Gunter appreciates most about coaching.

There was no better example of that than how his team fought to a 7-6 win over Brookside Christian of Stockton in the May 25 D-VII title game in Lodi.

The players had learned before the game that their school had been vandalized earlier in the morning. A nearby baseball complex, overseen by Conroy, also had been hit by vandals.

"They spend so much time here that it's like a second home," Gunter said. "When we got vandalized, our kids took it personally."

June 10, 2009
Finally, Stassi is drafted: Fourth round to A's, a steal

Finally, the call.

Bee Player of the Year Max Stassi of Yuba City High School sweated out the first day of the Major League Draft on Tuesday as three rounds came and went and no selection. Then the A's picked the catcher deemed the finest prep pure hitter in the country by Baseball America this morning, in the fourth round, No. 123 overall.

Relief. Joy and myriad of emotions. Stassi is on his way.

"It feels great, especially since it's the A's, and it's a relief," Stassi said.

Stassi was projected by a number of publications - in print and on the Internet - to be a first-round pick. He has power, experience as a four-year varsity starter, a leadership sense about him and bloodlines that can't be ignored as a host of family played professionally. Stassi thought it might be the Boston Red Sox, in need of a catcher, who might pick him. He worked out only for the Diamondbacks and the Red Sox, with his Boston session coming on the eve of the draft.

Stassi said he felt great in the workouts and liked his chances of being a first-round pick. But he also played the business aspect of the game as well, his own stance of hard ball, making it clear he wanted a certain signing bonus if picked so high. For now, there is elation, a dream come true, as he grew up around baseball.

He has until Aug. 17 to sign a pro deal, with his UCLA scholarship tour set to start the following day. At the moment, he's not sure what will happen. But he does know one thing. If it's UCLA, that's hardly a downer.

"It's a win-win situation," Stassi said.

He plays his final prep game on Saturday in the 38th Optimist All-Star game at American River College.

Read Thursday's Bee to see if Stassi repeats as Bee Player of the Year, and to see if he becomes the first area prep to be a four-time All-City baseball performer. All in all, a terrific career and a terrific young man.

June 9, 2009
Sac State's Tim Wheeler picked in first round of MLB draft

Tim Wheeler wasn't drafted in high school and wasn't the least bit surprised.

He was a good prep player at El Camino, but not great, he's the first to admit. He was as talented with a glove as he was with a football, then ditched his quarterbacking duties to concentrate on playing centerfield at Sacramento State.

And not a bad career move, really.

Tonight, Wheeler made history.

With the Colorado Rockies picking him with the 32nd and final pick of the first round of the Major League Draft, the 6-foot-4 centerfielder became the highest drafted area product this season (highly touted prep prospects Max Stassi of Yuba City and Andrew Susac of Jesuit are expected to be picked any time now).

What's more, Wheeler became the highest picked Sac State player - none had ever gone higher than the fourth round - and the third El Camino product picked in the first round. Power pitcher Butch Edge went No. 6 to the Milwaukee Brewers in 1974 and slugger Derrek Lee went No. 14 to the San Diego Padres in 1993 and now plays for the Chicago Cubs.

Wheeler sweated out the late afternoon at his parents home, then stood behind them - Frank and Helen - as he took the call from the Rockies. Dream achieved.

"I gave them both hugs right away," Wheeler said, still half out of breath. "I'm really excited. It's been a cool experience and I'm glad to be going to Colorado."

Wheeler had a breakout junior season for Sac State after a strong showing last summer in the Cape Cod League. The left-handed hitter who throws right handed batted .384 with 18 home runs and 72 RBI. Sac State coach John Smith said this week that his two-time All-Western Athletic Conference pick, "In my 31 years (coaching Sac State), I've had some really good players and some really good kids. He's at the top of that list."

And now when to sign, and for how much. The average first-round bonus from the 2008 draft crop was $2.3 million, according to Baseball American. For the moment, Wheeler's head is spinning.

"I haven't even really thought about signing, but I am sure that will happen in the next few days," Wheeler said. "I'm just enjoying the moment."

June 9, 2009
A's take USC shortstop

The Oakland A's have chosen 6-foot-3 185 pounds Grant Green with the 13th pick in the draft.

A scouting report on Green at mlb.com says this about him:

Premier college shortstops don't come around all that often and when they do, they get drafted early. That should be the case for Green, who has the potential to shine on both sides of the ball with all five tools. He shook off some early struggles to perform up to expectations, though his lack of energy at times has bothered scouts. Even with that, he's a confident and accomplished college player who shouldn't wait long to hear his name called.

June 9, 2009
Giants take pitcher with No. 6 draft pick

The Giants have chosen Zack Wheeler, a high school starting pitcher fromEast Paulding, Ga. with their draft pick.

Here's is what the draft report on him at mlb.com says about Wheeler:

If you like projectable high school pitchers with a lot of arm strength - and a lot of teams do -- then Wheeler might be the guy for you. The Georgia prepster has plenty of fastball and does show a plus breaking ball at times. Because of some delivery issues, his command can be spotty, but he's an excellent athlete with terrific poise and makeup. He might be a little bit of a project, but the upside is considerable.

June 9, 2009
Nationals take San Diego St. pitcher as top pick

The Associated Press has reported: The Washington Nationals have selected
pitcher Stephen Strasburg with the first pick in baseball's
amateur draft.

Considered one of the most talented prospects in the event's
45-year history, Strasburg went 13-1 with a 1.32 ERA this season
for San Diego State, leading the Aztecs to their first postseason
berth since 1991.

Featuring a fastball that has been clocked at 102 mph,
Strasburg led Division I pitchers with 195 strikeouts in 109 innings.
He was the only amateur on the U.S. Olympic baseball team
that won a bronze medal last summer.

June 9, 2009
Red Sox need for catching could boost Stassi's draft prospects

Draft predictions are notoriously unpredictable but it wouldn't be a stretch if Yuba City's Max Stassi is taken in the first round tonight by the Boston Red Sox.
Baseball America's draft preview issue, which hit news stands June 1, has Stassi being taken by the Red Sox's with their first pick, No. 28 overall.
The Red Sox flew Stassi out to Boston over the weekend and he was scheduled to have a workout with the team on Monday.
Although Baseball America has Missouri high school pitcher Jacob Turner being selected in its latest mock draft, in short, Boston needs catching. Jason Varitek is 37 years old and in the middle of a partially guaranteed two-year contract, according to Boston Globe reporter Ben Collins.
Collins also notes that Boston has only one highly ranked catching prospect in Luis Exposito, who hasn't exactly impressed. He's in his fourth year of Single-A ball.
But according to Baseball America's Jim Callis the Red Sox are also interested in prep catchers Wil Myers, a standout at Wesleyan Christian Academy in North Carolina, and J.R. Murphy of Pendleton School in Bradenton, Fla., in addition to Stassi.
Then there's Boston College's Tony Sanchez.
Baseball America considers Sanchez one of the top catching prospects in the draft after a strong junior season in which he hit .355 with 14 home runs.
Collins is reporting today that 21-year-old Sanchez is likely to be selected as high as No. 4 by the Pirates. Callis has him going to the Mariners with the 27th pick.
As for Stassi, Baseball America lists him as the best high school pure hitter in the draft. He's also listed as the top high school player with the best strike-zone judgment.
One thing that could have an impact on where players are taken is the signability issue. Callis says that some of the top high school draft prospects are asking for the moon as far as signing bonuses, which might make some clubs high in the draft decide to pass on them.
For instance, Callis, after talking to multiple team sources, says left-handed pitcher Tyler Matzek from Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo, considered the top prep prospect in the draft, wants more than the record $7 million guarantee for a high schooler given to Josh Beckett and Rick Porcello.
There is a huge financial feeding frenzy with this year's draft because of reports that San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who some are calling the best player in the history of the draft, may ask for an unprecedented $50 million to sign with the Washington Nationals as their No. 1 pick.
Meanwhile, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig's has asked clubs to enforce a unilateral 10 percent reduction in the slot recommendations for draft picks.

June 8, 2009
Catlin's love of Pebble Beach could pay dividends for Jesuit golf

Jesuit High School senior golf standout John Catlin loves the Monterey Peninsula.

It's been like a second home in recent years for arguably the area's best high school player this season.

Last September, Catlin teamed with PGA tour pro Nick Price to finish second at the Walmart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach and earn an $8,000 scholarship.

On Wednesday at Poppy Hills in Pebble Beach, he will lead the Marauders into their first California Interscholastic Federation boys state golf championship appearance.

"If I had a dream house, I'd live on Pebble Beach," said Catlin, who graduated May 23 with a 3.95 grade-point average and has an 85 percent academic/golf scholarship to New Mexico.

"I always feel at home there. I'm always very relaxed and enjoy being down there even when I don't play well."

Catlin, a two-time Delta River League MVP, has played consistently well this spring as Jesuit's No. 1 player and the prime leader, along with senior Harrison Murk, of what is one of Jesuit's best golf teams in school history.

"They are both smart guys, they know how to win and when they talk, their teammates listen," Jesuit coach Kevin Fleming says.

Catlin has been hot of late.

He says he has shot under par in seven of his last eight rounds, including a 65 during a practice round with his father last week at Del Paso Country Club. So he's feeling good about the Marauders' chances on Wednesday, despite Southern California's traditional domination of the state golf finals.

"If we can stay confident, that will be a key," he said. "I hope all the experience we have gained this year will help us stay calm and play good golf."

The slightly built Catlin isn't a guy who will wow you with long drives.
"Golf is more about the size of your heart," he responds. "Are you out there working? Are you out there practicing? I see players who are more gifted, but they don't apply themselves.

"I'm a ball striker," he adds. "I'm a really good grinder. I'll make pars when other people are making bogeys. And I never give up."

Although he had a number of college offers, Catlin thinks New Mexico will be the school to best help him continue to improve his game.

"They have sent 18 people to the pros," Catlin said. "They have the best practice facilities I have ever seen. It's the right choice for me."

New Mexico coach Glen Millican says Catlin's dedication as a longtime junior player will be a huge asset to his program.

"John has had an excellent amateur career up to this point," Millican said in a release announcing Catlin's signing. "He has played in a lot of national tournaments and is one of the top players in his class in the state of California. The competition he has faced will certainly help him adjust to the college game."

And, hopefully, one day to the PGA.

If that works out, Catlin could wind up owning some prime Monterey Peninsula real estate.

June 6, 2009
Del Oro's Landry, Granite Bay's Sutter lead area athletes into today's state track finals

The Sacramento area will be well represented in today's California Interscholastic Federation state track and field championships in Clovis.
Among those to advance to the finals from Friday's trials at Buchanan High School include state girls pole vault co-leader MacKenzi Landry of Del Oro and three other area athletes. Landry finished the preliminaries in a four-way tie for first by vaulting 11 feet, 8 inches on her first attempt. Also qualifying at 11-8 were Granite Bay's Katie Zingheim (sixth), Woodcreek's Kayla Kamaka (ninth) and Bella Vista's Emily Bush (11th).
State leader Justin Sutter of Granite Bay had the second best qualifying mark in the boys long jump at 23-5, and Folsom's Mike Starr had the second best boys pole vault at 15-3. El Dorado's Lindsay Machado had the third top girls discus mark of 143-2.
In boys running events, Jesuit's R.J. Frasier had the third fastest 300-meter hurdles time of 38.05 seconds; Del Campo's Matt Case had the third fastest 800 in 1:52.20; and Jesuit's Tom Blocker had the eighth fastest 400 in 48.20.
In girls running events, Oakmont's Jazmin Harper had the sixth fastest mark in the 400 (55.47); St. Francis' Cekarri Nixon the eighth fastest in the 200 (24.50); and Ponderosa's Sam Diaz the ninth fastest in the 800 (2:12.71).
Three boys relays teams also reached the finals by finishing among the top nine at the trials. They are Jesuit and Laguna Creek in the boys 4x100 and Laguna Creek in the boys 4x400.
The Cardinals' 4x400 team of Marlon Roberson, Jerome Hunter, DionDre Batson and Jeff Adams had the fifth fastest qualifying time of 3:17.58.
The Jesuit 4x100 team of Dominic Ferri, Frasier, Blocker and Joseph Ruffaine had the eighth fastest qualifying time of 41.88. Laguna Creek's 4x100 team of Adams, Batson, Cameron Peterson and Keenen Williams had the ninth best time of 41.90.

June 5, 2009
Will Del Oro pitching star be selected in Tuesday's baseball draft?

One of the more intriguing names to watch for in Tuesday's Major League Baseball draft will be Del Oro's Mason Magleby.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound righthander really came on strong his senior season, including throwing a no-hitter against Oak Ridge in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs.
Magleby started the season throwing in the upper 80s to low 90s but was consistently at 92 and hitting the gun at 94 on occasion by the end of the season.
But will a team risk a draft pick on someone who already has a full-ride football scholarship to Nevada? Magleby's name doesn't pop up in Baseball America's draft preview issue.
One thing is for certain, if he winds up going to Nevada, Magleby won't try to play both sports.
"The baseball coaches don't want me getting hurt and the football coaches don't want me missing spring workouts," he said.
And since the football program is paying his entire college tab, they'll get his full attention.

June 4, 2009
Girls pole vault the likely event to produce top area medal winners

The girls pole vault rates as the best event to produce top marks and medals for area athletes at the California Interscholastic Federation track and field state championships Friday and Saturday in Clovis.
Most prognosticators are expecting another showdown between Huntington Beach senior Allison Koressel and Del Oro sophomore MacKenzi Landry. Both vaulted a state-leading 13 feet, 1 inch at the Arcadia Invitational April 11.
But that was before Granite Bay sophomore Katie Zingheim beat Landry, her training partner, at last Friday's Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet with a personal best 12-6, the sixth best vault in the state this season. Landry cleared 12-3.
Also in the mix will be Bella Vista's Emily Bush (12 feet) and Angie Charles (11-9) and Woodcreek's Kayla Kamaka (11-9), all of whom rank among the state's top vaulters.
Although they train together, Zingheim says she and Landry walk a fine line as friends and competitors, especially since they compete for intensely rival schools.
"We both get really competitive," Zingheim said. "MacKenzi comes from a gymnastics background, so she really gets competitive. We'll definitely be trying to beat each other at the state meet, but we definitely keep it friendly."

About the Prep blog

Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at jdavidson@sacbee.com or bpaterson@sacbee.com.

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