Every table in the back end of Giavanni’s Pizzeria in Orcutt was occupied – as all area schools were represented at Monday’s Northern Santa Barbara County Athletic Round Table.
In the end, there could only be two Athlete of the Week winners – and they were Megan Vise of Orcutt Academy girls tennis and Damien Robles of Righetti football.
For Vise, the nomination came as a shock.
“I was kind of surprised because this is only the second round table, so I wasn’t prepared and kind of shocked,” said Vise, who added that this is her second time winning the Female Athlete of the Week honor. “Last year, I kind of saw it coming because they gave me a heads up but with this one, I was way more shocked because I didn’t know about it until now.”
Vise swept all of her sets on the tennis court last week, upping her record to 9-0 overall for the season.
Robles rumbled his way to 144 yards in the 35-13 win at Santa Maria on Friday, improving Righetti’s record to 2-2 plus cementing his case as the Male Athlete of the Week recipient for this week’s round table.
“I’m just blessed,” Robles said with a smile after accepting his award. “I want to thank my teammates, my linemen, my fullbacks and the countless hours we put into the season.”
Valley Christian Academy
The Lions normally go last or next-to-last during the weekly ceremony. But this time, VCA went first as athletic director Pete Fortier took the stage.
He not only introduced girls volleyball players Malia Bullock and Mayley DeBernardi plus football players Ethan McCoy and Marcos Cardenas, but brought out his cousin Ron Swormstedt.
“He came to line up the field and mow the lawn, so I thought I could treat him to pizza for one day,” Fortier said.
The Knights boys water polo team went first for SJHS as head coach Bianca McNeil introduced her squad, plus stated how the interest for the sport has grown.
“We have doubled from last year – so numbers wise, alone, has helped,” said McNeil, who introduced a pair of her players, Jamison Stahl and Joseph Iliff.
Next up was girls volleyball, as head coach Jessie Borchin brought out Taylor Ma'a and Ally Dias.
Borchin said the two players were “our stat leaders for us at our tournament at Coast Union, where we came away with the championship. Taylor led the team in hitting efficiency and Ally led the team in digs.”
Last up for the Knights was football head coach Jim Chvala, who brought along Joe Doud and Jacob Hernandez – both of whom were key performers last Friday in a 24-23 loss to Bishop Diego. Athletic director Tom Mott was also in attendance.
Boys water polo players Ryan Lucas and Ryan Trenev spoke on behalf of the Warriors and shared with the round table their ultimate goals for the season.
“We’re coming off of a good season in a new division (last year), but we’re undefeated in league and we’re looking for that CIF Southern Section D3 championship this year,” Trenev said. “So we’re training hard and going all out every day.”
Head football coach Ed Herrmann was next, who beamed about his team’s victory over Santa Maria on Friday.
“Boy, real good football game versus a really good team,” Herrmann started out. “If you went to that football game, you got entertained quite a bit. Hats off to Santa Maria – that’s a real good football team right there.”
Herrmann had his quartet of Robles, Jalen Davis, Jacob Solano and Nathan Bakke in tow.
Dick Barrett gave Herrmann this friendly reminder before the Braves take on Righetti on the football field this Friday: He coached at Lompoc High before ultimately moving on to RHS.
“It is fun having him back at Huyck Stadium,” Barrett said.
Barrett then shared his enthusiasm for his four athletes on hand: Girls tennis players Cheri Battle and Anahi Reatiga and football players Ryan Morgan and Cullin Ranney – all of whom Barrett said have worked diligently on the court or field and the classroom.
Barrett, though, took on a more serious tone before he stepped off the stage – as he announced an update on former Lompoc High standout softball pitcher Lauren Wade, who has been battling Cavernous Hemangioma Malformations: She underwent her ninth brain surgery recently.
“She’s a real tough girl,” Barrett said. “I remember we were here last spring when we honored her and we gave her a standing ovation. She unfortunately had another setback and her dreams of playing at Hancock College have been put on hold. If you would keep her in your prayers, I would appreciate it.”
Girls volleyball head coach Rhiannon Turnquist made her first appearance at the round table as the leader of her program, bringing with her the trio of Alyssa Stewart, Tianna Wright and Jillien Smith – also her senior class.
“Alyssa is one of our strongest players and I feel confident with putting her anywhere on the court, knowing she’ll get the job done,” Turnquist said. “Tianna is in her first year of playing and has exceeded the expectations of a first-year player. She’s worked really hard. Jillien has been really dedicated over the summer and I’ve seen a lot of improvement.”
Next up was girls tennis head coach David Riley, who not only introduced his players Kamolwan Upachit, Katie Hunt and Madison Sikes, but also brought out football players Brenton Staunton, Cruz Smith and Ben Dixon. Riley currently has CHS girls tennis at 3-0 in the Los Padres League.
“On the tennis side, I’m blessed to take over a great program from a great coach in Mary Beth Stieber. The girls have fought for every single point they’ve earned,” Riley said, who added some kind praise for the football team.
“CHS football is taking it one day at a time and I’ve got to tell you, seeing what head coach A.J. Pateras is doing – I’m loving it. I know success will come,” Riley said.
Panthers athletic director Greg Lanthier usually has a deep lineup at the round table. But this time, only two athletes were represented: Erica Arredondo and Melanie Naravai.
The girls tennis team at PVHS has endured a rough start, especially in the PAC 8 League. But Lanthier offered some optimism for the future.
“We’re looking forward to realigning with the Ocean League next year, which will be good for our program,” Lanthier said. “And these two here are exceptionally athletes.”
Head football coach Josh McClurg had eight Pirate athletes with him from girls volleyball, girls tennis and his team.
He got the crowd to recognize Aile Uribe and Sam Graciano from the volleyball team and then introduced three of the Pirate girls tennis players who have been responsible for Santa Ynez’s 3-0 start in the LPL: No. 1 singles player Nicole Bastanchury and the No. 1 doubles team of Vanessa Sparkes and Ella Quinney.
Once McClurg got to the topic of football, he described last Friday’s 35-3 win over a Nipomo as a tough game.
“It was a defensive battle in the first half,” McClurg said. “Nipomo is always well-coached and their defense flies around. But our defense did a phenomenal job and part of that was because of the defensive line.”
He introduced two of the anchors of that front line Gabe Palato and Nick Tipolt, plus got big-play cornerback Marcus Ray to stand – as McClurg said “sparked us to score our first touchdown with a 90-yard scoop and score for the touchdown.”
Head football coach Dan Ellington began by acknowledging rival Righetti, saying, “I want to congratulate RHS and coach Herrmann for the great job in preparing his football team. I must say, they were better than what I thought they were going to be. I don’t think they’ve been given the credit for the football team they have and they have a good football team. I think they’ll surprise people in league.”
Ellington brought Jonathan Garcia, Gerardo Zul and Frank Lopez from Saints football, calling the guys “great to coach and are hard workers.”
Athletic director Brian Wallace also attended the luncheon.
Athletic director Chad McKenzie took the microphone next and praised the Spartans football team.
“It’s probably the best team we’ve ever had at our school,” said McKenzie, who then spoke about the Spartans' 52-14 rout of Riverside County Education Academy, elevating the Spartans to 4-0 overall.
Marc Valdez was the lone representative from Spartans football. Other athletes from the Spartans at the round table were Vise, Kayla Pablo (girls tennis), Zaley Bennett (girls volleyball), Yesenia Zacarias (girls volleyball) and Jakelyn Shippy (girls volleyball).
Girls tennis head coach Art Lopez spoke on behalf for girls tennis, saying, “it’s been a great season so far. We’re 3-0 in league and one of the main reasons why we’re that way? These two young ladies right here. They have been on a roll.”
Girls volleyball head coach Art Teller was next to speak on behalf of his team, calling his unit “a really, really smart group of kids.”
Bulldog assistant coaches spoke on behalf of their teams.
Lukas Sheckherd took the stage representing women’s water polo. The assistant raved about the endurance of goalie Shay McMann.
“She leads our goalies with 61 saves and she’s been playing phenomenal through an injury this season,” Sheckherd said.
Next to be introduced was Shannon Copeland, who Sheckherd said played really well against highly-ranked competition at the Riverside College Tournament.
Bulldog football offensive coordinator Seth Damron introduced two local stars who have been lauded as impact players for Hancock: Nick Kimball (Nipomo) and Ben Wilkomm (Arroyo Grande).
“If you’ve been following us, our defense has been playing really well,” Damron said. “One of our guys is Wilkomm – who is one of the leaders of our secondary. The kid told me that he believes we’re second in the state with nine picks on the year in three games. They’re ball-hawking right now.”
On Kimball, Damron said, “He played a lot for us last year and, as you guys know, we try to establish the run game at all cost and we’ve been struggling running the football. But Nick and the receiving corps have been doing a real good job of catching the football.”
Hancock associate dean and athletic director Kim Ensing was the seventh member of the Bulldogs in attendance at the luncheon.