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St. Joseph senior cross country runner Joseph Domingues Jr. medaled at the CIF State meet with a sixth-place finish in Division 4 last year.

The rest of his teammates will seek to join him at the state meet this year.

"We have a big core back for the varsity boys," second-year St. Joseph coach Matt Wuchner, the second-year girls coach as well, said recently.

"Our girls team is not as experienced, but we do have some runners coming back."

Like most area athletic programs, St. Joseph moved from the CIF's Southern Section to the Central Section earlier this year. The road to the state meet will likely be less arduous for area cross country teams, since there are far less squads in the Central Section than there are in the Southern Section.

St. Joseph's cross country teams are in Division 3.

Besides Domingues, team capatin Jacob Gomez returns. Wuchner said those two, plus senior Jacob Ward, sophomore Grant Cena, junior Chance Roach, junior Henry Adam and freshman Jacob Otremba will likely fill out his boys varsity.

Gomez was the Knights; No. 2 runner behind Domingues last year. Roach and Cena are also returning varsity runners.

Katie Magni was the St. Joseph top varsity girls runner last year, and Alexis Medina was No. 2. Both of them are sophomores, and they both return.

Senior team captain Jenna Wellenkamp and another senior, Kaylee Dillard, also return.

"The rest of the runners are freshmen, and the other spots on the girls varsity are open," said Wuchner. "Avery Nelson, Kaina Lopez  and Anissa Ordonez will probably be on the varsity.

Joseph Domingues said his training has been, "A little more intense, a little faster miles," this summer than it was last.

"We've been putting in more miles than we did last summer," said Jacob Gomez.

Though he's new to running at the varsity level, "I think I can adjust to it," said Otremba. 

Their teammates said they are confident the Knights have what it takes to get to the "state meet.

Besides, said Adam, "The course (at the Central Section divisional competition) is a lot better for us than the one (at the Southern Section divisionals was)."

The Central Section uses the Woodward Park course in Fresno, the same one that is used for the state meet.

"The Southern Section course in Riverside is an abandoned golf course," said Domingues. "Lots of dirt, lots of dust."

Wellenkamp and Magni both sounded optimistic about the upcoming season.

"I really do," think the Knights have a chance to make it to the girls state meet, said Wellenkamp.

"We have good runners coming back, and we have some really good freshmen."

As for Magni, "I'm definitely in much better shape than I was at this time last year," she said.

"I'm very confident that we can get to the state meet."

St. Joseph's teams will open at the Greg DeNike Invitational in Arroyo Grande Sept. 1.

Girls tennis

First-year coach Trish Gooley has a lot of experience coming back as the Knights try to return to the playoffs after missing the post-season in 2017.

Junior Katelynn Haskell is St. Joseph's top singles player. Sophomore Shianne Gooley (the coach's daughter) is at No. 2,  junior Julia Galloway is at No. 3, and two more juniors, Janelle Brickey and Gina Rigali, and sophomore Marlee Hernandez have filled out St. Joseph's singles lineup.

The Knights' singles production has been good in the early season.

Gowri Sunitha, a returner from last year, has teamed with Leah Murphy in doubles. Haskell and Brickey have regularly teamed up in doubles, and Shianne Gooley plays doubles with Eva Datuin..

St. Joseph is in Division 1.

Girls volleyball

New coach Kelsey Elston has several regulars back from last year, including juniors Zayda Altheide and Skylar Johnson. Those two figure to be the team's biggest hitter.

Johnson, a pitcher in softball, was the Lee Central Coast Newspapers MVP in that sport after she pitched the Knights into the divisional quarterfinals in St. Joseph's farewell (for now at least) season in the CIF Southern Section.

Other prominent returning regulars for the Knights are Katie Alder, Faith Cervantes, Alexandra Domingues and Theresa Souza.

The Knights are in Division 3. With Elston on the job only a week, the Knights lost in four competitive sets to Santa Ynez, a traditionally strong program, in their season opener.

Boys water polo

Senior Ryan Galanski is among the many returnees second-year coach Bianca McNeil welcomed back for the 2018 season.

"Ryan was our top scorer last year, and he's our best player," said McNeil. "He can play any (field position) in the pool."

Utility players-defenders Aden Anderson and David Arechiga are two more regulars who return for the Knights.

"Our number one goalie for the last few years, Joseph Iliff, is back," said McNeil. Iliff is a senior.

McNeil said junior driver Justin Jones, another returning regular also figures to be in the starting lineup.

She said sophomore twins Luke and Ryan Zimmerman will also see plenty of playing time, with Ryan Zimmerman, as a driver, being in the starting lineup.

"Luke will play on the wings," said McNeil.

McNeil said returners Luc Licoscus (sophomore) and John Tonascia (senior) should have prominent roles.

The Knights' second-year coach said key first-year players include freshman Ezekial Datuin, sophomore Luke Reyes, junior Tobias Robley, sophomore Joshua Stout, and seniors Edgar Vasquez and Obadiah Wheeler.

The Knights opened at home against Cabrillo on Tuesday before playing Santa Maria Wednesday. All of St. Joseph's home games will be at Paul Nelson Pool.

St. Joseph is in Division 2.

Girls golf

The Knights' top golfer last year, Sara Cossa, graduated, but veteran St. Joseph coach Jim Fosdick has some experienced golfers returning.

"Karina Plata, Jacquelyn Mengel and Courtney Cowger were all in the middle of our lineup last year, and they're all back," said Fosdick.

Plata and Cowger are seniors. Mengel is a junior. Cowger was the Knights' top golfer in a season-opening loss to Cabrillo.' 

Fosdick said sophhmore Sophia Cordova and senior Samantha Plemmons should be varsity regulars.

That invitational has a twosome format and, "We might have two foursomes there," Fosdick said at press time.

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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.