Bruins enjoy multiple league titles, emergence of new contenders |

Bruins enjoy multiple league titles, emergence of new contenders

The 2013-14 prep athletic year brought the success that a quality program like Bear River usually enjoys but in addition to the league championships in girls basketball and softball it also saw the rise of their girls soccer program and a pair of track and field athletes reach incredible heights.

As the school year comes to a close we look back at the five reasons to remember the Bear River 2013-14 athletic campaign.

Hot, then not

The Bruins started the 2013 season on a tear, going 5-0 through the first five weeks of the season only to stumble in league play and finish the season 6-4, missing the playoffs.

The lesson to be taken from this is that a team does themselves no favors in league play by scheduling a cupcake preseason.

The Bruins beat their non-league opponents by a combined score of 175-63, but the tables were turned in league play, when Bear River allowed 172 points and scored just 87. The Bruins' non-league schedule had a combined record of 21-32.

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Still the Bruins were exciting at times with Brian Botsford (743 rushing yards, 17 touchdowns) running the ball and Kris Edie (42 catches, 597 yards, five touchdowns) making circus catches on a regular basis.

Defensive mindset

Led by PVL MVP Kaitlyn Reina, the Lady Bruins won their league and made it to the Sac-Joaquin Section D-IV semifinals before being bounced by Bradshaw Christian.

Reina was a force all season (14.9 points per game, 9.5 rebounds, 3.3 steals) and with Teryn Rath (8.5 points per game, 9.1 rebounds) on the other block, Maddi Dunn (6.8 points per game, 2.6 steals) on the edge and Lauren Runte (6.3 points per game, 4.5 assists, 1.6 steals) pressing the other teams point guard, the Lady Bruins were the best defensive team in the PVL. In league play, the Lady Bruins allowed just 34.7 points per game.

Changing the culture

The Bear River girls soccer team hasn't had much success in its history, but 2014 marked the second time ever the Lady Bruins made it to the playoffs. Spearheaded by a new coach in Joe Giovacchini and the PVL Offensive Player of the Year Maddi Dunn, the Lady Bruins finished the season 9-6-3 overall and 4-3-3 in the PVL, good enough for third place and the final playoff spot. The Lady Bruins would lose in the first round to East Union.

Reaching new heights

Both Jason McShane and Erica Higley set high standards for future Bear River Bruins as McShane set the school record in pole vault and Higley won the girls high jump at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet, sending her on to the state meet in Clovis Friday. Higley, a junior, won the Masters meet in a jump off, finishing with a leap of 5 feet, 6 inches, to beat out Anthina McCaskel of Inderkum.

McShane, along with Bear River pole vaulting coach and former Olympic hopeful Paul Litchfield, have been raising the bar all season. In April, McShane broke the school record with a vault of 14 feet, 4 inches. McShane then won the Sac-Joaquin Section D-III title with a vault of 14-02, and finished ninth at the Masters meet with a vault of 13-08.

Softball success

With the return of five-time Sac-Joaquin Section champion Duane Zuaner to the helm of the Lady Bruins softball team, they went 20-8-1, won a share of the PVL title and were one win away from playing for the section championship.

The Lady Bruins were led by their sensational sophomore pitcher Nerissa Long, who went 18-6 with a .805 ERA, 277 strikeouts, 37 walks and a no-hitter.

Long, along with senior Rachel Last and junior Mikayla Laymance, led Bear River from the plate. Long led the team in RBIs with 22 and had four home runs to go with a .395 batting average on the season. Last, one of two seniors on the team, led Bear River in batting average at .398, had three home runs, and scored a team-high 29 runs. Laymance, a junior catcher, batted .395 with a team-high 10 doubles.

One of the season's many highlights came in an elimination game in the playoffs when senior first basemen Dayna Wicks, a .195 hitter on the season, connected for a game-winning home run in the top of the seventh inning to help Bear River past Antelope.

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