ALUMNI NOTEBOOK: Pizzella leads Chico at National Championships; Baze helps Sierra win Grizzly Bowl |

ALUMNI NOTEBOOK: Pizzella leads Chico at National Championships; Baze helps Sierra win Grizzly Bowl

Nora Pizzella put forth one more impressive performance before wrapping up a stellar 4-year run with the Chico State Women’s Cross Country team.

The 2016 Nevada Union grad led all Wildcats at the 2019 NCAA Division II Women’s Cross Country Championships, placing 60th individually with a time of 21 minutes, 16.6 seconds on the 6K Arcade Creek Cross Country Course at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex in Sacramento, Saturday.

Chico State finished in seventh place as a team.

“We came into this race with big goals and I’m really excited to say that everyone on our team put in everything they had today,” Pizzella said to “The competition’s tough and we knew that. I was just really proud of them. We have a really young team and some of them have never been to a national meet before. And this is different than anything else. Especially for your first nationals meet, to have this much hype, they handled it so well and stayed composed and took care of business and did what they could out there.”

For Pizzella it was her fourth time at the National Championships and the fourth time her team has earned a top-eight finish.

“She’s been a rock for us. Nobody works harder both out here, and in the classroom,” Chico State Head coach Gary Towne told “The thing that you worry about on this stage is people beating themselves sometimes. But not Nora. I knew she would go out and do everything that she could. And she did. That was a big part of our seventh-place finish.”

At one point early in the race Pizzella fell back into 113th place, but weaved her way through the competition in her final race for the Chico State Cross Country team.

Pizzella was named the California Collegiate Athletic Association’s Freshman of the Year in 2016 and has garnered All-CCAA cross country honors as a sophomore, junior and senior. She has also earned multiple CCAA All-Academic awards during her time at Chico State.

While at Nevada Union, Pizzella was a star on the cross country team, placing sixth at the Sac-Joaquin Section finals, and taking 25th at the state championships with a time of 18:20, which set a school record.


Austin Baze, a 2018 Bear River grad, shined for the Sierra College football team on Saturday, helping the Wolverines knock off Laney College, 21-14, in the 2019 Grizzly Bowl.

Baze, a sophomore linebacker, wrapped up a team-high nine tackles, including one for a loss in the victory. For the season, Baze is second on the team in tackles with 65. He also tallied 6.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks, two fumble recoveries, an interception and scored two defensive touchdowns for the Wolverines.

The standout linebacker was also named to the All-NorCal Conference First Team.

During Baze’s time with the Bear River Bruins, he played at the varsity level all four seasons, notching 183 tackles and 11 sacks along the way. He helped the Bruins win two Section titles (2014, 2017) and was a force on both sides of the ball. As a fullback with the Bruins, Baze ran for 1,544 yards and 30 touchdowns on 251 carries.

Sierra finishes the season with a 7-4 record overall and their second straight Grizzly Bowl victory.

Justin Houlihan, a 2018 Nevada Union graduate, and the American River College Beavers had their season come to a close with a, 35-28, playoff loss to Modesto Junior College on Saturday.

Houlihan, a sophomore linebacker, took down seven ball carriers in the contest. For the year, Houlihan finished with 72 tackles in nine games. He also had 5.5 tackles for a loss and a sack along the way. He was named to the All-NorCal Conference First Team.

While at Nevada Union, Houlihan was a three-year varsity starter at middle linebacker, racking up 340 tackles across 33 games. He was an All-SFL selection three times.

American River went 8-3 on the season and won the NorCal Conference title.


David O’Looney, a 2019 Nevada Union graduate, and the American River College basketball team went 1-2 at the Shasta Invitational last week.

O’Looney, a freshman forward, started two of the three games and averaged 8.6 points and 8.6 rebounds across the three games. O’Looney’s best game came against Foothill College, when he scored 13 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.

American River (3-3) competes in the California Community College Athletic Association’s Big 8 Conference.

David Menary, a 2016 Nevada Union graduate, was named the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week for his performance at the Lee Fulmer Memorial Classic. Menary notched 44 points, 20 rebounds and eight assists across two wins at the tourney. His biggest game came against Southwestern University (Texas), when he scored 29 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.

Redlands (3-1) is NCAA Division III school which plays in the SCIAC.


Aycee Willis, a 2017 Nevada Union graduate, and the William Jessup Warriors dropped both their contests at the College of Idaho Shoot-out, falling to Montana Tech and University of Montana Western.

Willis, a junior guard, scored 22 points in the game with Montana Western, and tallied 10 points in the bout with Montana Tech.

William Jessup (5-3) is a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school which competes in the Golden State Athletic Conference.

Have we missed anyone? If you know of a college or professional athlete with local ties, email or call 530-477-4232.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User