PREP SPORTS: A look at the best moments from the spring season
League titles, state championship bids, touching tributes and impressive individual efforts highlighted the 2017 spring prep sports season.
With the spring season now closed, we look back at the moments that highlighted the prep sports scene in Nevada County for past handful of months.
MINERS STRIKE SFL GOLD
Winning a Sierra Foothill League championship is no easy task and one that very few Nevada Union teams have accomplished since re-joining the league in 2010. But that’s just what the Miners boys volleyball team did, going 11-1 in league play and earning a share of the SFL championship along with Del Oro. The Miners and Golden Eagles both went 11-1 with the only loss on their respective league records coming against each other.
The Miners, who went 30-13 overall, boasted a talented group of seniors along with a handful of impact juniors as they earned their first league title since 2013. Nevada Union would go on to win a pair of playoff games before falling in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinals to eventual section and NorCal champ Roseville.
“The one thing about (the Miners) is they are fun to watch,” NU head coach Lance Mansuetti said of his team. “They play their hearts out, and it’s entertaining.”
LADY BRUINS AT THE BAT
With their postseason hopes on the line, the Bear River Lady Bruins softball team stood tall. Needing to win back-to-back Pioneer Valley League games on the final day of play, the Lady Bruins did just that and in dominating fashion.
Coming into the final day of league play Bear River had a 4-5 league record and needed to beat Foothill to create a tie with Center for third place in the PVL standings. The Lady Bruins crushed Foothill, 13-1, to set up a win-and-in playoff with Center to determine who would get the third and final playoff spot allotted to the PVL. With a stellar effort from pitcher Arielle Koerber, who had recently returned from injury, the Lady Bruins topped Center 12-0 to advance to the playoffs. Koerber threw a complete game shutout with seven strikeouts, and the Lady Bruins tallied 13 hits on their way to the win and the playoffs.
The Lady Bruins would win their opening round matchup over Amador but were ousted soon after.
RUNNING TO STATE
Forest Lake Christian freshmen Amber Jackson did something no other Falcon track and field athlete had ever done — place at the Section Championships and earn a bid to compete at the State Championship Meet in Clovis. After placing second in the 400-meters, 800, and 1.600 at the Sac-Joaquin Section D-V Championships, Jackson went on to finish third in the 1,600 at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet to earn a spot at the State Championships.
Jackson qualified for the 1,600 finals at the state meet after placing eighth in Friday’s prelims with a time of 4 minutes, 52.94 seconds. She will race in the state 1,600 finals today.
IN HONOR OF JOE
The Bear River baseball team held a touching tribute to Joe Rantz before their home opener this season.
Rantz, a pitcher on the Bruins baseball team, was killed in a car crash on Dec. 15.
A sign with Rantz’s No. 25 jersey on it was hung in the outfield, and his father, Devon Rantz, threw out the first pitch wearing Joe’s jersey.
“It was quite an honor,” Devon Rantz said after throwing the pitch in front of a large crowd at Bear River’s baseball field. “It was a chance for the team to show how much they love Joe, that they miss him and that he will not be forgotten. I hope they play with him on their heart.”
The Bruins also held a moment of silence for Joe and unveiled a sign near the dugout commemorating his pitching style that read “Southpaw Junk-Baller.”
“We carry his home jersey that he wore with us last year, and we take it with us everywhere,” said Bear River head coach Eric Van Patten. “We hang it up in the dugout and we have a little ritual around it, and every time his dad is at a game we make sure he gets to don that jersey as a remembrance of his son’s contribution to not only our club, but to this school and this community. He is sorely missed.”
WILTING WITH THE RACKET
Bear River’s Josephine Wilting concluded a dominant season by accomplishing something no other Lady Bruin tennis player has ever done before — win a Sac-Joaquin Section Championship.
After going undefeated on her way to the Section’s coed individual championship match, Wilting topped Natomas High School’s Savannah Hammick in three sets, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, to claim the first ever section championship in Bear River girls tennis history.
“Josephine is certainly one of the best tennis players we’ve ever had at Bear River,” said head coach Jeff Carrow. “Here primary strength is her wide variety of shots that she has mastered. She can hit it hard, she can slice it, she can hit every shot known in tennis.”
Wilting went into the Section tourney after a stellar Pioneer Valley League season in which she went 10-0 and was named the league’s MVP. She was 20-0 overall this season.
LEAPING TO A LEAGUE TITLE
Nevada Union’s Jai Williams topped the competition by leaps and bounds at the Sierra Foothill League championships. The sophomore won the SFL high jump championship by clearing a height of 6-feet, 6-inches, which was 7 inches higher than the second place finisher. Williams would go on to place second at the section’s D-I meet and take fifth at the section’s Masters Meet.
A POWER IN THE POOL
Facing a favored Placer team, which went undefeated during the duel portion of the season, the Lady Bruins swim team was not intimidated. The six-time defending PVL champion Lady Bruins won two of the three relay events and despite being the smaller team pulled off the upset outscoring Placer 505 to 488.5 at the league championships to force a shared league title for Bear River and Placer.
Over at the SFL championships, Nevada Union got a stellar effort from Emma Lawless who placed second in the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle, and earned All-SFL honors. She would go on to finish second in both those events at the Section Championship and earn a bids to the State Championship Meet for both events.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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With a balanced offensive attack and a strong defensive effort, the Nevada Union football team went on the road Friday night and knocked off Napa, 33-14.