Athletes of the 2010’s

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PLAYERS OF THE 2010’s
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2010.

Taylor Kientzel qualified for the State meet in both the triple jump and the long jump.

An athlete can reach the CIF State Track and Field Championships on talent alone. To win, it takes desire. This meet is probably the top high school track meet in the country. It tests an athletes ability to stay focused on the proverbial finish line. “The most important thing now is to stay focused,” said SC’s jump coach Marcus Bryant. “When you get to state, it’s entirely different. You’d be surprised at how many people can’t even get on the board. You’ve got injured athletes, the walking dead and everything’s on the line. Focus has never been a problem for Bryant’s star jumper, Taylor Kientzel. “I’m still kind of excited about the sport.” said Kientzel, who committed to jump for Cal next season. “I’m not tired of it.”

Kientzel will join four more county athletes, all girls to the state meet. Kientzel has dug motivation out of his goal of topping Bryant’s personal best of 49-11.5 triple jump. Kientzels best jump this year is for 48-2 for the twelve farthest in the state this year.

Until his sophomore year he was fixated on playing basketball. But that spring, Gianna Tinetti another basketball player and track athlete cajoled him to try track. I thought it would help me vertical jump wise and with my speed for basketball and I wanted to jump higher so I could dunk. As a pre-teen, he even played on five teams at one time. His mother would have to stop him shoot in the drive way, for the neighbors sake.

Bryant nabbed the young talent and began teaching him the inner workings of the triple jump, which he calls, “the hardest event in track and field.” “At first I was kind of like, Why am I doing this? Why can’t I just do long jump? It’s a lot simpler and this hurts,” Kientzel said. “It’s just an awkward movement, jumping off one foot and landing on the same foot again.. It’s an awkward thing to do, but if you can do it the right way, you can make it look graceful. I guess.”

His sophomore season he improved by leaps and bounds, thanks to his raw talent. That year he finished fourth in the CCS finals, just one place from the state meet. He suffered the same fate his junior year. Between that year and this one, something changed inside Kientzel. He said it began when he first triple jumped 48 feet at an early season meet at Gilroy.

Afterward, some track web sites deemed the leap the farthest in the state and at least one proclaimed it the fourteenth longest in the nation. A competitive guy, he couldn’t help but enjoy being on top. Plus after researching the sport a little more, he began to realize he might have a longer career hopping down the runway than pounding the hardwood. “It made me feel like this is what I want to do in college. As I started getting into track and field, I started getting more competitive, like I want to beat this guy. Before I was just jumping against myself to get higher for basketball. Now I’m into the competition of track and field, I’ve gotten into the culture of the sport.”

Kientzel spends much of his free time online, watching YouTube videos of triple jumpers, studying their techniques. While looking for tips on triple jumping, Kientzel stumbled across a basketball player trying track his senior year and ended up winning the Florida state track triple jump and eventually becoming one of the worlds top triple jumpers with a professional career and a bevy of sponsors.
“At first, if Marcus said you could make the Olympics, I’d laugh at him. But this kind of stuff shows me it’s possible, as long as I keep working hard, maybe I’ll have a story like that too,” Kientzel said. Kientzel could make that leap today and he couldn’t be more ready.

June 6. CIF STATE TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS

SENIORS MAKE FINAL MARKS. Kientzel seventh and girls: Rivers of Harbor eighth and Ferrante of Aptos seventeenth at Last Meet.

After one jump, Taylor Kientzel landed right where he wanted to be.

The Santa Cruz High triple jumper was holding down third place just where he aimed to be after the first flight at the California Interscholastic Federations State Track and Field Championships at Buchanan High on Saturday. Just five more flights to go.

Kientzel held on for four of them, but a torrent of last-ditch efforts left him in seventh place, one spot from a medal.

“I thought I just got lucky and caught these guys on a bad day,” Kientzel said. “They ended up stretching out a 48-1 or better, all on the last round.”

Kientzel soared 47 feet, 11 ½ inches on his first attempt in front of the announced crowd of 9.572–just three inches from his personal best. He got bumped down to fourth in the third flight by 2008 state champion Johnny Carter of Ridgeview High in Bakersfield, who entered the meet with the best mark in the state.

Kientzel said he also tried to make his last jumps his best.

“On my last two I tried to push it. I tried to go all out even if I hurt myself,” said Kientzel, who already was competing with a sore right calf. “I wanted to set a PR, go 49-0. After that, it wouldn’t be up to me where I would place.”

When Kientzel’s coach at Santa Cruz, Marcus Bryant, told him he did a good job after the event, the senior just shook his head. Still, he said he took some comfort in knowing he can still improve his marks when he competes for Cal next season.

“I placed seventh, but I don’t think I was the seventh best,” he said. “I think I was one of the better jumpers. Hopefully it’s something small. Hopefully this won’t be the biggest event I ever go to.”

2010 Rising Back To The Top. Calhoun Looks To Return Cardinals To Championship. Though it’s only the beginning of the high school water polo season, SC senior Sophie Calhoun has set her sights on the end. “I really want to win league,” Calhoun said, “I think we’re better than last season and we’re prepared.”

Calhoun who is the tallest player on her team at 5 feet 11 inches and the only player to compete all four years on varsity, knows what it takes to get to the top.

She began her high school athletic career helping the Cardinals win the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League title as a starting center defender. Her sophomore year, the varsity team tied with Soquel for the league title. And, after finishing behind Aptos and Soquel last season, Calhoun is more than determined to help Santa Cruz reclaim the title.

“She’s worked very hard for her team and has sacrificed a lot,” Cardinals coach Mark Townsend said. “She fools around a lot but works very hard.”

Calhoun is in the water year-round and has played all four prep seasons as a utility player, what Townsend calls the most dangerous position.

“I’ve seen her cover three girls in the front court at one time,” Townsend said. “She’s the best defensive player in the league.”

Indeed, Calhoun was a first-team all-SCCAL selection last year, and has been named all-Central Coach Section second-team and honorable mention. Aside from being a key player for the Cardinals, she plays for Soquel’s Waxem club in the winter and the Santa Cruz water polo club in the summer. This summer, Calhoun made the Pacific Zone Water Polo Olympic Development travel team.

Calhoun’s speed in the water has contributed to her fast maneuvers and shots.

Calhoun swam three years on varsity for Santa Cruz and helped win league last year by placing first in the 100-yard freestyle, second in the 200 free and swimming a leg of the 200

free relay to qualify for CCS in the event.

Along with her many accomplishments in the pool, she also excels in the classroom. She has held about a 3.5 grade point average throughout high school. Math, she says, is her favorite subject.

She certainly knows this equation fun + hard work = success.

Calhoun is known by her team for being silly and wearing a smile on the pool deck, but once in the pool she plays a fierce game.

“She is really energetic,” teammate Kristen Kelly, 17, said. “In the water she is all about helping her teammates out and doing her best.”

Dec. 31. SANTA CRUZ’S WHIZ KID. A Year After His Freshman Debut, John Chronopoulos And the Cardinals Are Aiming For League, CCS Titles.

When SC freshman John Chronopoulos got the rare nod to join the varsity boys soccer team last year, his goal was just to hang with the older players. Fast forward a year , and it’s the rest of the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League that’s trying to keep up with him.

Chronopoulos, now a sophomore, made his varsity debut for the Cardinals in a Homestead Christmas Cup game in early December 2008. One of four freshmen called up to play in the game, the tremendous and rare opportunity wasn’t wasted by the gifted player. “I’m one of those coaches that never lets freshmen play varsity,” Santa Cruz head coach Semih Sbaankaya said. “I always worry about the size. I want to make sure the player can hold up against an 18-year old.

Chronopoulos held up just fine. He started off in the midfield, but quickly found himself up on the front line playing his natural position. At forward, Chronopoulos quickly showed he wasn’t going to be playing at the junior varsity level anymore.

By the time his season was complete, the scintillating freshman had scored 17 goals and handed out 17 assists, helping the Cardinals win the SCCAL title and march on to the Central Coast Section playoffs.

“At first I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was for me to be playing varsity,” Chronopoulos said. “When I got called up, I just dug in and just wanted to hang with the older players.”

Every attribute a coach could want in a soccer player, the Cardinals’ sophomore possesses. Not only the fastest player on the field, Chronopoulos can also hold his own inside and play the physical game. His balanced score sheet, with an equal number of goals and assists, also speaks to his talents and unselfish play.

“No one wants to see a guy with his head down just kicking the ball around out there,” Chronopoulous said. “I try to be as fast as I can be out there, but a team player first. I like passing the ball off and getting my teammates involved.”

Santa Cruz ripped off a spotless 12-0 run through the SCCAL to win the league crown, but the Cardinals season ended in heartbreak at the hands of the eventual CCS champs Prospect High.

The Cardinals gave up a late goal in the final minute, then eventually fell in penalty kicks after two overtimes periods.

“The way last year ended was so disappointing,” Chronopoyulos said. “That was the worst feeling ever. I expect this team to get back to the playoffs again this year. We want that CCS ring.”

Also a member of the Santa Cruz County Breakers club soccer team, Chronpoulos may soon tack a couple new honors onto his growing resume. According to coach Sabankaya, the 16-and-under United States soccer national team is looking at Chronopoulos.

“He’s got a very bright future,” Sabankaya said. “He’ll definitely play at the Division I level in college.”

Santa Cruz opens league play on January 8th at home against Harbor.

Sentinel winter sports rap up on March 21. FIVE OF A KIND. Youth-Driven Cardinals Produce Fifth Section Title. SC 14-7-2 overall, finished runner up to Soquel in SCCAL play, advanced to the CCS playoffs for the tenth straight season under coach Semith Sabankaya’s fourth CCS title. The youthful Cards, who will lose three seniors to graduation, John Ryan, Diego Pio and Filimon Richardson, scraped past their first two postseason opponents. They beat both Live Oak in the quarterfinals and Carmel in the semifinals in a shootout by a 4-3 margin after finishing regulation tied 1-1. In the final, the Cards beat Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco 1-0 on John Chronopoulos’ rebound goal in the sixth minute. It was the seventeenth goal of the season for Chronopoulos. He also had nine assists on the season. Yosef Richardson was the teams second leading scorer with 10 goals.

Dauod Anthony didn’t take it well when he placed third in the boys long jump early Saturday afternoon at the SCCAL championships at SLV. Just 3 ½ inches separated the senior from the top two and an automatic berth in the CCS trials. I was disappointed I didn’t make the cut and it fueled me in my other events,” Anthony said. “I took it out on my legs and the track.” And his competition. Anthony flew to victory in the ensuing 100 and 200 meter meters, adding those titles to the one he helped earn in the 4×100 relay in the first event of the day. By the end of his spree, he’d scored 28.5 points for his team, claiming the Bob Enzweiler award for the most outstanding male athlete of the league finals.

If that wasn’t enough to satiate him, Anthony also helped boost SC to its first SCCAL boys team championship in almost 20 years. Not bad for a team that has spent the season practicing on the streets, beaches and other school’s tracks while it waits for construction of its new all weather track to be completed.

Wide receiver on the football team and center on the basketball team.

THE NEED FOR SPEED. Sprinters Venable, Roberts Are Leading Santa Cruz’s Pursuit of a League Title. ‘Elena and I push each other. We all want to win and to be the best’ Carmela Roberts, SC sophomore sprinter. Junior Elaena Venable and sophomore Carmela Roberts already won the CCS title in girls soccer in March.

Next up for the girls. Run down a CCS banner on the track. With its two standout sprinters, the SC girls track team has a one-two punch that could propel it to the SCCAL title and its relay teams to CCS or even state berths. Last year, the girls finished third in league. “We use our friendship to get better,“ Roberts said. “Elena and I push each other. We all want to win and to be the best.”

Venable is the veteran. She has anchored the two relay teams the past two seasons. Last year, she helped SC win both girls and boys SCCAL championships. She also reached CCS in the individual 200 and 400, but didn’t make it out of the trials in any of her events.

Senior Gianna Tinetti has one of the most intense game faces of any girls basketball players in the SCCAL. She rarely smiled during games last season, even as the Cards were building a 26-4 overall record and SCCAL and CCS championships. However, Tinetti couldn’t help but grin as the Cards were putting the finishing touches on their victory of Mercy High in the CCS finals.

It was the Cards third straight trip to the Championship, but until that point, the team had managed only second place. Tinetti said she knew early on last year that the Cards were ready to be section champions. “It was really special. Everything came together, starting with our perfect pre-season,” said Tinetti. “We had a win over Fortuna, who was highly ranked and we shot really well in that game. That’s when we thought, “Wow, they’re a really legit team and we can beat them.’” SC is a contender again this year, even after graduating six seniors. They returned their most consistent scorer in Tinetti.

Catherine Sordo, a star soccer player, with a soccer scholarship to Fresno State next year, decided to play basketball this year. Sordo said, “Gianna and I played together in the seventh and eighth grades. She can basically do everything. That makes her a great player to play with. That’s part of the reason I wanted to play basketball again. She’s so much fun to play with.”

Tinetti thinks the teams best basketball is yet to come. “I don’t think we’ve gotten to our strongest point yet. We have a lot of new girls with talent and we’re still coming together,” Six of the SCCAL’s eight teams have winning records coming into league play. Tinetti said SC’s young squad is looking to learn from its early season setbacks. “My favorite part of basketball is coming together as a team. It’s better to come together after a win, but it happens after loss too. Sometimes you need the losses.” She’ll save the smiles for the wins, though.”

By beating Mercy for the CCS Division IV crown, the Cardinals are the first county team since the MVC boys went back to back from 2001 to 2003 and the first girls team to do so since Harbor girls in 1986-87. This year was the first time since 1986 when Aptos boys and Harbor girls both won their CCS tournaments, when the SC girls and St. Francis boys were CCS Division IV champions.

SC senior Gianna Tinetti was the SCCAL MVP after leading the Cards in points, 3-pointers and rebounds and was second in assists and steals. Tinetti was fourth in league with 332 points for an 11.44 per game average.

SCCAL MVP Gianna Tinetti led SC against Sacred Heart Prep in the CCS playoffs with 17 points, four steals, 11 rebounds and three assists. The senior captain has been on the varsity for all four years of the team’s title game runs. “it’s a lot more meaningful because it’s my last chance,” Tinetti said. “I want to defend the championship.

SC has most of the pieces returning from last season. Tinetti is once again the teams leading scorer and playing stronger than ever in her senior season. In addition to her 11.8 points a game average, she leads the Cards in assists at 2.4 and rebounds at a 10.4 average through 20 games this season, according to www.Maxpreps.com.

Santa Cruz showed no big-game jitters in its fourth-straight CCS finals appearance. Senior co-captain Gianna Tinetti has been there for all of the Cardinals recent championship-

game runs. She said it’s become easier to settle the butterflies.

“You’re always a nervous, but it felt a lot better this year,” Tinetti said. “The lights didn’t bug me as much. I’ve been in this gym three times before, because one year it was at San Jose State. I felt more comfortable.”

There are both mental and physical hurdles to overcome when a team makes it to the CCS finals, when games move from small high school gyms to NCAA Division I arenas. There’s a pressure that comes with playing in one of the biggest games of the year–if all goes well, the Cardinals will vie for Northern California and state titles, too–as well as the fact that the stage is, well, bigger.

“Our depth perception is off because there isn’t a wall right behind the hoop,” Tinetti said. “and the noise doesn’t carry that well when we’re trying to call out plays.”

“Our goal was to win league and we did that. Then we turned our focus to winning CCS and we did that,” Tinetti said. “We want to do as best we can at NorCals. We’ve been taking one thing at a time.”

Senior Elle Sanders a returning starter dives for loose balls like they’re made of gold. The lanky senior forward averages more then three steals and ten rebounds a game. She is a major piece of the Cards section best defense, which has held opponents to 38.2 points per game.

“It was really similar,” Senior Elle Sanders said of the rematch with Mercy. “You just had to handle the ball pressure and not let it get to you. They’re a quick, aggressive team. That’s what fuels their offense, so if you can handle that then you should be all right.”

“We kept the core group from last year. We lost some important players to graduation, but Gianna and Elle (Sanders) are back,” Jones said. “They set the tone so much for us with their energy and their attitude. Everything was set and kids were ready to take control.”

SCCAL Wrestling Championships. Aaron Marquez at 135 a repeat champion won both his titles by decisions while holding his opponents scoreless.

At the CCS meet Aaron Marquez is unseeded at 135 pounds, suffered a quarterfinal loss and then won a match to make it to the consolation bracket with the chance to win and to stay alive. Senior Aaron Marquez made it into the CCS consolation round and went 1-2 to finish sixth, which is good. Now he gets to “reward” himself after years of weight watching. “Now I can eat some sunk food,” Marquez said.

At the Peninsula Classic at Half Moon Bay, Aaron Marquez took second place.

Three players have secured college scholarships. Wilhelmsen to UNC Greensboro, Jenkins to UC Davis and Sordo to Fresno State. Sordo is also doubling up this year playing two sports at one time, as she is also playing for the basketball team.

Paced by three NCAA Division 1 players, Ashlee Wilhelmsen, Catherine Sordo and Jordan Jenkins, the Cards earned their fifth CCS title of the decade and second under co-coaches Jay Gomez and Mark Hogenhout. Number three seeded SC won 2-0 in double overtime against Menlo School in the quarterfinals, beat Live Oak 1-0 in the semifinals and topped Scotts Valley 1-0 in the championship match on a goal from Carmela Roberts. Wilhelmsen finished the season with 27 goals and eight assists.

this.”

Wilhelmsen, a forward with 28 goals this season, midfielder Catherine Sordo and defender Sara Lezin were four-year starters for the Cardinals, who have most of their team returning next season.

“The program’s in a place, where (the players) believe they can do well,” coach Gomez said. “By mid-season they started to believe they were capable of playing some good soccer. Today wasn’t about that win. It was about them coming together. The result was a bonus. And Scotts Valley played a great game, too. Either team could’ve won.” Wilhelmsen was credited with an assist and Busch had three saves.

Feb. 4. Three players have secured college scholarships. Wilhelmsen to UNC Greensboro, Jenkins to UC Davis and Sordo to Fresno State. Sordo is also doubling up this year playing two sports at one time, as she is also playing for the basketball team.

Feb. 24. ALL SCCAL Forward of The Year, Ashlee Wilhelmsen. Co-Goalkeeper of The Year, Stephanie Busch. ALL SCCAL Catherine Sordo, Elena Veneble, Cassidy Burr, Kate Mosentine, Second team: Sara Lezin, Jordin Jenkins and Kara Burkett.

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