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It’s crunch time as high school playoffs near

As the fall season of Claremont High School varsity sports nears its homestretch, it can only mean that the CIF Southern Section playoffs are right around the corner. That’s a good thing for CHS.

The fall season has been very kind to Claremont with every sport (cross-country, football, girls golf, girls tennis, girls volleyball and boys water polo) having at least one athlete looking to get in on the postseason act.

The Wolfpack girls tennis team completed its regular season on Thursday with a 14-4 win over Ayala to advance to the Sierra League Prelims with a perfect 12-0 record. No doubt this team is playoff bound, but I’m also sensing a CIF championship coming Claremont’s way as early as this year and here’s the reason why.

The last time a CHS tennis program had a perfect record was when the boys team won a back-to-back Division 3 CIF Southern Section championship in 2010. Interestingly enough, Drew Spinosa and Cindy Liu—the sisters of former CHS aces Clarke Spinosa and Frank Liu—are the ones leading Claremont this year. But let’s not forget that Claremont also has a very deep roster, also reminiscent of the CIF champion boys team.

 

Younger players improve play in water polo

After a rough 2010 season, the CHS boys water polo team turned things around in 2011 with the maturation of returning players such as Luke Miller and Jonah Dowd and the addition of productive freshmen such as goalie Steven Cable. Unlike last season, when the Wolfpack sat at home during the postseason, the 2011 team will go to the playoffs this year. And according to the latest CIF-SS Division 3 rankings, Claremont is tied for 10th with Santa Monica.

The Pack had a strong showing against No.2 ranked Damien last week in a game that ended in a heartbreaking 9-8 defeat. Yet CHS bounced back to defeat Chino Hills later in the week and got the best of Ayala on Thursday, 10-9. Claremont’s greatest challenges will lie ahead against the Division 3’s best in CIF but a strong end to the season may give the Wolfpack the momentum it needs to get into the later rounds.

 

Volleyball poised for deep run

Girls volleyball came back with a vengeance in 2011 after not qualifying for the CIF playoffs in 2010. The squad is currently battling with St. Lucy’s for the Sierra League lead with perhaps the Wolfpack’s biggest highlight this season coming in the form of a 3-0 sweep of the Regents on October 18. CHS (19-8, 7-2) plays South Hills this Tuesday, which should be a victory for the Pack, before advancing into the CIF playoffs.

How far the Wolfpack goes in CIF will depend heavily on the team’s discipline on the court. With a very talented team and presently ranked 6th in Division 2-AA, Claremont is capable of winning any match but will have to make sure to keep errors to a minimum against some of the better Division 2 teams.

 

Football needs wins to qualify

After an amazing 4-0 start, the CHS football team has fallen on hard times with 3 straight losses in previous weeks. The Pack’s upcoming games against Ayala and South Hills are against sub .500 teams and Claremont will need every win it can muster to return to the playoffs this season. Damien, Charter Oak and Chino Hills are currently the Sierra League leaders as of Thursday but CHS won’t play any of those teams again for the remainder of the season.

As Coach Mike Collins started earlier in the season, not many people have expected Claremont to have a competitive season—particularly due to the loss of several key players (Daniel Kessler, Brandon Tuliaupupu, Darius Andres) from last year’s squad. Yet the playoffs are still a possibility for the 2011 team.

 

Much at stake in final league meet

Though the CHS boys cross country team took center stage with a 3rd place finish at the CIF State Meet in 2010, this year’s cross country season has been about the continued improvement of Claremont’s female runners and the search for Claremont’s next great male runners to fill the void left by Paul Ross, Colin Domonoske, Henry Falotico and AK Metoyer.

The final Sierra League meet will take place at Mt. SAC on Tuesday. This meet will be huge for Claremont as the Wolfpack will need a strong performance from the varsity boys team that finished in 5th place twice in the first 2 league meets. If the varsity girls team builds on its 2nd place finish at the previous league meet, CHS could finish number one.

Arinda Bhanaraksa was the only CHS girls golfer to qualify for the CIF-SS regional by finishing 2nd in the Sierra League Individual Finals last week. Bhanaraksa has been Claremont’s leading golfer all season and was the only Wolfpack player to record a score in the 30s in every match in 2011. She will compete in the individual regionals on Monday.

All in all, a great fall season for Claremont. 

—Landus Rigsby

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