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CHS tennis and cross county make a mark in CIF play

Claremont High School freshman Goldie La won three singles matches at the Claremont Club on Monday in the first rounds of the CIF Southern Section Girls Individual Tennis Regionals tournament, and will advance to next week’s round of 32 competitors.

The girls played to best of three sets, with the final being a 10-point super tiebreaker.

La had a pretty easy time in the first and second rounds—first defeating Kelly Eller of Grand Terrace, 6-1, 6-1, and then Aryn Marshall of Rancho Cucamonga, 6-2, 6-1.

In the last round of play, La defeated number-four seed Ella Pachl, a sophomore from Laguna Beach High School, 6-3, 6-7, 10-5.

Throughout the regular season, and the team CIF tournament, La did not lose a set. She made it all the way to her third-round match with Pachl before dropping the narrow 6-7 second set.

Twenty-eight girls started the bracket Tuesday morning at the Club, and by evening only four advanced: La, Danielle Willson of Corona del Mar, Rachelle Yang of Arcadia and Jourdan Wallace of Pasadena. Across the southland similar tournaments will fill in the other 28 slots for the finals.

“Goldie plays with such composure,”?said Coach Kathy Settles. “Her mental toughness is one of her biggest strengths, and she’s able to adjust her game plan to match her opponents’ strengths and weaknesses.”

She will represent the Pack on Tuesday, when the top 32 Southern California high school players meet at Whittier Narrows Tennis Center for a chance to claim the individual CIF title.

La may be the last one standing, but Claremont had a remarkable season, losing in the third round of the team CIF tournament to Redlands, the eventual champion. The result bodes well for the future, because the varsity squad includes four freshmen.

“Its pretty exciting,” Coach Settles said about the team’s prospects next year. “It’s all a building block. Competing at that level gives them a taste of where they need to be [to win a CIF title.]”

 

CHS boys and girls cross country put CIF on notice with double win

Thanks to technology, Claremont Cross Country Coach Bill Reeves knew the boys team was in trouble halfway through the Southern Section Division 2 CIF Finals in Riverside.

Checking the Saturday event’s official timer on his phone, he learned the boys were in third place. So, he sprinted from the finish line along the final 1.5 miles of the race to let his team know.

As Jeremiah Alarcon and Adam Trafecanty approached, Coach Reeves yelled, “We are in third place, go!” It seemed to work as Alarcon moved up 37 places in the final half, while Trafecanty advanced 35.

The pair started out too slow, in part because of a mix up. Coach Reeves told Alarcon to keep Trafecanty in his sights, but halfway through the race he lost contact.

“I could not find him, and it turns out he was behind me.” Alarcon said. “Then Coach Reeves was there yelling ‘get going’ and we just became focused. I probably passed 15 people in the last 800 meters.”

As a result, CHS boys snatched their first CIF team cross country title in 55 years. They were not alone, as the very talented girls team also brought home a title, their second in a row.

Over the flat, dusty three-mile course, Ryan Cowgill claimed the Pack’s top spot, 11th place at 15:16. But a tight-scoring group sealed Claremont’s victory—A.J. Reyes, 16th at 15:23; Vicente Huerta 19th at 15:27; Alarcon, 35th at 15:47; and Trafecanty, 39th at 15:49. The Wolfpack scored 108 points to easily defeat Saugus at 141, and West Ranch at 157.

The girls were led once again by junior Sydney Hwang, who got fifth place at 17:18. Following Hwang were Kalinda Reynolds in 15th place at 17:54; Azalea Segura-Mora, 16th at 17:54.9; Angela Gushue, 19th at 17:59.9; and Tess Rounds, 22nd at 18:03.9. There was a scant 45 seconds separating the scoring top five, allowing the Pack, with 77 points, to easily defeat Saugus with 104, and Capistrano Valley with 110.

Defeating Saugus is a big deal for Claremont, because only the Pack and Simi Valley have defeated the Centurions, who have won the state cross country title nine times.

The dual victories qualify the CHS teams to compete in the California CIF State Championships this Saturday at Woodward Park in Fresno. In addition, Cowgill, Hwang and Reynolds were awarded All-CIF Southern Section honors for finishing in the top 15 spots.

With her new role as the team’s leader, Hwang recalled how Annie Boos had guided her over the last two years.

“Annie made my job easy. I did not have to think, all I had to do was follow her,” she said. “I want to be that leader for the younger runners, so when I leave, they will pick that up and lead themselves.”

The girls had  somewhat of a rough race, with a couple of runners feeling ill, and another encountering car trouble on the way to the race, but were still able to come away with the win.

“This was probably our least consistent race all year,” Coach Reeves said. “We should run better [at the state meet] this week.”

The mood was light at Tuesday’s practice in spite of the big race ahead. But Coach Reeves didn’t mind.

“The goofiness keeps them relaxed,” he said. Then, turning his attention to his team he continued, “Race and have fun. It’s just another league meet.”

 

CMS volleyball wins first national championship

The Claremont Mudd Scripps women’s volleyball team swept the NCAA Tournament on the biggest stage, defeating the Wittenberg Tigers in straight sets 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-22) to win its first ever national championship.

Claremont McKenna College’s Margaux Arntson put on a show with 18 kills and an astounding .519 hitting percentage on the night to lead the Athenas to the straight-set victory Monday in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Athenas finish the 2017 season with a 31-5 overall record, the most victories in a single-season in program history, according to a news release from CMS athletics.

After sweeping through the SCIAC playoffs and picking up three 3-1 victories at the Georgetown Regional, the Athenas arrived in Grand Rapids boasting a 19-match winning streak. Victories over number 16 Gustavus Adolphus and Ithaca pushed the Athenas to the championship match against the Tigers.

“It’s a special day,” said Head Coach Kurt Vlasich after the win. “It seems like every week we’re saying for the first time ever, for the first time ever…even this week, not just the national championship, but it’s the first time we’ve ever broken 30 wins in a season and the first time being on the road to win a regional. It’s an incredible feeling to do it with this senior class, who have been the pillars of our success.”

The Athenas earned not only their first national championship, but the first national title for CMS in any women’s sport in the department’s history.

Coach Vlasic was on the very first boys volleyball program at Claremont High, and made the Division I Pepperdine volleyball team as a walk-on, according to his father, Dennis Vlasich. He has been the head women’s volleyball coach at CMS for seven years.

“When Kurt took over the program, they were not even at the top of their SCIAC conference, but two years ago, Kurt took the team to the ‘elite eight’ in the NCAA Division III tournament. They have been ranked in the top twenty-five nationally for the past three years,” Dennis Vlasich said. “And this year, not only did they win SCIAC, they won the national title.”

The Vlasich family has lived in Claremont since 1972 and both Coach Vlasich and his brother Brian are Claremont High School graduates.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com