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CHS will sport competitive teams this spring

With Claremont High School winter sports now in the rear view mirror, what is in store for the Wolfpack going into spring? Like most seasons, CHS will have strong, competitive teams, looking to see a lot of CIF playoff action. Here’s a brief overview of each team as the season gets going in full swing.

Track and field

Girls track and field are hoping to continue their streak of league victories led by the same group of distance runners that took a California State title, and its first ever trip to the Nike Cross Nationals in cross country last fall.

Asked about the record streak, Coach Veronica Amarasekara wasn’t certain, but estimated they had won league for the past eight years, going back to when the Pack was still in the Baseline League.

Alyssa Cantrell, Abby Holt, Sydney Hwang and Azalea Seguora Mora are among the distance runners who will anchor the Pack’s effort in the 1600- and 3200-meter events. Several of the girls compete in a range of events, with Cantrell in hurdles and sprints and Holt in high jump and pole vault. Kylie Robinson is Claremont’s top returning sprinter.

The boys, who also earned a league title last year, have a number of strong runners including Ryan Cowgill and AJ Reyes. Rounding out the lineup is Phillip Donnelly, a multi platform athlete competing in sprinting and jumping events.

Claremont’s first competition is the Brea Relays on Saturday.

Baseball

Claremont has 15 seniors on the varsity squad this year, which could spell trouble for next year, except they also has five freshmen in the rotation.

Coach Ron LaChase is excited about the team’s prospects, even though they started out at 0-2, after losing a doubleheader to Monrovia on Saturday at home.

The Pack has eight pitchers with three senior starters including Andrew Beauvais, who is headed to the University of Pittsburg, Jack Nobel, who will attend the University of Oregon and Cory Smith who heads to the University of San Diego this fall.

Senior center fielder Jake Holcroft, who is the Pack’s top hitter, will attend Portland State.

Several Claremont’s seniors have played under Coach LaChase for the four years he has led the team. “They were freshmen when I started, so I feel like this is my graduating class,” he said.

Other boys to watch include senior Brandon Frieson, who will fill in at third base and catch, as well as a transfer from Damien, Marc Gonzalez, who will also catch.

Claremont defeated Garey, 5-3, on Wednesday, in game one of the Brian Hamilton Tournament.

Swimming

Nat Harding has taken over as head swimming coach, replacing Joyce Stein who resigned. Coach Harding was assistant varsity coach last year, so he is a familiar face around campus. He holds two kinesiology degrees, a bachelor’s in sports management from Grambling State and a master’s in sports performance from Louisiana Tech. In addition to his duties at CHS he is an assistant coach at Pomona-Pitzer and for Mt. Baldy Aquatics.

“The season looks good, we have a huge JV team. I am looking forward to seeing them develop,” Coach Harding said.

Twin juniors Toby and Sophie Jackson are back for another year and both will be competing in the 100 butterfly. Toby will add 200 freestyle and Sophie the 50 free.

The Jackson twins went to the CIF tournament last season where Sophie placed 16th in the 50 free.

Aurora Sheridan, who was a member of the girls water polo team that went to the semi final match of the CIF tournament this year, is a diverse athlete, competing in sprint events such as the 50 free and distance events including the 500 free.

Another swimmer to watch will be senior Matthew McCarthy whose two best events are the 100 breast and 50 freestyle.

Claremont has a relay meet on Saturday at Diamond Bar High School.

Boys volleyball

Claremont started the season out right by getting a tie for first place in the First Serve Tournament at Crescenta Valley High School.

The Pack beat Palmdale, 2-0, Verdugo Hills, 2-0, then lost to La Salle, 3-1. In the final round they took on host Crescenta Valley in the final, losing the first set 23-25, but winning the second 25-23 and then prevailing in the tiebreaker 17-15. As a result, the Pack ended up with the same record as Crescenta Valley, 4-1, but won on head to head play.

The Pack should be one of the top teams in league this year with Damien and Los Altos also fielding good teams.

Senior Caedin Miller is Claremont’s kill leader with senior David Deanda being number one in aces and assists. Second best in kills is senior Jack Stark.

“There are a lot of good teams but we should be right in the mix,” said Coach Bernie Wendling, who has been the boys volleyball coach at CHS for 20 years.

The Pack had a rematch with Crescenta Valley Wednesday, but results were not immediately available.

Boys tennis

Claremont may be the team to beat because of good talent returning, and the fact other teams lost key players to, well, graduation.

Senior Leyton Bohren will return as the number one seed in singles and has a clearer shot at the league individual title because longtime nemesis Neil Tengbumroong is now a freshman at the UC San Diego.

“I think that due to other teams losing some players, we should be the strongest league team,” Coach Settles said. She is in her third year leading the boys team and is also the girls tennis coach.

Rounding out the singles is second seed junior Jason Weisman, and third sophomore Ben Stapp.

Coach Kathy Settles has not decided the pairings for doubles, but top players include Jason’s twin, Andrew Weisman, junior Ahkeel Mohideen and senior Carson Chen.

The Pack opened the season with a very close home game, with St. Francis tying the Knights 9-9 on sets, but winning on games.

Coach Settles held the first ever Claremont High School 10 and Under Tennis Clinic earlier this month.

“Other teams conduct fundraisers such as car washes but we thought [the skills clinic] would be a better way to interact with the community,” Coach Settles said.

The boys will be playing Redlands High School, the Division 2 champions last year, at home on Monday.

Softball

Claremont has hired Tawnee Adams to replace Vincent Hernandez as the head varsity softball coach.

Coach Adams was teaching PE and coaching softball at Hesperia High School when Claremont offered her the job. She was very happy to join the Pack because she likes the community and is closer to her hometown of Riverside. She will also be a full-time PE teacher at CHS.

She is a 2006 graduate of Riverside Poly High School and played collegiate softball at Riverside City and at La Sierra colleges. The newlywed earned a bachelor’s in kinesiology from Cal State San Bernardino, but did not play softball for the Coyotes.

“I am obsessed with softball. I think about it and talk about it all the time,” Coach Adams shared during a break from practice on Tuesday.

The Pack also has a new assistant coach, 2012 CHS graduate Rebecca Ireland.

Claremont went 5-10 in league last year, to which Coach Adams quips, “There is nowhere to go but up,” she said. “We have been working hard and focusing on our offense.”

Claremont starts out 2018 in the hole, losing its season opener to Bishop Amat, 8-3, on Monday in La Puente. However, they were not at full staffing due to injuries.

Coach Adams is taking a “staff pitching” approach with four potential starters, including freshman Mikaela Huizar, sophomore Katlin Entrup, junior Alexis Jimenez and senior Skylar Grani. Top bats include senior Lani Moreno, who hit an RBI Double in the Bishop Amat game and freshman Sydney Diaz, a lefty.

They defeated Chino, 3-1, at home on Wednesday to even their record at 1-1.

Boys Golf

Claremont narrowly defeated rival Damien, 221-228, at Red Hill Country Club on Wednesday. Connor Reis shot a 42 to anchor the Pack’s win. A complete preview on Boys Golf will be in out next edition.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com