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Another banner year at Del Oro

Looking back at 2009-10: Del Oro
By: Eric J. Gourley Journal Sports Writer
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While six athletes from Del Oro High’s track and field team are still in action at the California Interscholastic Federation State Championships Friday and Saturday, most Golden Eagle squads have already closed out successful seasons.
Del Oro added six Sierra Foothill League titles to the walls of Bonner Gymnasium during the 2009-10 school year and inducted sports stars of the 1960s and 70s into its Athletic Hall of Fame during an inaugural April ceremony.
Here’s a season-by-season look back at the year in gold and black athletics.
Fall
It was a memorable season on the gridiron for Eagles football.
After failing to make the playoffs for the first time this decade last year, Del Oro (11-3) rallied its way to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title game for the 11th time in school history, coming up short of the championship as Rocklin won its first section championship on a rainy field at UC Davis.
The playoff run included a 30-29 comeback win over previously unbeaten St. Mary’s in the quarterfinals and one of the most spectacular comebacks in section history a week later when senior tailback Bryce Pratt scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns in the final seven minutes to lead the Eagles past Folsom 43-42.
For the season, Pratt rushed 352 times for 2,448 yards and 39 touchdowns.
Del Oro will return many outstanding starters in 2010. Quarterback Max Magleby, running back Angelo Pasquale and tight end Adrian Williams will be even more experienced running the offense behind 6-foot-4, 300-pound strong tackle Ryan Cope.
Junior linebackers Derrick Luque and Shoichi Martinson, defensive back Kenny Andri and defensive lineman Tyler Adair will be joined by sophomores from of an undefeated JV squad.
On the volleyball court, the Del Oro girls dropped a five-game Division III quarterfinal to El Camino in the section playoffs. The Eagles (25-7) finished second behind Rocklin in the SFL.
Senior Emily Mattevi (245 kills, 36 aces) and juniors Belle Obert (272 kills, 249 digs) and Aly Duffin (258 kills, 58 blocks) led the Eagles.
The boys soccer season ended in frustrating fashion for the Eagles. A scoreless tie with Rocklin followed by a 1-0 loss at Roseville in the SFL finale ended their hopes of making the postseason for the first time since 2007.
Leading scorer Kolby Mitnick did his best to keep Del Oro (7-7-4 overall, 5-4-3) in playoff contention until the last game of the season.
The Eagles tore up the trails again in girls cross country, winning the section championships for the third straight season, the second time in Del Oro history the team achieved the three-peat.
Emma Freeman won the Division III individual title and was joined by Alissa Hood, Desiree Bacchi, Caitlin Devitt-Payne, Megan Atkins and Jessie Rozario at the CIF State Championships.
Toby Uptain-Villa was the lone state representative from the boys squad.
The girls golf team added another SFL banner to its collection. Bailey Furgeson led the Eagles to seventh at the Division II tournament. Cherie Nix was also a consistent low scorer for Del Oro.
In the pool, both the girls and boys water polo teams turned in strong efforts. The girls squad was led by seniors Ashley Brown, Natalie Johnson, Rachael Odell and junior Sarah Mekebri under head coach Lindi Callahan.
Four-year varsity starter Alex Obert scored 156 goals to help the boys to a 9-2 overall record, a runner-up finish in the SFL and second place in the section playoffs, the most successful season in Eagles history.
Winter
On the wrestling mats, Del Oro senior Jesse Stafford came up just short in his second straight bid for a state crown. He lost 6-4 to Lemoore High’s Nick Sierra in the 152-pound final at the CIF State Wrestling Championships after winning his first five matches of the tournament. He improved on his fourth-place finish at 140 pounds a year ago.
Four Eagles qualified for the state championships, including juniors Kevin Burrage (140) and Foster Fretland (145) and sophomore Austin Branum (130).
Stafford and senior Dylan Blomgren (135) both won Division II section titles and led a group of 10 wrestlers to the Masters Tournament after Del Oro wrapped up another perfect dual campaign to win its fifth straight league banner.
The girls basketball team also extended its reign atop the SFL with another league title last winter, its fourth straight undefeated run through the SFL.
The Eagles ran into all-too-familiar foe in the section semifinals, falling to Sacramento for the fifth time in five meetings since 2005.
Thanks to an expanded Northern California Division III format, Del Oro extended its season another week and beat Dougherty Valley in San Ramon in their NorCal opener before losing to Valley Christian of San Jose in a second-round battle to finish the year 26-6.
Junior Crystal Sewell scored 24 points and had 11 rebounds in the season-finale. She averaged 13.8 per game, second only to junior Madeline Campbell (16.9).
A squad featuring four junior starters also helped head coach Mike Takayama win his 500th career game late during the league season. Takayama, a 1977 Del Oro graduate, started coaching at the school in 1986 and shows no signs of slowing after becoming only the second coach in section history to reach the impressive plateau.
Much of the boys basketball season was overshadowed by French native Remi Barry’s lengthy fight with the CIF to gain eligibility after an appeals panel ruled his transfer from a private school in Florida was athletically motivated and violated multiple state bylaws.
The Eagles won their last four league games without Barry to finish 8-4 in league, tied for third place with Rocklin. They surged into the Division III playoffs with plenty of momentum, but quickly fell to visiting Center in the quarterfinals to finish 19-9 overall.
Junior Aaron Hendricks (18.4 points) and senior Spencer Butterfield (16.1 points) were sensational all winter. Butterfield, who plans to play basketball at Yuba College next season, erupted for a season-best 32 points in the SFL finale and closed out his Del Oro career with a 19-point, 14-rebound performance a few weeks later.
Spring

Behind ace pitcher Savannah Pingree and power hitter Annette Merjano, the Eagles’ softball team cruised to the SFL title for the second straight year.
Their postseason run was short-lived, however. Del Oro failed to return to the section Division II title game, falling to Cordova 1-0 in a playoff opener.
Pingree, who will attend Willamette University on an athletic scholarship, compiled a 0.56 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 124 innings to earn her second league MVP honor.
Merjano emerged as a run-producer for the Eagles (23-4) this season, hitting .284 and finishing with team highs in RBIs (26), doubles (7) and homers (5).
Del Oro has had a spectacular spring on the track, and it’s not over just yet. Six Del Oro athletes will be in action Friday and Saturday at the CIF State Championships in Clovis — one shy of the school record set in 1969.
Junior pole vaulters MacKenzie Landry and Vicki Warner placed first and third, respectively, at the section Masters Meet to qualify for state. Noelle Latham advanced in the high jump and the Eagles’ 4x100-meter relay team of Landry, junior Ciara Clement, sophomore Brie Simmons and freshman Brianna Ruiz became the first girls relay team in school history to make it to state.
At least one athlete cracked the school top-10 all-time in every event this season. The girls won the SFL title.
On the golf links, Del Oro’s boys had their best season in more than a decade. After losing two of their first three SFL dual matches, the Eagles won nine in a row and captured both 18-hole tournaments to win their first league title since 1995.
Del Oro placed second at the Division II tournament to become the first team in coach Hal Steinback’s 11 years at the helm to qualify for the Masters Tournament.
With sophomore Austin Smotherman and juniors Eric Ash and Rob Sahlit leading the way, the Eagles were fourth out of 14 teams and missed qualifying for the CIF Northern California Regional Championship by only nine strokes. Five of the eight varsity boys will return next spring.
Led by Division I prospect Kyle Russell, Del Oro’s netters turned around last year’s 2-10 SFL boys volleyball campaign to finish 23-8 and advance to the section quarterfinals.
Russell, a 6-foot-7 junior outside hitter, led the Eagles with 164 kills. Senior Shane Plummer, the team’s best blocker, senior outside hitter Dane Smith and senior libero Alex Zufelt were also major contributors.
It was a sensational spring for Del Oro’s swim team, which broke seven school records and four league records at the SFL championships.
The boys placed third out of 47 schools at the section championships, combining with the girls to take eighth out of 64 schools.
Sophomores Weston Landre and Brian Westlake had record-setting seasons. Westlake broke two league marks as an individual. Both swimmers joined a combination of Josh McCormick, Obert and Collin Johnston on different relays to break more school records and earn All-American times in multiple events.
Brown, Hannah Jarvis and Kaitlyn Lee led the girls in the pool.
The boys tennis team put together another winning spring, finishing second in the SFL behind perennial power Granite Bay.
Led by top singles player Bret Bacharach, a diminutive sophomore, Del Oro was eventually edged by Vanden 5-4 in a Division II team section quarterfinal.
Bacharach and doubles players Brandon Bailey and Charlie Wyatt had deep runs at the Division II individual championships.
On the pitch, the girls soccer team extended one of Del Oro’s longest postseason droughts, missing the playoffs for the 10th straight year.
The Eagles finished 5-5-4 overall and 4-5-4 in the SFL to finish fourth under first-year head coach Ron Benjamin.
Senior Brianna Carmouche and sophomore Lauren Gollnick scored six goals each to lead the offense. Junior Becky Duncan had a stellar all-around season in the midfield.
Del Oro struggled to finish .500 on the baseball diamond, failing to reach the playoffs when it lost the final two games of a winner-take-all, three-game series to Roseville.
The Eagles (12-12-1 overall, 8-10) entered the season with a small-ball mindset after breaking the school record for homers two years in a row and finished with 12 longballs, only four shy of the mark they set during their second straight run to the section semifinals last spring.
Magleby, a junior, hit .372 (29-for-78) and led Del Oro with six homers, 27 RBIs and a .692 slugging percentage. Senior Brian Bynum hit a team-best .433 (26-for-60) and drove in 12 runs.
Bynum and fellow seniors Cooper Johnson and Cole Perez shouldered the mound duties. Johnson went 6-4 with a 3.23 ERA in 56 1/3 innings with a team-high 39 strikeouts. Bynum (2-4, 3.47 ERA) and Perez (3-3, 4.53) each threw 46 1/3 innings.