Bruins blossomed in spring

Looking Back At 2009-10: Bear River
By: Ray Hacke, Journal Correspondent
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At Bear River High, mostly dismal fall and winter sports seasons gave way to a very happy spring during the 2009-10 school year. In the fall, only the Bruins’ girls cross country team, which advanced to the CIF State Championships in Fresno, advanced to the postseason. In the winter, only the girls basketball team qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs. Come spring, however, things got a lot sunnier for Bruin Nation. Bear River’s softball team went 24-4 en route to winning its fourth consecutive section title, the baseball team placed second in the Pioneer Valley League and made a triumphant return to the playoffs, and the boys volleyball team made it to the postseason for the second straight year. The boys golf team also saw postseason play, reaching the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV tournament. Here’s a season-by-season, sport-by-sport breakdown of how the Bruins did in 2009-10: FALL Football: Bear River kept its string of 22 straight non-losing seasons alive – barely. By beating El Dorado 40-15 in their season finale, the Bruins finished 5-5 (2-4 in the PVL) and just missed qualifying for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. The defining moment of the Bruins’ season came in a Monday night thriller against Colfax in October. Falcons coach Tony Martello had agreed to postpone the game from the previous Friday after a swine flu outbreak prevented Bear River from fielding a full squad. Bear River led 24-14 entering the fourth quarter but allowed Colfax to come back and tie the game before senior rover Cody Van Fossen blocked a potential game-winning field goal with 18 seconds remaining in regulation. The Falcons returned the favor in overtime, blocking a point-after try by senior kicker Michael Lohrke, and went on to win 31-30. After that, the Bruins lost their next two PVL games before recovering to win two of their last three. A pair of senior two-way standouts led the way for Bear River. As running back Johnny Jewett led the Bruins’ offense with 707 rushing yards on 104 carries and scored eight TDs (seven rushing, one receiving), while on defense he had four interceptions at safety. Cole White had 132 carries for 694 yards and scored 10 TDs (nine rushing, one receiving) as a running back, while at linebacker he led the Bruins with 159 tackles, including three sacks. Bear River’s junior varsity squad outshone the varsity, going 10-0 and winning the PVL title. Girls volleyball: Bear River finished well behind Placer and Colfax in the PVL title race, going 3-8 (8-19 overall) to place fifth. Freshman middle hitter Sara Schell led the Bruins in every offensive category en route to earning All-PVL honors, according to coach Matt McDonald, while junior right-side hitter Christie Nat led the team in blocks. “We’ll have pretty much all our starters back next year, and our JV and frosh teams both won their league titles, so I’m looking forward to next season,” McDonald said. Boys soccer: Bear River’s string of playoff absences, which extend back to the school’s opening, continued as the Bruins placed fifth in the PVL at 3-5-4 (5-10-8 overall). Cross country: The Bruin girls finished 16th in Division IV on Nov. 28 at the CIF State Championships in Fresno. Bear River placed third in the Sac-Joaquin Section two weeks earlier. Junior Breanne Mitchell came in 10th in Division IV at the state meet with a time of 18 minutes, 35 seconds. On the boys side, freshman Alex Coffman placed in the top 10 at the Sac-Joaquin Section meet. Girls golf: Bear River placed fourth at the PVL Tournament with a team score of 491. Seniors Hannah Brown, Lucy Corippo and Stephanie Wong and junior Emilie Yonan were among the Bruins’ leading shooters. Water polo: Neither the boys nor girls team qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs. The Bruin girls did have one highlight: Senior Alyssa Bock scored 13 goals over four matches to help Bear River place second at the Whitney Invitational. WINTER Girls basketball: The Bruins turned in a respectable campaign, going 20-8 overall and placing third in the PVL at 8-4. They also won a pair of preseason tournaments, the Claude Brock Memorial and the Lincoln Invitational. Bear River met a familiar foe in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs, however, succumbing to Christian Brothers for the second straight season. Senior center Riley Pearson led a balanced Bear River attack, 9.7 points and 8.7 rebounds a game. Senior guards Whitney Smith and Kelsey Uno also averaged at least eight points apiece and were also among the Bruins’ best defensive stoppers with 78 and 61 steals, respectively. Boys basketball: Things looked bright for Bear River back on Dec. 29, when they edged PVL rival Placer 70-68 in the Kendall Arnett Tournament semifinals. They were 9-3 – after opening the season 7-1 – and had performed well in several preseason tournaments, winning the Marysville Pepsi Classic on Dec. 12. However, things went downhill after the win over Placer. The Bruins were routed by Del Oro 71-38 in the Kendall Arnett title game and went 2-10 in PVL play to finish at 11-14 overall. Both league wins came back-to-back, against Mesa Verde and Whitney in January. Senior guard Johnny Jewett led the Bruins in scoring with 11 points per game, followed by junior guard Zach Welz (9.4), who shot a whopping 43 percent from 3-point range. Senior center Jordan Beskeen led Bear River in rebounding with seven per contest. Wrestling: Just one Bruin wrestler, junior 119-pounder Juan Gudino, qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Masters Tournament. However, eight advanced to the Division IV tournament after finishing between second and fourth in their weight classes at the PVL Tournament, including sophomores Kyle Anderson (103 pounds), Jory Gemignani (112) and Nick Sauers (125), the PVL runners-up in their respective weight classes. Snowboarding/skiing: In snowboarding, Demi Ganster placed 18th at the Central Division II meet, while on the boys side Matt Baukol and James Learman placed 28th and 29th, respectively. In skiing, Kaitlin Dwelle was in 18th at the Central Division II meet before losing a ski on her second run, while her brother Scott placed 37th to lead the Bruins on the boys side. SPRING Softball: With four-year starters Courtney Ceo and Katie Mathis anchoring the middle infield at shortstop and second base, respectively, Bear River captured its fourth consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title. The Bruins went 24-4, with two of their losses coming in PVL champion Lincoln. The Bruins were the champions of both the Argonaut Dandelion Classic and the NorCal Classic and put together a 15-game winning streak after losing their season opener to Ponderosa. Sophomore Erin Nichol went 23-4 in the pitcher’s circle for Bear River, hurling 12 shutouts and posting a 0.94 ERA in 171 1/3 innings. Two other sophomores also performed stellarly: First baseman Stephanie Ceo had a team-high .500 batting average and was second on the Bruins in RBIs with 29, while catcher Alyssa Reina led the team in home runs (four) and RBIs (32). Baseball: With first-year coach Dahorl Ennis at the helm, the Bruins returned to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs after a one-year absence, finishing 16-12 after losing to Rio Linda in the first round. The Bruins went 9-3 in the PVL to place second behind El Dorado. Senior first baseman Jordan Beskeen led Bear River in several offensive categories, including batting average (.412), hits (33), runs scored (27) and RBIs (20). Catcher Brandon Fry, also a senior, hit .366 with three home runs, 22 runs scored and 19 RBIs, and senior center fielder Cole White hit .329 with two homers, 13 RBIs and 18 runs scored. White was also the Bruins’ stolen-base leader with eight. Bear River also had a pair of standout pitchers in senior Morgan Juric and junior Coleman Huntley. Huntley, a right-hander, went 4-3 with a 2.23 ERA, holding opposing hitters to a paltry .221 batting average in 50 1/3 innings of work. The left-handed Juric went 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and had a team-high 46 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings of work. Boys volleyball: Though their overall record wasn’t stellar (12-20), the Bruins qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs after posting a .500 mark (4-4) in Sierra Foothill League North Division play. Bear River’s postseason run wasn’t long, however – the Bruins lost to Rocklin in the second round. Juniors Josh Brown and Brayden Giacomini led the Bruins in kills with 147 and 133, respectively. Brown also led the team in service aces (23) and shared the team lead in blocks (25) with junior right-side hitter Jason Grady. Girls soccer: With a team comprised largely of freshmen, the Bruins went 2-8-2 in the PVL (2-9-3 overall) to place sixth. Sophomore Jenelle Jensen was Bear River’s chief offensive threat, while freshman Sarah Hagar stood out in goal. Track and field: Junior Breanne Mitchell qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet by placing third in the section in the 1,600 meters and second in the 3,200 at the section meet. Senior Shelby Jungers qualified as an alternate in the 300 hurdles, and sophomore Kendall Nielsen would have qualified in four events had she not injured her foot at the section meet, according to Bear River coach Chris Davis. On the boys side junior Chad Deacon stood out in the 100, 200, 400 and long jump, and Davis is expecting big things next season from distance runners Jordan Halleid and Alex Coffman. Boys golf: Bear River placed third in the PVL, shooting 412 at the league tournament earlier this month, and qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV tournament. Anthony Ertola and Brennan Southworth each shot 80s to lead the Bruins at the PVL tournament. Tennis: Bear River placed second to Placer in the PVL with a 10-2 record. The Bruins lost to Golden Empire League champion Marysville in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs. Individually, the girls doubles team of Kirsten Malo and Emily Garber advanced further than any other Bruins, reaching the Division III semifinals. Swimming: Junior Charla Wenger placed fifth in the girls’ 50-meter freestyle at the Sac-Joaquin Section meet in Lodi on May 13 with a time of 26.25 seconds. On the boys side, freshman Josh Cutter placed fifth in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:51.84, and sophomore Garrat Johnson took eighth in the 100 butterfly with a clocking of 51.77.