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Championship memories for wrestlers, skiers

Looking back on 2008-09: Placer Winter
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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The Placer High wrestling team didn’t feature a state champion, or even a state championship qualifier. But the Hillmen used their depth and overall talent to fiercely defend their Pioneer Valley League title in 2009. The Hillmen ran through the PVL undefeated for the second straight year and brought another banner to Earl Crabbe Gym thanks to an overachieving group of grapplers. PVL champions Andrew Naleway, Joe Thornton and Mitchell Maddox — all underclassmen, led the young group. Juniors Carl Pavich and Jake Styler earned silver medals at the PVL Championships while Dalton Richardson, Aaron Maddox, Steven Cox, Tyler Hickman and Daniel Weathers all placed third. First-year head coach Jess Stiff guided his squad to a win over Bear River in front of a packed home gym to all but wrap up the PVL team title. Placer recorded a season-high nine pins in an impressive 60-12 win. “They can taste it now,” Stiff said following the match. “The thing about our team is when they get on a roll, they just love to keep on going. It’s momentum. We’re always going for the pin. Our kids are really coachable and they made good adjustments.”” The Hillmen took fourth at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championships, sending five wrestlers to the Masters Tournament. The Placer girls ski team won its second California-Nevada Interscholastic Ski and Snowboard Federation championship in three years in March. Led by sophomore Karly Kenworthy’s first place overall finish at state and junior Paige Rothe’s individual win in the giant slalom, the Hillgals dominated the state meet. Senior Erin Babich and freshman Lanae Rothe joined Kenworthy and Paige Rothe on the all-Central Division II team. While the Placer girls’ success at state was expected, the Placer snowboarding team had mild expectations heading to the competition at Mammoth Mountain. Sparked by a second straight girls title and a surprising second-place finish from the boys, Placer claimed the overall CNISSF snowboarding crown. “It’s been an epic week for Placer snowboarding,” Placer coach Mark Faulkner said following the event. Junior Caty O’Connor took second overall and sophomore Emma O’Bray was sixth as both earned al-state honors. Pete Porata, Chris O’Connor and Steven Swisley, who all finished in the top 30 among well over 100 racers, paced the Placer boys. The Placer boys basketball team struggled to a 10-17 overall record, but the season wasn’t without its highlights. The Hillmen came up with their annual Kendall Arnett magic in December, stunning eventual section finalist Del Oro 57-56 in the third place game. Placer swept El Dorado and Mesa Verde for its four Pioneer Valley League wins. Junior Josh Klem emerged as a force for the Hillmen, averaging 19 points and 8.5 rebounds for the year. Senior Jeff Patton added 13. 6 points per game while junior Michael Jensen and senior Matt Ross tossed in just over 10 points per game apiece. The Placer girls hoops team saw its string of 10 consecutive playoff appearances come to an end. The Lady Hillmen finished 9-15 overall. Senior Shelby Madigan averaged more than 13 points a game and junior Kayla Reeves added just over 10 per contest to lead Placer. The highlight of the season was a four-game winning streak to begin PVL play. Placer started its hot streak with a 34-31 win on the road at Bear River in which the visitors rallied to outscore the Bruins 17-6 in the fourth quarter.