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Placer’s drama tough to top

Hillmen’s wild ride to the section title game the No. 1 story of 2008
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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1. Placer football soars to section title game The Hillmen were initially left out of the playoffs. But a court ruling overturned three forfeits and turned the 2008 season into one of the most memorable in Placer history. The Hillmen beat league champions Oakdale and Dixon after earning the Pioneer Valley League’s third seed. Only undefeated Whitney kept Placer from its sixth section championship. The Hillmen finished the year 8-5. Along the way to the momentous postseason, the Hillmen provided many highlights, including a 34-28 victory at Colfax. It was Placer’s first win over the PVL power since moving into the league three years ago. 2. Smoke claims Western States and Tevis C up Auburn’s two signature endurance events were both victims of fires in the Sierra Nevada that caused dangerous, smoky conditions along the Western States Trail. On June 24, just three days before the Western States Endurance Run was to begin, it was called off. Three large fires northeast of Foresthill were the main causes of the cancellation, which ruined months of planning for hundreds of runners prepared to make the 100-mile trek from Squaw Valley to Auburn. “It puts a pall on things but it’s the right thing to do in terms of safety and maintaining the integrity of the run,” Western States board president Tim Twietmeyer said. The Tevis Cup suffered the same fate when organizers cancelled the annual ride on July 8, 11 days prior to the event. 3. Colfax falls short in quest for third straight section title Only a loaded Modesto Christian squad could deny the Falcons of a third straight Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title. Senior Scott Krizman became the school’s all-time leading scorer as Colfax made its fourth section title game in five seasons. Modesto Christian ended the Falcons’ run with an 88-56 win in the championship game. Colfax finished 29-4. 4. Forest Lake boys hoops claims section title Behind a trio of talented seniors and a sophomore sensation, the Falcons rolled to the first Sac-Joaquin Section boys basketball title in school history. Ben Sparling, Austin Maynard and Andrew Ritchart lent their experience while Josh Ritchart had a breakout season playing with his older brother. The Falcons beat Bradshaw Christian 77-58 at Arco Arena for the Division V title. 5. Placer volleyball claims PVL crown The Hillgals overcame injuries with their tremendous balance and went 11-1 to win their first outright Pioneer Valley League championship. Colfax contended for the title, but Placer pulled out a thrilling five-game win over the rival Falcons at Earl Crabbe Gym to all but clinch the championship. Seniors Melissa Stoll, Shelby Madigan and Sydney Leftridge were leaders for Placer all season. 6. Del Oro baseball streaks to section title game The Golden Eagles were one out away from their first Sac-Joaquin Section title since 1991 when Ponderosa’s Casey Friederich hit a walk-off home run to sink their title hopes. Del Oro used a remarkable run to make the title game, winning 13 of 15 games and cruising through the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Eagles finished 17-14 under second-year coach Brett Lachemann. 7. Bear River girls forfeit six games The Bruin girls basketball team was forced to end its season early after all but one player on the team allegedly violated the Nevada Union School District’s athletic code. Bear River was 4-2 in Pioneer Valley League play before forfeiting the final six games of they year. The Bruins finished 11-13 overall. 8. Del Oro girls fall in section semifinals Senior Emilie Johnson won four straight Sierra Foothill League girls basketball titles and fell in the section semifinals for the third straight season. The Golden Eagles finished 23-5 after falling to Sacramento in the semifinals. Johnson averaged a remarkable 18.6 points, 5.1 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 3.2 steals per game. 9. Dragila comes up short at Olympic Trials Making one last run at Olympic glory, 36-year-old Placer High graduate Stacy Dragila missed out at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene Ore. on July 6. The 2000 Olympic gold medallist qualified for the finals, but could not make it into the top three to earn a spot on the U.S. team for the Beijing Olympics. 10. Placer sends two basketball players to Division I schools Kasey Riecks and Madison Meade were integral parts of three wildly successful seasons at Placer High and both are now competing at the highest college level. Riecks signed with UC Davis while Meade headed east to Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. Both players were starting for their respective teams as true freshmen.