Athlete of the Week
Vicente Hernandez is one of a collection of two-sport Senior student athletes.
During the winter months, he is the biggest and strongest member of the CKM Men's Basketball Team, which experienced a major turnaround this year and won 13 games after winning just three the previous season.
"We really picked it up and supported each other this last year. A lot of good communication. And then, it was the coaches."
Vinnie is a sturdy 6'6", and could be a scary individual on the court and the diamond if he chose to go that route. But he is a gentle and genuine guy who has played some big roles on McClatchy teams in the last four years.
"My pump fake is my go to move. They almost always jump over my back, so I get a foul or an and-one."
The first time he played organized basketball was in his Sophomore year, and he had a cup of coffee with the varsity team that season.
During the Spring, he spins the magic pebble as a primary pitcher on the CKM Baseball Team. "When I take the mound, I'm out there to get my innings in and help my team. There's no stress. It's fun."
Vicente scattered two hits and one earned run in a 3-inning start vs CB earlier in the month, and doubled deep down the right field line to drive in the first two runs of the game for CKM in what turned out to be a 10-2 victory.
The team came into the 2020 baseball season primed for battle. "We're looking real good. So many players have worked really hard in the offseason."
I could hear the excitement in Vinnie's voice when he spoke about this year's team, including the depth of their pitching staff. "We got seven guys who can take the mound."
The day after the CB game, Spring Sports were screeched to a halt. The team, coaches and the many fans of CKM Baseball are still awaiting official word as to whether or not the season and school year will resume in some abbreviated form.
The latest from SCUSD is the classes in all sports operations are now postponed until May 4, and there remains a distinct possibility that Spring Sports will not resume.
Hopefully, the many people behind-the-scenes who wanted to happen will work in unison with all other moving parts, and some type of season can be salvaged once it is healthy enough to gather in groups again.
Imani "Cash Mani" Felix is comfortable with that nickname, but not as comfortable as she is on a basketball court. Like a shark makes its way through salty waters, Imani weaves her way through defenses, scoring by twos and threes on the CKM Court and courts throughout Northern California.
"My mom has always pushed me forward." Imani has been on the Women's Varsity Squad since her freshman year. Her talents have grown thanks to the tutelage of coaches including CKM great Jeff Ota, as well as motivation from a supportive mom.
Imani took up basketball in 4th grade after seeing a cousin do things on the hardwood. Within a few years, she was on a traveling squad. Her basketball career has moved fast, and the 2018-19 season is already in the rear view.
"Last year, Kam and Nia had most of the points," said the Junior with an array of college options, ranging from local offers to Ivy League interests. "This year, we need to be smarter and work together more. We also have to practice defense more, because Kam and Nia aren't there to block shots."
CKM Women's Basketball has been big in NorCal since a 2015 State Championship.
Imani's favorite class, much like the vast majority of RtR Athletes of the Week, is math. "It's so easy."
Like Samaya Beatty said during her AoTM interview last year around this time, Felix expressed her feelings about the true camaraderie and connection the team has. "This team is so close because we've been around each other for so long."
This is in part because many players have been balling together since Sutter Middle School, and in part because they start practicing for the upcoming year a few days after school lets out in early-June.
When asked the final RtR shout-out question, Imani responded: "I want to give a shout out to my teammates and my mom."
Ella Culleton is a 3rd generation CKM Lion from a family full of aquatic athletes who did big things in the CKM Pool in prior decades.
"I walked onto the water polo team as a freshman. I knew nothing about the sport, other than how to swim." The sport of water polo is very physically demanding (see: eggbeaters), and various roles need to be filled for a team to have success.
"I became an attacker. I scored a lot of goals my freshman and sophomore years." Ella has scored many big goals in the last two years as well, including four clutch goals in a 8-3 Metro League clinching win just over a week ago.
The 2019 Women's Water Polo Team is a well-coached unit that played their way into the CIF Section Playoffs, but fell in the first round. Nonetheless, they earned another championship pennant to be hung on the wall of the CKM Gym.
Like many Senior student athletes, Ella is currently in the detailed process of applying for UCs.
"I use my natural speed to avoid the messiness," said the confident yet calm Culleton, "but I do have a big scar on my back from someone's fingernails."
During the early-afternoon interview, she spoke about the annual raft race, which was a bit helter-skelter this year but still full of fun and laughs. The Women's raft carried twice as many student athletes as the Men's, meaning the Women's team will be graduating many Seniors in the spring.
Ella has a sister who attends Christian Brothers and also plays water polo. "We got to choose which high school we went to, and I chose McClatchy. We played CB earlier this year, and we destroyed them. That was a good feeling."
It's been surprising to learn how many Athletes of the Week call their math class their favorite. Ella cited statistics as the most anticipated part of her school day, which also includes AP Computer Science and two HISP classes.
Ella put a final feather in her water polo cap by being named the MVP of the Women's Team. She concluded the interview by giving a shout out to Coach Plecia, her teammates, fellow Senior sprinter Jen Wong and Co-Captain Adelina Hernandez.
"There's this thing called USYVL. It's all grass volleyball. That's where I got my start." Restore the Roar recently interviewed quick-minded two-sport student athlete Sage Dickinson in the CKM Gym.
"I'm a setter and a Captain. My Coach calls me the quarterback." The Women's Volleyball Team is largely comprised of Cal and Sutter Middle School grads, which means they have been playing together for several years. The bond and the friendship goes beyond the wins and losses, and the team lays it on the line every time they take to the Harvey and Janice Tahara Court.
"We all have bruises on our knees. You have to be comfortable diving." Sage is comfortable diving on wood and into water, and she has performed the latter many times as a member of the CKM Diving team.
"I wanted to stay active. So I started diving my sophomore year. I thought it would be super fun. It has been."
Seniors have to take six classes these days, but Sage has been able to spread that out between two HISP courses, Calculus and AP Psychology on campus. She goes to SCC twice a week for a philosophy course and is pursuing her real estate license online.
Between psychology and real estate, Sage may soon be able to talk people into houses they didn't even know they wanted to buy.
She will play intramural V'ball in college if she doesn't make the team. She is still deciding upon her higher education destination as of press time. She spoke highly about her time at CKM, knowing it will be done in a few months.
"Coach Houle started here my sophomore year. She completely re-invented the program. She boosted the income we get. She's got the parents more involved. I'm excited to see the program grow, even after I leave."
Sage chose to give a shout out to fellow Senior teammates that she has known since they played Land Park Soccer together.
"Shout out to Katherine Jacobs and Julianna Lopez. We've grown up together, and we've been able to lead this team together."
“I was walking through Costco when I was three years old, and I was replicating the swings of the baseball players I saw on the TVs. I’ve loved baseball from the start.” Theo Dopkins has been playing Varsity baseball for CKM since his sophomore year, and on traveling teams in the offseasons.
He has refined his game over the last handful of years, and is ready for the next level. The Senior will attend SF State beginning in the fall.
His coaches at the coastal paradise have requested that he take this summer off. “That’s going to be weird. But I’ll get my throwing in.” The 18-year-old definitely got his throwing in during the season, and put up a staggering 0.00 ERA in Metro play, striking out 51 batters in 29 innings.
Theo was #3 in the rotation in 2018, his Junior year. Jack Filby (UCLA) and Jack Henrichson (Cal) were #1 and #2. As a #3 starter, he dominated at times, throwing three 5-inning no-hitters in Metro League play (10-run-rule shortened game).
This year, he’s been the top dog. CKM’s baseball schedule pits the team against moderate competition one day and against solid pitching and lineups from top to bottom the next. It is a tough terrain to navigate in both a physical and mental sense.
“We beat a team 24-0 one day, and then we come out and lose to Christian Brothers the next. It’s challenging. But I treat every game the same. We need to get pumped up and be ready.”
In late-April, an opposing team chose to walk Frosh Malcolm Moore to load the bases for Theo. He promptly doubled to deep left-center and cleared the bases. Although Theo is clearly a team leader, there is really no hierarchy on the tightknit squad that represents the school proudly.
Coach Mike de Necochea has been at the helm of the varsity baseball squad for 15 years, and common themes that have developed are hard-working and talented squads full of respectful yet highly competitive student athletes. Coach Mike has compiled a career win / loss record that has the Lions over 100 games north of the .500 mark through the last 15 seasons.
Theo’s favorite subject is Statistics. “I like finding ways to simplify things. I like to be able to predict what might happen.” Following a 20-7 2019 season in which the Lions went 9-3 in Metro Conference play, they will head to Davis in a couple days for a first round CIF SJS showdown. Theo will likely be on the hill. Go Lions.
Junior Kayla Diaz is a gentle, kind, polite soul who unleashes the warrior within when she steps onto a golf course. Restore the Roar recently sat down with the three-time Metro League Champ for a lunchtime interview in Coach Feickert's office.
"I started playing golf when I was six years old. I would go out with my dad. He would play until he got to the green, and then I would putt out."
"I remember shooting a 35 on the front nine at Bing Maloney when I was 10. When I was 12, I shot a 70 on the whole 18."
Kayla is a product of The First Tee Sacramento, a very successful program aimed at getting local youths engaged in the great game early on.
For Kayla, it clearly worked. With the ongoing support of her father and the tutelage of Coach Ng over the past three years, she is on the cusp of being the most successful women's golfer in CKM history.
The three-time Metro Champion dominated the 2018 Metro Tournament at Teal Bend, firing a 73 and essentially lapping the field. She has been ranked #1 on the squad in her frosh, sophomore and junior years, and she will be a three-year captain by the time she graduates. A fourth Metro Title next year is very realistic.
Throughout the 15-minute interview, Kayla spoke of the incredibly mental nature of the sport of golf. "The most recent tournament I played, my score was in my head the whole time. That's not a good thing."
With her entire senior year ahead of her, the future is bright for Kayla, who will be deciding upon a university to attend soon, likely one within California.
Although she has a grasp of the exclusivity of playing golf as a pro, she has rightfully allowed herself to dream big. "I want to take it as far as I can. It would be a dream job."
She concluded the interview by giving a shout out to her teammates and her math class. Stay tuned for updates about Kayla and Women's Golf come this fall.
"I treat all my opponents with respect, because this is a grueling sport. But when I step onto the mat, my mentality is 'I'm the best wrestler in this gym.'"
Jacob Edwards' ('19) father went to CKM and wrestled in the late-80s. The Senior recently sat down with RtR in Coach Feickert's Office, exuding confidence while simultaneously remaining totally grounded.
His dad went on to coach Wrestling at CKM, leading to young Jacob getting exposure to the historic sport and onto the CKM Club Team as an 8th Grader. "Next thing I knew... I was a Freshman in high school. That's when things got real."
Approximately three and a half years later, things have officially gone from "real" to truly historic, as Jacob recently became the only athlete in CKM's 80+ year history to achieve the distinction of a 3-Time Metro League Wrestling Champion.
Grounding and pinning opponents has become a common thing for Edwards, who actually tossed around his opponent to the "ohhhs" and "ahhhhs" of fans in attendance in the CKM Gym during a meet vs rival Kennedy in early-January.
Jacob came into the Metro Championship ranked #1, and pinned a much-taller foe from Grant for the finish in the 2nd round. After a tough win over a River City opponent, Jacob allowed the reality and gravity of the situation into his mind. "I can make history right now. This is something I need to do. This is something I need to achieve," He thought.
One of the biggest individual-sport achievements in CKM Athletics comes with many praises and accolades, but Jacob was able to smoothly put it all into perspective. "Wresting is a real humbling sport.... I hate losing with a passion, but it's a learning thing. In my first year of wresting in 8th grade, I lost every single match."
Entering his Freshman year, he had confidence but a splash of apprehension. Things changed very quickly, and he won his first 20 matches as a Frosh. Edwards has gained entry to The Masters of California high school Wrestling, which is scheduled to unfold in the next few days.
"My favorite subject is Government/Econ," said the Senior about to make the transition from winter wrestling to spring baseball. He's anxious to get out in centerfield, but spoke candidly about wrestling's grind on his body. "I have so many injuries, I might need to take a few days off." Edwards has certainly earned a break after making history on the mat.
Senior Julian Boyce is a star on a CKM Men's Varsity Soccer team that is undefeated as of press time. He recently joined Restore the Roar in Coach Feickert's Office for a lunchtime interview, and he quickly got into his passion in life. "The pitch is my place. I can step on the field and release a lot of emotions. I don't have to worry about anything. Scoring goals, making assists, making a defensive play.... I just can't get enough of it."
Fans, parents and supporters of CKM Soccer have seen plenty of it, as Julian has scored 17 goals on a team that is currently 15-0-3.
He had an interesting 2018, attending the Real Salt Lake Junior soccer program for a week in the summer and momentarily being on the verge of leaving CKM to attend school in Utah for his senior year. When he returned to CKM, the stars began to align for a special season.
"Julian's love for playing and competing is easy to see. He is a highly skilled, fierce competitor." These are the words of Coach Vaughn Boyce, the vocal, energetic and successful leader of the Men's Varsity Soccer program since 2006, and also Julian's father. This season is likely the final time he will coach his son, who has clear aspirations of playing soccer professionally. "I want to play ball. For the rest of my life."
Winning or tying (there is no overtime in regular season high school soccer) every game is no small feat, and it requires the collaborative effort of dozens of quick and skilled feet. "I have a lot of trust in my teammates. I know if I take care of my business, they will take care of theirs," said the 18-year-old weighing his college options.
A casual fan may not think of soccer as a contact sport, but watching it from up close provides a clear glimpse into a game that features collisions and clashes almost entirely devoid of padding.
It is soccer tradition that just one referee patrols a landscape bigger than a football field, which is a challenging situation. Julian showed a maturity and perspective when asked about his interaction with refs. "I'm an emotional dude. Sometimes I get mouthy. But sometimes when I say something, I stop getting calls. Refereeing isn't easy."
Last year's team went to the Section Finals and lost a tough game 1-0 to Folsom, preventing them from an opportunity to do historic things. With Julian patrolling the "Attacking Third" of the field and the team having put themselves in excellent position by way of their great record, anything is possible in 2019.
When asked the final A.O.T.W. question, Julian opted to give a shout out to Restore the Roar, and promised the parents and alums a Metro Championship and run at the Section Title.
"I was hyper when I was young. Basketball is a fast paced sport. I bonded." Junior Forward Samaya Beatty recently sat down with Restore the Roar in Coach Feickert's office a day after she scored 4 points in the final three seconds of the 3rd quarter.
Samaya is a spark plug on a team full of talent, including two Seniors who have already committed their skills and minds to the University of Washington and West Point. Indeed, CKM Women's Basketball is continuing the tradition of greatness.
In a school where over 400 student athletes put in the time and effort to excel and make alumni proud, the Women's Basketball Team has reached the highest peaks in recent years. They won the CIF State Championship in 2015.
Samaya was selected by her coaches for this honor. Legendary CKM baller Jeff Ota: "She does all the important things that don't show up on the stat sheet. Breaking up passes, getting loose balls, playing tough defense."
Tough, suffocating defense is a trademark of CKM teams. When the press is penetrated, Samaya is one of the players down low waiting to contest shots and gather rebounds.
Balancing a full academic schedule with the demands of being on the CKM Women's Basketball Team is a challenge, but Samaya has been up to it.
Her favorite classes are English and History, and her favorite ice cream is Cookies and Cream, a fact discovered by the author's 5-year-old daughter.
Beatty was a Freshman when the 2016 CKM squad played in the CIF State Championship at Golden 1 Center. "I played like two minutes. But it was so fun. This year, if we make it to State, I will actually play."
RtR always closes an interview with an Athlete of the Week by welcoming any shout outs to people who have helped pave the path to where they are.
"Shout out to my team. We're like sisters. I never want this to end. Shout out to my Mom as well for always being there for me."
Freshman Cross Country runner Joe Wiley didn't begin running for distance and time until junior high. "My older brother did track in 8th grade. I though I might as well give it a shot."
He won a slew of races at Cal Middle, and he began practicing at CKM a few months before his academic career began. "When the Cross Country season finally started, I was excited to see if I was actually good at this."
Wiley ran a breakneck 16:17.0 5k at the Capital Cross Challenge. A 16:23.6 time in a 3-mile race at the Sac-Joaquin Sub-Section meet was good enough for 4th in a large field. Entering the CIF State meet, he was the single fastest Freshman in the super-talented field of runners throughout California.
Joe very recently ran the first leg of the marathon that spanned Folsom to the steps of the Capital.
Nourishment is obviously very important for any type of athlete, and it is especially so for a cross-country runner who performs early in the morning. Restore the Roar asked Joe about what his pre-run breakfast consists of.
"I'll wake up and I'll grab a waffle, a few eggs and a banana. When I get to the race I'll have an apple. Word of advice -- it's better to be a little hungrier than a little full."
Just a few months into high school, Wiley as of now names Science as his favorite class. His older sister graduated from CKM last spring, and his older brother is a junior.
His accomplishments thus far would be considered impressive for any high schooler, let alone a true freshman. When asked if he has thought about college, Joe answered short and straightforward.
"I have my dream schools like Ohio State, UCLA, and Oregon. But any D-I School would be awesome." Like the other two CKM Cross Country runners who have done things amazing enough to warrant the Athlete of the Week (Jonah Weiner-Brodkey, Julia Heckey), Wiley made sure to give respect and appreciation toward Coach Watkins.
Sophomore Julia Heckey has been running laps in Land Park since her early days. "I did the Zoo Zooms with my Dad when I was really little. He used to be the track coach at Sutter. He helped me train for the Cross Country tryouts...... My first year, I was intimidated to run with the fastest people on the team at practice." This year, Julia is the fastest 5K Women's runner at CKM.
Her recent 4th place finish in the CIF Sub-Sections was impressive, as many of the field of 132 can attest. She combined with other strong CKM runners to propel the squad into the Sections, which were moved back a week in November as a result of the Camp Fires and the poor air quality.
"The Josh Ruff Invitational at Walnut Creek was very good meet for me. I was familiar with the course." She finished 1st overall in that meet, and her recent 4th-place finish came on a very undulated course in Calaveras. "The course makes the race," added Coach Feickert.
A lot of strategy and mental preparation goes into every cross country race, and Julia has developed some approaches to getting across the finish line as fast as she can. Without giving away her secrets, she has learned how to let the early sprinters set the pace, making sure to save energy for the stretch run.
Indeed, cross country is not categorized as a "contact" sport, but the bottom of feet making solid contact with the Earth a few thousand times within 20 minutes is bound to take a toll.
Julia has dealt with shin and hip issues by taking a multi-faceted approach. "I've learned that balancing a lot of mileage with weight training is super important. You have to balance the two to keep from being injured. If you don't have some muscle, this sport is really tough on your joints."
Like all Athletes of the Week have, she took some time to give credit to her teammates, and a big thanks to her coaches. "Coach Watkins is awesome. She knows my times better than I do. She's super invested in this."
As far as the future goes, Julia has another 2 1/2 years to hone her craft on the newly-minted track at CKM and the handful of marvelous 5k courses in Northern California. "I'd love to run in college, but I haven't thought much about it yet."
With this distinction, Julia becomes the 2nd Sophomore to be chosen A.O.T.W., after super swimmer Luca Urlando gained the distinction last May.
Senior Daisy Lewis is an accomplished young lady. She holds the #1-slot for the Metro Champion CKM Women's Tennis Team, is a straight-A student, and the Student Body President. She recently donated her lunchtime on her 17th Birthday to sit down with Restore the Roar in Coach Feickert's office.
"I first took tennis lessons when I was in 3rd grade. When I got to high school, I thought, 'what do I want to focus on?'" Her choice to focus on tennis is paying off. She holds down the easternmost court at the newly-minted CKM Tennis Courts every time the team has a home game.
Daisy has suffered only one loss this season. It came in the 5th match in a single day during a weekend tournament where the Lions were shorthanded. When CKM's 2nd-ranked player was unable to make the event, Daisy went to Coach Willard Hom with a simple plan. "I'll just play all five."
A confident speaker, Daisy has developed a thorough understanding of the many facets of being a top-flight athlete. "Tennis is so mental. In my first years at CKM, I was so concerned about what people thought about my play, it affected my play. I worked on the mental part more, and developed a mantra to help myself relax during a match. This season has been so much better for me."
"I'd love to play tennis in college, but I'll probably focus on academics. To play Division-I Tennis, it basically has to be your life," said Lewis.
Her foundation in politics is something she is interested in building upon in the future, although her initial thoughts about being a student body President were slightly shaped by Hollywood. "When I was in middle school thinking about high school, I thought it would be like High School Musical," she said with a chuckle.
Daisy is yet another example of a CKM student athlete having an impact on the moment and a bright path into the future. She spoke of French and Calculus as her favorite classes, and wanted to make sure to give a shout out to the entire CKM Student Body, whom she represents proudly.
Those who have witnessed a volleyball game up close on the shiny hardwood of Harvey Tahara Court know that the games involve serious speed, power and precision. Teammates of varying heights and specialties need to work cohesively for at times hours in order to get a victory.
The CKM Women's squad has played very well this season, in part because of the abilities and leadership of their lone senior, Julia Maloney. Restore the Roar sat down for a chat with Maloney last Wednesday in Coach Feickert's office.
"I love to spike," said the 5'11"student athlete, who may still grow a bit (her older sister is 6'1). "I like being tall because it helps me in my sport. But D-1 players in my position are typically 6'2" or 6'3". It's funny to say I'm the tallest player on my team, but too short to play in college." Getting high enough to utilize angles and fire rockets into opponent territory takes timing and skill, and doing so 30-40 times over the course of a game obviously requires a certain measure of stamina as well.
CKM recently clashed with new Metro entry Monterey Trail, and both came into the game undefeated in the conference. "We had a chance to beat every team in our league, but we'll get another chance when we go to Monterey Trail to play them again soon," the senior said with optimism and confidence.
"Shoutout to my team. Volleyball is such a team sport. We can't do it without each other. Our back row and our setters really help me out." The team with only one senior is going to be loaded with them next year, and Head Coach Cory Houle clearly has the knowledge and acumen to help her players get better.
The next year is still coming into focus for Julia, and she mentioned the desire to possibly attend Cal Lutheran down in SoCal. Her favorite class is German, which she has during 0 period.
Current district rules require all seniors to take six classes, a noticeable departure from the days when seniors drove gas-guzzling hotrods out of the parking lot at lunchtime. Many senior student athletes choose to take a 0 period in order to give themselves time to get ready for practice, which typically begins right after 6th period.
Demitrese Gray-Stone runs the football like a young man on a mission to cut paths down the fields of Division-1 college football someday soon. Restore the Roar recently sat down with him in Coach Feickert's office for a lunchtime interview.
The glimpse into the life and mind of the junior began with an inquiry to when the powerful and swift-footed running back first began playing football. "My Dad always wanted me to play. I was just giving it a try in 7th grade. I started to love the game. They had me playing fullback. That's how I got my aggression."
DGS had a monster game against Johnson on Thursday, September 6th. 10 carries resulted in 105 yards and three touchdowns, and the opposing defense clearly got tired of trying to bring down a runner totally cool with initiating contact.
Surprisingly, he wasn't into sports growing up. "I was a gamer. I just played video games." Once he embraced real life sports, things went well. Demitrese was a jack-of-all-trades in his sophomore season, doing whatever Head Coach Malcolm Floyd asked him to do while wearing one of the final jersey numbers available.
Heading into this year, he was able to pick his own jersey number. He chose 24 as homage to his favorite RB, Marshawn Lynch. His straightforward-at-all-costs approach resembles that of the current Raider RB with a reputation for bruising defenders.
Gray-Stone lit up when asked about academics. "McClatchy is the closest thing to college I've seen. I just left human anatomy with Mrs. Tate. That's my favorite class."
Learning about the human body can only be a good move for the wise 17-year-old aiming to use his body for a living. When asked about injuries in the past, he was candid about an instance in his early days. "When I played for Burbank (Pop Warner), I went heads and got hit in my shoulder. My pads didn't protect it, and I got a soft tissue injury. That hurt."
DGS gave love to his family, football family, and all of CKM to conclude the interview. "Shoutout to my family, and everyone here. I consider everyone family."
Jonah Weiner-Brodkey walked the stage at Memorial Auditorium on Friday evening, tying a ribbon on his successful career at McClatchy as a distance runner and student athlete.
His time at CKM has spanned the old-new track era, giving him unique perspective on the before-and-after. He has lapped the brand-new, mint-condition quarter mile hundreds of times since it was installed last winter, and spoke about the difference early into our interview last week.
"It's a whole different situation when you can use your own facilities to practice. My 5K times on the new track are almost a minute faster than on the old track."
That statement quantifies the positive impact of the state-of-the-art facility sure to be rounded by countless CKM students and athletes in the years to come.
The 'SA Pepper Senior Athlete of the Year' winner at the recent CKM Awards Ceremony, Weiner-Brodkey is headed to UCLA in the fall to compete for a spot on one of the nation's strongest track teams.
The unweighted 4.0 GPA he carried through his first three years at CKM combined with his track feats gave him a number of collegiate options.
Jonah ran a 15:33 5K recently, an impressive time that he aims to continue to shave seconds off of in the upcoming months. He credited Coach Sharma and Coach Watkins with his increased success over the last few seasons, saying of the latter, "She's been awesome. She has expertise that she shares with us, but she also gives us a lot of freedom to create workouts that suit our own preferences."
"When I first started swimming, I wasn't very great. My technique was good, but my times were bad." These were some of the first words spoken during a recent interview with super Sophomore swimmer Luca Urlando, who recently set two separate Sac-Joaquin Section records in the 100m Butterfly and Backstroke. RtR had a chance to chat with the 16-year-old in Coach's Feickert's office this past week.
If a Hollywood director asked a talent agent to deliver a "California high school swimmer" to a movie set, Luca could very well fit the part. The 5'10" water rocket has a full two more years to make his impact on the national high school swimming scene before he moves onward in what could be a "college of his choice" type of situation. He spoke with reverence about Cal Berkeley and the University of Indiana during the lunchtime conversation.
Luca garnered the attention of the amateur swimming world when he turned in a record-breaking time of 46.7 in the 100m Butterfly at last weekend's Sac-Joaquin CIF Finals. Just a few hours later, he revved up his engines and swam a 46.83 100m Backstroke, breaking a second title that had stood for years in the span of a Saturday afternoon. "I'm obviously happy, but my coach is all about how
I can get better."
Swimmers of this pedigree and age can rightfully allow themselves to dream real, real big. Like 2024 Paris Summer Olympics big. Maybe even Tokyo 2020."I'll see how I do this summer.... The Olympics is definitely my goal."
Luca's relaxed, upbeat and unflappable disposition stops far short of revealing the aquatic assassin that he has quickly become. When asked about and compared to the greatest American swimmer of the modern era, he was a mix of measured and fully-disclosed. "I'm not totally sure -- but I think my butterfly times are better than Michael Phelps when he was my age."
Expect Luca to continue to cut sharp paths through the waters of the Metro League in the next few years, and be primed to do big things in swimming beyond that.
Jack Filby has been dreaming about attending UCLA and playing baseball for the Bruins since he was playing t-ball.
Diamond dreams only become realities if talent is cultivated over the years by a strong work ethic and countless hours of honing the craft. Filby has checked off all of these boxes en route to Brentwood, where he will begin classes in the fall. "I feel like declaring for UCLA is the greatest decision I've ever made," the 18-year-old said in a recent interview.
Before that, he will play Pac-12 summer ball in Walla Walla, Washington, something he is very much looking forward to. "I'll be traveling all summer and playing baseball almost everyday. I'm ready. This is what I want to do with my life."
Jack has played on the Varsity squad coached by Mike de Necochea -- CKM's all-time leader in coaching victories -- since he arrived on campus as a frosh back in 2014. Some days he is a dominant right handed pitcher, and on others a sure-handed
SS with great footwork. He's also always ready to put on the gear and man the dish.
He has developed a compact yet very powerful swing over the years thanks to personal coaches and supportive parents who have helped bring to life his
His mother is known to get a bit nervous when watching Jack play, especially when he gets drilled on his throwing hand with a pitch, as he did in the 2nd-to-last game of the regular season in a lopsided victory.
Thankfully, the x-rays showed no serious damage, and Jack should be back to full strength in a few weeks.
He finished the 2018 regular season with a .385 average and 21 RBI in a rain-shortened 23 game run. He also doubled five times and tripled five times, narrowly missing hitting the ball out of both Raley Field and the SCC baseball facility.
Having already become well acquainted with the program and the coaches at UCLA, it seems highly likely that the transition from a Lion to a Bruin will be smooth. Expect an update about Jack Filby and his frosh campaign around this time next year.
Ashleigh & Katelyn Dendas
It comes as no surprise that the Dendas sisters both got into softball early in life. Being three years apart in age, they never actually envisioned a scenario in which they would be able to play on the same squad. After Ashleigh showed enough talent and moxie to be called up to play Varsity Softball as a Freshman, her and 17-year-old Senior Katelyn were able to make the dream a reality.
They lived a dream within a dream on Saturday, April 21 when Ashleigh tossed a no-hit shutout and struck out 17 Rio Linda batters. Katelyn smashed a home run in the 5th inning, which proved to be the only tally of the game. The dual-feats have garnered a lot of attention in the CKM Athletics community in the short time since.
RtR recently interviewed the duo during lunch. Both were jovial, mature and adorned in the gear of the college squads they have committed to.
Katelyn will be headed to the picturesque campus of Humboldt State later this summer, ready to hit the diamond rolling. "When you stand on home plate and look out beyond the fence, all you see is redwoods, trees and forest. That scene really sold me on Humboldt."
Katelyn is carrying a staggering batting average of around .700 as of press time. The capability to put the ball over the fence makes her a truly dangerous hitter. When asked if she would call herself a power hitter, she measured her response. "My dad might be mad if I say I'm not (smiling). But I can do a lot more than hit home runs. I pride myself on consistency."
Ashleigh has verbally committed to Cal State Fullerton. How did a frosh pitcher end up committing to a national softball powerhouse at the age of 15, one may ask? "I've been to three softball camps at Fullerton, and I was pretty much sold after the first one. The coaches and everyone else involved have been great."
When asked about her pregame approach, Ashleigh was candid. "My approach to every game is to try to go all seven innings, but just take it a batter at a time." She was equally candid in terms of her pitching repertoire: "I have a curveball, screwball, rise ball, drop ball, change-up, and the occasional fastball."
Both sisters spoke about taking the sport of softball as far as they can in life, noting that it will once again be a medal sport in the upcoming Summer Olympics in 2020 for the first time in a long time. They also made sure to give proper credit to their entire squad, who has led them to a 12-3 record as of press time. Said Katelyn, "We have a very wide array of talent on this team. We have individual goals, but we're all trying to reach that team goal."
Junior wrestler Tavi Heidelberg-Tillotson is a versatile student athlete just finishing up her third year of high school, and her first full year at CKM following a transfer from Franklin High.
Her exploits on the wrestling mat have put her in rare air nationally, as she has compiled stats and numbers that have already garnered her the attention of female college wrestling powerhouses. Restore the Roar recently got a chance to interview the first ever RTR 'Athlete of the Week,' and came away impressed on many fronts.
Tavi is somewhat soft spoken and reserved, but she exudes the confidence that has allowed her to dominate the competition in just her fourth year of experience in the wrestling field. She took up the sport in 8th grade after watching an older brother wrestle and becoming intrigued. She completed the 2017-18 wrestling season with a stunning record of 29-1, her only loss coming from a tough judge's decision.
CKM Wrestling Coach Shawn Smith spoke of just how easy it is to coach such a talented and savvy young athlete. "We go over the game plan, then I pretty much sit back and watch like every other fan in attendance."
Still having one more year to scribe her name into CKM and National high school record books, Tavi is employing a mentality that reflects her maturity. "It's all about remaining humble and staying focused."
Tavi competed in a total of seven tournaments over the course of the season, and took 1st place in six of them. "She's very powerful, but she's also so quick. She's really a tough matchup," said Athletic Director Rob Feickert.
Tavi has a few universities with well-known female wrestling programs on her radar, and schools will be able to recruit her beginning this summer. All indications are that her mailman will be busy, and her mailbox will be full.