Traditionally, Sonora and Oakdale high schools are competitive rivals in all sports.
Jesse Jones / Union Democrat Sonora water polo stars (above, from left) Katie Ferris, 16, Josie Personius, 14, and Sammie Slater, 15, will compete in the USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics from July 31 to Aug. 3 in Stanford.
But four years ago, the Sonora and Oakdale water polo clubs merged in the summer to form a higher-level squad to allow its teams to compete on bigger stages.
Allegiances were put aside and a dynamic club team was established.
“SOAK is obviously a word that combines Sonora and Oakdale into one word,” Wildcats head coach and SOAK assistant Matt Personius said. “The idea was to let our players play together in the summer. It does several things. No. 1, it allows our players to get a broader base of experience and more competition by players from elsewhere other than our own program. No. 2, it increases our numbers. It allows us to more easily fill teams for tournaments, sometimes, multiple teams. The third thing it does is that it allows us to put together the best players from the two teams and to create a club that maybe is better than the individual clubs might have been on their own.”
|Calaveras County got its first taste of youth water polo on Friday at the Bret Harte Aquatic Center in Angels Camp.
Sawyer Alford, 13, of Arnold and the Bone Frog Water Polo Club (above), loads for a shot on Friday at the Bret Harte Aquatic Center in Angels Camp.
The Bone Frog Water Polo Club, a newly-formed youth club in the county, sponsored the first water polo match at the facility since its opening in 2012.
Bone Frog coach Mark Garrett, a former collegiate All-American at Fresno State, kicked off the event with a ceremonial first toss.
“It is exciting to be part of introducing a new sport to kids in Calaveras County,” Garrett said in a release. “Water polo is a great sport that is growing in popularity and offers opportunities for advancement to college and international competition.”
About an hour before TJ Dillashaw was scheduled to be honored by the city of Angels Camp at Bret Harte High School, the UFC bantamweight titleholder was out on the family compound squeezing in a workout.
Vongni Yang / Union Democrat Isaac Hudson, 6, of Sonora, waits anxiously as UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw signs his poster and picture on Sunday at the Bret Harte High School multi-purpose room in Angels Camp. Dillashaw’s UFC bantamweight championship belt was on display (below) at the event. The former Bullfrog standout (bottom) holds his proclamation during Angels Camp mayor Elaine Morris’ speech at the Bret Harte theater.
The former Bret Harte wrestling standout takes no days off, even when his hometown holds a community celebration for his achievements in the Octagon.
And it’s that type of commitment and work ethic that makes Dillashaw a champion.
“Dedication, hard work, (he’s) always had them,” said former Bullfrog wrestling coach Jan Schulz. “Running the hills, coming into early morning practices, if you’re any young guys out there, if you’re going to be a wrestler, you’ve got to dedicate yourself and TJ has always done that.”
The rematch is set.
TJ Dillashaw will defend his UFC bantamweight title against former champion Renan Barao on Saturday, Aug. 30 at UFC 177: Dillashaw vs. Barao II at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
“I’m very happy that I did get the rematch so quickly, but I think I’ve earned the right,” Barao said by phone through a translator on Wednesday. “I have been the champion for a long time. I’m completely focused and ready to win the title and belt back. This is what I’m coming for.”
By LEN ACKERMAN
For the Union Democrat
Word out of Glory Hole Sports is that the 10.48-pound spotted bass caught at New Melones Reservoir in February by Keith Bryan, of Novato, has been confirmed as the world record for its species.
Bryan was fishing in a tournament and there was some controversy at first on the weight which had different readings on two scales, but the tournament scale was later confirmed as correct.
Fishing guide John Liechty said, “Records are made to be broken and I expect to see a new record turn up eventually at Melones.”
For Cassi Land and Kaela Dishion, running at the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Championships will be familiar territory.
Maggie Beck / Union Democrat Foothill Gold Track and Running Club’s (Clockwise from top left) Cassi Land, 14, of Sonora, Connor Landis, 14, of Arnold, Brendan Dishion, 12, of Murphys, Broen Holman, 8, of Sonora, and Kaela Dishion, 14, of Murphys all qualified for the National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships to be held July 21-27 at Houston, Texas.
Land, of Sonora, and Kaela Dishion, of Murphys, both qualified and competed last summer at the 2013 Junior Olympics in Greensboro, N.C., and both are making return trips this year on July 21-27 as members of the Foothill Gold Running and Track Club coached by former Cal Poly and Sonora Wildcat phenom Darren Holman.
“They’re the veterans of the group,” Holman said. “When they’re at the starting line, they’ve been there before. I think some of the anxiety that they had at being a first timer at a national event will ease them. I think they’ll definitely have an advantage.”
As a starting quarterback, there is no time off, well, at least for former Summerville Bear football standout Zach Roberson.
Courtesy Photo/University of Mary. Zach Roberson, a Summerville Bear graduate, drops back to pass.
Roberson, who has been training in Bismarck, N.D. this entire summer, is penciled in as the heir apparent to record-setting gunslinger Craig Bagnell for the University of Mary football program.
The 2011 Summerville High grad has big shoes to fill as he heads into his redshirt junior season for the Division II Marauders under new head coach Josh Kotelnicki and his staff.
The legacy of longtime demolition derby driver Rick Roberts lived on Sunday in the arena at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds.
Jesse Jones / Union Democrat Teddi Roberts, of Sonora, releases a balloon at the end of the National Anthem on Sunday in tribute to her late husband, Rick Roberts to start the Demolition Derby at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds. Sonora’s Troy Brown crashes his 2U car into Sebatian Maitz, of Vallecito.
A special tribute and moment of silence was held for the beloved Sonora resident and homicide victim before the engines were started.
A U2 tribute car, and two others, were built specifically to honor Roberts, who raced under the U2 moniker since the mid-1980s.
“We will miss you and we will derby on,” said arena announcer Bogio Ditler. “U2 will live forever.”
After winning three gold medals at the Southwest Pacific Regional Championships in Fresno in June, roller figure skater Tanner Hines is headed to the country’s biggest stage.
Jesse Jones / Union Democrat Roller figure skater Tanner Hines, 13, of Sonora, practices in the loops event on Thursday at High Country Sports Arena. Hines is headed to the National Championships later this month.
Tanner, a 13-year-old Sonoran, and incoming eighth grader at Gold Rush Charter School, placed first in the Freshman/Sophomore A level men’s figures, loops and the combined event to punch his ticket to the 2014 Roller Skating National Championships on July 20 to Aug. 2 in Lincoln, Neb.
He beat skaters from California, Arizona and Nevada.
“It was pretty cool,” Tanner said. “I was a little nervous, but it was fun competing against all the other people throughout the state. It was exciting.”
The Sonora Wildcats football team may have thrown more passes Wednesday in a seven-on-seven scrimmage against the Summerville Bears than it probably will during the 2014 season.
Sonora, who deploys a run-first, triple-option offense, let it fly on Wednesday at Dunlavy Field.
Each team was given 12 plays per rotation, and had three tries to convert a first down 15-yards downfield on a shortened 40-yard gridiron. After three plays, if a team failed to gain a fresh set of downs, it had to start over at the 40.