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Wildcat runners begin new chapter

Jesse Jones / Union Democrat Sonora Wildcat runners (above, from left) Thomas Kruetzfeldt, Paul Mika and Shaan French Jr. warmup during Wednesday’s practice at Dunlavy Field.
Steven Grolle’s ridiculously fast pace will be missed this season,  but a new chapter has begun for the Sonora Wildcats cross country team.

For the first time in four years, the Wildcats will field a girls’ team that could compete immediately for a Mother Lode League title and  the boys return a solid core that helped reach the Sac-Joaquin Section finals last season.

The irreplaceable Grolle, who finished eighth and medaled at last year’s Division IV CIF State Cross Country Championships, graduated this summer.

Filling the void of the a two-time Sac-Joaquin Section champ, will be an experienced trio of runners: Shaan French Jr., Thomas Kruetzfeldt and Paul Mika.

“Frenchy has been looking good and working hard all summer,” said Sonora Wildcats coach Glenn Bass. “He also ran a great race at Pinecrest (Aug. 10). Thomas has looked good too as has Paul Mika.”

Character-Based Athletics seminar set for Sept. 6

The Summerville High Softball Boosters will present Character Based Athletics onSaturday, Sept. 6, at the school’s Connections Theater in Tuolumne.

Rob Miller, of Proactive Coaching and Miller Sports Consulting in Liberty, Mo., will be the featured speaker.

There will be three, one-hour presentations for parents, athletes and coaches at 2,3:30 and 5 p.m., respectively.

“The benefit all athletes should take from playing high school sports is an increase in their characters,” said Summerville varsity softball assistant coach Ray Emerald in a release. “The act of participating in sports should teach lessons that will be used in all aspects of life. Things like teamwork, responsibility, accountability, selflessness and honesty are all traits we look for in quality employees, teachers, doctors, lawyers and business owners. This is the time of their lives that these traits will be learned for our student-athletes.”

Wildcats face rival Mustangs on Aug. 29

In just nine days, the Sonora Wildcat football team will square off against its longtime rival, the Oakdale Mustangs, for the 97th time.

That’s right, just nine days, on Aug. 29. The game has traditionally been played on the final week of the schedule. But due to Sonora exiting the Valley Oak League for the Mother Lode League this season, the schools agreed to open their respective schedules against each other. It’s also the earliest the Cats will kickoff a season.

“It’s different, really different,” said Wildcat head coach Bryan Craig during Tuesday’spractice. “Oakdale is always in the back of your mind throughout the season, because you know they’re Game 10 and it’s a big rivalry. But having them early, it’s a weird feeling that I haven’t grasped yet. But we’ve been preparing for them since last week. A lot of the stuff we’re doing is based on what they do trying to get ready for that zero week game. This is the first year we’ve had a zero week game and we want to make sure we go in prepared.”

Frog gridders enter year 2 under Byrnes

Jesse Jones / Union Democrat Bret Harte varsity head football coach Jon Brynes speaks to his players during the Bullfrogs’ first padded practice of the season Wednesday in Angels Camp.
It is year two of the Jon Byrnes era at Bret Harte High School.

After a tough 1-9 season in 2013, the Bullfrogs football team is hungry for success.

“We’ve had great practices so far this week without having any equipment on,” Byrnes said. “We’ve had complete focus at all levels. They’re a little bit more hungry for a win.”

Craig on cutting edge to help prevent concussions

It’s no secret the Sonora Wildcats like to play a hard-nosed, physical brand of football. That style won’t change this season under sixth-year head coach Bryan Craig.

What will change, is that Craig will know exactly what kind of helmet impact some of his Wildcats are delivering, or taking, and can take steps accordingly to protect them. When it comes to concussions and his players well-being, Craig wants to stay ahead of the curve. 

“We know for this game to continue, to be what it is, we have to get that head out of the game and we have to protect the players better,” Craig said. “We have to get concussions out of the game or we won’t have football. So we’re trying to get out front and lead that charge.”

Wildcat volleyers gear to defend crown

Maggie Beck / Union Democrat (From left to right) Riley Patterson, Kelsie Evans, MaKenzee Hope and the Sonora Wildcats volleyball team practice Monday at Bud Castle Gym.
Sonora Wildcat volleyers playing against each other in practice is perhaps the best volleyball nobody sees.

The Sac-Joaquin Section defending Division 4 champion, and CIF North State finalist, Wildcats went head-to-head during Tuesday’s 20-minute, practice-ending scrimmage and it featured seven of the nine returning players that brought home the precious blue section title banner that’s hanging proudly in the Bud Castle Gym foyer.

One player, senior Savannah Lawrence, was off scouting colleges, a pretty good excuse, and another was on the sideline sick, but cheering on every good move made by her teammates. And there was a lot of cheering.

Bears to play 2 home grid games at Sonora

Maggie Beck / Union Democrat Summerville Bears linemen Raul Dominguez (above, left) and Chris Caldera (right) work on conditioning Monday during the first practice of the fall season.
With renovations to the Summerville High School Stadium expected to be under construction until October, the Bears football team will play its first two home games of the 2014 season at a different location.

Summerville will host Bradshaw Christian and Hughson at Sonora High’s Dunlavy Field.

The Bradshaw Christian tilt will be on Friday, Sept. 12, at 7:30 p.m., and the Hughson clash is set for Saturday evening on Sept. 20 because Sonora also has a home game the day before.

“It’s better than traveling to Hughson or Sacramento,” said Summerville head coach Ben Watson. “So, going down to Sonora is better than going to the valley. That’s the one positive thing.”

On the pitch

Tyler Davidson, 9, of Angels Camp, practices headers during the Ebbetts Pass Soccer League’s soccer camp on Thursday at Feeney Park in Murphys.
Photos by Maggie Beck, The Union Democrat


The Ebbetts Pass Youth Soccer League hosted the Challenger Sports Soccer Camp, a free preseason clinic, on Thursday at Feeney Park in Murphys. Two coaches from England and another three from Brazil got the opportunity to share their knowledge of the beautiful game with youth from Calaveras County and the surrounding areas. Nearly 200 kids participated in the week-long camp. The league’s official season kicks off on Saturday, Aug. 16.

New at the helm: Ex-Columbia boss Osterhout to lead S’ville

Maggie Beck / Union Democrat Jennifer Osterhout is the Summerville Bears new head voleyball coach.
When the Summerville Bears varsity volleyball head coaching position opened in the spring, it was a no-brainer for Jennifer Osterhout to throw her name into the pool of candidates.

Osterhout was a highly qualified coach, and already had head coaching experience at the junior college level.

So in May, the 32-year-old applied for the position, and was hired later that month to direct the Bears program.

“She’s doing a fabulous job,” said Summerville Athletic Director Debbie Mager. “The girls are just excited. She’s working them hard, but they’re excited about the upcoming season. I feel like we are very blessed to be able to put that volleyball position attached to a full-time teaching position. We’re all very excited about it. We had other people apply, but she came in as a real broad experienced-based, not only for coaching, but for teaching.”

Rushing to the finish

Macormic Stark, 8, of Twain Harte, (102) and Margaret Grolle, of Sonora, (133) finish strong.
Photos by Jesse Jones, The Union Democrat

The Sonora Lions Club hosted its 3rd annual Pride Stride on Saturday at Columbia College. Sonora High 2014 grad Steven Grolle ran away from the pack to win the 5k. The event, which also boasts a 1-mile race, is a fundraiser for the Sonora High cross country program.

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