By Joe Naiman
When Ramona High School water polo coach Donnie Williams was a player at El Capitan, he often faced the Valhalla High School squad coached by Joe Goss. Goss attended high school in what is now called the Silicon Valley, and one swim season the league championship came down to his race. All Goss had to do was beat out a Santa Clara swimmer named Mark Spitz.
Goss lost that race to the future Olympic legend. Since Ramona was in the Palomar League for all of 2011, Williams and most of his fellow Ramona High coaches also learned about losing to top-level competition.
Girls Water Polo
Williams’ girls water polo squad began 2011 with a 4-3 record for the 2010-11 season. Palomar League play began during January 2011, and a 1-9 league record doomed the Bulldogs to an overall losing mark despite a 12-7 non-league record in regular-season play.
Tournament competition allowed the Bulldogs to end league-induced losing streaks, and Ramona won four of five East County Invitational tournament matches and three of five San Diego Open games.
The CIF playoff selection and seeding committee recognized Ramona’s tough schedule, and the water polo team was seeded sixth among the 12 teams in the Division II playoffs. The Bulldogs won their first-round game against Serra and took a 5-1 victory over third-seeded Scripps Ranch.
That set up a semifinal match against fellow Palomar League team Mount Carmel, which advanced to the finals with a 4-1 win at Ramona’s expense. The Bulldogs ended their season with a 15-17 record.
Although no Ramona girls received all-league status on the Palomar League’s first team, Bri Hogervorst was given second-team accolades, and two others were recognized at the honorable mention level. One of those honorable mention players was Angie Uriostegui, whose high school career ended at the senior all-star game after the playoffs.
Ramona’s boys soccer team entered 2011 with an 8-3-1 record for the season split over two calendar years and brought that to 10-3-1 with a pre-league win over Mt. Miguel. That would be Ramona’s final win of the season.
A scoreless tie against Valley Center gave Ramona a 10-3-2 mark prior to league play, which included three teams ranked by espnrise.com as among the nation’s top 50. A tie against Mt. Carmel to end the regular season kept Ramona from an 0-10 league record, although the 0-9-1 mark still gave the Bulldogs last place in the standings.
The Bulldogs were given the eighth seed in the CIF Division III playoffs, allowing for a first-round home game against Santana, but the Sultans scored the game’s only goal in sudden-death overtime and Ramona finished the season with a 10-13-3 record.
The all-league teams included Andy Garcia and Brian Haro-Aquino on the second team and four other Ramona boys who received honorable mention designation.
Ramona’s girls soccer squad took a 4-3 record from the 2010 portion of the 2010-11 season, and the Bulldogs were 7-4 prior to the start of Palomar League play. The girls also had three league opponents ranked in the nation’s top 50, and Ramona lost all 10 league matches. Ramona still earned the 10th seed in the CIF Division III playoffs, which was worth a road match against Grossmont North League champion Santana. The Bulldogs led at halftime before the Sultans’ 2-1 victory ended Ramona’s season at 7-15.
The Palomar League girls soccer coaches still found room on the all-league second team for Lexi Hogan and Maria Solis, and four other Bulldogs received honorable mention recognition.
National Signing Day
On what is known as National Signing Day, since high school players can sign college letters of intent, three Ramonans committed to higher competition during a San Diego Hall of Champions ceremony Feb. 2.
Tyler Jackson accepted a football scholarship to Western New Mexico University, Bryson Garcia’s U.S. Naval Academy years will include football, and Lexi Slater agreed to Big Ten softball competition through an Iowa State University scholarship.
The boys swim season began March 3 with a non-league loss at Grossmont, but Garrett Glaudini’s high school debut produced a school record of 4:44.37 in the 500-yard freestyle, and he would lower that record several times during the year. One of those was during the April 2 Mission Viejo Invitational, where a time of 4:39.47 placed him fifth after he became the only freshman to qualify for the finals. Glaudini would also repeatedly break the 200-yard individual medley school record.
The March 11 boys swim meet between Ramona and Monte Vista saw the Bulldogs win all 11 events.Ramona won the Two Man class at the April 30 Ironman Relays at Del Norte High School. The boys finished with a dual meet record of 3-5, including 2-3 in league competition.
Although Ramona finished last at the league meet (divers are not scored in dual meets if only one team has a diver, but league and CIF meet scores include diving results), Glaudini won the individual medley league championship. The Bulldogs were seventh among Division II teams at the CIF meet while setting six school records.
Ramona’s girls swim team lost its March 3 opener to Grossmont, but the Bulldogs won the March 5 Cougar Relays competition while setting meet records in two events. On April 13 Gina Lucas set a school record in the 100-yard backstroke.
At the April 30 Ironman Relays, the Bulldogs won the Two Maiden class while Lucas and Madi Lanz set a meet record in the 2x50 butterfly. Lucas took second in the individual medley at the league meet while setting a school record with at time of 2:10.60.
The girls placed 10h among the Division II squads at the CIF meet, and Lucas was second in the individual medley and third in the breaststroke.
Ramona’s boys volleyball team began its 2011 season March 9 by sweeping Orange Glen. On March 29 the Bulldogs defeated 2010 CIF Division III finalist La Jolla, and the following day Ramona defeated Poway for what is believed to be the first time ever.
That week Ramona also played in the La Jolla Tournament and reached the Bronze Division semifinals. The Bulldogs won their Scripps Ranch Tournament pool while reaching the bracket quarterfinals.
The boys volleyball team produced a 3-7 Palomar League record, allowing for a 16-14 regular-season record and the second seed in the CIF Division III playoffs, although the Bulldogs still shared last place in the league standings. A first-round bye was followed by a three-game home win over Montgomery, but La Jolla avenged its earlier loss to Ramona with a five-game win in the CIF semifinal.
The Bulldogs ended the season 17-15. Garrett Adelman was named to the Palomar League second team, and when the honors were for all-division rather than all-league Adelman and Billy White were named to the Division III first team while three Bulldogs earned second-team designation.
Girls Track and Field
Allison Stang took over as Ramona’s girls track and field head coach, making her head coaching debut March 17 with a non-league dual meet loss to Fallbrook. The Bulldog girls lost all seven dual meets, including the five league matchups.
Ramona’s boys track and field team opened its season with a 2-point win over Fallbrook. The March 17 meet concluded with the triple jump, and Ramona’s Trevor Dotson not only captured the first-place points but set a school record with a distance of 44’9”.
On April 30 Nathan Cherek won the freshman boys 100-meter dash at the Dick Wilkins Frosh-Soph Invitational meet. Dotson broke his school triple jump record twice during the season, including a 45’4” performance which won the league meet and a 46’2” figure at the CIF preliminaries.
The league meet also saw Preston Johnson throw the shot put 49 feet 5-1/2 inches to win the Palomar League individual championship.
Ramona’s boys were 3-4 in dual meets for the season, including 1-4 against Palomar League competition. The Bulldogs placed second at the CIF meet, falling 2 points short of University City’s total, which won the Division II championship for the Centurions.
Zach Kovach ran the 200-meter dash in 21.79 seconds at the CIF finals to set a school record. Dylan Blankenbaker’s time of 4:15.84 in the 800-meter run didn’t set a school record but placed third among runners from all divisions and earned Blankenbaker a lane at the state meet, where his time of 4:15.33 in the preliminaries placed 19th among the 32 runners.
CIF Life Pass
Ramona resident Bill McLaughlin retired as the assistant CIF commissioner at the end of June, and on June 7 the CIF Board of Managers presented McLaughlin with a CIF life pass.
Girls Cross Country
Kim Toth began her career as Ramona’s girls cross country coach when the Bulldogs opened the season Sept. 3 at the Vaquero Stampede, taking second as a team in the freshman-sophomore team race fifth in the junior-senior race. Ramona’s girls were seventh among the 17 small-school teams at the Oct. 21 Jaguar Invite.
The girls were winless in dual meets and last at the league meet, but they placed 13th among the 20 Division II teams at the CIF meet.
Boys Cross Country
The boys cross country team began the season Sept. 3 by taking first in the junior-senior division of the Vaquero Stampede and second in the freshman-sophomore division. The top four junior-senior finishers were Ramona boys with Blankenbaker winning the race. Ramona’s varsity didn’t compete at the Showdown at Sundown meet, but the junior varsity Bulldogs won that meet as a team while Josh Spieker and Tristan Stidham were the first two individual finishers.
As a team the Bulldogs took first in both the junior race and the senior race in the Mt. Carmel/Movin’ Shoes Cross-Country Invite while Blankenbaker won the senior race. Ramona competed in the premier division of the Nike Pre-Nationals meet Sept. 24 in Portland, Ore., and took third place while Blankenbaker finished second not only in the premier race but for all runners.
A 1-4 record in dual meets kept Ramona from winning the league championship, although the Bulldogs won the league meet and Blankenbaker was the individual champion.
Ramona finished second as a team in the CIF Division II section race and Blankenbaker was the second finisher. Ramona qualified for the state meet as a team and finished third in the Nov. 26 Fresno race with Blankenbaker taking second.
Blankenbaker closed out his high school cross country career Dec. 3 by placing 14th in the Nike Nationals in Portland.
Ramona’s girls volleyball team won its season opener Sept. 13 against San Marcos and then reached the finals of the Palm Desert Tournament before losing to Desert Christian while placing three players on the all-tournament team. Ramona reached the consolation finals of the Scripps Ranch tournament and had two bracket all-tournament selections.
The Bulldogs won their pool at the Southern California Invitational tournament. A first-round loss to West Hills in the CIF Division II playoffs ended Ramona’s season with a 10-19 record, including an 0-10 Palomar League mark.
Mikayla Derochie earned second-team Palomar League honors while two other Bulldogs were honorable mention recipients.
Ramona’s novice volleyball team won the Silver Division of the Sept. 24 Titan Invitational tournament, won its pool at the Oct. 8 Santa Fe Christian Tournament, and reached the semifinals of Ramona’s Oct. 15 tournament.
The Bulldogs’ junior varsity squad spent Oct. 8 at the RB Roundup tournament and reached the semifinals, and the JV team played into the Silver Division semifinals of Ramona’s Oct. 22 tournament.
Boys Water Polo
Williams’ boys water polo team began the 2011 season 4-2 at the Sept. 8-10 Poway Invitational tournament. The Bulldogs were 3-2 at the Oct. 14-15 Vellencamp Tournament.
Ramona lost all 10 Palomar League games, and a first-round playoff loss to La Costa Canyon gave the Bulldogs a final record of 9-21. Two Bulldogs received third-team all-league honors while two others were awarded honorable mention distinction.