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Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table

Round Table Luncheon: Cross Country Can Be as Crazy as ‘Herding Cats’

Dos Pueblos, Carpinteria host competitions on Wednesday

Dos Pueblos coach Nate Mendoza, right, brought three key members of his offense to the Round Table press luncheon: receiver Blake Erwin, left; quarterback Kellen Roberts, back row, left, and tackle Erick Nisich. Click to view larger
Dos Pueblos coach Nate Mendoza, right, brought three key members of his offense to the Round Table press luncheon: receiver Blake Erwin, left; quarterback Kellen Roberts, back row, left, and tackle Erick Nisich. (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

San Marcos cross country coach Lawrence Stehmeier described the organizing of runners for a race as “herding cats.”

Carpinteria athletic director Pat Cooney learned that cross country coaches stress out as much as football coaches before a competition.

After talking with his coach Angel Silva before the Warriors’ season-opening meet at UCSB, Cooney realized, “All the logistics that happen in the football planning happen in the cross country planning,” he told the audience at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Café.

He liked Stehmeier’s herding cats analogy.

Stehmeier said he gives the tough job of herding cats to his captains, Claire Bjork and Jonathan Nguyen.

“We have 43 runners each on the boys and girls JV teams, so you got 43 nervous freshmen and sophomore kids that might not be making the right choices before the race,” he said. “I give (Bjork and Nguyen) 100 percent responsibility to get them on the line, get them ready to run and make sure they know the course.”

Stehmeier also introduced two of his young up-and-coming runners, Sergio Aldapa and Megan Plant. Both have siblings who compete in the sport. Megan’s older sister runs for the Royals while Sergio’s sister, Adaline, is now at San Jose State.

After opening their season with a dominating performance in a five-way meet in Lompoc, the Royals will next compete in the first Channel League meet on Wednesday at Dos Pueblos.

“We have a great team this year and we have a great league,” Stehmeier said. “We ran up at Lompoc with five teams and took all four levels. We looked strong, but it was a small pond. This week we go into a bigger pond, which is our league.”

Carpinteria: Speaking for coach Silva, Cooney said girls team captains Mikela Keefer and Alondra Campuzano set the bar high for the team.  Juan Gomez and Sam Truax are the captains for the boys team.

The Warriors host their invitational meet on Wednesday on the Viola Bluffs.

Dos Pueblos: Coach Josh Christensen said the Chargers ran well at the Seaside Invitational last week. Christina Rice won the girls senior class race, while Hunter Clark ran his first sub-15 minute 3-mile race (14:55) and finished second in the senior boys race.

He said, “It will be fun to mix up” with the other four Channel League teams at the first league meet on Wednesday at DP.”

Westmont College: Coach Russell Smelley described cross country as a “persistent sport — the clock doesn’t stop ticking, the terrain doesn’t quit bothering you and the desire to slow down always has to be fought off.

“That’s what we’re working on with our team this year, with the desire of having excellence and persisting to become the team we’re capable of being.”

He said the women’s team has veterans who are learning to take the lead role, while the men are being powered by the junior class. He told the juniors, “You all had the potential for the last two years. It’s time to fill that potential, otherwise you become what my coach said about potential: Potential is a French word for ‘too bad.’ It would be too bad if you didn’t reach your potential and run as fast as you could and have a chance to win the conference, which will be a big order with Biola and Master’s ahead of them. But I think they’re capable of doing it.”


SBCC: Coach Craig Moropoulos said Saturday’s victory over West L.A. “was a very rewarding win.” The Vaqueros’ defense allowed just seven points in the second, the offense scored 45 points and didn’t turn the ball over.

He noted that several players from the community “are playing big roles in our program.” Among them is running back Manny Nwosu from Dos Pueblos. He gained 87 yards on 8 carries and scored on a 32-yard touchdown run.

“Manny Nwosu is a truck, and a fast truck,” said Moropoulos.

The coach introduced quarterback Noah Holle, a transfer from Bakersfield College, who threw three touchdown passes on Saturday, and Elijah Cunningham.

“He has a famous last name,” Moropoulos said of the nephew of former Santa Barbara High and NFL stars Randall and Sam Cunningham. “He’s doing things to establish himself; he’s a preseason All-American kick return, but he’s established himself as a wide receiver. He had two touchdowns and four catches on Saturday. He’s a threat every time he goes down the field.”

San Marcos: Coach Jason Fowle saw encouragement and positive development in a 34-29 loss at Morro Bay two weeks ago. “Then we went and played Lompoc. It’s a tough opponent to face when we’re trying to build confidence as a group and as a team.” The Royals lost 46-0.

“I have faith in these guys that we will continue to work hard and grind day in and day out. We’re looking forward to a good week at practice. We have a good opportunity against Hueneme.”

Fowle said he’s looking for good things from Ash Allen at running back. Allen is a leader and “one of the greater personalities on our team”

The first-year coach is pleased with the play of Jose Romo, who played quarterback in the second half of the Lompoc game. “He did a standup job against Lompoc.”

Dos Pueblos: Coach Nate Mendoza commended Doug Caines for the job he’s done with the Chargers’ defense. They unit has posted back-to-back shutouts.

Mendoza brought three big pieces of his high-powered offense: quarterback Kellen Roberts, wide receiver Blake Erwin and left tackle Erick Nisich. They are three-year varsity players.

Nisich is a two-way starter. “He takes care of Kellen’s backside at left tackle and is a force to be reckoned with at defensive tackle. He’s always putting highlights together in games,” said Mendoza of the junior.

On Roberts: “He does a great job commanding our offense and leading our no-huddle attack,” said Mendoza.

The coach said Erwin is averaging over 100 yards a game receiving and rushing. “He kind of does it all for us.”

The Chargers host defending CIF champion Camarillo on Friday.

“The Scorpions are coming to Goleta,” said an excited Mendoza.

Santa Barbara: The Dons lost Donovan Zavaleta and Esteban Solis to injuries in their win at Channel Islands.

“We still have the injury bug, but after last week our guys finally realized everybody is going to play and they’ve accepted that role and played a very good football game,” said Dons coach JT Stone of the 13-10 win. “We have injuries and they went out and got the job done.”

He cited the play of Jeremiah Nicholson and sophomore Franky Gamberdella as keys to the win. Nicholson, whom Stone called “one of the best athletes in the 805,” switched from quarterback to wide receiver and safety. Gamberdella took over at quarterback and played well while taking some big hits.

“He took some hits and got right back up,” Stone said. “He’s competitor. I’m confident after watching him play. We’re moving forward, we’re going to be okay against Lompoc. We expect to win that game.”

Bishop Diego: Assistant coach Steve Robles said Ashton Borgeson and Austin Bohnett have been impact players for the Cardinals. Borgeson is a middle linebacker and fullback and Bohnett moved from cornerback to safety because of an injury to Dylan Streett.

“He’s a very smart football player and versatile,” said Robles.

He said Borgeson had to play a little more fullback in the win at LaSalle because of an injury to Evan McKeegan.

“He had some key runs. At middle linebacker, he gets it done. He’s all over the field and just has a good sense to find the ball.”

The Cardinals play host to St. Joseph on Friday at 7 p.m. at La Playa Stadium.

Carpinteria:  Coach Ben Hallock introduced two-way starters David Torres (center/noseguard) and Terrell Richardson (wide receiver/safety).

Despite getting thumped against Santa Ynez and Nipomo, Hallock said he’s looking at the positive side of things. The Warriors held down both opponents in the second half.

Now in the Frontier League, the Warriors will be playing their old Tri-Valley League foes for the next four games, starting with Friday’s home opener against Nordhoff.

Hallock’s return to the Round Table press luncheon stirred up some fond memories for the long-time coach.

“The first time I was here I was a high school junior in 1971,” he said. “I sat over there with coach Sam Cathcart and Mike Moropoulos; I had myself introduced. That’s a great memory.

“In 1979, I had my first job as coach of Bishop and Steve Robles was one of my guys.” He also brought Dominic Bohnett, the father of current Bishop player, Austin Bohnett.


Westmont women: Coach Chantel Cappuccilli was concerned about who would step up and score goals for her squad. Turns out everyone is getting into the act. 

"Our offensive ability has been extremely impressive," she said. "We've had 16 girls score on the season which must be some sort of record." Brooke Lillywhite leads the 6-0 Warriors with nine goals.

Westmont's seventh-ranked women (6-0) have outscored their opposition 32-3 so far this season.

UCSB Women: The 7-0 Gauchos are off to their best start since 1990. Angelisa Cortez, director of operations, introduced local recruit Erin Williams, a freshman from Santa Ynez.

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