San Marcos High star Katie Edgar has shined as two points of light in the Royals’ universe this spring.
Edgar, a sophomore standout on the school’s beach volleyball team, will also lead San Marcos into the stadium of rival Santa Barbara for Wednesday’s City Championship Track and Field meet.
“Kate is one of our most well-rounded athletes,” coach Marilyn Hantgin said during Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Café. “She’s one of our best shot-putters, triple-jumpers, long jumpers, hurdlers, relay runners … Whatever we need, Kate is there. She’s very strong.
“She’s also our best beach volleyball player right now, playing for the No. 1 team — so it’s split time. She’s working really hard indoors (volleyball), too. She brings a lot.”
Hantgin also expects newcomer Ajha Dennis, a talented sprinter and long jumper, to give the Royals a boost in Wednesday’s 3 p.m., tri-way against the Dons and Dos Pueblos.
A pair of two-sport stars have also fortified her boys team: football’s Benji Rodriguez, a star end and linebacker who leads her throws group, and Julian Hicks, a basketball standout who boosts San Marcos’ stock in the 400-meter race.
Santa Barbara coach Moki Nacario has his own multi-sport stars in sprinter Olivia Gaspar and middle-distance runner Lea Pynn, both of whom played this winter for San Marcos’ Channel League championship girls soccer team.
“They’re very exciting to watch because this is their first year of track and they’re dropping times almost every meet,” he said.
Three of the Dons’ top entries in Wednesday’s boys meet are long and triple jumper Davis Flanagin, who was honored on Monday as the Round Table’s Male Athlete of the Week; hurdler Jack Ransdell, and sprinter Anthony Lopez.
DP’s challengers include a quartet of senior veterans: long and triple jumper Isabella Bowman Andreattos, 400-meter runner and pole vaulter Berenice Gomez Chavez, long-distance runner Javier Obispo Munoz, and 400-meter runner Justin Vincent.
“Not only are they awesome athletes but they’re also great leaders for our team, running the practices and helping every way we need it as coaches,” coach Sara Richardson said.
Westmont College coach Russell Smelley toured the country this month. He took a dozen athletes to the NAIA National Indoors in Brookings, S.D. and then brought 51 more to Virginia for the University of Richmond’s Fred Hardy Invitational. Nine of his Warriors wound up qualifying for the NAIA’s Outdoor Nationals.
The hectic month had a poignant conclusion on Saturday for the veteran coach with a celebration of life for Jason Oatis, his longtime assistant coach. Oatis, known affectionately as “Coach O” by his students and athletes, passed away on Feb. 17.
“We lost one of the gentlest, sweetest, nicest men I’ve ever known in my life,” Smelley said. “How many people he touched as a PE teacher at Santa Barbara Christian, at Cold Springs School, at Montecito Union …. He coached football at Santa Barbara City College, at UCSB, and helped me for 27 years, so he has a legacy of giving and caring.
“In 62 years, he lived a full life. He influenced children and young people for his entire life … and adults, too.”
Oatis, a Santa Barbara High graduate who received his teaching credential at UCLA, is survived by his wife Judy, son Matthew, daughter Rachel, and his mother, Mrs. Clevonease Johnson.
Swimming and Diving
Monday’s honorees included San Marcos senior Jessica Norman, a converted gymnast whose championship at Saturday’s Ventura Diving Invitational earned her the Athletic Round Table’s Female Athlete of the Week Award.
“Rarely do you have an athlete who comes in without a lot of diving experience that just progresses minute-by-minute at such a high level,” coach Michael Martz said. “I can’t take credit for that — it’s all the gymnastics coaches she’s had over the years.
“She comes with raw talent, an amazing work ethic, and just a fantastic attitude … and it’s all paying off.”
Another athlete was also honored for her versatility on Monday. Amy Peterson is both a bocce star and an accomplished skier, coach Jaime Rutiaga said, noting that her hard work earned her the Special Olympics Athlete of the Month Trophy. The award is sponsored by Guarantee Rate Mortgage.
San Marcos High girls lacrosse, which received votes this week in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 poll, has its own two-sport star in sophomore midfielder Ellie Monson. She received the Round Table Female Athlete of the Week Award on March 14 after leading the Royals to upset wins over No. 2 Orange Lutheran and Oak Park.
“She’s also the starting point guard for San Marcos basketball when she’s not on the lacrosse field,” coach Paul Ramsey pointed out. “She’s an amazing athlete with a 4.7 GPA, and she’ll probably write her own ticket to wherever she wants to go to college.
“Her motor runs so high all the time. There is no pause in what Ellie does on the court or on the lacrosse field.”
Santa Barbara’s Alex Rottman, an elite outside hitter who was selected as the Round Table’s Male Athlete of the Week on March 14, has also stepped up as a leader this season.
“And at the high school level, leadership is huge,” coach Jon Roberts said.
Santa Barbara, which is also getting stellar play from brothers Will and Ford Harmon, as well as libero Ryan Slater, is ranked No. 6 in this week’s CIF-SS Division 1/2 poll.
San Marcos has earned a Division 1/2 ranking of No. 19 behind the play of such two-sport stars as football’s Evan Shinn and basketball’s Zachary Van Bogelen. Colin Earls has contributed as the Royals’ libero.
“We’re very blessed in this town to have a lot of quality boys volleyball players,” coach Roger Kuntz said.
Dos Pueblos, which is ranked No. 10 in Division 3, received a boost from junior Grant Hughes when he transitioned from the Chargers’ CIF finalist basketball team. Senior middle Troy Fitzgerald, one of the team’s middles, and senior libero Parker Randolph have also helped DP remain competitive against some of the top teams in Southern California.
“We’re 10-4, and a couple of our best matches came with a loss in the column,” coach Ehren Hug said. “Those were against Santa Barbara and San Marcos … Playing them twice and sometimes three times a year is good for our volleyball program.”
Dos Pueblos and San Marcos, two of the Channel League’s top girls softball teams, will clash twice this week, weather permitting. Chargers’ coach Mike Gerken, who introduced junior outfielder Trisha Lo and junior first baseman Georgia Miller during Monday’s luncheon, had to bail water off his field even before the arrival of Monday’s storm.
“A pipe broke out next to my field,” he explained. “I pull up and see a duck in my outfield. Hopefully, we’ll get our field back into shape and play (at DP on Friday).”
San Marcos coach Jeff Swann will need a herculean effort to get his field ready for today’s clash of the local softball titans. Two of his freshman stars, pitcher-first baseman Kate Guerra and second baseman Kayla Aguilar, are getting their feet wet in the local rivalry.
“They were instrumental in helping the Goleta Valley Girls Softball Association 14-and-under team get second place in the Western Nationals last year,” Swann pointed out.
Bishop Diego has been holding its own against stellar competition with the defense of such players as seniors Yvette Rosales and junior captain Lily Simolon.
“Yvette made a catch at her shoestrings which we were able to turn into a triple play against Carp in a game we won 6-1,” said coach MeLinda Matsumoto. She added that Simolon “made a diving catch last week to keep us in the game against Foothill Tech.”
Former Santa Barbara High tennis star Cade Pierson, who continued on to become a two-time NAIA All-American at Westmont, is still making an impact locally as the Warriors’ new coach. They are 5-2 so far in Golden State Athletic Conference play.
“She has them just a game back of first place and returning to the national tournament, which is something they haven’t done since she was just a sophomore,” assistant sports information director Jacob Norling said.