Friday, May 30, 2008

Sights From the CIF State Track and Field Meet

I'm down here in Norwalk covering the state track meet. Read all the results of your favorite SLO County athletes in the Tribune or at
Blog readers will get all the extra stuff.

I'm armed and dangerous with my camera and hope to be posting videos of the action within the weekend.

Until those get up, here's an update.

I saw two stud high school basketball players at the meet. UCLA-bound senior Drew Gordon qualified fourth in the discus for tomorrow's final with a 180-foot, 2-inch throw. He's one spot behind Nipomo's Korben Boaz, who popped a personal-best 181-10.

I also ran by Compton basketball star Demar DeRozan, who was not competing but was watching in the stands, on my way out to interview SLO star Tonie Williams. I didn't have the time to ask if he was really going to renege on his commitment to USC.

Nipomo coach Matt Soenksen let me in on a superstition. His Titans caravan of throwers Boaz and Jeanette DeWitt stayed at the same Hilton and ate at the same meals at the same Mimi's Cafe as they did for last week's CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet, which was also at Cerritos College. He didn't say if they were bummed not to get the same parking spot at the stadium.

Now would be a good time to mention that the starting pistol scares the crap out of me every time it goes off. Come to a meet. I challenge you. Come to a meet, whip out a computer, type some stuff and just try to keep the solids in when the deafening POW! rattles your innards.

It'll be a surprise if the Central Coast athletes don't do well on Saturday. The weather conditions were vintage SLO County. The temperature was in the low 70s. It was sunny. And the wind was just strong enough to notice you didn't like it.

That's all for now. Stay tuned for more.

Monday, May 26, 2008

More Clayton McDonald (Funny, I swear)

Sunday's story on Atascadero diver Clayton McDonald (READ HERE) and his battles with leukemia had a certain serious tone.

But here on the blog, I want to introduce readers to another side of Clayton. Yes, he's survived cancer three times. And one of the ways he's gotten through it all and remained sane has been with humor.

Check out this video and you'll see what I mean. Guaranteed laughs. (FYI: Clayton is the kid who's gonzo for Grad Night.)

Clayton and his friends have starred in a few other films. You can view the whole collection HERE.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Baseball/Softball Players of the Year, Anyone?

The baseball and softball seasons are almost over, and the Templeton girls are the only ones still alive — again.

I figure it's the perfect time to poll the masses. Who in your mind deserves to be County Players of the Year?

As usual, weigh in on the online poll over to the right, but reason things out in the comment section.

I'll give a few contenders to get the ball rolling.

In baseball, you've got a few nominees, each with at least a small hole in his resume.

Mission Prep's Alex Detz batted .507, with just one more strikeout 6 than he had home runs 5, but the Royals did not play a great schedule.

Nipomo catcher Manny Reyes led the County with a .514 batting average and had good RBI totals, but his team fared poorly in PAC 7 play. Arroyo Grande catcher Lucas Kephart slugged six home runs, but was outdone by Reyes in a few other categories.

The All-County Team catcher spots will be interesting, especially considering San Luis Obispo catcher Darren Mullen — another POY candidate — had stats that looked like this at season's end: .479 BA, 4 HRs, county-leading 43 RBI.

But Mullen and the Tigers finished behind Paso Robles by 0.028 in percentage points for first place in the PAC 7.

The Bearcats' nominee has got to be pitcher John Brehm. The left-hander went 9-0 with five complete games, three shutouts and two saves. His ERA going into the playoffs was a microscopic 0.73. But he wasn't a heart-stopping power pitcher, and he didn't contribute a ton at the plate.

If Brehm ends up being the pick, it could be a Paso sweep.

Softball pitcher/shortstop Michelle Moses slugged 11 home runs, four more than the next closest county player. No one else in the PAC 7 had more than one.

Moses also led the league with 187 strikeouts despite being the only pitcher among the league leaders to have pitched fewer than 100 innings.

But Moses isn't all alone. Templeton's Kat Hicks, the 2006 Player of the Year, bested her with 193 strikeouts and was second in the county to Moses with a 0.52 ERA at the end of the regular season.

Both won league titles, but Hicks' team is still playing in the playoffs.

You make the call.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mott goes to mound, throws one more pitch for nets

Mission Prep two-sport standout Bob Mott is set to take the mound Tuesday in the CIF-Central Section Division V baseball semifinals against powerhouse Fowler.

Mott, many may remember, raised $2,335 in the past two years with a campaign to buy malaria nets for children in Africa. The Tribune covered his story each of the past two seasons as he used 3-point shooting as an incentive to fundraise.

Malaria, a mosquito-borne, flu-like illness, claims more than 1 million lives each year worldwide. Most of the victims are young children in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Much of the danger of malarial mosquitoes can be eliminated through the use of bed nets like the one Mott has above.

Since a few people have e-mailed in to find out how they can contribute to the cause, I asked him about it after the Royals' quarterfinal win last week. Mott suggested logging on to, a Web site run by the United Nations Foundation that's raised money for more than 2 million nets.

Mott originally got the idea to raise money after both reading an article by former Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly and taking a trip through one of the largest slums in Kenya. On a return trip last summer, he shot this video at an orphanage while playing soccer with some of the kids.

Kibagare — AMAZING soccer kid

Mott said he tried out some of the moves, but slipped and fell in the mud instead. He should stick to hoops. Check out this video of one of his monster dunks:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

SLO's Colonel Singles: Julian "Chicken" Arnold

He's San Luis Obispo High tennis' top singles player, the only one around here to ever take a set from Arroyo Grande's Andre Dome.

You'd think Julian Arnold would have some kind of macho nickname, like Duke or Hulk.

I've always liked boxer Juan "The Hispanic Causing Panic" Lazcano. With a name like that, who wouldn't?

But no, Arnold's matches are always accompanied by shouts of, "Let's go, Chicken!"

The origin of Chicken is disputed. Some say it's because the way Arnold holds his backpack, with his hands hooked onto the straps, it makes him look like he has chicken wings.

Others say he walks on his toes real chicken-like.

Whatever the reasons, it's stuck. And now the fans are starting to capitalize. This rubber chicken appeared on the chain link fence at last week's playoff match, and there's been talk of constructing a crude pen made of chicken wire for Arnold fans to sit in come this Tuesday's second-round playoff match.

Arnold doesn't seem fazed by the nickname — though I'm betting he secretly wishes it was something more like Orange Julian or something cool like that.

If you have any suggestions, I'll pass them along when I see him.

Anybody else remember any other local athletes with off-the-wall handles?

Cal Poly gets another local walk-on

The walk-on detractors aren't going to like this one.

Cal Poly sent out a news release announcing football commitments from three more players today, including former Hancock and Atascadero standout defensive back Neil Tidwell, who was admitted as an invited walk-on.

Good for Tidwell. I didn't see him play football for the Greyhounds, but I remember him concurrently playing baseball and running track as a senior at Atascadero. I'm still wowed by that.

But that's not all. Cal Poly's release didn't include Mission Prep's George Johnson, who said he's been invited to walk-on to the football team next fall.

"That's what I've always wanted to do since freshman year," said Johnson, who said Cal Poly coaches have already told him he has a secure spot on the team.

Johnson had 46 catches for 982 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior for Mission Prep. He averaged 122.8 yards per game.

Albeit at a small school, Johnson put up some numbers. He's relatively inexperienced at receiver and safety after having switched from quarterback during his junior year.

But he's very athletic and has good body control. I've personally seen him make some spectacular grabs.

Can he do it at Poly? We'll see. The Mustangs also have former SLO star Kevin Martin, who walked on last fall. It'll be interesting to see if either can settle into a role on the team.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Dylan Royer and Cal Poly: A Commitment

This is what Dylan Royer has been waiting for.

The Morro Bay High senior standout and reigning Tribune San Luis Obispo County Basketball Player of the Year has been pretty reserved this year talking about his college options.

UC San Diego, Concordia, Westmont. Those were the types of schools Royer reported getting offers from. But just below the surface, there always seemed to be this hope a spot would materialize for him here at home. Royer secretly wanted to go to Cal Poly.

Today, the Mustangs reported they've accepted Royer as an invited walk-on for next season. Here are portions of Cal Poly's news release announcing the union.

Dylan Royer Commits to Cal Poly
SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA – Cal Poly men’s basketball head coach Kevin Bromley announced today that Morro Bay senior Dylan Royer has been accepted to Cal Poly as a incoming freshman and has verbally committed to play basketball for the Mustangs as an invited walk-on for the 2008-09 season.
Royer, the San Luis Obispo County Player of the Year, averaged 22.5 points per game and 6.8 rebounds in leading the Pirates to 20-8 record and the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division III-AA playoffs.


“Having the county player of the year come to Cal Poly is fantastic,” said Bromley. “Dylan brings a tremendous amount of competitive sprit to the court and I love the way he shoots the ball. His unselfish play will bring a lot to the team.”


The release hasn't posted at yet, but if it appears, I'll try to link it. Look for more in Saturday's Tribune.

The move is bold. I like it. Royer most certainly could have gone on to a smaller college and contributed right away, maybe even had a star career. By choosing the Mustangs, he's taking a risk that he may not get much initial playing time if any by the end of his career.

College basketball walk-ons have historically been all over the map in terms of their career success. Some only stick for a year or two on the team. Some earn scholarships with solid performances. Some play well but are forced to transfer if things don't work out.

Look for the new poll: What do you think about Royer's chances at Cal Poly?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Going Out on Top

In the past two weeks, The Tribune has detailed Atascadero High diver Elizabeth Foran's fourth straight league and second straight CIF-Southern Section Division III titles.

What wasn't mentioned was her future.

In the post-meet interview Tuesday, Foran said she'll likely be quitting the sport as a competitior while she pursues a medical degree in college.

She said she'll do her undergrad work at UC San Diego, which does have a diving team. But with all of the expected coursework, she said she isn't thinking about trying out for the team until after her freshman year, if at all.

For someone who's been alternately participating in sports like gymnastics, competitive cheerleading and diving since she was six years old, Foran is feeling a little burnt out on the competitive aspect.

"I love it. I love practicve," Foran said of diving. "I love my team, but I hate competing. It’s just so much pressure on you... It’s just silent, and you’re up there by yourself, and you’re just like, 'Dang, I’m alone.' It’s just nerveracking."

In other college news, Nipomo basketball and track and field standout Jeanette DeWitt had a signing ceremony Wednesday at the school announcing her commitment to play basketball for NCAA Division II Sonoma State.

DeWitt is a two-time all-county basketball honoree, and got some mention for player of the year this season. In track and field, she's ranked fourth in the state in the discus with a top mark of 147 feet, 4 inches.

A relative late-bloomer on the throwing scene, DeWitt might've had an opportunity to continue her track career at a high level, but talking to her at the PAC 7 finals last week, I just got the impression that basketball is her first love.

Friday, May 02, 2008

A Long Week

This week, there were championships galore in some of what trendy peeps in the biz like to call "non-ball" sports.

Diving, swimming, track and field — though technically, the shot is a ball.

Anyway, watching all three PAC 7 champonship meets was a blast, even though I feel like a raisin after taking in all the sun. But since you've read about these epic events in The Tribune for the past few days, I thought I'd shift gears back to baseball.

Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and Arroyo Grande all have a shot at winning the PAC 7 title. The Bearcats have the inside track, but the Tigers are right there. The Eagles were more of a longshot leading into Friday's games, but are still in the race.

Who'll win the title? Who has the best shot in the playoffs? Are they one in the same?

If I had to pick one, I'd say San Luis Obispo has the best chance to win the title. The Tigers beat Paso Robles two out of three times and boast one of the toughest top-to-bottom lineups in recent memory.

But the playoffs are ruled by dominant pitchers, which San Luis Obispo — despite a stable of steady arms — doesn't really have.

Paso Robles' left-handed pitcher John Brehm had a 25-inning scoreless streak going before it was broken up by Righetti this week. He's 7-2 with and ERA of 0.72, and he struck out a season-high 10 batters in a 5-4 complete-game win over the Warriors.

The last time a dominant San Luis Obispo team took the title two years ago, it was Paso Robles, behind fireballing lefty Matt Drummond, that advanced farthest in the playoffs.

Arroyo Grande has some solid pitching, too. Nathan Raubinger has won five of his past six starts, but two of his three losses came to Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo.

Corey Butcher has a 2.18 ERA for the Eagles, but Arroyo Grande's supported him with an average of just 1.25 runs in his four losses. The Eagles are averaging nearly six runs per game otherwise.

What does all that mean? It could turn out that SLO makes the deepest playoff run. You decide. Vote in the polls.