A look at the top sports stories in the Napa Valley in 2018:
Golf: Tway wins Safeway Open at Silverado
- Kevin Tway won the Safeway Open, a $6.4 million PGA Tour event on the North Course at Silverado Resort and Spa, in October. Tway won it on the third hole of a playoff by making a birdie putt from 10 feet. He beat Ryan Moore on the par-4, 10th hole.
It’s Tway’s first PGA Tour win. He went birdie, birdie, birdie in the playoff. He is the son of Bob Tway, an eight-time winner on Tour. Bob Tway won the PGA Championship in 1986.
Kevin Tway was fantastic late in the day, making birdies on his final five holes, including the playoff holes. He and his dad become the 10th father-son duo to win on the PGA Tour.
He gets an exemption to the Masters and a spot into the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua, Maui in January.
The Safeway Open, presented by Chevron, is the first event of the PGA Tour’s 2018-19 wrap-around schedule that bridges two years. The tournament is part of the FedExCup schedule.
The attendance for the week was announced at 82,500.
- The Safeway Open was honored by the PGA Tour at the Tour’s tournament meetings in La Quinta, Calif. The Safeway Open shared honors with the Waste Management Phoenix Open as “Most Fan-First Event,” the Tour announced.
The newly introduced award recognizes significant enhancements to the on-site fan experience, according to a press release.
- Johnny Miller, a 25-time champion on the PGA Tour and a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, will retire from NBC Sports as the network’s lead golf analyst following the Waste Management Phoenix Open, scheduled for Jan. 31-Feb. 3, 2019 at TPC Scottsdale.
Miller, one of the owners of Silverado Resort and Spa and the tournament host of the Safeway Open, announced his retirement in October.
He has been with NBC Sports since 1990.
Miller wants to be closer to home, to spend more time with family, in particular his grandchildren. He and his wife, Linda, have 24 grandchildren.
- Jim Wiechers, a former PGA Tour player who was an NCAA All-American at Santa Clara University, died in October at Queen of the Valley Medical Center after a four-month illness, his family said.
Wiechers, who made his home in Napa, was 74.
Wiechers won the 1962 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at Lochmoor Club in Grosse Point Woods, Michigan. He had a successful amateur career and played on the PGA Tour for 13 years, qualifying for the U.S. Open four times.
He is in the Santa Clara Athletic Hall of Fame. He was the No. 1-ranked amateur in 1966 by Golf Digest.
He was the runner-up at the 1965 NCAA Championship at Holston Hills in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Wiechers spent several years as the head men’s and women’s golf coach and working as a coach in the P.E. Department at Napa Valley College.
- Scott McCarron, a Vintage High School graduate and former Napa resident, had a big year on the PGA Tour Champions.
He had two wins and 12 Top-10 finishes, and finished second in the Charles Schwab Cup standings.
He tied for third in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Phoenix Country Club. It was the third and final tournament of the Schwab Cup Playoffs.
He was second on the Schwab Cup money list ($2,008,618).
He was also fourth in scoring average (69.38), fourth in driving distance (295.2), fourth in the all-around ranking, sixth in birdie average, and seventh in total driving,
He played in 26 events this year.
Prep Volleyball: North Coast Section title for Calistoga High
It was one of the greatest nights in the history of Calistoga High athletics – a Saturday night in early November with a gym full of fans to see the Wildcats play in the CIF North Coast Section Division 6 Volleyball Championship match.
Calistoga, the No. 8 seed, was in a finely-tuned rhythm in the fourth game, as it beat Jewish Community-San Francisco, 3-1.
By winning 25-22, 18-25, 25-18, 25-9, Calistoga completed a 4-0 run in the section playoffs.
North Coast Section Commissioner Gil Lemmon made the trip from his office in San Ramon in the East Bay to attend the match. He presented players and coaches from each team with individual medals.
Calistoga also received the NCS pennant and a large plaque – awards that coach T’Anne Butcher, her assistant coaches and the players proudly displayed as their photos were taken near the net.
The NCS title is one of top athletic achievements in Calistoga High history.
“I would say, I just have a team of all-stars,” said Butcher. “We’ve got amazing defense. Great servers, good hitters, good blockers. We’re a scrappy team. We’re not afraid to get hurt throwing ourselves on the court. They did everything I could possibly ask of them tonight.
“You saw it. We were everywhere on the court. All the hitters were on. Serving was great. It’s how it’s been through the whole playoffs.”
Calistoga’s season ended in Round I of the CIF Regional Championships with a 3-0 loss to Redding Christian in Palo Cedro (Shasta County).
The Wildcats were 13-10 overall, 9-3 in the North Central League III.
Prep Sports: New league, new section for schools
The 2018-19 school year signaled a new league and section for local schools.
Napa and Vintage left the Monticello Empire League, where it has been members since 1976. American Canyon left the Solano County Athletic Conference, where it has been an original member since 2011.
The three Napa Valley Unified School District schools left the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. They moved into a brand new league, the Vine Valley Athletic League, a member of the North Coast Section.
The North Coast Section Board of Managers voted unanimously in October of 2017 to approve a proposal to group Napa, Vintage, American Canyon, Justin-Siena, Sonoma Valley, Petaluma and Casa Grande-Petaluma into a league together starting with the 2018-19 school year.
The move returns Napa and Vintage to the North Coast Section, where they were members through the 1975-76 school year.
Justin-Siena left the Marin County Athletic League to join the VVAL.
Colleges: Super year for area athletes
* Sisters Torrey and Adlee Van Winden received American Volleyball Coaches Association Honorable Mention All-America honors for Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.
Torrey is a junior opposite hitter. Adlee is a senior outside hitter.
They are Vintage High graduates and were also named to the Pacific North AVCA All-Region Team.
Torrey, the Big West Conference Player of the Year, averaged 5.07 kills and 2.80 digs per set.
Adlee averaged 2.92 kills and 2.49 digs per set.
Cal Poly (25-3 overall) won the Big West title for the second year in a row.
* UC San Diego outfielder Kelsi Maday, a Napa High graduate, was named as the California Collegiate Athletic Association’s Most Valuable Player on the All-CCAA softball team after her senior season, the conference announced in May.
Maday was also selected to the All-CCAA first team.
She was an All-CCAA first-team selection and All-West Region honoree in both 2016 and 2017.
NFL: Joint practice between Lions and Raiders
A joint training camp practice between Detroit and Oakland in early August ended with a spirited goal-line session, with the Lions’ offense going against the Raiders’ defense on the east field of the Redwood Middle School complex.
It was live, tackle-to-the-ground football, with all kinds of loud contact at the line of scrimmage.
One of the largest crowds of the summer was on hand – with fans filling the bleachers on the east and west sides of the Raiders’ 2½-field facility in Napa.
“There’s an etiquette and a professionalism that we want to have, number one,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said. “We don’t want a bunch of screaming and yelling and brawling out here. We want to have good, solid, fundamental football. Teaching moments. See a different opponent, block some different looks and get better. That’s the number one thing.”
This year marked the Raiders’ 23rd summer in Napa. The team stays at the adjacent Napa Valley Marriott.
Prep Football: Big year for Vintage
* It was a big year for Vintage, which went 10-3 overall, winning the Vine Valley Athletic League championship and advancing to the semifinals of the CIF North Coast Section Division 1 playoffs.
Vintage received the No. 8 seed for the NCS Division 1 playoffs and had wins over No. 9 James Logan-Union City, 36-0, and No. 1 Antioch, 24-21, in double overtime.
Vintage’s 10-game win streak was broken in a 14-3 loss to host San Ramon Valley-Danville, the No. 4 seed, in an NCS semifinal-round game.
* Ivan Robledo of St. Helena High was named as the Prep2Prep.com Freshman of the Year.
Robledo, a running back, gained 800 yards and scored 12 touchdowns in only four games. Robledo averaged 9.09 yards per carry.
* The Napa Valley Unified School District is searching for a head football coach for Napa High, which went 0-10 during the 2018 season and finished in last place in the Vine Valley Athletic League.
It’s the first Napa High team to go winless since 1955.
Baseball: First season for Napa Silverados
* As an expansion team, the Napa Silverados played their first season in the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs. The Northern California-based summer independent league was founded in 2013 and consists of six teams. San Rafael, Sonoma, Vallejo, Pittsburg and Martinez are also in the league.
Napa won its final game of the regular season in late August, 14-4 over the Vallejo Admirals at Napa Valley College’s Storm Field. But the Silverados did not move on to the postseason after finishing in fifth place with a 31-49 record.
* Aaron Shortridge, a 2015 Vintage High graduate, was selected in the fourth round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2018 First-Year Player Draft in June. The Pirates on June 12 announced that they signed Shortridge, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound right-hander, who was named honorable mention on the Pac-12 All-Conference team as a junior for Cal in late May.
Shortridge spent the 2018 summer as a starting pitcher for the West Virginia Black Bears, the Class A short season affiliate of the Pirates’ organization. The Black Bears, based in Granville, West Virginia, play in the New York-Penn League.
Shortridge made eight starts and had a 1-1 record with a 2.67 earned run average.
He was 5-3 with a 2.77 ERA in 17 appearances as a junior for Cal this past year. He made 12 starts and threw three complete games.
* Jason Brandow, a 2018 Vintage High graduate, was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft in June. Brandow turned down the Pirates’ offer and is in his freshman year on the baseball team at Cal State Fullerton.
Brandow was named as the Player of the Year on the Napa Valley Register’s All-Napa County team.
* Kris Negron of Napa played in 18 games for the Seattle Mariners.
Negron, an infielder-outfielder, was called up by the Mariners from Tacoma of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, as teams expanded their rosters in September.
Negron was acquired by Seattle in a trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for cash considerations, it was announced in a story by mlb.com.
Negron batted .207 with a home run and three RBIs for Seattle.
* Todd Pridy stepped down as Napa High’s head coach after leading the program since 2002.
Napa won the Monticello Empire League title in 2009 and tied for the championship in 2007 and 2012.
One of Pridy’s best seasons came in 2009, when Napa finished 22-8 overall. Napa was 21-5 during the 2012 season. This year, Napa (15-13 overall, 9-6 MEL) finished second in the MEL and lost in the first round of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs to Woodcreek-Roseville, 6-5.
Jason Chatham, Napa’s new head coach, has been an assistant in the program for the last three years.
Chatham spent 14 years as the head coach at Rodriguez High-Cordelia. Rodriguez (23-9 overall, 13-2 Solano County Athletic Conference) won the SJS Division III championship in 2012.
Rodriguez (26-5-1 overall, 13-2 SCAC) finished as the SJS runner-up in 2011.
Basketball: Player of the Year honor for Imhoff
* Ryan Imhoff, a 2014 Napa High graduate, was named as the National Association of Basketball Coaches NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball Player of the Year for Carroll College of Helena, Montana. The honor was announced after the conclusion of the NAIA Division I championship game in Kansas City, Missouri in March.
Imhoff, a 6-foot-6 senior forward for the Saints, was named as the Frontier Conference Player of the Year and was selected as a first-team NAIA Division I All-American. A two-year team captain, he averaged 19.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.4 steals per game for 34 games during the 2017-18 season. He averaged 32.4 minutes per game.
He scored 1,953 points during his four-year career at Carroll.
Carroll won Frontier Conference regular-season and tournament championships and finished the season at 28-6 overall.
* The Portland Trail Blazers announced on July 6 that they signed Gary Trent Jr., a guard, who played his senior season of high school basketball for Prolific Prep Academy of Napa.
Trent, who played his freshman season of college basketball for Duke last year, was acquired by Portland in a draft day trade on June 21 with the Sacramento Kings. Trent was the 37th overall selection in the second round of the NBA Draft.
Trent declared for the NBA Draft after the 2017-18 season for Duke. He started and played in all 37 games for the Blue Devils, who finished 29-8 overall and 13-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
He averaged 14.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game for Duke, which as the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament reached the Elite Eight. Trent averaged 33.9 minutes per game and scored 536 total points. He set a Duke freshman record with 97 3-pointers.
* Josh Jackson, a 6-foot-8 guard-forward who averaged 13.1 points on 41.7 percent shooting, 4.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.04 steals per game, was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team for the Phoenix Suns, the league announced in May.
Jackson, a Justin-Siena graduate and former star for Prolific Prep Academy of Napa, is on the second team. He played in 77 games and shot 26.3 percent from 3-point distance and 63.4 percent from the free-throw line.
Jackson, the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, made 35 starts during the season and had 49 double-figure scoring games. He scored 36 points, a career-best, against the Golden State Warriors on March 17.
* Jordan Brown, who averaged 21.5 points, 11.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game as a 6-foot-11 senior forward-center for Napa’s Prolific Prep Academy during the 2017-18 basketball season, announced in May his commitment to play for the University of Nevada.
Brown was highly honored in his one and only season for Prolific Prep, which plays a national tournament and showcase schedule.
Brown scored 26 points on 13-of-19 shooting to help the West team to a 131-128 win over the East in the 41st McDonald’s All-American game at Philips Arena in Atlanta in March. Brown also had eight rebounds, one assist and one steal in 22 minutes.
Napa Valley Marathon: New race director
* Michelle La Sala, the founder of Blistering Pace Race Management, has been hired by the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon board of directors as the event’s race director.
La Sala, a Napa resident, takes over for Rich Benyo and Dave Hill, who retired after 16 years as co-race directors following the 40th annual race in March. Benyo and Hill have each been involved with the race for 30 years.
Blistering Pace Race Management, founded in 2016, works in a variety of race management capacities, ranging from staffing to full operational oversight, according to a press release.
La Sala has a three-year contract as Napa Valley Marathon race director.
The Napa Valley Marathon is sanctioned by USA Track & Field. This year’s race was the Road Runners Club of America National Marathon Championships – part of the RRCA Championship Event Series for the marathon distance.
The 26.2-mile Napa Valley Marathon course is measured and certified by USA Track & Field for accurate distance.
The event has been supported by 1,200 volunteers each year. Each finisher at Napa receives a race medal.
Benyo and Hill will each continue as board members emeritus for at least one more year.
* Organizers of the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon and Half Marathon recently announced a partnership with Conn Creek Winery for 2019.
The start line for the inaugural half marathon, a 13.1-mile race, will be at Conn Creek Winery on the Silverado Trail in St. Helena.
The new half-marathon race was announced in June by event officials. It’s a new option for runners on race day.
The 41st annual Napa Valley Marathon and Half Marathon races are on March 3, 2019.
The half marathon starts at 7 a.m. The marathon starts at 7:30 a.m. from Rosedale Road and Silverado Trail in Calistoga.
The 13.1-mile race will start on the Silverado Trail at Conn Creek Winery (8711 Silverado Trail, St. Helena), which is the halfway point of the 26.2-mile route.
The finish line for both races is in the front parking lot area of Vintage High School.
* Gard Leighton, the longest-serving member of the board of directors of the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon and a longtime ultra-marathon runner, passed away, his family said. He won his age division at the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run five times while completing the event a total of 10 times.
The Napa resident, who also served as a race director for the Napa Valley Marathon, was 84. The family declined to provide details regarding his death.
Leighton completed six marathons and 200 ultra-marathons during his long-distance running career. Ultra-marathons, which cover any distance over 26.2 miles, are usually held on trails in mountainous areas and over rugged terrain.
Leighton was presented with USA Track & Field’s Pacific Association Male Ultrarunner of the Year award for 2005 at a banquet in February of 2006 in San Francisco. He won the 70-year-old age division in all seven races he competed in that year; one was a 50-miler and the others were 50K races. He also set course records for over age-70 runners in five of those, breaking the old record in some cases by over two hours. There were 14 races overall — consisting of 50K to 100 miles — during the 2005 schedule.