This past year in St. Helena was full of incredible sports moments. We saw dramatic victories, heartbreaking losses, record-shattering performances, Cinderella stories and everything in between.
Here are the Top 10 St. Helena Star sports stories from 2019, as selected by Sports Editor Gus Morris.
Rise of Harper McClain
By now Harper McClain should be a household name in St. Helena. At one time an avid soccer player, she took up distance running for the high school track and field team in the spring and became an instant star. She became the school record holder in the 800-meter race, 1,600 and 3,200 and went on to record a top-ten finish at the CIF State Track and Field Championships.
She added to her legacy in the fall during the country season, once again setting numerous course records and winning league, conference, section and state titles – the first state title in school history – along the way. What’s more is she’s only in the middle of her junior year at SHHS. She’ll be looking to improve on her school records in track and field this upcoming spring as well as aiming to add a track and field state title to her trophy case.
Ivan Robledo record-setting rushing season
History was also made on the gridiron this fall, courtesy of running back Ivan Robledo. In his first full season on varsity, the 5-foot-11, 210-pound sophomore ran for 2,216 yards with 33 touchdowns, both marks that broke the existing single-season school records. The former rushing touchdown record was 29, set by Charles Bertoli in 2011, and the former rushing yards record was 1,717 set in 2013 by Sebastian Segura.
With only 16 varsity games under his belt, Robledo has 2,691 career rushing yards and 39 rushing touchdowns. With two seasons of high school ball still ahead of him, Robledo will likely break the school records for career rushing yards (2,732, Segura) and touchdowns (46, Bertoli) sometime next season on his way to being the best running back in school history.
Jordan Reilly goes to state
Senior cross country runner Jordan Reilly joined McClain at the cross country state meet this fall making history in his own right. Prior to the duo qualifying, the last state qualifier from St. Helena High was Brian Cole in 2006. Reilly, a four-year member of the cross country team, finished 58th out of the field of 200 runners.
Jeske sets baseball hits record, wins County Player of the Year
Caleb Jeske had quite the junior campaign for the St. Helena High varsity baseball team. The hard-hitting catcher led the Saints to a 14-11 overall record and to their first playoff berth since 2016. He also broke a 25-year old school record for most hits in a season, set by Jon Thompson in 1994 with 32. Jeske’s two-run single in the fourth inning of the Saints 11-2 win over Willits on Senior Night was his 33rd base knock of the season. On the season, Jeske led the team in batting average (.487), RBIs (23), runs scored (30) stolen bases (23), on-base percentage (.592) and slugging percentage (.697). He also hit two home runs, finished the year with 37 hits and recorded 13 games with multiple hits.
For his outstanding season, the Napa Valley Register named him the County Baseball Player of the Year, the first junior from any Napa Valley school to take home Player of the Year honors since St. Helena’s Brian Begerow in 2011.
Zamarripa twins at Junior US Open
You have free articles remaining.
Maribella and Allura Zamarripa, St. Helena’s tennis twins, have been making a name for themselves in the low-level professional tennis scene for the past several years but got their first taste of the big time in 2019. The pair was selected as a wild card draw for US Junior Open in Flushing Meadows, New York, playing in the same venue that tennis legends have graced.
Allura made it to the second round of the singles tournament before being ousted and taking up doubles with her sister, but the pair saw an early exit in the first round. Still, it was an experience that they’ll not soon forget.
Boys soccer returns to playoffs
The Saints had their best season in over a decade, piling up double-digit wins and making the NCS playoffs for the first time since 2008. They went 13-5-1 overall in the regular season and 10-4 in the NCL I, good for third in the league standings. They earned the No. 6 seed in the Division 1 fall boys playoff and defeated No. 11 seed Eureka, 4-1, in the first round thanks to a second-half hat trick from Diego Moya. Their postseason run ended a game later in the quarterfinals to No. 3 seed International, but it was undoubtedly a season the Saints could be proud of.
SHHS Athletic Hall of Fame
The seventh annual St. Helena High School Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony saw six new members inducted in Bob “Bimmer” Sculatti (Class of 1946, athlete and distinguished service), Harland Morley (1954), Terry O’Rourke (1977), Fred Miller (coach, 1980-1997), Rebecca “Beci” Ivanoff (1987) and Adam Beattie (1999). Each inductee holds or is among the leaders in school season or career records.
Also announced at the ceremony, held in October at Native Sons Hall, was a plan to build a permanent home for the Hall to display memorabilia of inductees. The plan is to construct a room in the foyer of the gym at St. Helena High with a completion date with a completion date two years out.
Swimming continues CMC dominance
The St. Helena swim team turned in another successful season in the pool, adding another team Coastal Mountain Conference title to their very full trophy case. The Saints’ girls had their streak of four-straight CMC titles snapped but their score combined with the boys, who won their CMC competition and have now either won or shared the conference title the last three seasons and, totaled 321.5, edging out Fort Bragg’s 293.5.
Jackson Corley joins Prolific Prep
Since its inception in 2014, Prolific Prep has attracted some of the top prep basketball talent from across the country. It’s also been a destination for local standouts to hone and grow their skills and gain more exposure. Over the years, Prolific Prep has featured a handful of Napa Valley hoopers on its roster, but none ever from the Upvalley – until this year. Sophomore Jackson Corley became the first from local member of The Crew that hails from the northern part of the county. A 6-foot, 135-pound guard, Corley is taking his first year with The Crew, currently ranked as a top 10 team in the country, as a redshirt year to adjust to the speed and physicality of the game since he last suited up for the St. Helena High JV team as a freshman.
Best softball season in over a decade
Possibly lost amid the shuffle of such a historic year of sports was the success of the St. Helena High softball team, which put together its best season of the decade. The Saints finished the year 8-14 overall and 4-10 in league, but those eight wins are the most they’ve totaled in a season in at least the last 15 years. The prior two seasons they won a total of eight games combined. The team did lose three key senior starters to graduation but will return the majority of the varsity squad on top of bringing in a talented class of freshmen.
Gus Morris' top 5 most memorable stories of 2019
Prep sports in the Napa Valley this past year provided some incredible stories I was honored to tell. Here are some I thought stood out from the rest.
St. Helena junior Harper McClain won the first cross country state title in school history and also qualified for the Nike Cross Nationals.
St. Helena running back Ivan Robledo cemented himself as one of the greatest backs in school history with his late-season performance against …
All four Upvalley soccer teams all advanced in the 2019 North Coast Section Winter Soccer playoffs, several in dramatic fashion.
St. Helena catcher Caleb Jeske had a historic junior campaign, breaking a 20-year school record for hits in a season while leading the Saints …
For winning first girls section title in school history, members of the 2018 Calistoga volleyball team was named the Napa Valley Register's Co…