American Canyon High’s athletic program is essentially like a child learning to ride a bicycle without training wheels.
The senior class will not be present until next year, but with the addition of juniors to go along with freshmen and sophomores, that means the Wolves will field varsity sports across the board in the 2011-2012 school year.
While success means different things to different people, for the Wolves, this year is about establishing a foundation.
Here’s a look at the various sports:
Wolves head coach Roger Harris, who coached many of these players in the American Canyon Little League program, will pilot the varsity program after leading the JV team a year ago. Dan Feinberg will assist Harris.
The roster will be comprised of D’Shea Kocher-White, D’Shel Kocher-White, Lacey Harris, Justice Wallis, Gaberie Baubuta, Taylie Foerder, Jasmine Chisley, Cassidy Pallo, Sierra Siegal, Theresa Gill and Courtney Dell.
Many of those players showed a lot of promise on the JV club that Harris hopes will translate into varsity success.
The Wolves will face stiff competition in the Solano County Athletic Conference, especially with Rodriguez, Benicia and, to a lesser degree, Vanden.
American Canyon will also have nonleague games against Dixon, Hercules, Buckingham Charter and Woodland. The Wolves will also compete in the Napa Easter Tournament, March 30-31.
While the Wolves experienced success as a JV team last season on the way to a 9-6 SCAC record, Harris knows the competition stiffens on the varsity level.
“I’d like for the girls to play hard and give it their best,” Harris said. “I know we are a young team this year playing against 17-, 18-year-old young ladies. We put some wins together last year. We’re not setting lofty goals this year; .500 would be great, but we’re open-minded going into this year. We know it’s going to be tough.”
While many of the same varsity baseball players for American Canyon High were part of a season-ending six-game winning streak last year as JV players, Wolves head coach Matt Brown knows that the competition ramps up as his team makes its maiden voyage as a varsity program without seniors.
“We are on a two-year plan since we don’t have seniors,” Brown said. “It’s about establishing a culture and tradition.”
Like most coaches at American Canyon, Brown is looking to establish a program that enjoys long-term, sustained success.
The Solano County Athletic Conference, where the Wolves will compete, has some menacing competition headed by Rodriguez and Benicia. Those two clubs met in the CIF Sac Joaquin Section Div. III title game last season, which Rodriguez won 9-8. Vallejo also made the postseason.
“There are very competitive teams in our league,” Brown said. “We’ll be a small school for our league even next year. We have our work cut out for us. My hope is that we play the game as efficiently and as clean as possible. That’s our best chance.”
The roster is comprised of Mike DeGuzman, Damien Fisher, Michael Garcia, Carlos Garcia, Seth Huffaker, Justin Miller, Andre Pautin, Daniel Robinett, Edgardo Rubio, Adonis Yee, Marcel Naify, Michael Rapacon and Jared Denning.
Miller, Pautin, Robinett, Yee and Rapacon showed a lot of promise as JV players.
Brown will be assisted by Andy Neal and Corey Atkinson.
Any program making its debut as a varsity team without seniors is certain to face an uphill battle, but American Canyon High girls soccer head coach Gabriel Zepeda is confident that his team has the mental wherewithal to combat the inevitable peaks and valleys.
“The girls mostly need to get experience and hopefully have a good season,” Zepeda said. “Regardless of whether we win or lose, we want to have a good experience and hopefully the girls don’t get discouraged with themselves. It’s an uphill battle because we have no seniors, but the girls have good determination.”
The Solano County Athletic Conference had two teams reach the CIF Sac Joaquin Section Div. III playoffs last year in Rodriguez and Benicia. The Wolves also have nonleague games against Trinity Prep, Justin-Siena, Rosemont, Pioneer, River Valley, Merrill West and Vacaville.
Zepeda was the head coach of the JV team last season that went 6-7-3. The roster is comprised of Vanessa Monge, Colleen Bohannan, Alana Behn, Makayla Plate, Felicia Escobar, Yesenia Zepeda, Viridiana Saldivar, Michelle Commande, Kathleen Kelejian, Andrea Guerrero, Sarah Villa, Yasmin Zepeda, Alyssa Mallorca, Cynthia Prado and Naila Iqbal.
Gabriel Zepeda, however, knows that competition will become much stiffer on varsity.
“We have five new girls this year and hopefully those five girls will make a pretty good difference,” the coach said. “Hopefully, it will be for the best.”
He added that part of beginning a program from the ground up is discovering which players have the potential to develop into team leaders.
“They have played for a while together on the local level,” the coach said. “They pretty much know who the leaders are and who to look for in key situations. It does not necessarily have to be one person. The entire team can be a leader working towards one common goal, which is victory and hopefully a good season.
“There are a couple of them that are taking the leadership role on their own. It seems like the rest of them do as they do, not because they are bossy, but it’s because they have more experience and are knowledgeable of the game.”
Since badminton has been widely popular at American Canyon Middle School, it only makes sense that American Canyon High School’s roster size has increased dramatically with the addition of one more class.
At the present time, there are 41 players on the roster, which is an increase from the 18 the Wolves had last season.
New head coach Fontaine Segerquist is hoping to build on what former coach Andrew Goff established last year.
“My goal is that I’m not making any cuts,” Segerquist said. “I’m keeping as many people that want to play that are eligible. Right now, I have 41. Our goal is to try to build a program through getting numbers and experience. It’s pretty popular at the middle school, so I know they are excited about continuing on.”
Segerquist taught physical education at ACMS for six years before transferring to American Canyon High School.
“I’m seeing a lot of the same faces that were there, but there are many new faces as well,” Segerquist said. “It’s a very popular sport and I have been promoting it a lot in my PE classes.”
The returning players from last season are Aebelle Arriola, Salynne Colobong, Samantha Dedios, Alexandra Elayda, Eunice Mendez, Marissa Vasquez, Maria Bala, Vivian Chow, Michelle Cristi, Jillianne Dizon, Dominique Elayda, Anne Mancio, Leslie Servin-Medina, Adrienne Ubaldo and Eliza Yra.
Last season, the Wolves’ doubles tandem of Chow and Gennina Bautista became the first Wolves badminton players in school history to move on to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section meet, by virtue of placing third at the Solano County Athletic Conference meet.
While the American Canyon High boys tennis team has its share of beginners, many players on the current roster are returning players.
With that in mind, Wolves head coach Jeanne Guanzon will have the luxury of being more advanced in her teaching of the game to Wolves players.
“There are a few new ones,” Guanzon said. “Those players are definitely eager to learn. That helps a lot.”
Guanzon comes with an extended tennis lineage, having been a United States Professional Tennis Association-certified tennis professional since 1982 and teaching at various clubs along the way.
She added that one of the biggest rewards of coaching new players is watching them develop from having little to no knowledge about tennis to becoming viable contributors to the team.
“The returnees have been practicing year-around,” Guanzon said. “They even work on their own on Sundays.”
Guanzon has eight returning players on the current roster, which is made up of Cedric Adona, Melvin Aquino, Jesse Bach, Luis Bernal, Gabriel Bonifacio, Andre Carbonell, Matt Fernandes, Clayton Fish, Justin Hernandez, Barrett Hughes, Larry Maceren, E.J. Protacio, Josue Santos-Aguilera, Darwin Tindan and Scott Vo.
Track and Field
In just one year’s time, American Canyon High track and field has gone from being dangerously close to not fielding a team in 2011 to having more athletes than they know what to do with in 2012.
Wolves head coach Steve Davidson sees that as a good thing.
Last year the Wolves had an initial dearth of numbers but managed to round up just enough to have a roster of 13 competitors.
American Canyon currently has about 60 kids in the program. Davidson, who is also the Wolves’ cross country coach, actively sold the idea of using track and field as a cross-training method for other sports.
So far, many youngsters have heeded the advice.
“We have kids that we want to cross-train for other sports, but also, most of the kids we have been trying to recruit for the track team have never really run track before,” Davidson said. “About half the events are conditioning-oriented, such as sprints, middle distance and distance. Then you have your field events.”
The returning athletes from last season include Taylor Crowder, Steven Frogozo, Derrick Hughes, David Monge, Adriana Perez and Isaac Pittman.
Crowder, a sophomore who also stars on the Wolves girls basketball team, qualified for the CIF Sac Joaquin Section Masters Meet in the long jump. She also became the first league champion in school history, taking first in last year’s Solano County Athletic Conference meet in the long jump.
“We are working on a lot of really good technique with the field events and running hurdles,” Davidson said. “We are doing a lot of conditioning and form work. Many of our kids that are in football and basketball have very improper running form. Their speed will get faster the more we condition and the more correct form we use. I look at this year as highly educational in terms of designing your own workouts.”
Though the Wolves’ roster size has drastically increased over last year, head coach Whitney Foran will still have a mixture of experienced swimmers and newcomers.
“We are really focusing on stroke technique to make sure they have the basics down,” Foran said. “We really want them to be fundamentally sound in their stroke in order to prevent injuries. We have a wide array of skill. We really want them to have fun and be comfortable.”
The returning boys are Jacob Brown, Jacob Beland, Dominic Barriere, Nick DeCaires, David Plate, Ahmad Shanan, Tim Gallagher, Brandon Kyee, Carl Crawford, Tillotson and Ryan Morofsky on the boys side. The girls returnees are Zoey Fredette and Andrea Cifelli.
“It’s about getting there to have the kids compete,” Foran said. “We’ll have a ton of swimmers that can compete at the JV level. At the varsity level, we don’t have quite as many but we are building a program.”
At the current time, the roster is made up of Brando Cruz, Malik Flores, Byran Gamoras, Christian Gray, Brandon Hallmark, Matthew Jones, Trey Jones and Kenneth Santiago.
Jim Saylor takes over as the Wolves head coach after helping out the last handful of years at Vintage High as an assistant coach for both Tammie Mansuy and Scott Merkner, who recently took over as Vintage’s boys coach.
Saylor expressed gratitude to Merkner, Mansuy, Dave Shipp and Cam Neal for giving him a strong recommendation to become the Wolves coach.
“I want improvement. We’re starting a new program,” Saylor said. “They never had enough to actually compete as a team last year. I want them to learn how to compete as a team. It’s a little different as a team than it is as an individual because you can’t really take the big chances when you compete as a team than you might as an individual. I’d like to see all of them to get down into the 40s for nine holes.”