Boys’ cross country
It had been 27 years since the Calaveras High School boys’ cross country team captured a section championship, but that drought came to an end in the 2019 season. Behind senior leader Jacob Christopher, Calaveras placed first at the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship with an overall score of 64. Christopher finished the 5,000-meter race in 16:18.6.
A few weeks prior, Calaveras won its second straight Mother Lode League championship. With Christopher leading the way, fellow senior Jeremy Milligan placed third with his time of 16:51. Calaveras had four runners cross the finish line in fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth place, and that was Jamie Espiritu (17:12), Bennie Hesser (17:17), Nicolas Moore (17:27) and Garrett Hesser (17:35).
The season came to an end with Calaveras placing fourth out of all the division IV teams in California at the CIF State Cross Country Championship. Christopher placed eighth out of 210 runners with his time of 15:35.3.
For the first time in over a decade, Calaveras had a new head coach roaming the sidelines. Doug Clark took over for Jason Weatherby, and at the end of the regular season, Calaveras finished in a three-way tie for first place with Sonora and Amador. It was Calaveras’ first league championship since 2013.
After losing games to Escalon and Ripon (who both went on to not only win section championships, but state titles) Calaveras went on to win four straight and then two more at the end of the season to finish 7-3 and 4-1 in league play.
In the opening round of the playoffs, Calaveras accumulated 530 yards of total offense in a 56-13 thrashing of Western Sierra. Calaveras had to forfeit its next playoff game against Ripon Christian for playing with an ineligible player. Senior quarterback Nolan Dart was named as the Mother Lode League’s Offensive Player of the Year, while junior Donivan Giangregorio was named the co-Defensive Player of the Year.
It should be no surprise that Calaveras’ wrestling program made the cut. It’s a program that is perhaps the most dominating program in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section.
Like clockwork, Calaveras won its 13th straight dual meet Mother Lode League championship and 31st overall, and then placed first at the Mother Lode League wrestling championships, with 12 wrestlers making it to the finals.
With the Mother Lode League out of the way, Calaveras then went on to capture two more section championships, which included placing first at the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV Team Dual Championship and then taking first at the divisional meet.
At the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Wrestling Meet, junior Donivan Giangregorio placed first in the 195-pound weight class and sophomore Lexy Beadles took third in the 111-pound girls’ division. Both Giangregorio and Beadles advanced to the CIF State Championship, where he placed seventh and she finished second overall.
Saiers does just about everything against Sonora, Oct. 15
In the biggest game of the Mother Lode League season, junior Ava Saiers did all she could to lead her team to victory. But even with a heroic performance, Calaveras lost 3-2 to the Wildcats. Saiers finished the five-set match with 11 kills, was 20 for 20 serving with one ace, recorded one block, had 26 digs and had a team-high 25 assists.
“She’s great to coach because she’s always pushing herself,” Calaveras head coach Mike Koepp said. “She’s working her butt off and is trying hard. She’s not the most vocal when it comes to some things, but she always sets the example of working her hardest.”
Christopher saves his best for last, Nov. 30
In his final high school cross country race, senior Jacob Christopher held nothing back. At the CIF State Cross Country Championship, Christopher took on 209 other runners and placed eighth overall with his time of 15:35.3.
“He has come a long way in the past couple of years,” Calaveras head coach Doug Avrit said. “At the state meet a year ago, he convinced himself he was not a cross country runner, but rather just a track athlete. I told him he was just flat out a good runner and this season he became that. He competed at a very high level and finished with a ferocity that we saw on the track late last season.”
Beadles is second-best in California, Feb. 27-29
In her very first trip to the CIF State Wrestling Championship, sophomore Lexy Beadles performed like she’d been there many times before. Beadles finished the tournament with an overall record of 4-1, with her lone defeat coming in the championship match.
“One of the things I talked to her about is that she could be the face of a generation of wrestlers,” Calaveras head coach Ryan Upchurch said. “I can’t even describe the fact that there we were, mat side, coaching for a state championship. That just goes to show how hard that girl has worked to get to where she got.”
Calaveras volleyball at Sonora, Oct. 15
Calaveras had a chance to knock the Sonora Wildcats off the top of the Mother Lode League mountain. Both teams had a victory over the other and the rubber match would decide who the league champion would be. Calaveras jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but dropped the final three sets and lost a five-set heartbreaker (25-15, 34-32, 23-25, 22-25, 12-15).
“This is devastating,” Calaveras junior Ava Saiers said. “We worked so hard, especially in the second set, and to let it all go is just disappointing.”
Calaveras football vs. Ripon Christian, Nov. 15
Calaveras lost in the second round of the playoffs and didn’t even get to step on the field. As a result of an ineligible player taking part in the Nov. 8 playoff game against Western Sierra, Calaveras was forced to forfeit its game against Ripon Christian and the season was officially over. The player played the entire season on the JV team and was brought up to the varsity squad for the playoffs. Because of transfer issues, he technically was not allowed to play in a varsity game. Unfortunately for the Calaveras coaching staff, they were unaware of that fact. As a result of Calaveras blowing out Western Sierra, the sophomore player got to play late in the fourth quarter with a running clock, which is when the violation occurred.
The only chance that Calaveras had was to make an appeal to an executive committee in hopes that its unblemished record when it comes to its code of conduct would be enough to sway their decision. That wasn’t the case, as the committee voted unanimously to uphold the forfeit.
“If they want to hold me accountable, then punish me,” Calaveras head coach Doug Clark said. “Not one player did one thing wrong and that’s who you are punishing. I don’t care what system has been in place and what rules and bylaws are there. I don’t care. But figure out a different punishment than to punish the players on the team who did not one thing wrong. Punish someone else and start with me. But it’s not a fair system. It’s just not right. I don’t think it’s fair and I never will.”
Calaveras boys’ and girls’ basketball section and state playoffs
The Calaveras boys’ and girls’ basketball teams had almost parallel seasons. They both finished second in the Mother Lode League standings and they were both led by senior leadership and were powered by youthful aggression.
But come playoff time, they both suffered seemingly the same result. They each won their first two playoff games and advanced to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV semifinals. And in the semifinals, both teams lost with a trip to the section championship game on the line.
However, things didn’t end there. Both squads played in the CIF State Division IV Playoffs and each team picked up a win in the opening round. On the same night, both a long way away from their home gym, each team lost their second state playoff game and the season officially came to a close.
2019-20 Athlete of the Year
Do you have a Calaveras School student-athlete who you’d like to nominate for the Athlete of the Year? If so, send your nomination, along with why you feel they deserve it, to email@example.com. This year we will be focusing on athletic achievements, along with commitment to the classroom and community service. Email your nominations by June 3, 2020.
Next week: We’ll look at Calaveras’ top games, spring misses and future stars. For more, visit calaverasenterprise.com