You are the owner of this article.
featured top story
Calaveras County Sports Through The Decades
Going Back to 1999

The county rivalry was very strong 20 years ago

  • 12 min to read
The county rivalry was very strong 20 years ago

Bret Harte High School head football coach Gordon Sadler gets a ride from his players after Bret Harte beat Calaveras 19-6 in 1999. 

The world was supposed to come to an end. The computers couldn’t handle it. Bank accounts would disappear, nuclear weapons would automatically detonate, and there was to be chaos running wild in the streets. We were told that is what Y2K would bring. How many people believed the end was coming and purchased enough bottled water and canned tuna to last until it was safe to try and restart civilization?

Yes, 1999 was an interesting time. Rob Thomas and Santana teamed up to make one of the top songs of the year. You could buy a Sony Discman for only $59. We were told that, “I see dead people,” and were constantly asked, “Is that your final answer?”

What child in 1999 didn’t want to get their hands on Furby Babies or Pokémon cards? “Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace,” “Toy Story 2” and “The Matrix” were all big hits. “Friends,” “Frasier” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” were still producing new episodes. What a shock, the New York Yankees won another championship. The Denver Broncos won their second straight Super Bowl and Charismatic won the Kentucky Derby. Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France for the first time, only to be stripped of his wins in 2012. And the world lost John F. Kennedy Jr., Owen Hart, Joe DiMaggio, Walter Payton and Wilt Chamberlain.

For Calaveras County sports, the action was great heading into the millennium.


The county rivalry was very strong 20 years ago

Calaveras' Kelly Cornell goes up for a layup.

The Bret Harte High School girls’ basketball team hoped that 1999 would be the year that they could win a section championship. In the previous years, the Bullfrogs got close, but couldn’t capture a blue banner.

Early in the Mother Lode League season, the Bullfrogs and Calaveras clashed and it was Bret Harte, who even after playing to a 25-25 tie at half-time, left the court with a 54-47 win. Bret Harte’s Becca Bales and Tillie Smythe each scored 10 points, while Lindsay Sweetland had 11 rebounds. For Calaveras, Kelly Cornell had 15 points, six steals and six rebounds. Teammate Sarah Busi scored 12 and had six boards.

Bret Harte improved to 6-0 in league play after defeating Calaveras for a second time, this time 59-53. Bales led Bret Harte with 16 points and nine rebounds and Anne Wooster added 12 points. Calaveras’ Cornell scored 13, followed by Somer Doyle with 12 and Busi with nine. The loss dropped Calaveras to 3-3.

The county rivalry was very strong 20 years ago

Bret Harte's Brittany Skaff, 24, goes up for a rebound as Becca Bales, 4, watches.

Behind 12 points from Bales and 11 from Wooster, Bret Harte clinched at least a share of the league title with a 62-49 win over Amador, and then officially won the Mother Lode League championship for the seventh year in a row with a come-from-behind win over Argonaut.

The Bullfrogs ended the regular season with a perfect 15-0 league record and got the No. 3 seed in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs. Calaveras finished 10-5 and reached the postseason for the first time in six years. No. 13 Calaveras lost in the opening round 57-47 to Colfax. Busi scored 14 and Cornell had 12.

As for Bret Harte, the Bullfrogs started the playoffs with a 68-55 win over Lincoln. Bales scored 21 points to lead the way. Bret Harte once again reached the semifinals after a 39-35 win over St. Patrick, but could advance no further as the season came to an end in a 44-33 loss to John Sweat. The loss was Bret Harte’s third straight semifinal defeat. Bales scored 15 and Renee Stribling added six points.

Bret Harte’s Wooster was named the league MVP and Bales was the Most Outstanding Player. Calaveras’ John Franceschi and Bret Harte’s Mike Lewis were co-Coaches of the Year. Cornell, Smythe and Sweetland were placed on the first team and Doyle and Calaveras Laura Seeger made the second team.

Bret Harte’s boys’ basketball team didn’t have the same league success as the girls, but it did reach the postseason for the 16th straight year. The Bullfrogs got their first league win of the season with a 70-57 victory over Calaveras. Bret Harte’s Eric Rucker had 16 points and six rebounds, while Josh Sherrow scored 12 and Carl Jackson added nine. For Calaveras, Dallas Haaland scored 16 and Barlin Revels finished with 13.

The county rivalry was very strong 20 years ago

Bret Harte's Eric Rucker goes up for a shot over Calaveras' Billy Rodriguez.

Calaveras hosted Bret Harte for its winter homecoming and Erin Dudley was named the winter homecoming queen. Calaveras couldn’t pick up a win on its homecoming night as Bret Harte’s Rucker scored 21 points and had 15 rebounds in a 67-53 Bullfrog win. Ryan O’Connell scored 15 and Kelly Barnett added 11 in the win. For Calaveras, Revels scored 17, followed by Haaland with nine and Jimmy Luna with six.

The Bullfrogs had their six-game league winning streak snapped in a 73-60 loss to Amador. Barnett scored 19 and Avery Apley scored 11 in the loss. Bret Harte entered the playoffs as the No. 11 seed, and had to take on Justin Siena. The Bullfrogs advanced after a close 70-66 win. Bret Harte couldn’t keep its momentum going and lost in the next round to MLL champion Argonaut.

Bret Harte’s Rucker and Barnett, along with Calaveras’ Revels were named first-team players. Bret Harte’s Apley and Calaveras’ Haaland and Kyle Duke made the second team. And after 25 years as Bret Harte’s head coach, Rich Cathcart stepped down from his position.

The county rivalry was very strong 20 years ago

The Calaveras girls' soccer team was nicknamed the "Muddy Reds." 

In girls’ soccer action, Calaveras and Bret Harte met for the first time in 1999 in the mud, and it was the Bullfrogs who won 2-0. Bret Harte got goals from sophomore Ashley Hitchcock and Jessica Bowman. After the game, Bret Harte’s league record improved to 2-3-1, while Calaveras fell to 0-6-1. The Bullfrogs got their biggest win of the season with a 9-0 shutout of Argonaut. Ashley Borelli, Bowman and Lacie Miller all scored two goals, while Hitchcock and Allison Ramorini also found the back of the net.

In the final meeting between Bret Harte and Calaveras, the game was cut short in the second half due to a freak accident. With Bret Harte leading 2-1, Calaveras goalie Meghan Beaudoin and Bret Harte’s Hitchcock collided while going after a loose ball. Neither player could get up, medical personnel were summoned, and referees decided to call the game. Bret Harte got its goal from Bowman and Marie Casselberry. The Bullfrogs finished the year in fifth place and Calaveras placed eighth.

Bret Harte’s Bowman, Ashley Borelli and Calaveras’ Danielle Yerman made the first team, while Kristan Krfune (BH), Allison Ramorini (BH), Erin Dudley (Cal) and Peggy Neckles (Cal) made the second team.

The county rivalry was very strong 20 years ago

Bret Harte's Ryan Roberson wrestles Calaveras' Ron Bassett.

On the wrestling mat, Calaveras and Bret Harte battled to a tough 36-36 tie. Calaveras got pins from Thomas Fragoza, Craig Meyers, Mike Madrid, Ryan Upchurch and Jason Copeland. Bret Harte countered with pins from Jared Hubbard, Chris Reece and Ryan Roberson. At the league tournament, Bret Harte finished first and Calaveras placed second. Meyers (Cal), Madrid (Cal), Copeland (Cal), Dustin Alkema (BH), Hubbard (BH), Upchurch (Cal), Adam Hensley (BH) and Roberson (BH) were all individual league champions. Calaveras’ Madrid placed sixth at sections with two wins and teammates Upchurch and Copeland also wrestled at sections.

And although it was winter, football was still played. In the annual alumni game, Calaveras beat Bret Harte 35-0. Scott Nordahl scored twice and Tom Wade recorded a rushing score in the win.


One of the biggest battles of the spring took place on the golf course. Bret Harte and Calaveras were stacked with stars and after the first six league matches, both teams were a perfect 6-0. With undefeated records on the line, Bret Harte beat Calaveras 210-214 at Greenhorn Creek in Angels Camp. Calaveras’ Jess Runyan earned medalist honors by shooting a 38. Bret Harte was led by Allan Ramorini’s 39, followed by Chad Brodie, who shot a 42 and Chris Hall, Jamie Turner and Nick McTague all shot a 43.

Calaveras returned the favor in the next meeting, beating the Bullfrogs 183-196. Calaveras’ Runyan shot a 31, followed by Wyatt Naschke’s 36 and Kevin Wentworth and Chad Vera’s 38. Bret Harte’s Chris Hall shot a 36, and Turner followed with a 39. A few days later, Calaveras improved to 14-1 with a 199-202 win over the Bullfrogs. The loss dropped Bret Harte’s league record to 12-3.

The county rivalry was very strong 20 years ago

Calaveras' Jeremiah Ballinger takes a swing.

At the league tournament, Calaveras won the championship by beating Bret Harte by three strokes. Calaveras’ Runyan and Wentworth and Bret Harte’s Turner made the all-league team. Calaveras’ Wyatt Naschke and Wentworth advanced to the sections. Head coach Mike Flock retired after 23 years of coaching golf at Calaveras.

Calaveras softball had one of the top players in the league in senior Sarah Bassham, and hoped to ride her arm all the way to a section championship. Bassham pitched a no-hitter early in the league season in a 10-1 win over Summerville. She threw seven innings, striking out 12 and walking just one. At the plate, Bassham went 3 for 4 with four RBIs. Amanda Person went 4 for 4 and Dawnelle O’Brien went 3 for 4 with four RBIs.

Calaveras improved to 8-0 after another no-hitter from Bassham. The senior led Calaveras to a 3-0 win over Bret Harte. After an error following Bret Harte’s first at-bat, Bassham sat down the following 21 hitters and struck out 10. Bassham went 3 for 3 with two doubles, one RBI and a run scored. Katie Lakatsas went 2 for 3 with a double. Calaveras suffered its first loss the following game in a 3-2 defeat to Argonaut.

When Calaveras and Bret Harte met on the diamond for the second time, Calaveras was lucky to leave with a 1-0 win. Bassham gave up four hits but struck out 10. Bret Harte’s Becca Bales gave up one run on five hits while striking out six. Calaveras got its only run in the seventh with an RBI from Sarah Winkler to bring home O’Brien.

The county rivalry was very strong 20 years ago

Karly Raper stands on third base for Calaveras.

Calaveras clinched the MLL championship with a 2-0 win over Linden for its fourth straight league title. Bassham struck out 12, and Lindy Winkler went 2 for 4 in the win. Calaveras ended the year with a 5-4 loss to Bret Harte. The Bullfrogs got RBI singles from Ellie Verhalen and Kristy Morris. Bret Harte finished with a 6-9 record. Even with the loss, Calaveras received a first-round bye in the playoffs, but it didn’t help as its season ended in a heartbreaking 5-1 defeat to Marysville.

Bassham was named the league MVP and Calaveras’ E.J. Winkler was the Coach of the Year. Bales (BH), O’Brien (Cal), Karly Raper (Cal) and Lindy Winkler (Cal) made the first team, and Katie Lakatsas (Cal), Amanda Pearson (Cal), Jessica Swanson (BH), Sarah Winkler (Cal) and Anne Wooster (BH) were placed on the second team.

In the first baseball county clash, Calaveras beat Bret Harte 13-3. Calaveras’ Joe Shanley pitched four innings, gave up three hits, struck out 10, and allowed only one run. He also went 2 for 4 with three runs scored. Mitch Crawford went 2 for 4 with three RBIs and Dustin Johnson went 3 for 3 with three RBIs.

Bret Harte’s baseball team didn’t have the season it hoped for, but it did upset Calaveras 7-5 in the second meeting. Bret Harte’s Dane Wadle had an RBI and scored twice; Chad Morales went 2 for 3 with two RBIs and a double; and Mark Franz went 2 for 4 with two doubles. Calaveras’ Shanley smacked a two-run homer and Crawford went 2 for 3.

In the rubber match, Calaveras knocked off the Bullfrogs 11-3 behind a no-hitter from Shanley. At the plate, Shanley had two hits and Steve Kubat recorded two doubles in the win. Calaveras finished second in the league standings with an 8-7 record. In the opening round of the playoffs, Calaveras beat Hughson 6-4. Kyle Duke had a two-run home run, and finished his day going 2 for 3 with a double. Calaveras lost in the next round 13-4 to Colfax.

The county rivalry was very strong 20 years ago

Bret Harte catcher Chad Morales talks it over with pitcher Ryan O'Connell.

Crawford (Cal), Kubat (Cal), Wadle (BH) and Shanley (Cal) made the league’s first team and Bret Harte’s Joel Kane made the second team.

On the track, Calaveras’ boys’ squad dominated its own 11th Annual Redskin Track and Field Invitational. Chris Wilson, Austin Danmeier and Jon Hypolite all earned gold medals, and Hypolite was named one of the meets most outstanding athletes. When Calaveras and Bret Harte met in league action, the Calaveras boys were victorious, as were the Bret Harte girls. Freshman Bullfrog Courtney Shires took first in the 100- and 200-meter dash and the triple jump.

At the MLL track and field finals, Bret Harte’s girls and Calaveras’ boys were crowned league champs. Bret Harte sent Seanna Martin and Mark Converse to the Meet of Champions in Sacramento. Martin took first in the 3,200-meter, open division race with her time of 11:37.08.


The county rivalry was very strong 20 years ago

Calaveras' football team was hoping to win another league title.

For the very first time, Bret Harte and Calaveras fielded a girls’ golf team. Bret Harte was coached by Rich Cathcart and Calaveras by Gary Stepansky. The Bullfrogs picked up their first ever victory by beating Linden 183-201. Emily Accornero, Lane Smith and Jessica Darby all shot a 61 in that historic first victory.

In the first meeting between Calaveras and Bret Harte, the Bullfrogs won 164-181. Bret Harte’s Accornero shot a 51, followed by Darby’s 54, and Smith’s 59. For Calaveras, Heather Nichols shot a 56 and Chante LaRue shot a 61. The Bullfrogs won their first ever home match at Greenhorn Creek Resort by beating Calaveras 180-208. Accornero shot a match-low 59 for Bret Harte’s seventh straight win. Bret Harte went on to win the Mountain Valley League championship, and Accornero and Lane were named to the all-league team.

The county rivalry was very strong 20 years ago

Emily Accornero of Bret Harte, left, and Heather Nichols of Calaveras share a moment at La Contenta. 

The Bret Harte’s boys’ soccer team had a strong start to the league season, but tied with Calaveras 2-2. The Bullfrogs got goals from Val Fleur and Warren Jordan, while Jon Kohring and Fidel Lambie contributed in Calaveras’ goals. Even with the tie, Bret Harte had a league record of 6-1-2. Bret Harte later beat Calaveras 5-2. Fleur scored twice and J.J. Taylor, Ben Kardas and Nick Triolo also scored in the win. Bret Harte reached the playoffs, only to lose 5-0 to Hilmar.

Bullfrog Dan Plowman was named the Offensive Player of the Year and Bret Harte’s Dev Letendre was the Coach of the Year. Mike Busby (BH), Kiel Rucker (BH), Ryan Garcia (BH) and Jon Powers were first-team players, while Chris Seyersdahl (Cal), Carson West (Cal), J.J. Taylor (BH) and Val Fleur (BH) made the second team.

The head-to-head matchups between Calaveras and Bret Harte on the volleyball court belonged to Calaveras. In the first meeting, Calaveras won 15-7, 15-13 and 15-8. Calaveras improved to 6-2 in the MLL standings after another win over Bret Harte, this time in four sets. Calaveras’ Andrea Beesinger had 14 kills and two blocks and Lindsay Gillick recorded 22 assists. For the Bullfrogs, Kacy May had 11 kills; Lindsay Sweetland had 10 kills and 13 digs; and Aimee Pinnell had eight blocks and eight kills.

The county rivalry was very strong 20 years ago

Calaveras' Kelly Churchill, left, and Taischa Stevens go up for a block.

Calaveras had its season come to an end with a 3-2 playoff loss to St. Helena. Head coach Debbie Hartman retired at the conclusion of the season. Calaveras’ Kelly Churchill was named the league’s Most Outstanding Player. Gillick (Cal) and Sweetland (BH) made the first team, and Beesinger (Cal) and May (BH) made the second team.

Bret Harte’s boys’ and girls’ cross country teams picked up league championships. At the league finals, Bret Harte’s highest male finish was Jason Berri, who placed third in 17:40. For the girls, Jill Semenza took second in 20:19. Both races were three miles. Bret Harte’s girls’ team went on to win the division IV section championship and then placed 11th at the CIF State Championships. Semenza finished 48th out of 125 in 20:33.

The county rivalry was very strong 20 years ago

On the football field, Calaveras looked to repeat as Mother Lode League champions, but tied Mariposa 12-12 in the opening game of the season. Calaveras led 12-0 after a Kevin Wentworth touchdown catch from Chris Zahniser and a 10-yard score from Matt Kubat, but Mariposa battled back to tie things up. Calaveras rebounded with a 49-26 win over North Highlands. Calaveras got touchdowns from Wentworth, John Schaad, Jeff Wright and Josh Thornburg.

The first loss of the season came against Central Catholic, who scored on the last play to beat Calaveras 13-7. Wright scored his team’s only touchdown. The following week, Wright rushed for 146 yards and three touchdowns in a 40-21 win over John Swett. Brandon Alonzo and Thornburg also found the end zone. In the final preseason game, Calaveras blanked St. Patrick 47-0.

To kickoff league play, Calaveras beat Summerville 17-14 in Tuolumne. John Schaad rushed for 176 yards, one touchdown and kicked a 27-yard field goal. Calaveras scored 29 second-quarter points the next week in a 42-13 win over Linden. Alonzo rushed for 141 yards and scored on runs of 17 and 69 yards. After beating Amador 14-6, Calaveras improved to 3-0 in league play and then went on to beat Argonaut 35-14. Andy Trinkle, Kubat, Wright and Schaad all scored in the homecoming win over Argonaut. Victoria Cannon and Nick Rodgers were named homecoming queen and king.

The county rivalry was very strong 20 years ago

Mike Gibson rushes for positive yards for Bret Harte. 

While Calaveras was having another strong season, Bret Harte was seeing records broke. Mike Gibson rushed for 183 yards in the opening game of the year. His 11-yard score was the only Bullfrog touchdown in a 42-6 defeat. The next week, Bret Harte lost to Escalon 47-0. The Bullfrogs got in the win column with a 40-6 thrashing of Riverbank. Gibson rushed for 215 yards and three scores. Josh Sherrow and Steve Riberia also reached the end zone. In a 48-41 win over Justin Siena, Gibson rushed for 273 yards and scored on runs of 93, 61 and 11 yards. Sherrow rushed for 135 yards and one score. On the night that Jessica Bowman was crowned homecoming queen, Bret Harte beat St. Helena 42-7.

Bret Harte began league play by beating Amador 26-9. Gibson scored on runs of 8, 67 and 63 yards. The following week, in a 33-8 win over Argonaut, Gibson rushed for 148 yards, which set a single-season rushing record of 1,358 yards. The previous record of 1,328 was set by Curt Hecker in 1978 in 10 games. Gibson picked up 420 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns in a 56-35 win over Linden and the Bullfrogs were 3-0 in league play. The perfect record wouldn’t last as Bret Harte fell on senior night to Summerville 42-14.

In the final game of the year, Calaveras and Bret Harte met in the “Big Game” with the league title on the line. Bret Harte beat Calaveras 19-6 for its first win in San Andreas since 1985. The win gave the Bullfrogs a piece of the league championship, as they and Calaveras finished 4-1. It was Bret Harte’s first MLL title since 1987. Neither team lasted long in the playoffs, with Bret Harte falling 40-0 to Hilmar and Calaveras losing 41-13 to Escalon.

Bret Harte’s Josh Sherrow and Calaveras’ John Schaad were co-MVPs. Gibson was named the Offensive Player of the Year and Bullfrog Pat Linker was the Lineman of the Year. Bret Harte’s Gordon Sadler and Calaveras’ Roger Canepa were the co-Coaches of the Year. Joe Ziehlke (BH), Aaron Adams (Cal), Aaron Kleinschmidt (Cal), Steve Kubat (Cal), Andy Trinkle (Cal), Jeff Wright (Cal), Matt Kubat (Cal), Dan Inks (BH), B.J. Moreno (Cal), Dan Rowe (BH) and Jermey Ray (Cal) all made the first team.

The year came to an end with Calaveras retiring Fred Lavaroni’s No. 32 basketball number.

What’s next?

Next week we’ll take a look at 1989.



Comment Policy

Calaveras Enterprise does not actively monitor comments. However, staff does read through to assess reader interest. When abusive or foul language is used or directed toward other commenters, those comments will be deleted. If a commenter continues to use such language, that person will be blocked from commenting. We wish to foster a community of communication and a sharing of ideas, and we truly value readers' input.