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Calaveras county sports through the decades
Thinking about 2009

Local sports were making memories a decade ago

  • 13 min to read
Local sports were making memories a decade ago

Fans celebrate with the Bret Harte girls' basketball team after a victory over Calaveras.

Ten years ago doesn’t seem that far in the past. But in 10 years, the world has made some major changes. That being said, there were some once-in-a-lifetime moments that took place a decade ago that will go down in history.

Ten years ago, the United States inaugurated Barack Obama as its 44th president. Ten years ago, a flock of geese caused Capt. Chelsey B. “Sully” Sullenberger to make a crash landing on the Hudson River. Ten years ago, Capt. Richard Phillips had his ship hijacked. Someone should take both of those events and turn them into movies.

Ten years ago, Taylor Swift had a really good music video, although it’s been said that Beyonce’s video was the greatest of all time. Ten years ago, movie-goers were entertained by “Avatar,” “The Hangover,” “The Blind Side,” and teenage girls swooned for “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.”

Ten years ago, the New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Lakers and Pittsburgh Penguins could all call themselves champions. Ten years ago, the world lost Michael Jackson, Patrick Swayze, Brittany Murphy and Farrah Fawcett.

And 10 years ago, Calaveras County sports were as hot as they’ve ever been.


Warm soup, sweaters and basketball are often the perfect remedy for harsh winter weather. For both the Calaveras and Bret Harte boys’ and girls’ basketball programs, January marked the beginning of the journey to the Mother Lode League championship.

After finishing the preseason 10-5, the Calaveras boys’ team kicked off league play with a 66-53 win over Linden. Devin White scored 22 and Daniel Perez added 12 in the win, while future New York Yankee Aaron Judge scored 20 and had 11 rebounds for Linden. Unlike Calaveras, Bret Harte’s boys’ team was unable to pick up a victory in the league opener. Even with returners Will Finn, Tim Minton and Robby Bragg, the Bullfrogs, under head coach Jerry Rucker, lost 52-47.

Local sports were making memories a decade ago

Calaveras players walk to the bench during a 2009 game.

Bret Harte didn’t stay out of the win column for long, as it beat Summerville 60-49 behind 17 points from Bragg, 15 points, 10 rebounds and four assists from Minton and 13 points from Finn. Calaveras improved to 3-0 after wins over Amador and Argonaut, but was handed its first loss of the year in a county battle against Bret Harte. The Bullfrogs upset Calaveras 68-57. Finn led all scorers with 34 points, while Minton scored 14 and Bragg added 10. For Calaveras, Aaron Giles scored 19, followed by Tony Romero with 12 and Jake Fisher with eight.

After scoring 34 against Calaveras, Finn scored 39 and had 11 rebounds in an 82-59 win over Argonaut. As the league season neared the end, Calaveras had a chance to clinch the championship, but a 54-42 loss to Bret Harte ended that dream. Calaveras finished the league season 7-3 and shared the title with Linden. Calaveras got the No. 8 seed in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs and took on No. 9 Capital Christian, while Bret Harte got No. 13 and faced No. 4 San Juan.

Neither team could get out of the opening round, as Calaveras lost 54-43, and Bret Harte was defeated 48-45. Calaveras’ Giles was named the co-Most Valuable Player of the Mother Lode League and head coach Kraig Clifton was the Coach of the Year. Bret Harte’s Finn and Minton, along with Calaveras’ White, earned slots on the MLL’s first team, while Calaveras’ Romero and Bret Harte’s Bragg made the second team.

Like the boys’ team, the Calaveras and Bret Harte girls’ basketball teams were looking to reach the playoffs in 2009. Calaveras, under head coach John Franceschi, was led by returning players Kelsey Hull, Cecily Basques and freshman Nikki Gleason. Bret Harte, who was coached by Rick Soracco, had the veteran leadership of Sarah Spellenberg, Kelli Carlon and Sonya Garrison.

In the first league meeting between Calaveras and Bret Harte, it was Bullfrog Sarah Spellenberg who had a game to remember. The Bullfrogs led 38-28 in the fourth quarter, and Calaveras went on a 15-0 run to take a 43-38 lead with one minute to play. Spellenberg drained two 3-point baskets in the final 60 seconds to give Bret Harte the win. Spellenberg scored 13 for Bret Harte, while Hull scored 12, and Gleason added 11.

In the rematch to end the regular season, Calaveras got some revenge with a 46-38 win over the Bullfrogs. Hull scored 15 to lead Calaveras, while Spellenberg and Hattie Anderson each scored eight for Bret Harte. Calaveras ended league with a record of 6-4 and Bret Harte was 5-5.

In the first round of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs, No. 16 Bret Harte lost 63-34 to No. 1 Christian Brothers, and No. 15 Calaveras lost 58-42 to No. 2 Vista del Lago. Spellenberg and Hull were placed on the Mother Lode League’s first team, while Bret Harte’s Anderson and Calaveras’ Gleason made the second team. Bret Harte’s Soracco stepped down as head coach at the end of the season.

Hoops were not the only major sport taking place in the winter. Bret Harte and Calaveras had top wrestling programs and looked to continue the tradition of excellence. Calaveras started league with a win over Summerville and backed that up with a 46-22 win over Amador, where Brandan Raymundo, Kevin Wilson and Trevor Sparvel all picked up pins.

Local sports were making memories a decade ago

Two wrestlers square off in 2009.

Calaveras clinched the MLL title with a 48-22 win over Bret Harte for its second straight team dual championship and eighth in 10 years. Calaveras got pins from Kyle Towler, Gary Gellerman and a major decision from Brenden Sullivan. Bret Harte got pins from Tanner Sherrow, Ricky Perieff and a major decision win from Carson Homuth.

At the MLL tournament, Calaveras again claimed victory. Individual league champs for Calaveras were Brandon Rutledge, Chris Inocencio, Michael O’Meara, Tyler Brown and Gary Gellerman. For Bret Harte, Carson Homuth, Tanner Sherrow and Ricky Perieff were league champs. Calaveras’ Brown advanced to the State Championship after going 5-2 at the Masters tournament. Brown went 0-2 at state.


Local sports were making memories a decade ago

Calaveras sprinters Mackenzie Theiler, left, Tessa Gonzales, right, and Jerico Goode run the 100 meter dash.

Pain, sorrow and heartbreak were the main feelings when the spring sports season began. Calaveras junior soccer player Skye Montgomery was killed in a car crash on Mountain Ranch Road. Montgomery had been a varsity player since her freshman year. The Calaveras girls’ soccer team’s motto for the 2009 season was, “Skye’s the limit.”

Calaveras soccer finished the 2008 season in third place and leaned on returners Emily Cook, Rachel Davis, Desiree Brant, Elizabeth Baseman, Sonia Jimenez and Deanna Braden to lead the squad.

Local sports were making memories a decade ago

Bret Harte's Lindy Krpan and Paulina Mejia chase down a ball.

The Bullfrogs placed second in 2008 and the team was led by Jessica Maschal, Rachael Warner, Sarah Borean and Kristen Mergl. The first meeting between the two teams ended in a 0-0 draw. Even after the tie, Bret Harte still had a solid 4-0-3 league record, while Calaveras was 1-2-4. The second meeting between the two teams also ended in a tie, this time by a score of 1-1. Calaveras’ Emily Cook scored with an assist from Deanna Bryden. Bret Harte got its goal off the foot of Nina Baldwin, with an assist from Jessica Maschal.

The Bullfrogs clinched a playoff spot later in the season with a 2-0 win against Calaveras. Bret Harte got its goals from Isabel Houghton and Rachel Warner. Goalie Monica Maschal recorded eight saves. The Bullfrogs went on to win the MLL title with an 11-1-3 record. In the opening round of the playoffs, Bret Harte was blanked by Patterson 2-0.

Bret Harte’s Monica Maschal was named Goalkeeper of the Year. Maschal only allowed seven league goals and posted nine shutouts. Bret Harte’s Andrea Young was the Coach of the Year. Isabel Houghton (BH), Rachel Warner (BH), Sarah Borean (BH) and Emily Cook (Cal) made the first team all-Mother Lode League, while Sharon Santos (BH), Adrianna Cagliaro (BH), Rachel Davis (Cal) and Elizabeth Baseman (Cal) were placed on the second team.

Local sports were making memories a decade ago

Calaveras soccer players take a moment of silence before their game at Stagg.

On the links, Bret Harte’s boys’ team was coming off a perfect 15-0 in 2008, which included being CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V champions. Returners Brandan Warner, Carson Ellington, Tim Milward, Aron Schwartz and Brad Bloom were hoping the outstanding play continued. For Calaveras, returners Carl Hall, Alex Fee, Craig Mossa, Nick Gassner and Chris Inocencio looked to take the title away from the Bullfrogs.

Bret Harte won the first meeting between the two schools with a 213-228 win over Calaveras. Bullfrog Tim Milward shot a 3-over-par 38, while Aron Schwartz carded a 39. For Calaveras, Carl Hall and Chris Inocencio each shot a 42, and Craig Mossa shot a 47. Both teams continued to play good golf, but in the second meeting, Bret Harte (8-0) again won, this time 203-225. Bret Harte’s Ellington earned medalist honors by shooting a 36, and teammate Milward shot a 38. For Calaveras (6-2), Hall shot a 39, and Fee carded a 42.

Bret Harte won the Mother Lode League tournament by shooting 14 strokes better than Calaveras. Calaveras’ Hall was named the league MVP, while Brendan Walker, Ellington and Inocencio were placed on the first team.

On the baseball diamond, Bret Harte was coming off a 2008 season where it won the MLL title outright for the first time in 77 years. Trevor Mills, Travis Goldberg, Chris Pile and Seth Scales looked to make it back-to-back championships. In 2008, Calaveras placed second to Bret Harte and returners Jake Mote, Mark Storm, Aaron Giles and Jesse Jump looked to reach the top of the league mountain.

In the first head-to-head matchup, Calaveras struck first with a 5-2 win. Calaveras’ Mote recorded three hits and picked up the save. Bret Harte’s Miller smacked a two-run homer in the loss. Bret Harte responded with a 9-0 win over Calaveras only days later. Miller pitched a two-hit shutout with nine strikeouts. He also went 2 for 3 with two RBIs and three runs scored. Seth Scales went 3 for 4 with four RBIs in the win.

Local sports were making memories a decade ago

Calaveras players gather to celebrate after meeting with coaches following a 9-1 win over Escalon.

After losing to Calaveras, Bret Harte won 13 in a row and clinched its second straight league title. Calaveras finished the year 10-4. In the opening round of the playoffs, Calaveras beat Escalon 9-1 and Bret Harte lost to Hilmar 5-3. In the second round, Calaveras lost to Central Catholic.

Bret Harte’s Miller was named the MLL MVP and teammate Goldberg was the Most Outstanding Player. The first team was made up of Chris Pile (BH), Mote (Cal), Shayne Brown (Cal), Nick Lucchessi (Cal), Chris Ussery (Cal) and Jesse Jump (Cal), while Ty Seawell (Cal), Cody Lane (BH), Seth Scales (BH), and Aaron Giles (Cal), made the second team.

After going 13-2 in 2008, Calaveras’ softball team had high hopes for 2009. Tanna Bindi, Cecily Basques and Beth Vaccarezza led the charge. Bret Harte softball had a new coach in Kerry Eltringham, who was hoping Kim Pierazzi, Sarah Wassmund, Julianne Greenberg, Callie Loomis, Megan Self and Tawny Bennett could help improve on a 4-11 2008.

Things looked good at the beginning for Bret Harte, as Pierazzi threw a no-hitter in a 4-0 win over Ripon Christian. She recorded seven strikeouts and also had a triple in the win.

Bret Harte couldn’t match Calaveras in the first battle between the two squads as Calaveras won 4-0. Kelsey Hull went 2 for 4 with three RBIs, Basques went 3 for 4, and Blair Baker had two hits for Calaveras. Bennett had two hits for Bret Harte. Calaveras improved to 3-0 in league play following the win. Calaveras later beat Bret Harte 8-1, with Vaccarezza striking out 10 in the win.

Calaveras didn’t slow down and won the league title with a record of 13-1, while going 21-3 overall. In the opening round of the playoffs, Calaveras beat Gustine 2-0 and then followed that with a 5-2 win over Hilmar. Being only one win away from the section championship, Calaveras lost 2-1 to Escalon, and then had its season come to an end with a 2-0 loss to Patterson.

Local sports were making memories a decade ago

Players from Calaveras' 2009 team make some noise during a game.

The Mother Lode League Softball MVP was Calaveras’ Vaccarezza. The first team was made up of Calaveras’ Blair Baker, Tanna Bindi, Kelsey Hull and Carly Panos. The second team had Calaveras’ Samantha Golston, Cecily Basques, Melanie DeMarco and Christa Reeder.

Bret Harte’s tennis squad had the tough task of trying to repeat as Mother Lode League champions after going 10-0 in 2008. Joel Ashley, Krista Smith, Wesley Sagewalker, Travis Rankin, Meghan Woods and Mariah Mathews helped lead the Bullfrogs to another league title. After beating Modesto Christian (6-1) and Central Catholic (4-3), Bret Harte lost in the semifinals of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs 4-3 to West Campus.

Bret Harte’s Joel Ashley was the boys’ MVP and Krista Smith was the girls’ MVP. Calaveras’ Sean Calavan made the all-league team, as did Mariah Mathews (BH) and Bret Harte’s boys’ doubles team of Santiago Valenti and Wesley Sagewalker.

Local sports were making memories a decade ago

Swimmers dive into Calaveras' pool.

In the pool, Calaveras defeated Bret Harte 95-62. Individual event winners for Calaveras were Austin Escobedo, Matt Menzies, Trevor Gilbert, Gary Lieb, Dylan Bota, Stephanie Kulp and Breanne Dickerson. For Bret Harte, Kaylee Rasmussen won the 200 and 500 freestyles.

And in track and field, Calaveras won both the boys’ and girls’ Mother Lode League titles. Calaveras’ Jake Hummell finished first in the 400-meter race at the division III championships. Calaveras freshman McKenzie Theiler qualified for the Masters Meet, as did Bret Harte’s Cortney ArceJaeger, Marcus Phillips and Calaveras’ Tessa Gonzalez.


Bret Harte got artificial turf laid down on Dorroh Field, but the field wouldn’t be ready for play until October. Former Bullfrog Joe O’Gorman, along with Calaveras’ Jake Mote and Steven Klith, were selected to play in the 36th annual Lions All-Star Football Game. And in alumni football, Calaveras beat Bret Harte 33-22 in San Andreas.


Local sports were making memories a decade ago

Bret Harte fans show excitement during a home football game.

After a long summer break, sports returned to Calaveras County and Bret Harte’s cross country team was the running team to beat. Both boys’ and girls’ squads won the league title in 2008 and the girls won the division IV section championship. The good luck continued as the Bullfrogs won their fourth straight title sweep. It was the girls’ 11th MLL championship in a row.

Bret Harte’s boys’ and girls’ teams also won the division IV section championships, which was the girls’ fourth straight and the first for the boys since 1994. Bret Harte’s Matt Airola placed ninth out of 200 at the CIF State Meet and took home his second state medal.

Bret Harte’s girls’ golf team was the defending Valley Foothill North and CIF division V champions. Nancy Smith, Audrey Benevento, Alli Westerhoff and Ashley Pennington had the task of trying to repeat as champs. Bret Harte beat Calaveras 220-238 and Benevento led the way with a 49. Calaveras’ Sierrah Warren shot a 54.

The Bullfrogs had another strong year, but were unable to win the league title for the first time since 2002. Nancy Smith (BH), Benevento (BH), Westerhoff (BH) and Warren (Cal) made the all-league team. Both Calaveras and Bret Harte qualified for divisionals.

In 2008, Bret Harte’s boys’ soccer team finished in second place and had dreams of taking first in 2009. In the first meeting between the Bullfrogs and Calaveras, Bret Harte won 2-1. The Bullfrogs got goals from Jackson Gates and Diego Medrano. Bret Harte stayed hot and improved to 5-0 in league play and 13-1 overall after Medrano scored twice and Fernando Medrano scored once in a 3-0 win over Argonaut.

Local sports were making memories a decade ago

Bret Harte's Jamie Islas chases down a ball.

The rematch between Calaveras and Bret Harte ended in a 1-1 tie in Angels Camp. Bret Harte scored in the first half with a goal from Alex Durante, with an assist from Adam Maisch. Calaveras tied the game with a goal from Jerrid Dowling. In the final of three games between the two squads, Bret Harte beat Calaveras 2-0 to improve to 10-2-1 in league play. After beating Linden 2-0, the Bullfrogs won their first outright league title since 1991. Both Bret Harte and Calaveras reached the postseason. Calaveras lost 3-0 to Riverbank, but the Bullfrogs beat Livingston in overtime with two goals from Fernando Medrano. The season came to an end as Bret Harte lost to Hilmar in the semifinals.

Bret Harte’s Freddy Barboza was the Most Outstanding Player of the Year. Diego Medrano (BH) was the Midfielder of the Year. Calaveras’ Mitchell Moyers was the Defensive Player of the Year and Bret Harte’s Jackson Gates was the Goalkeeper of the Year.

On the volleyball court, Calaveras had key returners Cecily Basques, Kelsey Hull and Carly Panos, while Bret Harte had Kailyn Finley and Jennifer Gehrmann. In the first meeting, Calaveras swept Bret Harte 25-15, 25-12 and 25-15. Hull had 13 kills, Panos had 11 kills and Basques recorded 26 assists and five aces. Bret Harte freshman Kylie Kester had six kills and five digs, while Isabel Houghton had 12 assists.

Local sports were making memories a decade ago

Kelsey Hull, left, and Cecily Basques of Calaveras celebrate after sealing game two vs. Riverbank.

In the second meeting between Bret Harte and Calaveras, the outcome was the same. Calaveras won 25-16, 25-14 and 25-21. Panos had 10 kills and two blocks, while Basques had 30 assists and Heather Williams had six digs. Calaveras improved to 7-1 in league play. In the final of three head-to-head matchups, Calaveras beat Bret Harte 25-14, 27-25 and 25-13. Kester led Bret Harte with 15 digs and eight kills, while Calaveras’ Tanna Bindi had 12 digs and six kills.

Calaveras finished the season 13-2, which was good enough for second place and got the No. 12 seed out of 16 teams in the division IV bracket. In the opening round, Calaveras lost to No. 5 Golden Sierra 20-25, 23-25 and 20-25. Basques was named the league’s Most Outstanding Player and head coach Mike Koepp was a co-Coach of the Year. Kester (BH), Hull (Cal), and Panos (Cal), made the first team, and Williams (Cal) and Amanda Evans (Cal) made the second team.

On the gridiron, Calaveras started the 2009 season with a 38-14 win over Weston Ranch. Monti Wilson rushed for 238 yards and three scores (60, 11, 4) in the win. Bret Harte beat Livingston 14-10. Jonny Lora rushed for 104 yards, Robby Bragg rushed for a score, and Matt Brechtel scored on a 40-yard fumble recovery. Both teams lost the following week, as Calaveras fell 9-0 to Bear River and the Bullfrogs lost 35-32 to Central Valley. In Bret Harte’s defeat, Bragg threw for 226 yards and four scores.

After losing to Bear River, Calaveras bounced back with a 34-0 win over Ceres but couldn’t keep the momentum with a 21-14 loss to Hilmar. Bret Harte beat Hughson 28-14 as Bragg, Lora, Conrad Epps and Jacobs all ran for touchdowns. On homecoming night, Bret Harte lost to Ripon 26-14 on the first game on the new turf field. Bragg threw for 201 yards and Brianna Huse was named homecoming queen.

In the final preseason game, Calaveras blew a 10-0 lead and lost to Ripon 14-10. Jake Fisher scored a touchdown and Thomas Godwin nailed a field goal. Bret Harte lost 43-0 to Escalon. The league season began with Calaveras beating Amador 18-12, with Wilson rushing for 236 yards on 38 carries. Bret Harte lost to Summerville 33-13.

Local sports were making memories a decade ago

Bret Harte's Robby Bragg runs the ball in Angels Camp.

The following week, Cecily Basques was named as Calaveras’ homecoming queen and Calaveras beat Linden 46-35. Wilson rushed for 253 yards and four scores and Ty Seawell had a 27-yard touchdown reception. Quarterback Garett Bock went 6 for 8 with 116 yards and two scores. Bragg threw two touchdowns in Bret Harte’s 26-21 win over Amador. Colby Klein had 21 tackles and a 51-yard score.

Calaveras suffered its only league loss in a 31-21 road defeat to Summerville. The Bears outscored Calaveras 17-0 in the second half. Wilson and Gage Keifer had touchdown runs. That same night, Bret Harte lost 48-0 to Argonaut. In the final game before the Big Game, Calaveras clinched a playoff spot with a 14-10 win over Argonaut and Bret Harte fell to Linden 27-14.

Local sports were making memories a decade ago

Calaveras beat Bret Harte in the 2009 "Big Game"

In the Big Game, Calaveras beat Bret Harte 17-0 for its 10th straight win over the Bullfrogs. Wilson rushed for 181 yards. The next week, Calaveras beat Dixon 18-14 in the first round of the playoffs. It was Calaveras’ first playoff win since 2004. Calaveras’ season came to an end in a 43-23 loss to Placer. Chris Ussery scored twice in the loss.

Wilson was the co-Offensive Player of the Year and Calaveras’ Joey Gellerman was the co-Defensive Player of the Year. Eli Thom, Adam Bassett, Jake Fisher, Carson Klein, Jonny Lora, Chris Ussery and Devan Van Lier all made the all-league team.

What’s next?

Next week, we’ll look back to 1999.



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