Area well-represented at Junior Olympic water polo

jcortez@modbee.comAugust 2, 2013 

Ten local water polo squads will travel to Southern California to take part in the 44th annual Junior Olympic Tournament.

More than 500 teams and 8,000 athletes — which have advanced via zone qualifying tournaments — will compete for 18 national titles, according to

"It's good that we have more and more teams getting to go Junior Olympics, that's the positive part of it," said Brent Bohlender, the Central California Zone chairman. "Hopefully, we'll see some our of teams go down there and medal. That's what we're striving for."

The boys competition gets under way today in Irvine and runs through Tuesday, with two Modesto-Stanislaus Club teams and two Ripon Aquatics teams competing.

The Modesto-Stanislaus 16-under team, led by Turlock High coach Sonja Raynes, will compete in the Classic division, while the Ripon squad will play in the Championship category. Ripon's and Modesto-Stanislaus' U-14 team, coach by Pitman coach Ashley Eudy, will compete in the Classic field.

The girls competition begins Thursday, also in Irvine, and runs through Aug. 4.

Three Modesto-Stanislaus teams — the U-14s, coached by Pitman High's Michaela Solario in the Championship division; the U-16s, coached by Johansen's Erica Crain in the Classic division; and the U-18s, coached by Modesto JC assistant Tommy Hunter in the Classic category — will compete.

The Ripon Aquatics club will compete in the U-16 Classic, while the Merced and Sonora-Oakdale teams will play in the U-16 Championship.

• COLEMAN KEEPS BUSY — Six Modern Pentathlons in six weeks was an aggressive approach to the summer season, but the workload paid dividends for 15-year-old Rachel Coleman of Modesto.

Coleman's summer season lead up to the National Junior Championships for 19-20 year old women and the National Youth Championships for 17- and 18-year-olds at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Coleman placed third among Americans in each championship with a strong showing in the equestrian show jumping event and solid performances in the fencing, swimming and combined run and pistol shooting events.

"I drew an 18-hand horse," said Coleman after the junior pentathlon. "That's a lot of horsepower. But I got a clean jumping round with no knock downs so it worked out OK."

Based on her performances this summer, Coleman has been selected to compete for Team USA in the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NORCECA) Youth Championships in Havana, Cuba, in August.

• SANTOS MOVES ON — Juliana Santos has left after one season as Gregori High's softball coach to join Jan Schefkowitz's staff at Cal State Stanislaus.

Santos, a graduate of Orestimba High who was The Bee's Player of the Year in 2008 and later starred at LSU where she helped the Tigers to a berth in the 2012 College World Series, guided Gregori to an 18-8-1 record and the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 playoffs.

"I really didn't know I wanted to get into coaching until I was at Gregori," said Santos. "(Gregori AD) Jim Davis called me and asked if I was interested, and invited me to come out and talk about the position."

Soon, she knew she wanted to make coaching a career.

"Honestly, I think I bring a lot to Stanislaus," said Santos, who led her Orestimba High team to a 26-0 mark and state title as a junior. "I have the knowledge and the experience. I made it to the World Series; I know what it takes to get there. Our goal will be getting to the postseason. I think I can help with that mentality.

Schefkowitz is excited to have Santos join the staff.

"She's enthusiastic and she comes from our area," said Schefkowitz. "That says you can be great coming from our area. And the success LSU had while she was there adds respect to her position."

• BEARS' BEDFORD EARNS CAL-HI RECOGNITION — Merced High defensive lineman Jamell Bedford has been added to Cal-Hi Sports' list of Top 25 defensive lineman. While not featured among the Top 25, the 5-foot-11, 270-pound Bedford was one of 16 "Others Who Can Make a Move" in future rankings.

Bedford was clocked at 5.2 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Nike Sparq Combine in Oakland last May. He squats 500 pounds, can power clean 245 and bench presses 275.

"He's done a really good job for us," said Scheidt of the third-year varsity player. "And he's going to be one of seven who are returning up front for us. As good as he can be, the guys around him are going to make him that much better. That's what I'm excited about. He's going to be really difficult to double team."

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