As the postseason begins, the stars are beginning to shine.
Some of the area's top athletes will be on display throughout the area over the next couple of weeks.
So if you have an unlimited travel budget, here are a few places you could go to watch high school athletic excellence.
First, we have Beyer soccer player Jennie Marshall, who will lead the Patriots onto the artificial turf pitch of Downey High for a 6 p.m. first-round game Friday in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs.
The Patriots play Central California Conference runner-up Pitman, an athletic team that could provide a decent matchup for Beyer. But nobody has matched up with Marshall.
Marshall has scored 51 goals this season and 104 in her sterling four-year career. Former Davis High standout Tisha Venturini, who went on to national team and Olympics fame, scored 107 goals in four years in the late 1980s. Modesto's Reyna Green, who played four years at Fresno State, is believed to have come close to 100 goals as well. Green was a Panther in the late 1990s.
Beyer shifted the playoff game from a home date to Chuck Hughes Stadium at Downey High.
WHILE national-level athletes will compete in the California Invitational Relays on the Modesto Junior College track Saturday, the area's top high school swimmers will descend on Lodi's Tokay High pool for the section championships.
For the first time in some time, several Stanislaus District athletes enter their events with the top qualifying times.
On the boys' side, the Beyer duo of David LaFlamme (100 butterfly) and Cody Blevins (50 freestyle) enter as top seeds. The same goes for the Downey duo of R.J. Barton (100 freestyle) and Tim Richard (200 individual medley). Golden Valley's Justin Carter is the top seed in the 100 backstroke.
It's a sister act on the girls' side with Downey senior Karlee Bispo heavily favored to win the 100 and 200 freestyle. Kassy Bispo, a junior, is the top seed in the 100 breaststroke.
Karlee Bispo's qualifying times are close enough that she may take a run at the national records, particularly in the 200 freestyle.
ON Tuesday, the area's top golfers will play Stevinson Ranch in the section Masters Championships. The shotgun start is at 1 p.m.
One local player is Turlock junior Sam Smith, who shot a 3-under-par 69 -- with two balls hit into the water -- to win the section Division I South tournament Monday at The Reserve at Spanos Park in Stockton. Some of his top competition will come from Sacramento. Christian Brothers senior Grant Rappleye shot an 8-under 64 at Wildhorse Golf Club in Davis to win the Division II title Monday.
Smith, a seasoned golfer, said he enjoys playing the 18-hole tournament more than Turlock's nine-hole dual matches.
"You can make it up if you have a bad hole," he said. "I'm just more used to going the full 18 holes."
PITMAN has named Adam Vasconcellos, an assistant at Central Catholic, as its new wrestling coach.
Vasconcellos, 23, will teach math at the Turlock school. He'll be across town from his alma mater, Turlock High.
"I'm really excited," said Vasconcellos, who will become a head coach for the first time. "I learned a lot at Central Catholic. One of the main things is, it's going to take a lot of work."
He replaces Chris Wolfley, the school's first wrestling coach. Wolfley will continue as a teacher and an assistant for the school's football and track teams.
"Adam's a perfect fit," Wolfley said. "The kids deserve to have a coach who's committed to them year-round. Adam's hungry. He's that guy."
Vasconcellos said his assistants will include former Pitman wrestlers Vincent Perez and Felix Romero and his brothers, Matt and Cody Vasconcellos.
"I'm planning a youth team, too," Vasconcellos said. "I have a lot of time, and I'm going to put it all into wrestling."
Will DeBoard's high schools column appears Thursdays. E-mail him at email@example.com, write him at P.O. Box 5256, Modesto, CA 95352-5256, call 578-2300, or fax 238-4551.