Stephany Uriostegui, Atwater cross country
Uriostegui had spent much of this fall quietly compiling victories and lowering her times, running in relative obscurity. Her cover was blown at the Stanford Invitational, however, where she won the 3.1-mile Division II race in a personal best 18 minutes, 27 seconds -- mixing it up with hundreds of runners at the start before pulling away over the final 1,000 meters.
"The biggest surprise was to hear her name as the leader at the 1,000-meter mark," said coach Ken Rhoades, who was eager to see how she'd react in a densely packed race. "I was happy to see her 3:38 split for the final 1,000. She increased her pace even when she essentially had the race won."
She'll run Saturday at the Clovis Invitational and Oct. 20 at the Mt. SAC Invitational: "My hope is she trims a little time off the middle mile and makes an assertive move in the third mile against key rivals," Rhoades said.
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Kirk Phillips, Turlock water polo
This was seen as a rebuilding year for Turlock, which graduated its top players from a year ago. Phillips has helped turn it into a possible championship season, however, with his play in the goal.
He had 12 saves as the Bulldogs beat Buhach Colony 6-4, handing the Thunder its first Central California Conference loss, and he posted 11 saves in an 8-7 victory over Merced.
"He studies opponents and calculates the position of greatest advantage for his team," said coach Steve Feaver, whose club is alone in first place at 5-1, though three teams are just a game back. "He's a junior, with two years experience on the frosh-soph team, but he's an up-and-comer."
Though he's not tall for a goalie, Feaver said, the 5-foot-9-inch Phillips is able to protect the goal because he has strong legs and quick reflexes. He also can provide a quick outlet pass, sparking counterattacks.
Mariah Mathews, Bret Harte volleyball
After a difficult week playing in the volleyball-rich Mother Lode League, the question was if Bret Harte had much energy remaining for the one-day Oakdale Invitational. Mathews helped answer the question with an emphatic yes, as the junior setter's play led the Bullfrogs past the host Mustangs 25-20, 25-22 in the championship match.
"The degree of difficulty in the MLL is great," said coach Richard Juarez. "I believe (it) gets teams in our league to the top of their game. Summerville won (the Oakdale Invitational) last year and Bret Harte won this year, which says a lot about the players, coaches and strength of (the) MLL."
This is Mathews' second year as the setter and she averages 3.6 assists per game: "She worked hard to get the ball to each hitter on our team (last week)," said Juarez. "She read the defense and (made) decisions about where to set to keep the defense off balance."
Trevor Grimbleby, Modesto Christian soccer/football
Soccer has always been Grimbleby's first love, but when the Crusaders' football coach came to him this year with a proposal that would allow him to play football, as well, it was too much to resist.
"I have a lot of friends playing on the football team, I grew up with most of them, and football gets more attention at our school than soccer, so I thought it would be fun," Grimbleby said.
Now he's enjoying the best of both worlds. He scored two goals in a 5-2 Trans-Valley League soccer victory over Ripon Christian, then kicked the game-winning 19-yard field with two seconds left for a 17-14 football win over Le Grand.
MC's soccer team is in fourth place in the TVL, but Grimbleby says they're still shooting for the playoffs.
"We can play with the other teams," Grimbleby said. "It seems like we're always coming out flat, then start playing with more enthusiasm in the second half."
-- RICHARD T. ESTRADA