High School Sports

Athletes of the Week

LARGE SCHOOLS

SPENCER HELLER Turlock golf

Spencer Heller displayed a steady swing and good practice habits a year ago, coach Mary Krupka notes, but at times Heller struggled to put together a complete round of golf. It's a situation the senior has conquered this fall.

"Spencer's biggest improvement is scoring," said Krupka, noting the senior shot a par-36 last week to help beat rival Pitman at Diablo Grande Golf Course. "She has always had a good swing, strike and practice routine.

Her ability to par and birdie holes has improved greatly, thus the even-par rounds."

Heller followed that with a 3-over 40 in a victory over Merced at Turlock Country Club, keeping the Bulldogs in first place. The Bulldogs' No. 2 golfer a year ago, Heller has earned the top spot this fall.

"She loves playing other No. 1s," Krupka said. "It gives her a chance to gauge her game."

TIM RICHARD

Downey water polo

The week began well for Tim Richard and it just kept getting better, as his goal total climbed in each of his three matches as he led Downey to three wins.

He scored three in an 11-8 win over Ceres, then scored five the next day as Downey beat the Bulldogs again 10-9. In his final match, Richard fired in seven goals as the Knights pounded crosstown rival Davis 17-8.

"The biggest difference in Tim's play this last week is his desire," coach Tim Vesey said. "He has been working much harder in practice and in the games."

Richard, one of the city's top swimmers in the spring, is playing just his third season of water polo. His athleticism, according to Vesey, has allowed Richard to adapt quickly to the game.

"He is a great leader," Vesey said. "He always gives positive feedback to (players) around him."

SMALL SCHOOLS

NASR ALSUMEIRI

Riverbank soccer

  • Riverbank has been an annual participant in the Sac-Joaquin Section boys soccer playoffs, but the Bruins are still waiting to break through to the final.
  • The Bruins got as far as the semifinal two seasons ago, before losing 4-0 to eventual champion Hilmar. First-round exits ended the Bruins' playoffs trips in 2005 and 2007.
  • This could be the season the Bruins get into the championship match, thanks in part to players such as Nasr Alsumeiri. The junior celebrated a hat trick and had an assist in a 7-0 win over Modesto Christian, and had the decisive goal in a 3-2 win over Hughson.
  • The wins kept Riverbank atop the Trans-Valley League. That's a good place to be, as the TVL has only two playoffs berths this season. The upside is that both TVL teams will be hosting first-round matches when the playoffs open Nov. 11.
  • TAYLER ANDERSON

    Riverbank cross country

    A new training regimen not only eased the aches and pains on Tayler Anderson's knees, coach Monte Wood said, it's made her a better runner and made the Bruins a better team.

    "The biggest difference between last year and this is that she is relatively healthy. Last year, she had tendonitis in both knees," Wood said. "We aren't racing as much so she can focus on training and, when needed, a little rest."

    Her top 5-kilometer time this year is 21 minutes, 15 seconds, almost 30 seconds faster than her fastest time last season.

    "She (wants) to win the individual Trans-Valley League title, but is more concerned with the team going to state," said Wood, whose program is often among the best in the Sac-Joaquin Section. "So we are gearing our training toward the section course at Willow Hills Reservoir in Folsom."

    -- RICHARD T. ESTRADA

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