JACKIE BOBSON, Modesto water polo Moving to the goalie's cage two years ago turned out to be Jackie Bobson's ticket to joining the varsity, even if it did put head coach Mike Chiavetta at odds with his daughter.
"Jackie had become a goalie during her sophomore season," said Chiavetta, noting Bobson was part of the JV team coached by his daughter, Allie. "She was so dominant that we moved her up to varsity after about two weeks. Allie was really mad at me!"
Now a senior, Bobson has Modesto atop the Modesto Metro Conference and led them to a 7-3 win over Johansen -- its first win over its rival since Johansen the school opened in 1992.
"She has the most incredible reactions of any goalie I have seen," Chiavetta said. "She usually does not make a play on the ball until it leaves the hand of the shooter."
EDUARDO MEZA, Pitman soccer
Eduardo Meza has become a fixer for coach Oscar Mercado, rotating between forward and defender as the need arises. While that's limited his scoring chances, it's helped the Pride hold onto first in the Central California Conference.
He played a key defensive role during Pitman's 2-1 win over Merced -- handing the Bears their first CCC loss -- and scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Buhach Colony. He has six goals and two assists for the Pride.
"He adapts to any type of formation," Mercado said. "He knows how to retain the ball or play quickly when needed. He has great vision of the field and knows to anticipate a play."
With the second round of CCC play under way, Mercado expects the intensity to increase: "The players (and) coaches, know that to expect. Every game is big. A mistake may cause a loss or tie."
KIRSTEN LOCKE, Bret Harte golf
There were high expectations for Kirsten Locke when she swung her first golf club for the Bullfrogs, given that her older sister Caitlin was a two-time all-Stanislaus District golfer.
Kirsten has upheld the family reputation, making the all-District team as a junior and following it up with a stellar senior year. She's averaging 2-over par and the 2-under 34 she shot earlier this season at Greenhorn Creek Golf Resort is the girls' course record.
"She has improved her putting and greens in regulation," coach Rich Cathcart said. "Her overall strength is her work ethic. She works very hard, harder than any player we have had, and practices or plays everyday. She is a solid ball striker and course management is very good. It has been great to see her improve to be the outstanding play she has been the last two years."
NATHAN JACKSON, Big Valley cross country
After capturing a Sac-Joaquin Section title as a freshman, the question being asked was how Nathan Jackson would respond as a sophomore. Would he still possess the motivation to put in the long-distance running required to improve?
Jackson answered that question at the Escalon Invitational, winning the three-mile race in a personal best of 16 minutes, 38 seconds.
"There were a number of steep, short hills to test him," coach Steve Neubaum said. "Nathan's not a complainer, though. He's put in the work to prepare himself for this point of the season. He was going 25 to 35 miles a week, but now we're tapering for November."
Jackson's emphasis is on increasing his speed in workouts so he'll be comfortable with the faster pace he'll see at the Section Division V meet. He won last year's 5-kilometer section race in 18:21.
-- RICHARD T. ESTRADA