Cougar Stadium unveiled to the community with ribbon cutting ceremony

Cougar Stadium at John F. Kennedy High School was unveiled on Friday, Sept. 5 with a ribbon cutting ceremony just before the football games of the night began. Photo by Stephen Crowley

Cougar Stadium at John F. Kennedy High School was unveiled on Friday, Sept. 5 with a ribbon cutting ceremony just before the football games of the night began. Photo by Stephen Crowley

John F. Kennedy High School tested out the famous sports movie quote, “If you build it, they will come,” with the unveiling of their new $5.9 million track and field on Sept. 5 before the JV and varsity football games.

The old track and field was in such bad shape, Kennedy’s head football coach Matt Costa found it difficult to put the poor quality to words.

“It was so bad, there’s no way to describe it,” Costa said. “Imagine the worst football field you’ve ever seen – this field was worse than that.”

Kennedy opened up the field with a ribbon cutting ceremony, followed by a 28-6 loss to Galt High School for the JV team and a 46-14 loss for varsity in front of a packed house.

The field was funded by the Measure R bond passed back in November, 2012 along with Measure Q to help renovate several schools in the Sacramento City Unified School District.

The new field is made from more than 7,000 recycled tires and is free from any harmful metals. Unlike a grass field, the AstroTurf GameDay Grass requires no watering and little maintenance. It has also been proven by the NFL Charities Foundation that it will help reduce ankle and knee joint injuries.

“We practiced on it once before the game and the players loved it,” Costa said. “It’s a much faster playing field, so we are getting used to that, but it’s a big improvement.”

Costa also said he believes the new field has attracted more high-quality players to his team than in previous years. Not only is it attracting players, but other students as fans.

Kennedy junior Nathanial Jeffrey spent the first two years of high school running around the old beat up track in PE and had never been to a Kennedy football game – until now.

“The old field was dirt, a lot of potholes with some grass,” Jeffrey said. “The track was dirt and when it rained, it had huge puddles we had to run around.”

When asked if he will be attending more games now that the track is state-of-the-art, Jeffrey said he believes so.

Carmen Amezcua, mother of Kennedy JV player and sophomore Daniel Hernandez, said she is also a fan of the new renovations.

“When they played out here before, it was raggedy-looking with big old mud piles when it rained,” Amezcua said. “They did a good job – I like it.”

On top of a new field and track, Kennedy also built new bleachers, a new concession stand and new bathrooms.

With new athletic facilities, the football program is getting a fresh start to a new era of Kennedy football. Coach Costa said he believes things are looking up.

“We have a better team this year, already with a win under our belt,” Costa said. “I believe we do well this year.”

CKM Sports Hall of Fame enters third year

The C.K. McClatchy Sports Hall of Fame enters its third year featuring athletes and teams mainly from the 1980s. Forty-three athletes, three coaches, and three teams will be inducted on Saturday, Oct. 11, at the Asian Sports Foundation Hall off Laguna Boulevard. As of press time, 437 people have signed up to attend, so remaining seats are limited.

The 1980s proved to be a strong decade for McClatchy sports teams. Under Bob Sandoval, the football team began to win again, and the 1984 team is the only team to ever win 10 games in a season.

Led by Donald Hair (’85), who broke the state high school record by scoring 42 touchdowns in a single season, the Lions knocked off No. 1 Christian Brothers and beat Grant in the playoffs before losing to Elk Grove. Against Grant, Hair would score twice in the first half, and Kevin Elam (’86) to Chuck Smith touchdown pass would seal the game.

Junior quarterback Elam (UC Davis), Hair (Sac State), and senior flanker Craig Bowens (Fresno State) would be named All-City and All-Superior California. Junior defensive tackle Peter Gould (’86) would make first team All-City and wide receiver/linebacker Zebadee Brye would make the 2nd team All-City.

Hair would be honored as “Prep of the Week” by the Sacramento Bee, the Sacramento Union, FM102, Quad 106, and channels 3, 10, 13, and 40. He would be named Sacramento’s Football Player of the Year for 1984 and was featured in Sports Illustrated.

Dennis Gastinell was a bruising fullback, and Shane Turner (San Francisco State) a blocking tight end. The line consisted of Todd Barmby, center; Bob Taylor and Mike Werblum, guards; and John Morehead, and Clenzo Johnson, tackles.

Doug Farmer, end; Gould, tackle; Richard Dalrymple, tackle; Brye, linebacker; and Chuck Smith, safety were top defensive stars, with Mike O’Malley the kicker. Mike DeNecochea backed up Hair and returned kicks.

One of the top games of the year was against Davis in the pre-season. Davis had star running back Mark Hicks who would play at UC Berkeley. With Davis marching late in the game to take the lead, Hair stripped Hicks of the ball at the one-yard line and ran 99 yards for a 27-18 win.

Athletes with names in bold print will be inducted into the 2014 CKM Sports Hall of Fame, and players from selected teams attending the banquet will receive medals.

McClatchy wrestling under coach Greg Fong was a Sacramento powerhouse in the mid-1980s. He had a winning combination in the 84-85 season with seniors Andy Lopez (captain), Jahlani Bent, Eric Guillen, Matt Poole, Richard Dalrymple, and juniors Mark Sprenger and Leo Woodfork.

Coach Fong’s game plan was to present the most strategic lineup to each opponent. The key to this was the versatility of the wrestling squad that included Juan Bonillas, Jimmy Culleton, Stanford Hirata, Rafael Perez, James Sprenger, Andy Blanco, Phillip Herndon, and Jeff Friend.

They took home the Metro League dual meet championship and won the Metro League tournament that year, building a foundation of excellence that carried on for several years. Team members included:

98 lbs Juan Bonilla/Jimmy Culleton; 105 lbs Stanford Hirata; 112 lbs Andy Lopez; 119 lbs Jahlani (Jay) Bent/ Christian Clinger; 126 lbs Mark Sprenger; 132 lbs Rafael Perez; 138 lbs Mike Bruce/ James Haldeman; 145 lbs Matt Poole/James Sprenger; 154 lbs Eric Guillen; 165 lbs Andy Blanco/Tony Blanco; 175 lbs Phillip Herndon, Mike Tabor/Danny Victorio; 191 lbs Leo Woodfork; Heavyweight Richard Dalrymple/ Jeff Friend.

Lopez, M. Sprenger, and Guillen won gold medals in the Metro League meet, while Bent, Woodfork, and Dalrymple took second place. Hirata, Poole, and Herndon finished 3rd. Guillen, Sprenger, and Woodfork finished second in the sub-sections.

Cross-country and track would rebound dramatically under coach Dub Carter, who is being inducted posthumously. Almost every school day in the 80’s, you could see Carter and his Lion runners racing through Land Park in the late afternoon.

Inductee Liz Baccigaluppi (81) would become McClatchy’s first great female distance runner, leading the Lions to victory in both cross-country and track. As the decade rolled on, the Lions dominated the Metro-league in both boys’ and girls’ cross-country and track.

Baseball would continue its winning tradition throughout the 1980’s, the first eight years under the leadership of Hall of Fame inductee coach Bernie Church. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, the Lions would come within a game and a half of winning five titles in six years.

Baseball hall of fame inductees include Dion James (80), Jon Leake (81), John Mikacich (84), Greg Chenu (86), Pat Zalasky (88), Aaron Fuller (89), and Pat Wallace (89). Wallace would earn All-City honors in soccer, basketball, and baseball as a senior.

Boys’ basketball would also rebound strongly through the 80’s with the 1988 team winning 20 games and two tournaments. The 1989 team went to Hawaii to win a tournament and finished high in the Metro League under coach Harvey Tahara. They were building for the 90’s, a decade of superiority.

The 80s would produce outstanding female athletes who were nurtured by 1970s/1980s softball and soccer leagues, and local swimming and tennis clubs. Maureen O’Conner Nowak (’83), Shannon Padovan (’86), Karen Henderson (’88), Krista Margetich (’88), Charmian Coombs Tallman (’89), and Tammy Olson Rocco (’89) are Hall of Fame inductees this year

Asian youth basketball would begin to produce a long series of male and female athletes throughout the decade. Last year’s inductee Jeff Ota (’79) would be the first, and the 80s would produce Bonnie Lee (’82), Cary Kushida (’83), Gayle Ichio (’87), Pat Wallace (’89), and many star players of the 87-88 Metro League champion girls’ basketball team. The 90s would have many more.

Girls’ basketball would continue to develop, when in 1987-88, the girls’ team, under Hall of Fame inductee Charlie Becker, would win their first Metro League championship. Hall of Fame inductees Margetich (’88) and Sundae Brooks (’89) would lead the team in scoring and rebounding.

Guard Allison Okubo led the team with 119 assists. Krissy Sakamoto, Ingrid Collins, Tracy Uda, Heather Johnson, Corine Onga, and Tammi Smith all contributed nightly. Melanie Conti, Rochelle Nada, and Kristina Moy rounded out the team.

Overall the team was 18-8 and they won the Metro League with an 11-3 record. All-Metro League Brooks would lead the Lions in scoring and rebounding. “Brooks was everything a coach was looking for in a player. She could rebound, shoot, and play multiple positions. She was also a team leader.”

Brooks would lose most of her senior year with an injured ankle. Margetich would be All-Metro in both basketball and softball, and be the first player in McClatchy history to play in two Optimist All-Star games: basketball and softball.

Other outstanding members from the ’80s include Eric Ross (’80), Leake (’81), and Russ Ortega (’85) for basketball; Kevin (KC) Clark (’82), Mikacich (’84), and Jeff Chenu (’88) for football, and Randy Gregson (’88) for golf. Fifteen athletes from the 40s thru the 70s will also be inducted.

Last chance to get tickets!!! The CKM Sports Hall of Fame expects to sell out by the last week in September. Go to for information or call Bob Sertich at 441-0657 for ticket availability.

Cook Realty Charity Golf Tournament returns for 22nd year

The 22nd Annual Cook Realty Charity Golf Tournament will take place on Friday, Sept. 19 at William Land Park Golf Course with an all-charity dinner and prize raffle to follow. Hundreds of attendees take part each year.
The Cook Realty Charity Golf Tournament began in 1992. It has raised more than $330,000 for local charities. An important characteristic of this unique event is that more than 90 percent of the earnings are turned over to several local non profits, schools and churches.  
Cook Realty Broker Trey Bonetti says the event is successful in raising needed funds for many local nonprofits and valuable community assets. “Keeping it close to home is an element of our philosophy as a company that transfers well to the groups that benefit from the little help we are able to give them. The money we help raise, many groups rely on.” said Bonetti. “We are very proud of the accomplishments of our agents and the part they play raising money for charity in a challenging economy.”
Still, Bonetti and Golf Director Ed Daniels know it doesn’t happen without the help and hard work of literally hundreds of vendors, merchants and service companies from both within and outside the local real estate industry. “Each year we ask folks to donate time, money or goods and services and they respond overwhelmingly,” says Daniels.
The late Cook Realty agent Charles Covey began the fundraiser. Like many events, it started very small and grew over time each year. Unlike many events, it has not just continued, it has thrived. Each year an award is given in his honor to a community member who has exhibited selfless work and sacrifice on behalf of those less fortunate.
Each of Cook Realty’s agents have a hand in securing ample gifts and prizes for the event dinner that evening. It is estimated the raffle alone helps to bring in as much as half of the money raised. “We have been so fortunate to be surrounded by so many fine business people in our community,” says Realtor Meena Chan Lee. “Each year they are thrilled with the result of their own participation. Their return on investment exceeds expectations,” said Chan Lee.
Cook Realty wants to thank past major sponsors that include Steve Larson of Farmer’s Insurance, Bouey Termite and Construction, Lori Wilson of Property I.D. and Ken Perry of State Farm Insurance.
Play, donate or just come eat and enjoy the fun. Secure your spot at this year’s Cook Realty Charity Golf Tournament, dinner and raffle. Contact Ed Daniels at 451-6702 for tickets and details.

Sacramento Stingrays: Local Team with Community Spirit

Photo by Oai Pham

Photo by Oai Pham

Waking up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning for a swim meet may not sound appealing at first. But if you love swimming, your swim team, the families and your coaches, it’s actually not so difficult. That’s just what Sacramento Stingrays participants will say.
One of the founding teams of the Sacramento Swim League (SSL), the Stingrays swim team has been around since 1960. The team—which invites kids ages 5 to 18 to swim to participate—has been swimming at Greenhaven Cabana Club North since the early 1990s. Over the years, the Stingrays have been a top contender in the SSL and have won several league titles from the mid to late 1990s.
But it’s not just the wins that have made the team what it is today, but rather all that it offers its members and families.

Safety and Health
According to, drowning is the second leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 5 and 24. So if your child knows how to swim, and better yet, becomes a strong swimmer, this will help she or he if faced with an emergency situation, for example, in an unsupervised pool or while swimming in an ocean or other unpredictable body of water.
In addition, swimming provides tremendous health benefits. Swimming is a rigorous cardiovascular sport, and compared to many other youth sports, swimming has a very low risk of injury.
Stingrays parent Wendi Imagire commented on how her daughters’ swimming skills were honed and strengthened after doing swim team.
“I think that the aerobic and physical training the kids receive is one of the greatest benefits,” Wendi said. “Both my girls have taken group and private swim lessons, but it is on swim team that they have really become ‘swimmers.’ There is just nothing that beats swimming for an hour every day from March until the end of July!”
Another Stingrays parent explained that they joined the team initially because their son was not yet safe in the water.
“Before joining the team, he couldn’t swim the width of the pool—not even doggie paddle,” she said. “After one week of practice, not only could he swim the length of the pool on his own, but he couldn’t wait until the first meet … Swim team is a great mix of individual and team participation. It is great exercise and demands a certain focus from the kids.”
Another great aspect to swimming is that it is a low-impact sport, making it an activity, like cycling, that can be practiced well into adulthood.

Mental Boost, Confidence, Family, and More
Another huge plus to swimming is the emotional benefit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this water sport improves mental health by boosting one’s mood. In particular, being on a swim team provides the added benefit of giving kids a strong sense of accomplishment, confidence and belonging.

Photo by Oai Pham

Photo by Oai Pham

Kyle O’Connor can attest to that. A Stingrays swimmer from 1996 to 2009, Kyle became an assistant coach, and then later head coach for the team.
“Swimming is one of the most social sports around, and all swimmers can experience great personal success, no matter their athletic ability. The experience of beating a personal best time is immensely satisfying no matter what place you may get in a race,” Kyle said. “The Stingrays swim team is also an incredible community where I met some of the best friends in my life, and I have continuously heard the same thing as long as I have been associated with the team. It’s more than a swim team, it’s a family.”
Swim team participants wholly agreed. Matthew Lee, 13, who has been on the Stingrays since he was 7 years old, said, “I like being on the Stingrays because I’ve made a lot of good friends and I consider the Stingrays ‘home.’”
Matthew’s brother, Mitchell Lee, 17, who started at age 8, concurred: “Over the years, I have bonded with my fellow group mates and to me they have become family. There exists a strange yet familiar feeling of home whenever I am swimming or competing with these guys. I think I speak for all of us when I say words do no justice to describe the camaraderie felt throughout the Stingrays.”
So despite very early Saturday mornings at the pool, you won’t see kids and their parents complaining.
“We love the social aspect of being together every Saturday, sitting under those tents, playing games, snacking, and talking,” Wendi said. “And I think that is actually the thing that we value the most about swim team—the friendships.”
Find out more about the Sacramento Stingrays at

Impressive diver brings the sport back to the forefront at C.K. McClatchy

In the hours before a meet, Nevada Schultz visualizes himself performing each dive better than he’s ever done before, but as he steps onto the diving board, his mindset changes. Thinking only about the dive he’s about to perform and forgetting about the competition, the Sac-Joaquin Section Finals champion gets into a highly focused state of mind.

And then in a couple seconds, the dive is over.

But, it’s the adrenaline rush from the excitement of completing a difficult dive that pushed Nevada to perform his best against great competitors.

At the section finals held at C.K. McClatchy High School on May 10, Nevada performed a backwards dive in a pike position so well it gave him momentum throughout the meet. His win was the first time a McClatchy student won Sections since 1979.

At the competition each diver performs 11 dives for Sections, each with a degree of difficulty rating which is then multiplied by the judges score. Nevada’s dives ranged from a forward dive to a 1-½ somersault with two twists. Another dive included the challenging backwards (flip-toward-the-board) plunge.

Speaking about the day’s excitement, Nevada said, “The pressure to perform was heavy; so completing all my dives at a high level felt great.”

Competing against the divers on his Junior Olympic team who compete for other high schools, undoubtedly was Nevada’s toughest competition. “They are all very good divers and any of us are capable of winning any meet,” he said.

For a sport that normally doesn’t get a lot of attention, Nevada said coming home a champion to long-time C.K. McClatchy’s coach Dee Robbins was the best part this year. “The highlight of my season was making my coach, Dee Robbins, proud by winning Sections. It made all the hard work and training worth it to reach my goal for the season. It feels glorious to represent McClatchy successfully and bring home the championship after such a long drought (since 1979). Diving doesn’t normally get a lot of attention, so this really helped bring attention to the sport at my high school,” he said.

Diving for only three years this summer, Nevada said he found his passion for the sport a little later than most divers his age. Asked about his training regimen, Nevada said he jumps on a trampoline at home, dives year-round five days a week for at least two hours, and conditions on dry land with ab, leg, and stretching exercises.

Asked to describe what he likes most about diving, Robbins spoke on this very work ethic, exemplified by Nevada’s hard work. “I enjoy watching kids improve and enjoy what they are doing. Diving takes commitment and hard work, but at the same time it is very satisfying and rewarding. The skills learned in the sport of diving carry over to help kids be successful in all aspects of their lives.”

The highlights of Robbins’ career continue to be the many deep and lasting friendships he’s had with many of his divers.

Coaching for about 38 years, Robbins described how the sport has changed since then. “In 1976, there used to be many recreational diving teams. My team (The Sunrise Sharks) would compete against Park Terrace, Davis, Auburn, Placerville, Rosemont, and Arden Manor. Each team was limited to 40 participants per meet. I had about 80 kids on my team. Now, we have basically no recreational teams and very few beginning classes that teach diving. It also seems that the sport is evolving into a rich person’s sport because of how expensive it is to participate,” Robbins said.

McClatchy baseball ‘Coach D’

2012 Varsity Coaches Gordy Lahann, Coach Mike de Necocea and Kenny Munguia. Photo courtesy of C.K. McClatchy baseball

2012 Varsity Coaches Gordy Lahann, Coach Mike de Necocea and Kenny Munguia. Photo courtesy of C.K. McClatchy baseball

The baseball field of McClatchy High School has been the backyard of Mike de Necochea since he was a kid. Now as a father of seven watching his youngest child and only son preparing to embark as a freshman at his alma mater, he plans on staying around at least for a few more years.

“The joke was that I’d coach until my son got to high school, but I can’t believe that’s next year already,” de Necochea said. “With my son and his friends entering high school, I hope I can keep coaching here for another four years.”

De Necochea, graduate of 1985, has been the head varsity baseball coach for McClatchy for the past 10 years and was even a three-sport athlete during his high school days on the very same campus.

This year, he lead his team alongside assistant coaches Kenny Munguia and Steve Correa (father of previous assistant coach and player Dom Correa) to the playoffs, only to fall short of the second round with a 4-0 loss to Oakmont High School.

De Necochea said though this year was the year his team could go far in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs, the overall team effort wasn’t there.

“We expect to go far in the playoffs but we haven’t the last two years,” de Necochea said. “It doesn’t annoy me, it motivates me. To me, my goal is to always win the last game of the year. The only way to do that is to win the section championship.”

In his time as coach, de Necochea and his assistant coaches can be considered a success, winning the Metro League title five times and making the playoffs nine out of 10 years (the only time missing the playoffs was 2006).

Since the 1990s, McClatchy has produced a few major league players such Steve Holm, Nick Johnson and Vance Worley – the latter being a star player under Coach de Necochea in 2005.

De Nocochea said his coaching style is relaxed and organized with a special ingredient mixed in: chemistry.

“I think the head coach sets the tone for [chemistry] early on when you pick your team and decide who the key guys on the team are going to be and who the leaders are,” de Necochea said.

He said the way he organizes groups in practice is important, even competing at practice against each other can build some solid team chemistry.

“We’ve won some amazing comeback games over the years that really stand out to me,” DeNecochea said. “There have been games where most teams would have mailed it in, but because of that chemistry, one pitch at a time, one at-bat at a time got us the win.”

He began coaching baseball when his younger brother’s Pony team needed a coach. De Necochea was only 19 at the time and got the job – better yet, they won the championship and he coached the league’s All-Star team.

“That was my first taste of coaching and I really enjoyed it,” de Necochea said.

His time coaching would take a brief pause as de Necochea started a family, attended school and worked full-time. Coaching was an afterthought.

“When I started coaching again, my daughters would be coming through McClatchy, so it was a good opportunity to get to view around the campus, get to know the boys a little better with all these daughters coming through – it was a good strategy,” de Necochea said with a grin.

Now with his youngest daughter graduating from McClatchy and heading to Sacramento State, de Necochea said he could shift his focus to his son who plans on playing baseball at the JV level as a freshman.

“I’m really excited to the future of the program with the new group of kids coming in, they already have a great chemistry, but it’ll take a little more time to build it,” de Necochea said.

Far surpassing a personal best: C.K. McClatchy’s Tino Luigi hits 3 homers in one game

Tino Luigi. Photo courtesy

Tino Luigi. Photo courtesy

After 13 years of playing organized baseball, McClatchy senior second baseman Tino Luigi had better odds of beating cancer than hitting a home run in a game – let alone three.

As of April 23 during a much-needed win over Florin to keep playoff hopes alive, Luigi had done both.

When Luigi was 5 years old, he was diagnosed with stage-4 neuroblastoma, a cancer in the nervous system. Doctors said he had just a 7 percent chance of surviving.

“I remember being in the hospital and not really being told what was wrong with me,” Luigi said. “They said I was sick and they were giving me medicine to help get rid of the bad stuff inside of me. They kept it in kids terms and didn’t tell me that I could die.”

Luigi and his parents were told he had cancer in 90 percent of his body, but now that he has been cancer-free for 12 years, Luigi said he has no fear of it coming back.

Since he was diagnosed, his focus shifted from hospital beds to baseball diamonds. He has played every year beginning in t-ball up through his senior year in high school. Throughout all those years, he had hit a grand total of zero home runs.

Coming into this year, a personal goal of his was to finally round all four bases with one mighty swing.

“I told all my friends ‘this is the year I hit a home run – I can feel it,’” Luigi said. “But three in one game? I never had that feeling.”

In a 14-2 win over Florin in Luigi’s big game, his first three at-bats resulted in home runs – something neither he nor his teammates had ever seen.

After the first home run, Luigi said his teammates were excited for him, cheering loudly from the dugout.

“They knew it was my first homer so they were just happy for me, but when I hit the second one they were like ‘holy crap, he just hit two!’” Luigi said. “I did not expect a third one – nobody did.”

After the second homer, Luigi said a father of another teammate leaned over to his dad, Perry Luigi, and asked him, “Do you think he can hit a third one?” Perry said, “Definitely not.” Then he hit another one and blew everyone away.

The 5-foot-10 second baseman is not known for his power or speed, but for his defense and contact. He ranks second on the team in hits and runs, fourth in runs batted in and now first on the team in home runs.

Now that Tino’s personal goal has been achieved (three times), Luigi is focused on his team going far in the playoffs.

Last season, McClatchy left the playoffs disappointed after failing to reach past the first round. Tino and his team hope to go even further.

Recently named to the All-Metro First Team, Tino has made himself a leader on his team in the best way he knows how: quietly and effectively.

“I’m not a leader,” Tino said. “It’s not something I do – I’m not good at getting people pumped up, I don’t have good speeches. The only thing I’m good at is leading by example and being a quiet leader.”

In practice he is almost silent, working through the drills, perfecting his swing or backhand grounders. He’s not having a bad day, or upset of any kind – he’s Tino.

In the fall, Tino will be attending Sonoma State, hoping to walk onto the baseball team, but if he doesn’t make the cut, he’s determined to join a team on campus that’s a good fit for him.

“I can’t see myself not playing a sport – I need to be doing something,” Tino said. “I’ve been playing sports all my life, so if I weren’t playing anything, I wouldn’t know how to spend my time.”

Cougars baseball clinches Metro title

The Kennedy Cougars varsity baseball beat Burbank on Wednesday, May 7, paving the way for the playoffs. The air of excitement was contagious with crowds of alumni and families showed their support. Photo by Stephen Crowley

The Kennedy Cougars varsity baseball beat Burbank on Wednesday, May 7, paving the way for the playoffs. The air of excitement was contagious with crowds of alumni and families showed their support. Photo by Stephen Crowley

A flurry of green and yellow ignited a fire of excitement amongst Kennedy baseball fans for a historic game against Burbank High School on Wednesday, May 7. The Cougars were one win away from winning the Metro League title – an opportunity that hadn’t come into play for roughly 20 years. Led by a talented group of seniors who have flown under the radar, the team did it. After the fifth inning, the Cougars led Burbank High School 18-0 and the game was over. The added excitement prior to the game clearly didn’t deter the players; the boys stayed focused and played really good ball.

“The team did really well; they were focused and played a really good game. They wanted to reach that goal, accomplish that feat and put all the efforts they could into winning,” Head Coach Marcos Pineda told the Pocket News.

Pitcher Adam Takeuchi threw a no-hitter with nine strike outs. But that was nothing out of the ordinary for the star player. “Adam has been very consistent for the team,” Pineda said.

After the big win, the Cougars are onto the playoffs with the first game against Fairfield-based Vanden High School held at American River College and set for May 15 at 4 p.m.

After two wins against the rivals, the C.K. McClatchy Lions, and a win against Rosemont early on in the season, the team’s confidence soared. After the first win against the Lions where they won 1-0, the Cougars began to play with a sense of leadership. “From that time on, we saw good baseball, then we got another victory,” Pineda said.

The quality of sportsmanship between the two teams has remained at the highest caliber.

“(C.K.M. Head Baseball Coach) Mike (de Necochea) is a great guy over there. Even though we have this rivalry, with the baseball, he has well-coached teams and to get the upper hand this year, our kids really enjoyed it. We piled up so many victories. (C.K.M.) was the team to knock off. They had won quite a few Metro-win titles. Getting those wins against them helped us set the tone to win the league and the championship,” he said.

Congratulations to coach Pineda for coach of the year, and the following players: Adam Takeuchi, Metro League Player of the Year; Chad Riley, 1st Team All League; T.J. Hicks, 1st Team All League;
Mason Fong, 1st Team All League; Joey Hernandez, 2nd Team All League; Thomas Sharer, 2nd Team All League.

To Sonny Fong, parent of freshman baseball player Mason, winning the Title means a lot to the parents and baseball community that has come before players today. “The path to winning the Metro League Title had many hurdles over the course however the individual and collective team grit and effort was rewarded with winning the Title.” Fong said Mason has inspired not only his younger brother who
plays in the Pocket Little League but also his grandfather, whose older brother was a standout baseball player for C.K. McClatchy High School and the Nisei and Japanese Baseball Leagues before being interned during World War II.

Suffice to say, the game has been inspiring to the Kennedy baseball community past and present.

Kennedy Baseball Hall of Fame
To pay the community of Kennedy baseball players before them back for paving the way for their success today, the Kennedy Baseball Team just announced they will be starting up a Kennedy baseball Hall of Fame. Honorees will be awarded at golf tournament fundraiser in September for their accomplishments. “We want to get them all out there and pay them the proper respect for all they’ve done,” Pineda said.

In other sports news, if you’ve been to campus lately, you’ve undoubtedly seen the progress of the school’s stadium. Contractors are working full force; their trailers have taken root; the offices are in and excavation equipment has been used. “Everything has been on schedule. We’ve been working with all the groups. Hopefully if everything goes smoothly, we’ll have a very nice facility beginning early next year. It’s coming along really well. There’s a big air of excitement. Both the faculty and the students are happy to see it,” Pineda said.

Jesuit’s Anthony Wesley wrestling his way to a top university

Photo by Da Vigo Photography.

Photo by Da Vigo Photography.

Jesuit High School’s Anthony Wesley is on pace to be the most successful wrestler in the school’s history. This year, the junior had 42 wins and 8 losses, just two losses shy of the school record of 44 wins. With more than an entire year to prepare for college, Anthony has already received letters from the Air Force Academy and Stanford University and Harvard University requesting transcript information.

While wrestling for Jesuit, Anthony has made two Sacramento All-Star teams, two national teams, received three national medals, is a two-time league finalist, and a two-time masters qualifier. He became the sixth wrestler in school history to qualify for the CIF State Championships. The first preseason state rankings in November placed him in the honorable mention section, but Anthony went undefeated in the month of December, winning four tournaments and winning the outstanding wrestler award in three of them.

His father, August Wesley, the current wrestling coach at Sacramento State University and former Jesuit High School wrestling coach, has been coaching high school, college, and international level teams since he was 20 years old.

Father and son spoke with the Arden-Carmichael News about memories of the last 10 years, and their mutual admiration for each other as wrestling family members.

Anthony began his wrestling journey at age 6, and now 10 years later, some of the people he trained with when he was younger are close friends now, even though some of them have been his greatest competitors.

Anthony said as he grew up watching his dad coach, he naturally started to enjoy watching it. “I wanted to try it, so he let me. If it weren’t for my Dad coaching all those years, I probably would not have competed at such a high level now. We, as a family, are a wrestling family; I wrestle practically year-round with many weekends allocated toward wrestling.”

And about his son, August described the pride he has as his son’s mentor, coach, and father. “This season has been a very exciting season to say the least. I enjoy watching my son compete and reach his current goals…His hard work is paying off. He started training early this season with my college wrestlers from Sacramento State. I saw the look in his eyes, very determined and clearly focused. His motor just does not stop.”

Photo by Da Vigo Photography.

Photo by Da Vigo Photography.

When coaching at Jesuit, August had wrestlers compete at state competitions, securing spots in the top 10. Then he left to coach at Sacramento City College. As his son got older, he started a year-round wrestling club, called the California Elite. He focused on the youth (grades five through nine). Most are in high school now, and, “kicking butt,” he said. With California Elite, he’s had kids venture from Vacaville, El Dorado Hills, Lassen, just to practice with him. Ninety-five percent of them are ranked in the state, some are in contention for medals. Then in 2011, Sacramento State University offered him coaching job. “That was weird because they didn’t have a wrestling team for 28 years, and I thought, Sac State does not have wrestling.”

Asked what his most memorable wrestling experience has been thus far, Anthony said it has to be back when he was in eighth grade. “(The California Elite) went down to Los Angeles. We were the underdogs at that tournament, but we beat everybody. Then we went to Six Flags. Even the car ride there was fun.”

Added August: “A lot of people didn’t know who I was training when I put the team together. We were the only team this side of Bakersfield. We represented a lot of people.”

Although top universities have inquired into his son, August still would love to see Anthony attend Sacramento State University, where he could play with athletes he’s grown up with and train under a coach he’s learned so much from.

But, Anthony has another agenda. “I don’t really want to (play for dad). I have seen those practices. They are really, really hard. My Dad’s been my coach for 11 years already. He’ll always be there even if not in my corner. My plans are focusing on getting into a good college,” he said.

Kennedy High School to get a new stadium!

Shown here is the current state of the track at John F. Kennedy High School. Come April, the scene will improve as the school will get a brand new stadium. Photo by Monica Stark

Shown here is the current state of the track at John F. Kennedy High School. Come April, the scene will improve as the school will get a brand new stadium. Photo by Monica Stark

Editor’s note: Look for ongoing updates on this continuing story.

When voters passed Measures Q&R in the November 2012 election, they made way for exciting projects that will improve our local schools, one of them being Kennedy High School! Principal Chad Sweitzer told the Pocket News there have been several meetings and plans are ready for a new stadium, a new track, bleachers and concessions with improvements beginning in April.“I have designs as well,” he said.

One of the projects that have been completed district-wide so far is a new batting cage at McClatchy High School. (Visit for more information on that controversial project.) The average age of Sacramento City Unified District schools is 50 years. Schools built years ago need significant updating.

To follow the district’s projects, visit: