Vincent Rinaldi is saving his best finishing kick for the track and not the soccer field.
Carpinteria High’s two-sport star decided to concentrate on running this year and it paid off last weekend when he set school records in both the 100 and 200 meters at the Warriors’ own 101st annual Russell Cup.
The Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table honored his achievements on Monday with its Male Athlete of the Week Award.
“He’s healthy this year, that’s the big key,” coach Van Latham said during Monday’s press luncheon at the Creekside Restaurant. “He’s always been fast but we’ve had trouble keeping him healthy. Part of it was he decided this year that he was going to focus on track. He didn’t play soccer.
“He started training with John Larralde, who just does an amazing job coaching our athletes, back in September.”
Rinaldi’s 100-meter time of 10.87 broke Wyatt Stevenson’s school record of 10.94. He beat his own 200 mark of 22.05 with a winning time of 21.87. His efforts earned him the Outstanding Athlete of the Meet Award while leading the Warriors to their first Russell Cup championships since 1999.
“During the fall we were on full lockdown — our campus was closed during the day — so Vincent would show up at the track by himself at 5 in the morning and train,” Latham pointed out. “That kind of dedication has really paid off.”
San Marcos High’s Natasha Gill, who defeated Santa Barbara’s Sophia Ostovany all throughout her freshman year, had the tables turned on her this year by the Dons’ star.
“Sophie stepped it up this year and was pretty flawless,” San Marcos coach Jonny Sapp said. “But Natasha learned from her losses and took it to another gear.”
Gill handed Ostovany her first defeat of the season in this year’s championship match, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3). The Round Table honored her with its female Athlete of the Week Award.
The Royals also came on strong in Channel League team play, moving up from fourth place to win last week’s three-way playoff for second place with Dos Pueblos and Santa Ynez. Freshman Jolie Mardiat made a big difference after being moved from doubles to singles.
“We couldn’t have done it without her stepping up in the third position,” Sapp said.
San Marcos’ Masato Perera competed in a USTA Level 1 Tournament in Indiana last week, forcing him to pass on defending his Channel League boys singles title. The torch was passed on, however, to freshman teammate Jed Greenwald, and he carried it well to keep the crown in the Royals’ family for the seventh straight year.
“Jed is 22-1 on the year and probably the smartest tennis player I’ve ever coached,” coach Jarrod Bradley said. “He just knows how to put points together.”
Another smart (4.89 GPA) and graceful athlete — two-sport star Ronin Suzuki off the soccer team — helped the Royals win the Channel League team tennis title.
“He was a Channel League semifinalist for us and a big reason why we haven’t lost since the quarterfinals in 2019,” Bradley said. “We are 11-0 this year, we were 7-0 pre-pandemic last year, and we were 22-1 a year before that.”
Santa Barbara swimming coach Mark Walsh introduced four of his own two-sport athletes: Allison Bartholomew, JuJu Martinez do Amaral, Jordan Hayes and Bronson Blix.
“I’m very lucky that their other coach is willing to share them with me,” he said through a sheepish smile. The other coach is Walsh himself, who also runs the water polo program.
Bartholomew is one of his top female sprinters — “She’s made CIF consideration time already in the 50 and the 100, and in the relays,” he said — while Martinez do Amaral has already made it onto the international stage.
“She got an opportunity to play with the Brazilian Olympic team in a tournament,” Walsh pointed out. “We get to watch her play next year for UCSB.”
He noted that Hayes “is another future Gaucho” water polo player. He and Blix, who helped lead Santa Barbara to a CIF water polo championship in the fall of 2019, decided to keep treading water in the springtime.
“Not all the guys who play water polo love swimming a lot,” Walsh said. “These guys come to all our meets and are role models and leaders.”
San Marcos girls coach Chuckie Roth said Sophia Panossian’s “passion to get better” has made her one of San Marcos’ fastest-improving athletes in both swimming and water polo.
Abbie Mintz, a gymnast for nine years, has emerged as “one of the better divers in the Channel League” while Holly Woodhouse has become “one of the most versatile swimmers in the Channel League,” he added.
Diving coach Mike Martz has also been developing Noah Block into a standout diver on the boys team.
“Noah brings an amazing skill set to the program,” coach Peera Sukavivatanachai said.
He’s also high on Asher Streelman (200 IM and 100 fly) and Peter Frisell (freestyle sprints).
“We’re truly blessed to have such a positive force on the team,” he said.
The Royals will play host to Dos Pueblos in a Channel League showdown on Thursday. DP coach Kendall Kuga is excited to see how her undefeated swimmer, Andrea Bish, will stack up against the Royals.
“I hope she gets some good competition so she’ll get a really strong time for both her sets,” she said.
Ryan Speshyock, the first freshman to start for Dos Pueblos coach George Hedricks, has taken big strides as a sophomore pitcher, striking out 17 in a one-hit shutout of Santa Ynez last week.
“We had a lot of seniors last year and I think it helped mature him a lot and get him ready for this year where he’s taken on a much bigger role,” he said.
The Chargers, 12-5 overall and 7-2 in the Channel League, have a chance to catch first-place Santa Barbara when they play the Dons twice this week.
San Marcos (13-3, 7-2) split its two games with Santa Barbara last week. Sophomore Cole Schoenwetter allowed no earned runs “and touched 90 (mph) twice” in his pitching stint in Wednesday’s loss, coach Wes Ghan-Gibson said.
Junior Nathaniel Lynk, who keyed Friday’s win with a two-run single, “is one of the top defenders in our league … I can’t get him to stop taking ground balls or hitting in the cage after practice,” Ghan-Gibson added.
Dos Pueblos softball outfielders Leila Chisholm and Ashley Gerken are also in season with the school’s girls basketball team.
“To see the things they have to go through every day — to be a part of both team’s practices and games — it really is a testament to all the athletes that are playing two sports at this time and the sacrifices they’re making for their teams,” coach Mike Gerken said. “And they’re both integral parts of both teams.”
Freshman Kamilah Morales is doing double-duty at San Marcos, playing both soccer and softball. She has been batting leadoff for the latter team.
“She also plays club soccer and club softball, so she’s on four teams right now,” coach Jeff Swann said.
Junior Izabella Velasquez has been starting since her freshman year and is now “one of our team captains” and “playing with confidence.”
Lily Simolon’s teammates at Bishop Diego showed the highest confidence in star outfielder Lily Simolon while she attempted an acrobatic catch against Foothill Tech.
“She sprinted to the front, dove, rolled … We were all in the dugout because we knew Lily would catch it,” coach Al Cerda said.
He added that Jenna Hayes, his workhorse catcher, has those same star qualities.
“We love her when she’s out there shagging balls, she just catches everything,” Cerda said.
Two setters are better than one at San Marcos, where coach Roger Kuntz has sophomore Hansen Streeter and Colin Earls sharing the duties in the Royals’ 6-2 alignment.
“These guys have been fighting for the position,” he said. “He had enough height to complement both of them, so each one comes into the back row and run our offense for us.”
They’ve been feeding 6-5 junior middle Aiden Pazier. “He’s our most effective hitter so far,” Kuntz said. “He grew like a weed the last couple of years and has really been just chewing on volleyballs.”