Cade McLean was honored on Monday for some literally heads-up play on both the soccer field and volleyball court last week.
The San Marcos High senior headed in the winning goal in a first-place showdown against Santa Barbara and also had eight kills in 11 swings in a volleyball sweep over Dos Pueblos. The two-sport stardom earned him the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table’s Male Athlete of the Week Award.
Volleyball coach Roger Kuntz said McLean showed his grit most after taking a hard smash off his face while leaping high above the net in an attempt to block a DP hitter.
“The ball literally went and hit the far wall,” he said. “I called time out and the ref was about to call the match off. I said, ‘You need a minute?’ And he said, ‘No, I’m good.’
“And at that point in time, he’s yelling at the setter to get him the ball.”
San Marcos soccer coach Paul McLean said the two-sport star showed the same fortitude in arising to the occasion against Santa Barbara.
“One of the things that I really appreciate about Cade is that when he had his opportunity, he jumped off the bench and wanted it,” he said.
Another San Marcos athlete, senior softball pitcher Allie Fryklund, won the Female Athlete of the Week Award after pitching a one-hitter with 15 strikeouts in a 6-0 win over Santa Ynez. She had three wins on the week with 37 strikeouts and also went 7-for-12 at the plate with a home run, triple, and save RBIs.
Coach Jeff Swann said she reinvented herself as a pitcher even after having starred as a freshman. It’s paying off now during her senior season.
“She’s got spin on the ball and a whole arsenal of pitches, and it’s working for her,” he said. “She’s also hitting .535, and is second on the team in RBIs and runs scored.”
Swann also introduced one of his new freshmen phenoms, Emma Foster, who switched to softball this year after having played “a ton” of baseball.
“In the last five games she’s gotten seven hits, so she’s dialed in and is starting to be successful,” he said. “She’s fast. We have her batting ninth — she gets on base and sets it up for the top of the order. She has the second most runs scored on our team.”
A trio seniors — liberos Jacob Yinger and Ben Newton, as well as outside hitter Josh Willbanks — have been “the leadership for San Marcos volleyball for the past three years,” Kuntz said.
Four years ago, the veteran coach was told that he was getting the two best liberos in town. Yinger and Newton haven’t disappointed.
“They’ve been competing with each other since they were young so it’s hard to keep them off the court,” Kuntz said.
Willbanks, he added, has “assumed the role as our outside terminator … When we need a kill, we go to Josh or Cade.”
San Marcos has received strong leadership from captains Sergio Diaz and Anthony Ranni.
“No one works harder than Sergio,” McLean said of his junior midfielder. “He has set a high bar for fitness and expects a lot from himself, and that drives what is expected of his teammates.”
Ranni, a returning captain “and one of our best players,” has been sidelined so far this season because of a series of concussions.
“A.J. has epitomized what supporting the team looks like even though he can’t play,” McLean said.
A young Dos Pueblos team has been led by a senior bookends at opposite ends of the field: striker Sebastien Dupont and goalkeeper Kylan Johnson.
“Seba goes one-on-four half the time and plays against their whole defense and just finds alleys, finds ways to slip behind, muscles through,” coach Matt York said. “He has an average of almost one goal a game this year, so he’s pretty much our offense.
“Kylan Johnson is a vocal leader and captain of our team. He saved two penalty kicks in two ties this week. Without those, we’d probably not be looking at playoffs.”
Payton Walker and Isabel Uyesaka are serving as strong role models for a young DP girls team.
“Payton has been a four-year varsity player,” coach Seth Asuncion said of his senior captain and right back. “She’s really taken ownership, inspiring the back defensive line.
“Isabel has played a variety of positions for us, inspiring the team with her work ethic, and letting the younger athletes know that if you just give it your best the whole time, then things will happen.”
Senior Brianna Trujillo and juniors Caia Trimble and Jaeda Spence have helped Santa Barbara win its first four Channel League games.
“Brianna shoots with great arc and she’s hitting a great percentage,” coach Andrew Butcher said. “Caia is a returning, two-time, first-team all-league player and has a terrific basketball mind. I never have to ask her to do something twice.
“Jaeda will play all five positions for us … She’ll ask me, ‘Coach, why do I have to play this position?’ I said, ‘Because we want to win.’ And she said, ‘OK, I’m OK with that.’ She was also our Phil Womble (Ethics in Sports) Award winner, which says a lot about her character.”
San Marcos won Saturday’s Channel League showdown against rival Santa Barbara behind the leadership of junior Shakir Ahmad and senior Thomas Kinzler.
“I just commend these guys because both in practice and in games, and in the locker room, their vocal leadership has been very crucial just keeping everybody positive with all the ups and downs of the season,” coach Jelani Hicks said. “It’s been an emotional roller coast for everybody, so it’s good to have a team full of leaders that are stepping up and making sure that we make the best out of our season.”
Joe Toste, Dos Pueblos’ junior varsity coach, sang the praises for Joaquin Riker and Kael Rillie while speaking for varsity coach Joe Zamora.
“Joaquin is a quiet leader but he definitely sets the tone at practice and in the games for us,” he said. “He’s a very focused player who understands the game and how to make his teammates better.
“Kael is the verbal leader on our team. He constantly encourages and challenges all the players in our program. He is humble, confident, and truly cares about his teammates.”
Practice has led to some impressive numbers for San Marcos baseball players Brendon Cekada and Nicky Fell. Cekada is batting .345 with six stolen bases. Fell is at .350 with a pitching record of 4-0 and earned run average of 1.07.
“In his spare time, Brendon likes to hit — and then after he hits, he lifts,” coach Wes Ghan-Gibson said. “And then after he lifts, he hits again. And then probably lifts and hits some more.
“Nicky comes to the yard with a smile every day. Wednesday he went 3-for-3 with a three-run homer and he played a great third base, which I’m most happy about.”