Category Archives: Sports

Little Leagues Merge in West Sacramento

By Michele Townsend

WSLL BoundariesLittle League came to West Sacramento in 1953. It was a much simpler time then, and it seemed the entire town was excited about bringing baseball to the children of our community. It was a common sight to see a team photo hanging on the wall of local businesses.

Its popularity took off like wildfire. West Sacramento’s Little League became official when it was chartered in 1954 by Williamsport, allowing for the children in our league to be eligible for advancement in competition beyond our town limits.

It wasn’t just West Sacramento that was organizing a local little league. Little leagues were popping up all over the Sacramento area. By 1954, California was being divided into 33 original districts.

West Sacramento fell within the boundaries of D6. Once the district offices were established, it became the responsibility of those offices to handle the chartering of new leagues. By then, baseball had become so popular in West Sacramento that it was decided a second league was needed. D6 chartered its first league, and Washington Little League was born in the Broderick/Bryte area.

Now, 60 years later, little league is still going strong in West Sacramento. It is still a common sight to go into businesses and see a team photo hanging on their wall to show the support that they have given our kids.

The town has grown a lot in 60 years, but the original little league boundaries within our town have remained the same. Washington Little League sits between the river and the freeway, leaving no room for expansion and creating a land-lock for that league. Many of the families within these boundaries are established, and still remain in their homes. This is a wonderful thing.

However, the children from that area of the community have now grown, and moved on to live their own lives with children of their own. There are of course still children on the north side of town, so though Washington Little League was small, it still managed to stay afloat.

All rule changes are made in Williamsport, and apply to all chartered little leagues. In 2014, the boundary rules changed. It would now be allowed to play little league in the area of where the child goes to school. When the new boundary rule was put into play, many children from Washington Little League moved over to West Sac Little League. There are more kids, more games, more variety. What’s not to love? With the numbers of players dwindling on the Washington side, it seems the league can no longer sustain itself. Washington Little League President, Teresa Blackmere stated, “It’s sad really. We’ve held on as long as we could, but the simple truth is we just don’t have the kids.” In 2015, Washington Little League had 75 registrants, allowing for only one junior and major teams, two Minor teams and four Tball teams.

However, do not fear. Baseball is still booming in West Sacramento. West Sac Little League is growing bigger and stronger by the year.

In 2015, West Sac Little League had 660 kids registered to play ball. West Sac’s President, Ron Yarbrough stated that “the merger between the two leagues in West Sacramento is not official yet, but it will be by next year. So, for this year, any kids that wanted to sign up, we did it by waiver.” When asked if they were already utilizing the fields in the Washington area, he stated “Oh yeah, with this many kids, we use the fields all around town. However, we have put money into improvements and repairs on those fields, and we just invested $45,000 to improve the fields at Memorial Park. You really should come and see them. They are beautiful. Major league quality.”

Opening Day is March 19th at Memorial Park. So, this spring, if you find yourself looking for a fun day, and something to do – head on over to one of the ball parks and catch a game. Support the kids, share in the excitement, and have a good time! Remember that everybody out there is a volunteer, so please be supportive.

Raiders Soccer Starts Strong

By Noemi Zavala
RCHS journalism student

The RCHS Girls’ soccer team won 1st place in last weekend’s tournament in Turlock. The tournament is hosted by Pitman High School and is a competitive tournament with schools based out of the Central Valley area.

The River City Girls Soccer team had 4 wins and 0 losses while scoring 10 goals and giving up only 2.
RCHS varsity soccer coach Kamal Singh was pleased with the team’s overall performance saying, “They have been working extremely hard during the offseason in preparation for this.”

During the tournament, players and coaches from River City were approached by other teams and parents praising their play and asking where River City was located.

Singh proudly said, “They definitely know we are from West Sacramento now.”

Sophomore Alejandra Pinedo, who was brought up from the jv team to play midfield for the tournament said, “The coaches are really supportive and my teammates are really hardworking and fun to play with.”

RCHS senior Jaylen Crim signs letter of intent to play soccer at St. Mary’s

By Monica Stark

Out of a somewhat reserved River City High School senior, Jaylen Crim, come extreme talent and force on the soccer field. This week the varsity soccer forward signs off for St. Mary’s where she’s given a full ride scholarship to continue improving her game.
“She definitely will be missed when she’s gone. She helped the program take a turn,” head coach Kamal Singh said. “Since I’ve been here, she’s the first D1 scholar (the team has had).”
A member of the varsity team since she was a freshman, Jaylen has gotten the team to win more and more. “This is my 11th year at River City and the last five years started turning around once Jaylen and her crew came, her and four other girls, they definitely had a huge impact on the program.”
A very humble player with undeceiving speed, it’s as though Jaylen possesses an extra gear, Singh says. ”She can turn on that gear whenever she wants to … Over the years she scored some great goals. She’s won some games with her athletic ability for us. She’s a team player. She loves being a part of this team.”
One such game Jaylen describes as a highlight for her time thus far at River City was against Woodland High School last year when in the last three minutes she scored two goals, making the score 3-0. “They’re our biggest rivals,” she says.
In conditioning now for River City, Jaylen hopes to lead the team further than ever in the playoffs and she hopes to make the All City List. “I made it last year; to make it again would be good,” she said.
Having played club soccer for Sacramento United, which practices at Granite Park in Sacramento, since she was 8 years old, Jaylen has traveled all around California. “I played the majority of my games with them. I found a lot of coaches help me,” she said.
Excited to attend St. Mary’s and study kinesiology and eventually practice physical therapy, she said she likes the smaller feel of the college. “I went on my official visit in October and met all players coming in and with the ones that are there and we got to bond a little.”
At the sport since she was just 3 years old (4 years old on a team), Jaylen said her parents have been her primary inspiration. “They inspire me to do my best. When I was younger, they always wanted me to practice playing soccer.”

Let Them Eat Cake!

Raley Field hosted annual Beat the Blerch Run

By Bia Riaz

Sara Sheller wanted to get off the couch. She needed to do something healthy and active that didn’t require joining a gym. When she learned about the Beat the Blerch Run being planned for Raley Field, she had to sign up.

Sara had always been a fan of the Oatmeal comic strip created by Matt Innman. His character the “Blerch” is an imaginary fat cherub that follows you around and encourages you to eat junk food, stay on the couch, sleep in late, and above all, indulge in cake!

The Oatmeal comic strip on running, recounts Matt’s own struggle with weight loss. Inspired by his journey, five years ago, Sara had joined a Couch to 5K program and gradually built up her stamina and strength as a runner; one minute at a time. It was really difficult at first but she didn’t give up. Within two years she had completed 12 races; including a 7-mile run.

A few years ago, she moved from Iowa to California and recently made West Sacramento her new home. Sara and her boyfriend, Noah Lesh, wanted to find a good neighborhood with a house and a yard, suitable for their dogs. The cross country move to a new place had left little time for running. When the opportunity to participate in the Beat the Blerch run presented itself, she knew she had to sign up to feel healthy again.

The Beat the Blerch Run was scheduled for Nov. 14. Participants could choose to sign up for either the full marathon, half, 10K or 5K runs. Sara, Noah and two of their friends signed up for the 5K. The course started and ended at Raley Field in West Sacramento and took runners through areas of West Sacramento, Sacramento, and river trails.

That morning was a sight to behold. There were runners dressed up in banana suits, strips of bacon, and other assorted Oatmeal-inspired costumes. As promised on the website, the course had rest stations with comfy couches and lots of cake. There were also several “Blerches” enticing runners with sugar laden goodies.

Amanda DiMarco, Race Manager for the event, said more than 4,000 people had signed up to participate. The participants spanned every level of fitness from professional marathon runners to first time runners. The logistics of planning the marathon involved coordinating with the cities of West Sacramento and Sacramento, Yolo and Sacramento counties. A portion of the proceeds from the race were to be donated to charity.

Sara and her friends encountered Blerches with tempting cake and Nutella sandwiches at rest stations. “No, we’re running, we can’t have cake!” said, Sara. “But we did have cake, and it was the best; incredibly awesome.” Sara completed her 5K at 49:37.

Afterward, they celebrated Beating the Blerch at the Jackrabbit Brewery in West Sacramento.

On the web:

RCHS welcomes new honorary cheerleaders

By AnnaMaria Corona
RCHS Journalism Student

Two River City High School students from Nancy Abplanalp’s special needs class were invited to cheer with the junior varsity cheerleading squad last Friday night during the Raider’s home game against Yuba City.

Students Alina Corona and Mia Corralejo had the opportunity to help excite the crowd and encourage the football team in what turned out to be very close and tense game that came down to the last play.

Besides being close to all the action on the field, Corralejo said that what she liked most about cheerleading was the new friendships she has been able to make with the other members of the squad.

The two new honorary cheerleaders participated in the routines with the assistance of senior cheerleader Samantha McCormack.

McCormack is Abplanalp’s teacher assistant in her class. It was McCormack’s idea to have the two girls come out and cheer and she took the lead in organizing the details of this event. McCormack also designed and ordered custom t-shirts online for the two girls to wear during the game.

“It was really fun. Seeing Mia and Alina having fun and being so excited, they took the stress away,” says McCormack.

Mia and Alina have been invited to join the cheerleading squad for the remainder of the football and basketball seasons at all home games. They will cheer next Friday the 23rd at River City’s senior night during junior varsity’s last home game of the season against Woodland.

When asked her reaction to seeing her daughter cheer for the first time, Alina’s mom, Melissa Corona said, “It makes me so proud of our community’s high school students and cheerleaders to see how welcoming and supportive they have been. It was such an emotional experience to see the girls do something I never thought they could.”

Meet West Sacramento ultra-marathoner Karen Bonnett

By Monica Stark

“There is only one other person who has completed the Grand Slam and Kona in the same year — This is the Kona Slam. I want to be the second person, and I fully intend to give it my all when the next opportunity arrives,” Karen said.

Ultra-marathoner Karen Bonnett of West Sacramento has a lofty goal- to be the second person ever (the first female ever) to complete the Grand Kona Slam of running. The typical Grand Slam of running is to run the following four 100-mile trail races in one summer: Old Dominion, Western States, Leadville and Wasatch. Each is considered progressively more difficult, and each offers its own tricks and treats, according to Runners World Magazine. But the Grand Kona Slam includes the aforementioned events with Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon World Championships added in for good measure. Only one other person, Paul Terranova of Texas, completed that informal event in 2012.

“There is only one other person who has completed the Grand Slam and Kona in the same year — This is the Kona Slam. I want to be the second person, and I fully intend to give it my all when the next opportunity arrives,” Karen said.

Karen was on pace to complete her goal this year before an injury during Wasatch took hold this year.

Karen completed the first three races in the Grand Slam Series and at mile 10 of Wasatch, she fell into a hole and fractured her Distal Fibula. “I did not know it at the time as we thought it was a bad sprain and I could work it out. Three miles later, I was picked up by some people riding their ATV on the road and they insisted I walk no further. I had a pretty bad hobble. So of 400 miles, I did 313, ugh.”

“When I fell at Wasatch I went down hard and in a lot of pain. A very loud scream accompanied this as well. I was running this with my friend Ernie Floyd. When he heard me scream, he ran down the hill to help rescue me. Many runners helped assist me, gave me tape to wrap my ankle, gave me Ibuprofen, and biofreeze.

“Ernie and his son helped me get back on my feet and work it out. Again, we thought it was a bad sprain. Ernie stayed with me for about two miles as we got to the top of the climb. It took us over two hours to do those two miles.

“I begged him to go on as this would be his 10th Wasatch finish and that is what he was striving to attain. He finally left me and I kept on as I was hobbling down the mountain for three miles to the aid station. A mile into my lonely painful journey, three ATV came up and stopped to see if I was ok. This was the moment reality was hitting me and I fell into tears. They persisted with kindness to take me down the mountain, so I got a ride down. My dream was crushed, my year ended with a slam as I came to realize my ankle was not good.

“My husband was to pace me at night but since I did not finish he was able to pace Ernie. I took Nattu to Brighton Lodge where we waited for Ernie to arrive. When he did he was ready to quit, but with food and force on our part Nattu and Ernie departed. Ernie did finish his 10th Wasatch and received a ring for this 1,000 (mile) accomplishment.

“Ernie’s parents always come to his races and this year was more special as they are dealing with health issues. Ernie felt this may be his father’s last attempt to showing up at Wasatch for his son. At the award ceremony they present ‘ The Spirit of Wasatch award’. This goes to a runner who has gone out of their way to do something out of the ordinary on the 100 mile event.

“This was given to Ernie for his heroism of helping me. This was double-awesome for his dad to be a part of this and see his son get this award. Oh BTW Ernie is about 58 and his parents are in their 80s.”

Karen’s background in running began before she even started lacing up. Coming from many years of cycling and accomplishing many 200-mile bike rides, she has competed in 1,200-kilometer (745-mile) events, including the Gold Rush 1,200K out of Davis, Paris-Brest-Paris and Boston-Montreal-Boston. She then decided she should at least try running, so she ran her first marathon, the California International Marathon, in 2000 for the millennium, and her second was the CIM three years later which she qualified for the elite Boston Marathon. She dabbled with running off and on over the years until about 2007, and in 2008, she upped the miles, running her first 50 miler, the American River 50. She was so excited the next day, she signed up for the Tahoe Rim Trail 50 miler. At this event a friend of her talked her into her first 100-mile run, the Rio Del Lago in 2008.

The longest distance Karen has run was at Across the Years race and in 48 hours she ran 148 miles; she was the first lady in that event in 2011 in Arizona. She plans to go back this year and see how close she can get to 200 miles in two days. Across The Years is a fixed-time event featuring several race options, from as many as six days to one. The object is to travel as far as possible in the time allotted.

Last year, she was training hard for the Tahoe Ironman and she was not able to start due to the fire. She really wanted to try and get a slot for the Kona World Championships. So last year, she registered for Tahoe and Boulder Ironman races in 2015.

One of the biggest inspirations of Karen’s over the course of her running years has been her husband Nattu Natraj who is also a long distance runner. The two were married on June 22 just prior to their honeymoon – the Western States 100-miler (which starts in Squaw Valley and ends in Auburn.)

“On the first Saturday of December (of 2014) the lottery for the Western States is held at the high school in Auburn. We attended and I was the first person picked out of the audience at the high school. This is why I decided on the wedding date and place,” she said.

To Karen, running has become a passion as it keeps her healthy (except for the hurt ankle) and she has a deep passion for fitness and health. “I love feeling strong and healthy and I love helping or inspiriting others to do the same. My passion in life is fitness and inspiring others to do the same. I hope to be doing this forever in my life.”

River City High School weekly sports calendar

Oct. 21 to 28

Wednesday, Oct. 21
Girls tennis versus River Valley at 3:30 p.m. at home
Water polo versus Roseville (girls varsity, boys varsity and boys junior varsity) at home

Thursday, Oct. 22
Boys soccer versus Woodland; junior varsity at 4 p.m. and varsity at 5:30 p.m., away
Girls tennis versus Rocklin at 3:30 p.m. at home
Water polo versus Rosemont (Boys varsity, girls varsity and boys junior varsity) at home

Friday, Oct. 23
Water polo will have a Delong Tournament will be held all day in Merced
Football versus Woodland at 5 and 7 p.m. at home

Monday, Oct. 26
Girls tennis versus Rio Linda at 3.30 at home
Volleyball versus Woodland at 4, 5, 6 p.m., away

Tuesday, Oct. 27
Water polo versus El Dorado (girls varsity, boys varsity and boys junior varsity) away
Boys soccer versus River Valley at 5:30, 7 p.m., away

Wednesday, Oct. 28
Girls tennis will participate in the T.C.C Tournament, all day away
Volleyball versus River Valley with matches at 4, 5, and 6 p.m. at home