Numerous athletes and teams throughout the Mountain Area made 2015 their year of setting records and winning titles.
At Yosemite High School, the boys tennis team, boys golf team, boys swimming team, girls track team, and girls golf team were all crowned as North Sequoia League champions, while the girls basketball team split the NSL title with Sierra High School.
For the YHS girls golf team, it was the 11th consecutive North Sequoia League title, and at Minarets, the girls volleyball team won its fourth West Sequoia League championship in six years.
Several other athletes and coaches had a fantastic year, such as then-10-year-old swimmer Claire Tuggle breaking five national records, Ellen Peterson finishing her 30-year YHS cross county coaching career on a high note, or the Yosemite “Junior” Badgers winning the Tri-County Super Bowl.
Multiple players from Minarets and Yosemite high schools were also named to all league first and second teams.
Below are summaries to dozens of sporting events in the Mountain Area in 2015:
* Soccer bragging rights in Eastern Madera County belong to Yosemite High School after both its boys and girls teams swept Minarets High School in varsity and JV games.
* Minarets high running back Bubba Ward, defensive lineman Jake Blankenship, and running back/wide receiver Mason Ellis are named to the West Sequoia League’s first team all league football team.
* On Jan. 6, three players from Yosemite High School’s varsity basketball team, left the team after a 3-11 start to the season. Three days later, head coach Stephen Lopez, and assistant coach Reg Turner, both resigned. Aaron Eames was named the new coach.
* The YHS Lady Badgers basketball team crushed both Liberty-Madera Ranchos and Washington Union high schools by scores of 53-33 and 62-27 to begin North Sequoia League play.
* Ahwahnee’s Emerson Action, 11, opened the skiing race season as Queen of the Hill, besting more than 80 other girls at the Under 12 North Series Giant Slalom race in Lake Tahoe.
* The YHS boys basketball team had its first league win of the season, defeating Sierra High 63-35 in a Feb. 3 home game.
* On Feb. 5, Yosemite High School’s wrestling team defeated Sierra 24-12.
* Syndee Fipps, a Yosemite High graduate, set a UC Davis basketball record scoring her 32nd career 20-point game during a loss to Hawaii Feb. 21.
* In their first home playoff game in three years, Yosemite girl’s basketball team defeated Selma High School 59-40 in a Central Section D-II playoff game Feb. 26.
* Mountain Mayhem, a youth wrestling tournament, drew 110 wrestlers to Yosemite High School Feb. 28.
* Bob Siebenberg was named head coach of Yosemite High School’s baseball team. He replaced John McMillen who stepped-down after coaching in the YHS baseball program for 11 years, serving as the head JV for two seasons, and varsity head coach for nine years.
* The dreams of Lady Badgers basketball players in the D-II playoffs were ended March 3 in a 49-40 loss to No. 1 seed Independence of Bakersfield. The Lady Badgers finished with a 19-10 record and were named North Sequoia League co-champions with Sierra High School. That title was the 12th shared or outright championship in coach Gary Blate’s 13 seasons at the head of the program.
* Yosemite High’s track team came away with eight wins in the 10-team Clovis East Carnival, the first meet of the season. Several winners included Taylor Burrall in the high jump, Katie Whitcomb in the long jump, and Jonathan Mulkey in the 800 meters, 3200 meters, and pole vault.
* Six Badger golfers, including Ryan Emerick and Spencer Uzzell (tied for first), were ranked in the North Sequoia League’s top 10 after strong wins during league tournaments March 11 at Madera Municipal and March 18 at Sierra Meadows Golf Course.
* Veronica Miller, Taylor Burrall, and Mattaya Brown, all seniors on the Yosemite girls basketball team, were selected by North Sequoia League coaches for the All League first team. Junior Kade Cross was selected for the boys All League first team.
* For the first time since the 1994 season, the Yosemite High School boys tennis team (16-1, 9-0), coached by Aaron Eames, captured a league championship (NSL) April 21. The team’s top players included Sam Devito, Aaron Bausch, Chase Lassos, Sam Williamas, and Oliver Curley.
* Led by the North Sequoia League’s Most Valuable Player Spencer Uzzell, the Yosemite High School golf team picked up its fourth straight NSL title April 29.
* JD Burnett, a 1996 Yosemite High School graduate, was named the new head coach of the Badger football team May 1. “I have lived in this area most of my life, and I plan on staying here the remainder of my life,” Burnett said.
* Both the YHS boys swimming and girls track teams won North Sequoia League titles in early May. For track, under Coach Walker Vaughn, it was their first title in the past five years, while in swimming, under Coach Brandon Brokaw, it was the 10th consecutive title for the boys team.
* On May 6, Dahlia Lopez, the 6-foot-2 volleyball and basketball standout who graduated from YHS in 2013, was recognized as Reedley College’s Female Athlete of the Year.
* Karra Zamora and Jay Smoljan were named co-athletic directors at Minarets High School by Principal Daniel Ching.
* On May 12, playing against Selma High School in the semifinals round of the Central Section D-IV boys tennis championship, YHS lost 6-3. The team finished with an 18-1 record, 10-0 in the North Sequoia League, and fell a game short of the championship match.
* Molly Casey, a 2013 Yosemite High graduate, received the Warren Hansen Award as female scholar-athlete of the year at Cuesta Community College in San Louis Obispo. Casey was an aquatic star for two seasons in both water polo and swimming at Cuesta. She is a two-time All-Western State Conference water polo player, two-time All Conference backstroke champion in swimming and a four-time All American in swimming. She has been named to the All-Western State Conference Academic Team four times, and has a 3.9 GPA in 72 units over the past four semesters.
* Jackson Glines, who excelled in three sports at YHS, helped the University of Michigan win the baseball Big Ten Conference Championship May 24 with an impressive .500 batting average.
* Swimming standout Phillip Kudela, and three-sport all-league star Taylor Burrall were named Yosemite High School’s boy and girl Athletes of the Year.
* YHS graduate and University of Michigan baseball standout Jackson Glines was drafted by the Chicago White Sox June 9.
* YHS softball pitcher Amy Whitcomb and catcher Katie Thompson were named to the North Sequoia League All League first team by NSL coaches. Shortstop Lynette Combs and first baseman Gianna Mascola were named to the All League second team.
* Cal Fire Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit Forester Len Nielson surprised many with a one-point win over defending champion Nathan Hodges to become the All-Around Logging Champion at the North Fork Loggers Jamboree July 4 and 5.
* Minarets High School has named Jesse Darrah as its new varsity baseball coach.
* Claire Tuggle, 10, of Oakhurst, broke five national records (10 and under) in USA Swimming National Age Group contests - including the 200 yard freestyle (1:58.20), 500 yard Freestyle (5:13.74) in April, and the 100 (1.01.86), 200 (2:16.30), and 400 meters (4:37.41) during the long-course season during the summer.Coached by Tammy Kudela and a member of the Yosemite Marlin’s Swim Club, two of the records were held by current USA Olympians.
* Vince Roeber, a California Highway Patrol officer in Mariposa, agreed to coach the Yosemite High School water polo teams and held his first practice Aug. 7.
* YHS football coach JD Burnett started a campaign to “Paint the Town Blue” with school T-shirts being worn by employees of several Oakhurst businesses on Fridays during football season.
* Ellen Peterson, Yosemite High School’s cross country coach the last 30 years, announced she will retire at the end of the season. Peterson led the Badgers boys and girls teams to 42 league titles in her tenure, and at least one Central Section CIF title each.
* JD Burnett, who took over as the YHS football coach in May, has been named the Badgers baseball coach.
* YHS runners captured two small school titles at the Sanger Invitational Sept. 18.
* Coached by Rusty Oetinger, the Yosemite High School girls golf team won its 11th straight North Sequoia League Championship. The team’s top players included Hailey Abrahams, Trinity Curtis, Peyton Garner, Sarah Meeks, Rebekka Nielson, and Claire Oetinger. Oetinger was named the league’s MVP.
* YHS girls golf then won the North Area Championships by a score of 499, which advanced them to the Central Section D-II tournament where they finished third with a score of 513, losing to Lemoore (455) and Bakersfield Christian (478).
* Minarets High School football and basketball standout Mason Ellis accepted an invitation to play in the Jan. 16, 2016, Blue-Grey All American Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida.
* The YHS girls tennis team wrapped up its season Oct. 6 with a 7-2 win over rival Sierra. Getting wins for the Badgers were Lauren Wharton, Arianna Balla, Kendall Millier, Emilie Neff, and Maddie Sloas.
* The Minarets girls volleyball team secured their fourth West Sequoia League title in six years with wins over Fowler and Parlier, ending league play 10-0.
* Yosemite High School’s football season ended Nov. 6 with a 49-33 loss to the Sierra High Chieftains. The rivalry Mountain Bowl is now tied at 17 wins for each school. Yosemite finished the season with an 0-9 record.
* The Minarets Mustangs defeated Laton 40-0 to end its football season with a 4-5 overall record, 2-3 in the West Sequoia League.
* No. 2 Central Section D-III seed volleyball team Mission Oak High School dashed the hopes of the No. 3 seed Yosemite Badgers in a three-set victory in the semifinals round of the Central Section playoffs game Nov. 17.
* The Minarets girls volleyball team (30-5, 10-0 WSL), coached by Jessica Carter, lost to Sierra (32-3, 9-1 NSL) Nov. 21, in the Central Section D-IV championship game. After losing the first two sets, Sierra came back to win the next three sets for the championship. Seniors on the team were Patricia Tomasian, Holly Walsh, Sami Grant, Carlee Boomer, Hannah Cockerham, and Hallie Grant.
* The Yosemite “Junior” Badgers youth football team won the Tri-County Super Bowl Nov. 21, defeating the Firebaugh Eagles 38-34 at Sierra High School. The winning TD in the game came with 27 seconds left as quarterback Jadyn Carter connected with receiver Holden Eames, and Zach Palmer making the two-point kick after the score. The team is coached by Randy Matyshock.
* Yosemite High School principal Randy Seals announced the school’s football program will pull out of the North Sequoia League for at least the next two seasons, opting to go independent. Seals noted in a letter to CIF Central Section officials and NSL coaches that the school has been horribly over-matched in the league for most of the past five seasons due to declining school enrollments leading to fewer football players, and an increase in player injuries. All other teams will remain in the NSL.
* Several YHS football players were honored at a banquet Dec. 6. Offensive and defensive players of the year were quarterback Tristan Eames and linebacker Ty Peterson.
* YHS cross country coach Ellen Peterson was applauded during the team’s annual dinner Dec. 7, retiring after 30 years as head coach. “We all learned a lot about each other,” Peterson said. “We were a great team ... what a year and a great way to go out.”
* YHS sophomore volleyball player Savannah Bohna was named to the North Sequoia League’s first team all league squad. All league second team honorees were seniors Dainya DeBock and Kailei Gould. Bohna was No. 3 in the NSL for offensive kills, according to maxpreps.com, while DeBock was No. 4 in kills and Gould No. 2 in digs. Tiffany Cacy, Rachel Loveland, Karee Smith, and Hannah Hurtado received all league honorable mention recognition. The team MVP was sophomore Cacy.
* The Yosemite girls soccer team (8-1) won its division at the Garces Holiday Soccer Festival Dec. 18-19, in Bakersfield.
* Wrestling for West Hill College, Kyle Lincoln placed fifth in the heavyweight division at the Dec. 12 - 13 California Community College Wrestling Tournament, held at Fresno City College. Lincoln was voted YHS 2012 male Athlete of the Year. He is the son of YHS wrestling coach Kent Lincoln, and YHS cheerleading Coach Jennifer Lincoln. Kyle finished his four year wrestling career at YHS with a 178-45 record. He is currently assisting his father with the team.