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2012 in sports: Fond farewells made and future foundations built

Ron Gould talks at his introductory press conference after being hired to replace Bob Biggs as the UCD head football coach. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise file photo

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From page B1 | December 30, 2012 | Leave Comment

2012 was a unique year in local sports as events allowed local fans to look at the past, present and future success of Davis sports.

With legendary coaches Bob Biggs and Ashley Yudin retiring, celebrations of their vast accomplishments were in order.

In the present, teams at Davis High and UC Davis filled their trophy cases while graduates from those schools went on to professional and Olympic glory.

And much of this success came from Davis youngest superstars — athletes like freshman distance runner Fiona O’Keeffe and 14-year-old skier Anna Park — showing that the local sports future is bright.

All of these moments, and many others, make up the top 10 local sports stories of the year:

No. 1: Bye-bye Biggs, greetings Gould

When a Sacramento State pass settled into the arms of UCD linebacker Jordan Glass late in the Nov. 17 Causeway Classic, clinching a 34-27 Aggie win, the Bob Biggs’ era came to a fitting end.

Though UCD went just 4-7, Biggs, 61, finished his 20-year head coaching career with a record of 144-85-1, winning the second-most games in program history before turning the Aggies over to Ron Gould, who was hired Dec. 17.

Biggs’ 39-year association with UCD began with a playing career that was highlighted by the 1971 Miracle Game in which he quarterbacked the Aggies to an improbable comeback victory.

His coaching career began as an assistant 1978 and featured countless memorable moments, culminating with a farewell tour in 2012. Biggs’ current and former players, as well as coaches that he worked with and against, had nothing but praise for the man along the way.

Gould comes to UCD after a 16-year stint as an assistant at Cal, and has been tasked with taking the program, which moved from Division II into the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2004, to the next level.

The 47-year-old Gould worked extensively with the Golden Bears running backs, sending many of his pupils to the NFL, and was Cal’s associate head coach under Jeff Tedford for the past five seasons.

Gould’s hiring came at the end of a year-long coaching search and all indications are that chancellor Linda Katehi and Athletic Director Terry Tumey have a man they think is right for the job.

2. From Davis to London

Three former or current UCD students participated in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, while another young swimmer for DHS got her first taste of the U.S. Trials.

In July, Scott Weltz, a former Aggie standout who now helps coach college and youth swimmers in town, was joined by Blue Devil and Aquadart star Tara Halsted at the U.S Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb.

Weltz came from behind with a speedy final lap to win the 200 breaststroke and earn a spot on the Olympic team. The 2010 UCD graduate, who still swims for Team USA, took fifth place in the 200 breast in London.

Halsted, now a DHS senior, took 57th — out of 190 competitors — in the 200 backstroke at the Trials. Her time of 2:16.88 was only eight seconds slower than that of winner Missy Franklin, a U.S. Olympic star.

Kim Conley, another former UCD star who is now an Aggie coach, also used an amazing comeback at the Olympic Track and Field Trials to qualify for the London Games. The 2009 UCD grad got a remarkable final kick to slip into third place in the final moments of the race.

At the Olympic Games, Conley took 12th in her preliminary heat after running with the leaders for much of the race.

While she never competed for the Aggies, veteran Olympic kayaker Carrie Johnson, who took sixth and eighth in her two races in London, is now attending UCD’s vet school.

3. DHS boys tennis’ Incredible Hull

There are two huge reasons to celebrate Blue Devil boys tennis in 2012 as the coach Dale Hersch’s squad came away with two Sac-Joaquin Section Championships.

First, in early May, junior Glenn Hull charged through the Sac-Joaquin singles tournament to capture the first section title by a DHS boy since 1987. Hull, the SJS runner-up in 2010 and ’11, rolled through the semifinals and finals in straight sets.

Just over a week later, Hull’s Devil teammates were able to join in the glory, as Davis edged Jesuit, 5-4, to win its fourth consecutive section championship.

For seniors and four-year starters Garrett Hosley and Paul Klavins, it was the ending of a perfect career — titles in all four seasons — and the championship also marked DHS’ ninth overall, tying Jesuit at the top of that all-time category.

4. Stapleton family lifts Devil water polo

On a special Saturday last month, one of the most decorated players in DHS water polo history finally got his first section title, with his dad coaching from the pool deck. Two hours later, his younger sister scored a goal in the final seconds to help the Blue Devil girls win their fourth consecutive SJS championship.

Senior Connor Stapleton — who has played for the U.S. junior national team for two years — scored four goals to help the Davis boys beat Granite Bay, 13-5, to win their 14th title overall, but first after three straight seasons as section runners-up. The championship is coach Tracy Stapleton’s eighth.

Under coach Doug Wright, the Blue Devil girls have had similar success, including a four-year reign as SJS champions. The 2012 win — a 9-8 victory over St. Francis — was clinched when sophomore Colby Stapleton nailed a shot with 14 seconds remaining. It was DHS’ 10th CIF title.

5. Yudin steps down; DHS boys still reach playoffs

A fixture on the sideline for the perennially strong Blue Devil boys soccer team since 1993, head coach Ashley Yudin resigned just a few weeks before the 2012 season.

Yudin, who won six section titles, cited concerns about the treatment of DHS playing surface — known by most around town as Yudin Field — but also a wish to go out on a high note following a 2011 SJS championship season as reasons for stepping down.

Under interim coach Alex Park, the Devils returned to the playoffs in 2012, reaching the section semifinals before falling to Granite Bay.

6. Davis products picked in MLB draft

Beginning with DHS pitcher Ben Eckels, who was taken by the Arizona Diamondback in the 11th round, the June MLB draft was sprinkled with local flavor.

Eckels posted a 1.88 earned run average in a brilliant high school career and was picked 373rd.

In the 15th round, the Miami Marlins called the name of Cody Keefer, a former Blue Devil slugger who went on to star at UCLA. It was Keefer’s second time being picked, as the Detroit Tigers had previously selected him in the 33rd round of the 2009 draft.

Another former DHS standout, Mike Turay, who finished his college career as a catcher at Nevada was nabbed by Milwaukee in the 24th round, while UCD pitcher Dayne Quist (28th round, Tampa Bay) and catcher Scott Kalush (39th, Baltimore) also heard their names called.

7. Blue Devils run wild

What was literally a banner year for DHS runners began in the spring when a Devil 4×400 relay team made up of Hannah Krovetz, Ellie Eaton, Laney Teaford and Han-ah Sumner set a school record of 3:56.39 in taking 13th at the CIF State Meet.

The performance came after the Davis quartet captured the Sac-Joaquin Masters title one week earlier.

As the distances got longer, the Blue Devils saw even more success during the fall cross country season.

Led by individual section champion Jack Scranton — it was the second consecutive title for the senior — the DHS boys won their ninth SJS championship in 13 seasons. Devil freshman phenom Fiona O’Keeffe also won the individual title, leading the girls to second place, as both local teams qualified for the state meet.

O’Keeffe went on to finish fifth at the CIF meet, then matched that finish a week later against an elite field in the Foot Locker West Regional Championships. The performance made her just the second Davis runner ever to qualify for the Foot Locker Nationals.

8. Sensational stick seasons at DHS

If you were a Blue Devil athlete that used a stick in 2012, you had a great year.

At the top of that list was the Davis boys lacrosse team, which ran through the regular season and the Bay Short Athletic League tournament without losing a game. Led by standout Mikie Schlosser, the Devils won 20 consecutive contests before falling to Monte Vista in the North Coast Section quarterfinals.

The DHS girls lacrosse squad was almost as dominant, capturing its fourth straight BSAL title and taking a 17-4 record (11-1 in  league) into the section playoffs.

This fall, the Blue Devil field hockey team went through their league season without a loss, going 14-0 on their way to an Eastern Athletic League title.

9. Standout spring for Blue Devil sports

In an unprecedented season of dominance, 13 was a lucky number for DHS last spring. That’s because each and every one of the Blue Devil spring sports teams qualified for the postseason in some way.

Section titles were won by the DHS girls swim team and the boys tennis squad, while boys and girls lacrosse, boys golf and softball all captured league titles and moved on to postseason play.

In addition, the Devil baseball team advanced to the section finals before losing to Franklin, the girls soccer squad reached the Sac-Joaquin quarterfinals and the boys swim team took third at the SJS championships — as did the boys and girls track and field squads.

The Davis boys also made the section volleyball playoffs and the badminton team made a postseason appearance.

10. UCD gets a new AD

At the end of a nine-month nationwide search that included several public forums and town hall meetings with each of the final four candidate, UCD tapped Terry Tumey as its new athletic director.

The announcement came in July.

Tumey had been the AD at Dominican University in San Rafael since 2009. After playing football and earning a bachelor’s degree from UCLA in 1988 and a master’s degree in business administration from UCLA’s Anderson School of Business in 1993, Tumey held coaching positions with the Bruins (1995-99) and the Denver Broncos (1999-2001). He also served in the San Francisco 49ers’ front office from 2001-2009, rising to director of football operations.

Honorable mention:

* Since implementing The System, the DHS boys basketball team has topped the century mark numerous times. Last year, the Devils established a new scoring mark with a 107-76 victory over Pioneer (Dec. 13, 2011) and have already topped it twice this season — in a 108-69 win at Natomas on Dec. 4 and then in a 118-51 victory over Burton on Dec. 21.

* Local 14-year-old skiing phenom Anna Park won the gold medal at the Junior National Freestyle Ski Championships in March, then followed that up with a second-place finish in the mogul competition at the FIS Junior Freestyle World Championships in Italy.

* After dropping the section title game, the DHS girls tennis squad rallied to reach the NorCal tournament. The Blue Devils played three tough section matches in a row before knocking off Division II champion Bella Vista 6-3 to reach NorCals, where they were eliminated by St. Francis of Mt. View.

* UCD athletes Liliana Alvarez (swimming), Ashley Hearn and Sarah Sumpter (track) all reached the NCAA finals in their respective sports. Hearn placed third in the nation with an Aggie-record toss of 190-1. Alvarez was just the second UCD women’s swimmer to reach the championships, and Sumpter was 15th in the 10,000-meter run.

* UCD gymnast Katie Yamamura broke a nine-year-old Aggie all-around record posting a 39.225 and was named Mountain Pacific Gymnast of the Year.

* UCD men’s soccer edged Sacramento State, 2-1, in the final game of the season to claim the Big West North Division and host a conference tournament first-round match.

* While a great deal of the world was focused on London, a local 10U softball team headed north to the American Softball Association Western Nationals tournament in Spokane, Wash. last August.

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