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Top 10 sports stories of 2010

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December 31, 2010 | Leave Comment

Enterprise staff writers

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While it was another great year on the field for local sports, the struggling economy made for one truly unpleasant story, and it tops The Davis Enterprise\’s list of top local sports stories of 2010.

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1. Four UC Davis teams — wrestling, men\’s swimming and diving, women\’s rowing and men\’s indoor track and field — were eliminated from the athletics program in April.

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The decision affected approximately 80 male and 70 female athletes — numbers that kept UCD in accordance with Title IX — forcing some of the younger players to find a school where they could continue to compete. For many of the older players, the cuts brought an abrupt end to a sport that had dominated their lives since they were kids.

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“It\’s more than disappointing, it\’s heartbreaking,” Aggie wrestler John Thurston said just hours after hearing the news.

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UCD Athletics Director Greg Warzecka said eliminating the four sports would save the

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program $5 million over five years, a necessary savings since the athletics department was faced with a $1.4 million deficit just for the year.

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Students and coaches complained that they were left out of the decision-making process. Two members of an eight-member intercollegiate athletics work team put together by Fred Wood, vice chancellor for student affairs, resigned before the group submitted its final proposal.

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No. 2 Water World — When people outside of this community say Davis is all wet, high school coaches Tracy Stapleton and Doug Wright take it as a compliment.

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From the more than 100 section crowns won at Davis High, 46 of them revolved around water sports. With legions of talented Blue Devils taking to the pool, 2010 proved no different from previous years.

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First, DHS\’ swimming teams recorded second-place (girls) and fourth-place (boys) finishes in the Sac-Joaquin Section. The May finals saw Trevor Allen win both the 100-yard freestyle and breaststroke races, while brother Wade swam home first in the 50-yard sprint.

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Keelia Houston, Marissa LaFreniere, Tara Halsted and Anji Shakya blazed to a second-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay.

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Then on Nov. 13, DHS won its second straight girls water polo title, blasting

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St. Francis for a fourth time during the fall, 10-3. It was the eight CIF title for the locals, who finished the season an amazing 31-1.

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On the same day, the local boys dropped a 9-4 nod to Jesuit in the season championship. Davis has 13 boys crowns.

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For good measure, girls coach Wright jumped into a bigger pool in August when he became the 915th person to swim the English Channel. He did so to raise awareness and funds for the battle against Alzheimer\’s disease.

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No. 3 Speed Kills — For the second consecutive year, the emerging Davis High boys tracksters finished second to Sac-Joaquin champion Jesuit. Coach Spencer Elliott saw his 4×100 relay team — Ian Rock, Alec Zavala, Bryan Soto and Derek Nelson — break the 26-year-old school record.

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Six Devil boys went on to the state meet: the four baton-carriers along with Bob Riestenberg and Grayson Hough.

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The DHS girls — who had won section crowns in two of the previous three years — came in third to St. Francis and Fairfield.

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No. 4 Making a Racquet — Blue Devils Jimmy Stone and Nelson Hosley won their second consecutive CIF doubles championship and freshman Glenn Hull qualified for the section individual finals. (the first time since 1987 a DHS player had been there). It\’s thought that Stone and Hosley\’s consecutive titles are a first for any Blue Devil duo.

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The Davis boys went on to win its third section team crown in four years under mentor Dale Hersch.

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Meanwhile, the girls got a new coach for the first time in more than three decades when popular local instructor Sally Hosley replaced retired Paul Ochs (34 years at the helm). The team lost in the semifinals of sections.

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No. 5 Simpson\’s Send-off — In an exciting time for the UC Davis women\’s basketball team, the Aggies started the year by clinching the 2010 Big West regular season title. Though it lost in the conference tournament finale, UCD earned a trip to the WNIT for the second time in four seasons. The Ags pushed eventual champion California into overtime in that first-round.

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Then in October, all-time program wins leader Sandy Simpson announced that 2010-11 would be his final season as head coach.

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Seeking to send the well-respected coach out in style, the UCD women have been great to start off the campaign. The Aggies finished nonconference play at 10-2 and began their Big West title defense today at 2 p.m.

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No. 6 Distance Dandies — Following individual champion Trevor Halsted\’s lead, the Davis High boys rolled to their seventh consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section title on Nov. 13.

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Under the watchful eye of coach Bill Gregg, Halsted went on to finish 15th in the California state meet. The girls took fourth in the section and were led by Sophie Meads, who was the lone distaff state qualifier.

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At UC Davis, Jonathan Peterson became the first Aggie male runner to qualify for the NCAA D-I championships, taking 14th.

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No. 7 Football Fluctuation — Steve Smyte took the reins of the Davis High football program in May. It was a late start for the former Aggie and Boise State assistant. In the previous five months, two-year coach Dan Gazzaniga resigned and was replaced by David Blackwell, who quit two months later (citing health reasons). Ravaged by injuries, the Blue Devils went 1-9.

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At the same time, there were scrambling quarterbacks at UC Davis. Veteran starter Greg Denham unexpectedly left the Aggies to pursue the ministry in June. Redshirt freshman Randy Wright became the first UCD first-year player to start an entire season as signal-caller in the Bob Biggs era as UCD went 6-5. The wins included an upset of San Jose State and a storm-drenched Causeway Classic victory over Sacramento State.

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No. 8 Wheels are Spinning — Cementing its claim as Bicycle Capital of the U.S., Davis once again was a hub of biking activity.

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The U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame opened downtown in April. A month later, the second leg of the Amgen Tour of California departed from Davis; a race in which local residents Paul Mach and Max Jenkins competed well. The Hall of Fame then named its first executive director, Pennsylvania\’s Joe Herget, and hosted an October induction ceremony, conducted at UCD.

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The typical Davis Fourth of July celebration was heavy with biking events and the Livestrong Foundation announced that one of its three big events will come to town next summer.

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No. 9 Softball goes dancing — The UC Davis softball team qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time at the Division I level after winning the Big West under coach Karen Yoder.

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The Aggies were led by versatile junior Alex Holmes, who won the conference\’s pitcher of the year award and made the All-Big West first team as a pitcher and a designated play.

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No. 10 Basketball, baby — Last winter, Davis High\’s boys (15-12) finished with its best record in coach Dan Gonzalez\’s 10-year career and qualified for the section playoffs, dropping a 62-31 decision to Rodriguez in the first round.

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The Blue Devils were off to a 7-1 start this year before a five-game losing streak and an injury to leading scorer Tim Mohr sent the locals reeling this week at a San Diego tournament.

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Honorable mentions:

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-The UCD men\’s basketball team defeated Pacific for the first time in 69 years.

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-UCD athletes — Scott Weltz (men\’s swimming), Polly Gnepa (men\’s track) and Ricky Alcala, Brandon Low and Barrett Abel (wrestling) — qualified for NCAA championships competition.

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-The DHS girls lacrosse team dominated the Bay Shore Athletic League (12-0) and, along with the boys team, made the NorCal playoffs

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-Both DHS soccer teams finished as section runners-up. The girls lost to St. Francis in penalty kicks, while the boys fell to Jesuit.

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-DHS baseball made the section playoffs as the DVC\’s third seed but lost to top-seeded Jesuit in the first round.

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-DHS softball won a protest, then beat Franklin, only to have a coin decide that the Wildcats qualified for the section playoffs.

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-Nick Watney, a DHS grad, had another strong year on the PGA Tour, earning 2.5 million in winnings and finishing 12th in the FedEx standings.

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-Two Aggie baseball players (Justin Schafer and Matthew Lewis) were picked in MLB draft.

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-DHS golfer Scott Raber makes Masters meet and finishes 18th.

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-Manager Bob Creely\’s junior legion baseball team won District 6 and Area 1 titles before being eliminated in the state tournament.

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-The Sacramento River Cats won the PCL South but fell in first round of PCL playoffs.

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