Sports Briefs for the week of Dec. 31, 2001
By Rob Brockmeyer
2001 was another exciting sports year Lassen County as many teams continued their success from past years and others reached milestones.
A Legend comes to town: Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda visited the Susanville Rotary Club October, recalling his journey through Major League Baseball.
With the help of pitcher Julia Branch, Lassen High School's softball team captured its third straight Westside League crown. The Grizzlies staged a comeback victory over Las Plumas in the Northern Section Division II semifinals, but fell 1-0 to Enterprise in the title game.
Learning year for Lassen: Lassen High School's varsity and junior varsity field hockey players gained valuable experience this year, finishing in the middle of the pack in the Westside League.
Lassen High School wrestling coach Rudy Valentine directed his son, Moses, to a state tournament appearance. Moses beat Chance Studer of Anderson 5-3 in the Northern Section Masters to qualify for state.
Ground breaking: Construction on Emerson Lake Golf Course's long-awaited, new nine holes began in the fall. The course may be open for play in the fall of 2002.
The Eagle Lake Challenge returned to Susanville in June for the second straight year after a five-year hiatus. The two-day amateur cycling event reportedly injected tens of thousands of dollars into the local economy.
One of the best: The Honey Lake Motocross Park, located near Milford, opened in the fall and has been heralded as one of top tracks on the West Coast. It may soon be host to a televised event.
Westwood High School's football team repeated as Feather River League champions. The Lumberjacks fell in the semifinals of the Northern Section Division VI playoffs.
Lassen High School's football rode a perfect season to the program's first Northern Section championship in 17 years. After capturing its third straight Westside League crown, the Grizzlies defeated perennial powerhouses, Foothill and Enterprise, in front of a raucous, playoff home crowds to bring home the title.
Head coach Tom St. Jacques directed a team that overcame several obstacles throughout the year to win a championship it had shots at winning the previous two years. Five players received all-section honors: Ben Baker, Ben Wheeler, Cody Frailey, John Black and Travis Fitzpatrick. Wheeler was named to the medium schools all-state team and Lassen finished with a No. 8 state ranking in Division III.
Under the direction of head coach Mark Nareau, Lassen College's women's basketball team came up three wins short of a state championship. The Lady Cougars skated to the Golden Valley Conference crown without a loss, reestablishing the program's dominance of the early-1990s. This year's team is again among the top in the state.
Lassen's College's men's basketball team nearly followed in the footsteps of the Cougar women, falling a game short of making the Final Eight. Picked as a sleeper at the beginning up the season, the Cougars used a fast break offense and pressure defense to build a 21-14 overall record and tie for the top spot in the Golden Valley Conference.
After a three-year hiatus, Lassen College's softball team returned to the field under first-year head coach Cheryl Aschenbach. "It took time to put things together," Aschenbach said. "But once we got deeper into the season, we girls played played some pretty competitive softball against some tough teams." Aschenbach built the team around a host of Lassen High School graduates, including pitcher Charlene Gorbet
Lassen Pop Warner's teams turned in the most successful season since the organization's inception three years ago. The program has paid off in a big way in regards to building a strong program at Lassen High School. Lassen is now the receiver of freshmen whom know the basics of the game and are not putting on the pads for the first time.
Nick Brown helped lead Westwood High School's boys' basketball team to a second-place finish in the Pioneer League and almost a Northern Section Division VI championship. The Lumberjacks (23-4) bowed to Bishop Quinn 55-46 in the Division VI title game. Brown led the team against Bishop Quinn with 23 points and 13 rebounds.
The Susanville Rodeo returned for its fifth year in July with a host of cowboys and cowgirls competing for increased purses. The rodeo has become one of the most popular professional events on the West Coast.
The hand car races at the Rails to Trails Festival in October drew a record number contestants. The event continues to grow in popularity.
Lassen High School's girls' golf team displayed maturity in the program's third season. The conclusion of the season marked the end of the careers of Sarah Starcevich, Melissa Tinsley and Danae Cady. Eight underclassmen, including four juniors, return next year.
Lassen College's baseball team finished second in the Golden Valley Conference and advanced to the post season for the 15th consecutive year. The Cougars went 21-19 overall, bowing in the first round of the playoffs at Sacramento City College.
Lassen High School's girls' basketball team eclipsed the 20-win mark and finished second in the Westside League. Tanneria Johnson teamed up with Jeris Evans, Tenley DeKock, Haley Trevino and Renee Robbins to lead the Grizzlies to their best season in five years.