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Santa Maria Sun / Sports Lead

The following article was posted on December 27th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 43 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 43

Playing against the clock: Local teams fought for championships while individual athletes received recognition

By SUN STAFF

Many on the Central Coast passed their time in 2017 sweating. Athletes trained, competed, tasted victory, and even fell short, but whatever they did, they pushed themselves.

High school teams battled it out for championship titles while solitary athletes competed internationally. College students practiced hours together to maximize their skills as a team. Some saw opportunities of a lifetime open up, while others went home without a trophy.

Whichever team you were rooting for in 2017, there was no shortage of fierce competition and athletic prowess on the Central Coast.

 

 


Matt Sauer
FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF TAMI SAUER
 

YANKEE WARRIOR

Matt Sauer had barely graduated from Ernest Righetti High School before he was the 54th pick in the second round of the Major League Baseball draft. The four-year varsity pitcher for the Warriors—whose pitches clocked in as fast as 97 mph—got the call from the New York Yankees. “It was crazy looking at my parents in that moment, we all got a little emotional,” Sauer told the Sun. “It is such a blessing and I’ve been working for this a long time.” The young athlete shipped off immediately to Florida for training after accepting a $2.5 million singing bonus. He actually put off going to college to join the team, Sauer’s mom, Tami, explained. “All we hoped for was for him to be successful and get a college education,” she said. “It was a tough decision, but it’s what Matt wants and deserves.”

 

 


The Santa Maria Showdown at Waller Park
FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF BRENT LIEBERMAN

DRIVEN TO DISC

The CenCal series came to the Central Coast for the Santa Maria Showdown at Waller Park on April 29. Disc golfers converged on the park, well known for it disc golf course, to compete in several age categories. The money raised through the tournament was donated to the Friends of Waller Park’s disc golf fund, tournament director Jarrett Bussacco told the Sun. “We just try to make it the most fun it can possibly be,” he said. “At the end of the day, the tournament isn’t for personal gain for anyone, it’s really to raise money to donate to the nonprofit that will improve our parks and improve our course.”

 

 


Jim Gamble and Jim Draper
FILE PHOTO BY PETER JOHNSON

SEMI-PRO DAYS

Jim Gamble and Jim Draper were part of the Santa Maria Historical Society’s talk series, Valley Speaks, in January, when they talked about the semi-pro football teams started in Santa Maria in the 1940s. The Santa Maria Redskins was founded by a ragtag group of World War II veterans who all met up at Tom Moore’s Café in 1947. Not long after, the team was playing against LA-area teams of athletes aspiring for the NFL. “There were some guys who were on the pro teams but didn’t make it,” Draper told the Sun. “They were big. You’d run into one of them and they just stopped you. I would run to tackle him and, hell, I could barely put my arms around both his legs!”

 

 


Allan Hancock College’s 2017 softball team
FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF KEVIN BOLAND

SOFTBALLERS

Allan Hancock College’s softball team won the Western State Conference this year with a number of decisive victories, including a 31-0 shutout. The Bulldogs were a solid team, but definitely had some standout players, like shortstop Larissa Ostrander, who hit seven homeruns in the 31-0 shutout. According to the team’s starting pitcher, Bailey Killough, everyone on the team was focused on victory. “Part of the reason why we were so successful this year is that we took every game on the schedule very seriously,” Killough told the Sun. “Even games that people thought didn’t matter, we wanted to win really badly.”

 

 


Riccardo Magni
FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF RICCARDO MAGNI

ARMED FOR VICTORY

When Riccardo Magni isn’t teaching science at Pioneer Valley High School, he’s lifting very heavy weights. Magni traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia, and competed as one of only three Americans at the Armlifting World Championships from May 12 through 14. He was the second American invited to the competition after he qualified during the Los Angeles Fitness Expo (pictured). Armlifting includes a few kinds of weightlifting, he told the Sun. “I like it more than traditional weightlifting,” Magni said. “You develop functional strength for everyday activities. It’s fun to set goals and beat them, and do things I never thought I could do.”

 

 


Santa Maria High School 2017 football team
FILE PHOTO BY PETER JOHNSON

PROUD SAINTS

The Santa Maria High School football team made history this year when it qualified for the CIF Southern Section Division 12 Championship for the first time in decades. It was also the first time a CIF football final was played on Santa Maria’s field. But unfortunately, the game did not end in victory for the Saints, when Big Bear High School won the game at 37-23. A supportive community surrounded the Saints, however, and players and coaches knew the importance of what had been accomplished across the whole season. “It’s been great,” senior quarterback Blake Truhitte said. “We made some history.”




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