Friday, March 28, 2008

Four earn CIF BB honors

Awards go to Thacher’s Thomas, Villanova’s Hoffman, Kolbeck, Reilley

By Mike Miller

Thacher’s Chris Thomas can now add All-CIF honors to his already lengthy list of athletic accomplishments while at Thacher. Thomas was recently named to the First Team All-Division V team after a stellar senior campaign. Thomas led the team in scoring and was a major contributor to the recent success of the Thacher basketball team.
Thomas is best known for his vicious hits on the football field and he will be taking his talents to Pitzer College in Claremont. According to Thacher basketball coach Jason Carney, Thomas will try his hand at playing both football and basketball for the Sagehens.
On the girls’ side, the Villanova Wildcats were rewarded for their incredible season by having two players named to the First Team All-Division VAA and one player earned Second Team honors. Senior Hannah Hoffman closed out her career with First Team honors. Also earning First Team honors was freshman Hannah Kolbeck. Kolbeck was one of only two freshmen in Division VAA to earn All-CIF accolades. Senior Kaitlin Reilley was named to the second team. The Wildcats won the Frontier League title, going a perfect 10-0 in league play in the process.

Rutherford returns to Ventura Raceway Saturday

Troy Rutherford celebrates a win last season with daughters Skylar, left, and Logan.

By Sondra Murphy

Ojai sprint car racer Troy Rutherford is heading back to Ventura Raceway this weekend. Rutherford’s return for the 2008 racing season has been delayed by a serious kidney condition, but his doctor has given him the green flag back to the track. “I feel 100 percent. It’s going to be a great weekend,” said Rutherford.
Last season, Rutherford won the last seven of eight sprint series races at the raceway, giving his fans and crew something to cheer for. Winning is obviously a thrill for Rutherford, but he said it is the speed that keeps him competing. “I’ve been doing it since I was 11 and it’s become an addiction, I guess,” said Rutherford. “Everyone tells me I should be playing golf, but I tell them the carts don’t go fast enough.”
He started racing go-carts out in Oxnard when he had just reached double digits. He was already helping his stepfather, Frank Sheltren, work on cars for Rick Taylor, who is the father of fellow racer, Greg Taylor. “I used to go help work on Rick’s TQ Sprints with my dad,” said Rutherford. “It seems like it was just yesterday.”
Rutherford began racing International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) Sprint Cars in 1996 and lists Rick Taylor as an early inspiration in the sport, but credits Sheltren for his success. “My old man said, ‘If you’re going to do it, do it right,’” said Rutherford. “He’s been part of my crew ever since. He’s been the one who’s pushed me along the whole time. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.”
There are many other supporters of Rutherford’s efforts. Clive Burton serves as his crew chief, while Garrett Leib and Dale Munzel round out the crew. Sheltren oversees everything. “He’s the boss,” said Rutherford of his dad. “He makes sure everything goes right.”
Munzel’s company, L & H Consulting, is Rutherford’s only sponsor. “Anything that needs to be done, he does it,” said Rutherford.
The rest of Rutherford’s family helps out, as well. Wife Leslie, and daughters Logan, 5, and Skylar, 2, regularly lend assistance. “I couldn’t do it without the support of my wife,” said Rutherford. “It takes the whole family and a group of friends willing to work together and sacrifice their own time. Even my girls come down and help. Logan helps put tools away and Skylar gets filthy helping to clean up. They’re actually mad that I haven’t been racing.”
Rutherford’s parents, Cheryl and Frank, brother Rob and sister Keri Escalante all live in Ojai and support him in his racing, as well. “I have two dads, luckily,” said Rutherford, whose day job is outside sales for Frank’s Rooter & Pumping Service.
He says that he spends about 40 hours a week on racing efforts. “It’s a second job,” Rutherford said. “It’s nothing you’re going to get rich off, but it gives me the possibility to run and have fun.”
The cost of the sport can be daunting and Rutherford would like to attract more sponsors. He estimated the basic car alone cost about $48,000 and says that winning helps cover the expenses. “I have to win every week to make it out the next week,” he said. “I was lucky enough to have Mike Sala let us use a closed trailer,” said Rutherford. “It works perfectly for local trips.”
Being out of the driver’s seat has been hard for Rutherford. “It’s been very difficult, but it gives you a different perspective on life,” he said. “Racing is not everything, but it’s something that I love to do and if I can do it, I’m going to do it.” Rutherford is ready to get back on the track and start winning races again. “There’s nothing like winning. It makes the work we’ve done all week long worth while.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

NHS boys’ tennis holds strong

At 8-1, Nordhoff boys’ tennis team boosted by Slifkin brothers, Thorpe, veterans Ceiders, De Cordova

By Mike Miller

Nordhoff tennis coach Todd Dickey agrees with the saying, “Two is better than one,” especially when it comes to the Slifkin brothers. Adam and Josh Slifkin have led the Rangers to an overall record of 8-1 and 7-1 in Tri-Valley League play. Adam has been perfect on the season, going 24-0 in singles’ play and 3-0 in doubles. Josh is also undefeated on the season, with an 8-0 singles record and is 3-0 in doubles as well. Dickey said, “Adam has been solid all year and very consistent and Josh is very mature and he brings great leadership to our program.”
The Slifkin brothers are not the only show in town for the Rangers. Junior Chris Thorpe leads the team with 25 wins, with only one defeat. According to Dickey, Thorpe is a big hitter that uses a huge serve and powerful forehands to intimidate his opponents. In doubles, NHS has seen great play from the combination of junior Sam Ceiders and senior Mike Finley. Ceiders and Finley have gone 12-4 on the season. Dickey said, “They are both (Ceiders and Finley) veterans of our program and they have become very strong leaders.” Dickey also mentioned the doubles’ play of freshman Jacob De Cordova. He said, “Jacob has really been a pillar of confidence in doubles and he has a great team attitude.”
The NHS tennis program recently got a morale boost when new courts were installed a couple of months ago. “I have to say thank you to the school district, The Weil Tennis Academy and to ‘The Ojai’ for their support. The community came together to rebuild the courts and it has made a huge difference for our program,” added Dickey.
The Rangers have some huge matches coming up. They will travel across town tomorrow to take on Thacher at 3:45 p.m. Thacher is currently the second-ranked team in Division V. On April 2, the Rangers will host the top-ranked Division V team in Cate at 3 p.m. and then Oaks Christian will come to town the following day to play in a match that is likely to decide the Tri-Valley League title. Check the OVN for results of these matches as the Rangers look to become league champions.

NHS softball takes down Lions, 4-3

By Mike Miller

Nordhoff softball coach Don Rodarte will be sporting a new look this week. After beating the Oaks Christian Lions, 4-3, Rodarte made good on a promise to his team to shave his head. The thrilling 4-3 win over their rivals improved the team’s record to 3-6 overall and 1-2 in Tri-Valley League play.
The loss at the hands of the Lady Rangers is the first-ever Tri-Valley League defeat for Oaks Christian, according to Rodarte. He said, “After the game I told my girls that showing maturity to win games comes through game experience, whether that experience is good or bad. The important thing is to remember those experiences and learn from them.”
The game was a thriller that came down to the very last out before a winner was decided. Samantha Perez got the Rangers going with a shot to right field that got over the head of the Lions’ outfielder for a two-run home run, giving NHS the 2-1 lead. Oaks Christian battled back to take the lead in the fifth, but then McKenna Myers broke out of an early season slump with a hit that could not have come at a better time for the Rangers. Myers belted a shot to center field for an RBI double, scoring Hanna Riley. Riley, who had taken a line drive off her knee to start the game, earned the respect of her coach. He said, “It was loud and painful, however, she kept her composure and picked up the ball and threw out the batter. Hanna sucked it up and played tough the rest of the game.”
The Lady Rangers would take the lead for good when Ashley Pulido hit a solo home run. Pulido also pitched for the Rangers and kept the game close down the stretch. The drama was thick in the seventh and final inning, when an overthrow back to Pulido was picked up by Myers, who threw out the Oaks Christian runner at home. Rodarte recounted the play, “The runner took advantage of the situation and ran home, but the heads-up play and hustle of Myers and Pulido got her out on a close play.”
Kelsey Endo sealed the win by ending the drama and making the final out of the game for the Lady Rangers. The Rangers will return to action on March 29 when they face Channel Islands at 11 a.m. They will play Oaks Christian again on April 17 at Oaks Christian.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Farrar hopes to rebuild Buena

By Mike Miller

After 21 years of leading the Nordhoff Rangers football program, head coach Cliff Farrar announced last week that he is leaving to take the head coaching job at Buena High School in Ventura. Farrar’s announcement comes after a season in which the Rangers reached the CIF finals before losing to Oaks Christian. In his 21 seasons, Farrar went 150-98-2, with nine league titles, reached the CIF finals four times and the CIF semifinals four times and had a 25-15 record in CIF play-off games.
Farrar will take over a program that he feels is on the verge of great things. When asked what attracted him to Buena, he said, “I am ready for a new challenge and I think that Buena is a good fit. I have always enjoyed rebuilding teams. When I was a kid, I was always the one on the playground that would organize games and set up teams. Putting together a team and seeing it become successful is what keeps me going.” Farrar will take former player and long-time assistant coach Mike Rodriguez with him to Buena. “Mike is a big part of what I do and we are both excited for a new challenge. I can hear the excitement in his voice and we are anxious to get going,” noted Farrar.
Coaching football will not be Farrar’s only duty at Buena, he will also be teaching part-time, just as he did last year at NHS. His biggest task will be rebuilding a program that has only won nine games in the last four seasons. Farrar admits that leaving behind a program that he resurrected will not be easy. “When I came to Ojai, I wanted to establish a program that people wanted to be a part of. I wanted all of the 9- and 10-year-old boys that were looking through the fence to want to become Rangers some day. I think that we accomplished that here. I am so proud of this program and this community for all that we have been able to accomplish. It has been weird driving by the school knowing that I won’t be coaching the Rangers anymore. Everyone backed this program, from the players and parents to the band and cheerleaders. It just seemed like there was something for everyone, and that made it special.”
When asked about his most memorable moment as football coach, Farrar paused. “I don’t know if I can name just one, there were just so many. That 1991 team will always hold a special spot in my heart, though. They were the first team that truly bought into what we were trying to do. In 1990, we finished in last place in our league, but then in 1991 we won league. The 1994 team was also real special for me because both of my sons (Brian and Russell) were on that team. Kids enjoyed playing Ranger football and that has been important to me over the years,” he said.
Farrar’s parting comments to his Nordhoff family, past and present were, “I just want to say a big thank-you to all of my former players. Not many programs can say that they went to the play-offs for 16 of 17 seasons and that is due to that hard work and dedication of those players. I can’t tell you how many times people approached me after the season to say that they were surprised that we finished as well as we did and that is a testament to those kids and their effort. To the community, thank you for your support over the years. I have enjoyed it a lot. They backed us all of the time. And finally to my family, they gave me the time to do what I love. My wife, Roxanne, has been our biggest fan and she has just been great.”
Farrar added that six members of last year’s coaching staff have indicated that they would like to remain with the football program. “They are doing a nice job and will keep the kids motivated and make sure that they are ready to go next year,” said Farrar.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Lady Rangers honored

Tri-Valley League basketball awards go to players, junior varsity coach

By Mike Miller

Despite a season that saw Nordhoff’s Lady Rangers basketball team miss the CIF play-offs for the first time in years, the team was recently honored by the Tri-Valley League when three of its players were named to the All-League team.
Sophomore Carmen Cotsis earned honorable mention honors for her guard play. Cotsis scored a season-high 19 points in a game against Bishop Diego. She averaged six points a contest along with 2.4 assists. Junior Nicole Bergmann, who battled through an injury most of the season, was named to the second team All-League. Bergmann serves as the Rangers’ best defender and long range shooter. She averaged 6.3 points per game this season.
Top honors went to the much- improved Hanna Riley. Riley was named first team All-League despite starting the season on the junior varsity team. She has earned the praises not only of the basketball coaches for her improvement, but head softball coach Don Rodarte also notes her inspired play on the softball field.
Junior varsity coach Gary Tuttle was also honored for his coaching ability. He was named Girls’ Junior Varsity Coach of the Year by the Ventura County Basketball Coaches Association. According to head coach Ted Cotti, Tuttle is the first NHS girls’ basketball coach to earn that honor. Tuttle led the junior varsity team to an impressive 18-1 finish.
Team award winners were:
Coaches’ Award:
Nicole Bergmann
Coaches’ Award:
McKenna Myers
Coaches’ Award:
Tanya McQueen
Most Improved:
Hanna Riley
Most Valuable Teammate:
Carmen Cotsis
Rookie of the Year:
Autumn Brobisky

Villanova BB players make All-League teams

10-0 Lady Wildcats’ hoopsters get Frontier League honors

By Mike Miller

The dust is still settling after Villanova’s girls’ basketball team excited the Ojai Valley by winning 16 consecutive games and going deep into the CIF play-offs. Head coach Sarah Angell announced earlier this week that more than half of the team was honored by the Frontier League as members of the All-League teams.
Both junior Morgan Henry-Ehritt and freshman Madison Harwell were honorable mention winners for their gritty play during the season.
Comprising the second team All-League were senior Maryrose Vigorita and sophomore Rebecca Parziale. A pair of seniors that VPS will certainly miss next year in Hannah Hoffman and Kaitlin Reilley earned first team All-Frontier League honors.
The top honor for the Lady Wildcats went to freshman Hannah Kolbeck, who was named Co-Most Valuable Player of the Frontier League in her inaugural season. While the team will need to replace its three seniors who established a tradition of winning, Angell has to like what the future holds for the Wildcats because of their young, yet accomplished, underclassmen.
VPS went a perfect 10-0 in Frontier League play before falling to Whittier Christian in the semifinals of the CIF-SS Division VAA play-offs.
Whittier Christian would go on to be crowned CIF champions. All-CIF honors will be announced later this month. Check the OVN for updates as winter accolades continue to pour in.