All of Bakersfield College’s spring sports are finally in full swing. The Renegades recently held a media day where The Californian caught up with athletes and coaches from a few of the sports.
Here’s what the men’s and women’s swimming teams and the men’s and women’s tennis teams had to say about their 2018 seasons.
Men’s and women’s swimming
The swimming roster is noticeably larger than last season and the disparity is most evident on the women’s side, where BC is fielding a team of 17 compared to eight in 2017.
“We have a lot of depth from every event,” Renegades head coach Matt Moon said. “It’s really exciting to see.”
BC finished second overall in its season-opening pentathlon meet on Feb. 9 in Ventura out of the 10 teams in the conference. The majority of the swimmers set personal records, Moon said.
Moon’s goal for the squad is to finish top three in the conference, but the performance to start the year has his eyes on a conference title.
The larger group for the women’s team not only adds depth, but has also led to a more cohesive unit, sophomore swimmer Cynthia Maner said.
“The atmosphere is so much different than it was last year,” Maner said. “Last year — I wouldn’t say it was secluded but — us girls, we were more comfortable with our own cliques, I want to say. But this year, we really spread out and we've become more of a family.”
Moon put extra effort into recruiting out of high school and students already on BC’s campus, he said. He’s excited about a crop of athletes from Wasco High that he thinks will bolster both teams.
Before Thursday’s match at LA Pierce, BC’s men’s tennis team sat at 3-2 to start the year. The Renegades won their first two matches of the season behind No. 1 singles player Kaleb Johnson.
Johnson didn’t drop a single game through the team’s first two matches of the year. He finally did at Riverside City College on Jan. 30, but it turned out to be his “best tennis in years.” Johnson fell behind 2-5 in the first set to RCC’s Kayne Trustfull before coming back to win both sets, 7-5, 7-6. Trustfill is the No. 5 player in the state, Johnson said.
The team is still working to find it’s best lineup, Johnson said. Nayib Rivera was BC’s No. 2 singles player in its most recent match prior to Thursday and Alec Slykerman was No. 3.
“I try for the most part to make (practice) as intense as possible,” Johnson said of how he leads the team, “but we also try and keep it fun so you don't get burned out of the sport.”
Not too long ago, BC women’s tennis coach Nick Loudermilk wasn’t sure he was going to be able to field a team. Some of the girls from last season’s conference-winning team that set the program record for wins in a season decided not to play. A few others were not eligible because of grades, Loudermilk said.
“The team that we thought we were gonna have, we ended up not having,” Loudermilk said. “... We were left kind of scrambling trying to find some players and luckily we were able to fill a team. We were kind of nervous that we weren't gonna be able to do that.”
Loudermilk brought in several new players, including BC’s top golfer from the fall, Brandi Borjon. Sophia Castillo, the team’s No. 2 singles player, picked up tennis again for the first time in a few years.
Another challenge for Loudermilk came when Paige Darstein, BC’s No. 2 singles player at the start of the year, suffered a season-ending knee injury on Jan. 30.
“We wanted to be above .500 and that was a big goal of ours,” Loudermilk said. “If everybody was healthy and we didn't lose Paige, we would have totally exceeded expectations. Right now, the goal is still to do the same.”