The season finale of BVarsity Live on Thursday was supposed to include the top five storylines of the academic year that was from both sports editor Zach Ewing and lead BVarsity writer Trevor Horn, but technical difficulties forced an early end to the show.
Here they are in print form: Our top five Kern County high school sports storylines for 2016-2017.
Zach’s Top 5
5. Central Section expands and leagues realign
This won’t take effect until the 2018-19 school year, but the Central Section approved a major renovation in January when it OK’d the addition of 13 coastal schools from the Southern Section.
Included in those schools are Division I and D-II type programs like San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande and Atascadero.
Also changing in 2018-19 are the local league structures, most notably with Bakersfield Christian joining the South Yosemite League and East High leaving the SYL for the Southeast Yosemite League.
4. Wilson, Viveros siblings become track and field stars
Daniel and Alicia Viveros made Kern County history at the CIF State Track & Field Championships last weekend when they became the first local siblings to earn state medals (top-six finish) at the same state meet. Alicia, a senior, finished fifth in the girls shot put, and sophomore Daniel was third in the boys shot.
Daniel could go into next season as the favorite to win a state title, and this year’s local breakout star, Stockdale junior Aaliyah Wilson, might not be far behind. Wilson set the Central Section record with a 13.72 in the 100-meter hurdles, and even though she fell in that event at state, she finished fifth in the 100-meter dash.
3. Liberty wins Division I volleyball title
Despite its young history, Liberty has one of the most storied volleyball programs in the Central Section, one that includes a Division II state championship and numerous other honors. But one item the Patriots’ resume was lacking was a Division I section title.
That all changed in November, when Liberty swept Clovis West in the D-I title game at Lemoore with a brilliant performance. The victory was Liberty’s first in three tries in D-I title games.
2. BHS, BCHS win a pair of classics
Bakersfield High won its 37th Central Section title with a heart-stopping 21-14 victory against Fresno-Central in early December, with Josh Maran throwing the tie-breaking touchdown pass to Navonte Demison in the final minutes.
A week later, Bakersfield Christian played a thriller of its own in a CIF Division IV regional, beating Selma 28-27 thanks to a blocked field goal-return touchdown from Stephen Figures and the Bears’ failed two-point conversion attempt in the final seconds. BCHS hosted the state championship the next week but lost to Moraga-Campolindo.
1. Demison wins another state wrestling title
Navonte Demison rejoined the BHS football team and delivered some heroics, but it was in wrestling he proved himself to be one of the Drillers’ all-time greats. Demison beat Granite Bay’s Jack Ramalia 5-2 to win his second straight CIF state wrestling title, this one at 145 pounds.
Demison, who will wrestle for Arizona State, was unbeaten and virtually untested all season after winning the 138-pound title as a junior.
Trevor’s Top 5
5. Mota races with one shoe
It was quite amazing in and of itself to see Stockdale sophomore Marcus Mota finish seventh in the state with a personal record time of 9:09.93. But moments later, realizing in person that he had done it without his right shoe for more than a mile made this not only a top 5 story for this year, but one of those legendary tales I will remember for a long time.
4. Breakthrough Saturday in baseball/softball
In a span of three hours in late May, Wasco won its first baseball title in 27 years and Highland baseball and Independence softball each won the first titles in those programs’ histories.
The Tigers win was the most dramatic, with senior Lalo Barraza delivering a go-ahead three-run double with two outs in the top of the seventh inning to beat stun Firebaugh 5-4 for the Division IV baseball title.
Later, Highland beat Porterville 8-5 after jumping to a 6-0 lead in the D-III baseball title game, and Independence routed Kerman 11-5 for the D-III softball title.
3. BHS basketball breaks Kern’s drought
Since the Central Section moved all of its basketball championships to Selland Arena in downtown Fresno in 2005, no team from Kern County had played in the Division I boys title game, until March when Bakersfield boys basketball team advanced with a semifinal victory against Fresno-Bullard.
The Drillers lost the title game, 68-58 to Fresno-Central, but just being there was an achievement no local team had made in more than a decade.
2. BCHS plays in another state football championship
Four years ago, it was Brandon Jones and Grant Bouma leading the way for Bakersfield Christian in the small school state football championship game. This time around, the Eagles returned behind quarterback Braden Wingle, wide receiver Jeremiah Foster and coach Darren Carr as the Eagles hosted Moraga-Campolindo for the state title.
Never mind that the game ended in a lopsided Campolindo win, just as BCHS lost its first state title game against Modesto-Central Catholic. These Eagles return plenty of talent and have a chance to make another run at state.
1. Navonte Demison wins 2nd straight state title
Like track and field, wrestling at the state level knows no divisions and makes no consideration for school size, making the competition the best against the best. That means every champion is a true state champion. For the last two years, Navonte Demison played the role as hometown favorite, winning consecutive state titles before heading off to Arizona State.
Zach Ewing can be reached at 661-395-7324. Follow him on Twitter @zewing. Trevor Horn can be reached at 661-395-7374. Follow him on Twitter @trevhorn.