The past month was an extremely fruitful one for local athletes and sports teams. Kern County athletes shined in a variety sports, winning championships and earning numerous accolades.
Basketball: The Foothill Trojans boys basketball team became just the third high school basketball team from Kern County to win a state championship when they defeated Mt. Shasta for the CIF Division V crown March 8 at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. It’s first state title won by a Bakersfield high school basketball team since East claimed a D-II championship in 1994. Sophomore guard Jaden Phillipsscored 25 points for Foothill in the state title game. Elijah Sealestallied 22 points and eight rebounds and Edward “Squid” Turnerchipped in 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Trojans, who won all five of their state playoff games by 12 or more points.
The McFarland girls basketball team came up just short of winning a state title, falling to Oakland High, 51-35, in the CIF Division III State Championship game. It was the Cougars’ first state championship game appearance and only third ever by a Kern County girls basketball team. Neli Diazscored a game-high 13 points for McFarland, which finished the season with an impressive 31-6 record.
Soccer: In March, the Garces boys soccer team won the CIF Southern California Division V Regional Championship, beating Pasadena-Marshall, 2-0, at Sam Tobias Field. Junior striker Ebubechukwu Ekpemogu scored both goals (his 42nd and 43rd of the season) while senior goal keeper Jaime Tiscareno recorded his 19th shutout of the year for the Rams (26-2-4).
Hockey: The Bakersfield Condors have been red-hot for the past three months. The Condors went on a historic 17-game winning streak starting in mid-January, vaulting them to into first place in the Pacific Division of the AHL. The 17 wins in a row is tied for the second most in AHL history.
Wrestling: CSUB’s Sean Nickellwon the second Pac-12 title of his college career, earning an automatic berth into the NCAA Wrestling Championships. Nickell, who won a Pac-12 title at 125 pounds as a redshirt sophomore two years ago, defeated Stanford’s Mason Pengilly for this year’s 133-pound Pac-12 championship.
Eleven local wrestlers (four girls and seven boys) took home medals from the CIF State Wrestling Championships held at Rabobank Arena in late February. South High’s Shareni Donis(fourth place at 150 pounds) was highest placer among local girls. Frontier seniors Ryan Morphis(138 pounds) and Trent Tracy(182 pounds) both took third place – the best finish for any local boy.
Track and Field: Liberty sophomore Reese Renzposted the fastest girls 300-meter hurdles time (44.65 seconds) in the state during the Kern Invitational on March 9. During the same meet, Stockdale senior Marcus Mota recorded the second fastest time of the year in the state in the boys 3,200 (9:18.27).