It's the season of new beginnings at Bakersfield College, as spring sports are set to return Friday.
The BC baseball team will embark on a new era under coach Kurt Townson that starts with a home doubleheader against Moorpark. Meanwhile, BC softball, which came just short of the state playoffs last season, will run the gauntlet by facing three of California's top teams — Santiago Canyon, Mt. San Antonio and San Mateo — in a two-day span.
Saturday will be one of the most significant days for Renegade athletics in recent memory, as the BC women's wrestling team hits the mat for its inaugural season and competes in the Cerritos Women's Open. The California Community College Athletic Association added the sport this season with a small group of 12 schools, including the Renegades coached by Andrea Prise.
This coming week also features season-opening road competition for BC women's tennis (Friday at Fullerton), track and field (Saturday at Westmont), men's golf (Sunday at La Purisima Golf Course) and men's tennis (Tuesday at Westmont).
In the meantime, winter sports keep chugging along at BC and Cal State Bakersfield.
Men's basketball: BC dipped to .500 at 10-10 entering Wednesday's L.A. Valley game, after taking back-to-back losses to Antelope Valley on Jan. 18 and Santa Monica on Saturday. Dakhari Lewis put the Marauders ahead with 18 seconds left and the Renegades missed a pair of opportunities to retake the lead, falling 63-61. BC got just two points from its bench compared with AVC's 40. In Santa Monica three days later, the Renegades allowed a 17-4 run late entering halftime that the Corsairs extended to 39-12 after the break. BC clawed its way back to trail by one point with six minutes left but never reclaimed the lead, despite — in a stark contrast to the previous result — 18 points each off the bench from Rahmel Davis and Dusten Henderson.
Women's basketball: The women's team showed some improvement on Jan. 18 against Antelope Valley as it used strong shooting early to take a 21-18 lead after the first quarter, ultimately staying close through three until BC's 2-for-16 mark from the field in the final frame allowed the Marauders to claim a 75-62 win. Elise Enriquez led the Renegades with 15 points and eight rebounds. BC was able to add a forfeit win over Santa Monica — the Corsairs canceled their season earlier this month — but remained just 8-14 overall ahead of Wednesday's matchup with L.A. Valley.
Miscellaneous and looking ahead: Baseball hosted a pair of scrimmages with Reedley on Saturday and Tuesday ahead of Friday's season opener.
Cal State Bakersfield
Men's basketball: Injuries to Lithuanian forwards Modestas Kancleris and Ugnius Jarusevicius, who are expected to miss several weeks each, have left the Roadrunners in a precarious position, and they fielded just eight players Saturday in a 76-58 loss at UC Santa Barbara. Cameron Smith dazzled with a career-high 27 points, but CSUB was outgunned to an even greater degree than in its previous matchup with the Gauchos 10 days earlier. The Roadrunners slid to 6-13 (2-6 Big West Conference). They will hope to have point guard Dalph Panopio available for the first time this season Thursday night against UC Davis.
Track and field: Miranda Miller picked up where she left off last season, resetting the school pole vault record last Friday in Flagstaff, Ariz., and claiming first place at 13-07.25. CSUB's other winner on the day was Riley Slayton, who triumphed in the 600-meter race at 1:38.23, edging her competition from Arizona by less than a second. The Roadrunners' next test of the indoor season awaits at New Mexico beginning Friday.
Women's basketball: CSUB missed a chance at redemption Saturday against UC Santa Barbara, falling to 5-11 (2-6 Big West) after it allowed an 18-5 run to close the game. The Roadrunners missed 10 straight shots in the fourth quarter and fell 56-52. Making matters worse, they continue to contend with injuries of their own, having lost breakout forward Kayla Morris in the fourth quarter Saturday, although they now have a chance of getting back Hennie van Schaik. They have won just one game on the road this year, and must travel to face Davis Thursday night.
Wrestling: Facing the tough test of three duals in a day in Buies Creek, N.C., the Roadrunners emerged with a 1-2 record and moved to 1-5 on the year. They opened with a 21-16 win over Central Michigan before losing 32-8 to Campbell and 16-15 to American. Josh Brown won all three of his bouts at 149, the last of which gave CSUB a 9-3 advantage over American. The Roadrunners later led 15-10, but the Eagles won decisions at both 197 and 285 to claim the narrow victory. CSUB will be back in action Sunday at Oregon State for its first Pac-12 dual of the year.
Miscellaneous and looking ahead: The Hot Stove Dinner with Kirk Gibson is Friday night at the Kern County Fairgrounds Building No. 1 … Women's golf added former Saddleback College golfer Nicole Whipple … Women's soccer announced its class of early enrollees for the spring semester, including transfers Morgan Burnap (Robert Morris), Stevie Reynolds (CSUN) and Mariah Winebrenner (Jacksonville), plus freshmen Selena Hernandez and Rehgan Sanders. The young Roadrunners have lost just one main starter, Kalea Eichenberger, from a promising 2022 campaign.