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LOCAL NOTEBOOK: Bakersfield driver Thorn runs Southwest Tour winning streak to six

It wasn’t a dominant performance, and it certainly wasn’t easy, but Derek Thorn continued his win streak on Saturday.

The Bakersfield resident, who has won five Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series championships in the last 10 years, took a big step toward securing another with his sixth straight victory, holding off a strong challenge from three other drivers to earn $10,000 with a victory in the Salted Metals 100 at Irwindale Speedway.

The win was Thorn’s 55th of his career, and it came after holding off challenges from John Moore, Dylan Cappello and Blaine Rocha for most of the final part of the 100-lap race.

Thorn’s victory received a boost when a caution was thrown with five laps left.

“We will never know,” said Thorn about the final yellow flag in a news release. “I feel like I was doing a pretty good job of holding him off and he was doing everything he could. I think the next step would be to wreck me. You just don’t know. Luckily things worked out in our favor. I thought right there at that last little bit when we made contact, something happened to the car because it got real tight. All in all, we came here to win and fortunately, thanks to a great team, we did.”

The final restart found Thorn leading Cappello, Cale Kanke of Frazier Park, Moore and Rocha. Cappello dropped to fourth with three-wide racing throughout the top-five on the initial lap. Thorn edged out front, while the others battled for position close behind.

Thorn held his spot and took the checkered flag, followed by Rocha, Cappello, Kanke and Moore. Bakersfield’s Buddy Shepherd, who leads the rookie-of-the-year chase, was sixth, with Scott Sanchez finishing 12th.

In other racing action this weekend, Kyle Rasmussen of Clovis swept the IMCA Western Racesaver Sprint Car series action at Bakersfield Speedway, winning both heats, and then capping the night with a victory in the feature race.

Other main event winners include: Gene Glover (Mini Stocks), Chris Smith (Western Pro Stocks), Zack Foster (Mod Lites) and Jason Denman of Tehachapi (Hard Tops).

Golf

A pair of Garces graduates qualified for next month’s U.S. Amateur Golf Championships by finishing 1-2 in a two-round qualifying tournament at Bakersfield Country Club on July 5.

Stephen Hale finished a tournament-best 10-under par at the event, opening with a 64 and finishing with a 70 on the par-72 course.

Hale finished with nine birdies, including five straight to open the round to finish two shots better than Bakersfield’s Maverick Pavletich. Pavletich shot a 66 and 70 in his two rounds.

The two golfers will compete in the U.S. Amateur at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa., which has hosted several major championships including a record nine U.S. Opens.

Girls basketball

Recent Bakersfield Christian graduate Dami Sule was named the state’s Division IV player of the year by Cal-Hi Sports after leading the Eagles to the Southern California Regional Division 4-A championship this season.

The 5-foot-10 senior, who committed to play basketball at UC Merced next season, had 34 points and 25 rebounds in the Eagles’ 60-45 victory over San Diego-Our Lady of Peace in the regional title game.

For the season, Sule averaged 20.5 points and 16.1 rebounds a game for BCHS.

Water polo

Garces junior Abby Schechter has been selected to play for the United States as a member of the Team USA Women’s Cadet National water polo team.

Schechter, who as a freshman had five goals in the Rams’ 15-8 victory over Porterville-Monache in the Central Section Division II championship two years ago, was on the Olympic Development team along with Garces teammate Logan Wimbish in 2019.