From an undefeated state championship run in wrestling, to a Central Section team titles in basketball, to a large baseball contingent signing to play on the next level, it was an eventful year — as always — in Kern County high school sports.
Demison’s dominant wrestling season
Bakersfield High wrestler Navonte Demison capped a superb prep career in March with a second straight CIF State Wrestling championship.
Wrestling at 145 pounds, Demison was simply dominant en route to a perfect 45-0 season. He was taken down just once, in his first match of the year, and did not have a match closer than 9-5 until the state finals. He beat Jack Ramalia of Granite Bay, 5-2, to win the state title.
Demison, now wrestling at Arizona State, finished third, second, and first in the state meet during his prep career.
He also played football for the first time since his freshman year, catching the game-winning pass, from best friend Josh Maran, to clinch the D-I section title at Fresno-Central three months prior.
State track heroics
One of the most-read stories of the summer was of Stockdale long distance runner Marcus Mota. Yes, the then-sophomore had a great showing in the CIF State Track and Field Championships with a ninth-place finish in the boys 3,200 finals. But what made the story was the fact that Mota had to ditch his right shoe and finish the last mile with a bare foot. That capped a solid night for the locals as Daniel and Alicia Viveros both medaled in the shot put and discus, respectfully, for Liberty. Highland's Moises Medrano took third in the boys 800 and Stockdale's Aaliyah Wilson finished fifth in the girls 100.
Big day at Selland Arena
First thing's first: The champions.
In boys basketball, Ridgeview High School won the Central Section D-II basketball title. The Wolf Pack were led by college-bound seniors Justin McCall (CSUB) and Jordan Roberts (Long Beach State), beating Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial, 85-67, for the title.
On the girls side of the ledger, Independence beat Bakersfield, 54-49, for a third consecutive section title in D-II. The Falcons were propelled by BVarsity Girls Basketball Player of the Year Kahlaijah Dean and current CSUB freshman Jasmin Dixon. The team would eventually advance to the CIF Southern California D-II semifinals.
And, back to boys, Bakersfield High became the first Bakersfield-area D-I team to make the finals at Fresno’s Selland Arena since the championships moved to the downtown venue more than a decade ago. The Drillers lost to Fresno-Central, 69-58.
Friday Night Lights Go Dark
For the first time since 1992, no team from the Valley region of Kern County advanced to the Central Section football championships. Bakersfield, Garces, Bakersfield Christian, North, Shafter and even Tehachapi (even though not in the valley) all lost in the semifinals while Rosamond was the lone team to advance, and lost, in the D-VI finals. Burroughs also played, and lost, in a Southern Section finale.
Big baseball haul
Five Bakersfield athletes signed Division I baseball college scholarships in November. Stockdale senior Sean Mullen signed to UCLA, a program he's wanted to play at since he was 7. Liberty's Easton McMurray is headed to LSU, where his dad, Brock, grew up just outside Baton Rouge. Meanwhile, Stockdale's Jalen Smith signed with UC Davis, Centennial's Conagher Sands is going to Cal Poly, and Garces' Jacen Roberson will stay home and play at CSUB.