After a week off to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Northern Santa Barbara County Athletic Round Table reconvened on Monday at Giavanni’s in Orcutt and this time, honored a girls water polo star and boys wrestler who shined at a major tournament.
Mary Rhodes of Cabrillo High girls water polo sealed her Female Athlete of the Week nod after firing five goals on seven attempts during CHS’s 10-6 victory over Santa Ynez – a victory CHS collected on Thursday. Righetti 145-pound wrestler Matt Rodriguez earned his recognition inside the pizzeria by notching a 6-0 record at the California Invitational Tournament (CIT) in Morro Bay; widely considered one of the deepest and toughest wrestling tournaments in California.
Rhodes, who also collected five steals in the pool against the Pirates, now has CHS preparing for its first-ever Channel League Prelims for the sport on Tuesday. Rhodes said the last three seasons has been a challenge for the Conquistadores due to going through three different head coaches during her career – but added her team remains upbeat heading into the final league battles.
“It has hit our program really hard, but it’ll take time and we have a really good group of freshmen and a great junior varsity coach who is teaching them the basics. Plus we have some freshmen and sophomores on the (varsity) team who have been a great improvement for us,” Rhodes said.
Rodriguez, who’s only a freshman, is currently 26-8 on the wrestling mat and is now nestled at No. 15 in the state for his weight class.
“It feels good to have hard work pay off and get recognized,” Rodriguez said. “There were some really tough guys in that (CIT Tournament). I went in as the No. 2 seed and wrestled some tough guys, but I feel like I really dominated the tournament in and out. That was my goal; the week before I told myself ‘I don’t just want to win. I want to dominate.’ That’s what I feel like I did.”
Valley Christian Academy
Athletic director Pete Fortier handled the talking duties for the Lions and went with a boys basketball lineup.
Ethan McCoy and Dylan Fulton were the Lion representatives at the luncheon.
Girls water polo head coach Michelle Kee praised the work ethic of her team at the Round Table while facing multiple challenges including adjusting to the Channel League and dealing with smaller roster numbers.
Annie Ackert and Kylie Luke stood next to Kee at the podium to share the results of their season.
Athletic director Dan Troup brought a wrestling and girls water polo lineup at Giavanni’s.
Troup first introduced water polo players Rhodes and Kaiya Ogan. He then shined a light on girls wrestler Lydia Mondero and followed by introducing Kaeshon Gilbert of the boys wrestling team – citing both as improving wrestlers inside the CHS room.
Miiya Adames of the girls wrestling team and Ryley Daltorio of the boys side also sat in the designated CHS table.
Dick Barrett once again took the speaking and promoting duties for Braves athletics.
He first got girls water polo player Delena Hernandez to stand in front of the luncheon attendees – sharing with the crowd how Hernandez is a 4.0 student, is taking classes at Hancock College already and has played on LHS girls water polo teams that have had difficulty fielding teams or finding coaches, but has not once complained, Barrett said.
After Hernandez, Barrett recognized his girls soccer players in attendance Ayziah Simmons and Amy Bommersbach. Kalub Ramirez of the boys basketball team was the final Brave to be introduced by Barrett.
Athletic director Chad McKenzie took the talking duties for all things Spartan athletics and had a basketball and soccer group in tow.
On the boys basketball side, Camden Smith and Connor Adams were introduced by McKenzie. McKenzie then recognized the girls soccer trio who were present at the luncheon: Mecaelea Lopez, Keanna Ackerman and Taylor Martinez.
Wrestling coach Todd Noel took the microphone first and shared the work ethic and season Rodriguez has had, plus mentioning how Rodriguez hails from a wrestling family.
Athletic director Kevin Babarick came next to add to RHS’s success on the mat, which included its third-place team finish at the CIT Tournament. He then introduced his boys basketball representatives in attendance: Canaan Reynolds and John Costa.
Athletic director Jeff Monteiro spoke on behalf of both boys basketball and girls soccer.
On the roundball side, the Panthers athletes who attended were Steven Fuerte, Christian Moran and Ebba Tefera.
The trio of girls soccer athletes who sat on the PVHS side were Gaby Guerrero, Sasha Brafman and Allison Magni.
Girls soccer head coach Al Garcia talked first for Knights athletics, introducing his athletes Eva Datuin, Janelle Brickey and Brianna Flores.
Then, athletic director and boys basketball head coach Tom Mott wanted to recognize his athletes Emiliano Cisneros-Ruiz and Allan Guillen – calling both of whom players who won’t always get the same publicity as the Knights’ star athletes, but are hard workers who embrace their roles.
Santa Maria High and Hancock College were the only schools not in attendance at the Round Table.