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Local grads make impact

Many COC programs sport SCV athletes in big roles

Posted: September 14, 2013 10:48 p.m.
Updated: September 14, 2013 10:48 p.m.
Many COC programs sport SCV athletes in big roles. Many COC programs sport SCV athletes in big roles.
Many COC programs sport SCV athletes in big roles.

The College of the Canyons fall season is in full spring, and many sports are seeing success from Santa Clarita Valley high school graduates.

The locals aren’t the only ones making an impact, though, and here we take a look at what to expect from COC in the months ahead.

Cross Country

Saugus graduate Rodrigo Ornelas is making the jump from high school to College of the Canyons just fine, leading the Cougars in their first two meets of the season.

Ornelas and fellow Saugus graduate Robert Pion finished fourth and seventh, respectively at the Southern California preview meet on Friday, and they both finished in the top 15 at the Fresno Invitational on Aug. 30. Those two are expected to lead the team during 2013.

Chase Wheeler leads the way among returners, after reaching the state championship meet last season.

The squad lost All-Western State Conference runner Alex Ruther, who also reached state in 2012.

In addition, Alex Johnson, Lyvan Friend, Anthony Janaslani and Joel Estrada will be leaned on to score for COC in 2013.

On the women’s side, another freshman in Dominique Dowell leads the way.

Freshmen Diana Barrera and Yesenia Razo should also be strong runners for the squad.

The loss of Jessica Gill, who reached the state meet last season, will be hard to replace, but a young squad of six freshmen and just one sophomore will need to step up for the Cougars in 2013.


Women’s Golf

Few team’s at College of the Canyons lost an athlete of the caliber of the departed Kris Grimes, who has dominated on the course for the Cougars over the last two seasons.

Grimes, who won the Southern California championship last season, was named All-State, All-Southern California and All-Western State Conference in 2012.

In addition, the team lost All-WSC golfers Nicole DeFrancisco and Catherine Walgamuth.

Head coach Gary Peterson will rely on a roster of six, split evenly between freshmen and sophomores, to fill the void.

Madison Lomas, Chelsea Reed and Kaylie Sadlon return to the Cougars, who added freshmen Victoria Burgos, Kathy Quoack and Valencia graduate Andrea Webster to the 2013 squad.


Men’s Soccer

The College of the Canyons men’s soccer team struggled last season en route to a 4-9-5 record — including going just 3-7-4 in the Western State Conference.

Fortunately for the Cougars, last season’s squad featured just three sophomores, meaning the team should have plenty of experience in 2013.

The team has recruited well within the Santa Clarita Valley this offseason, signing 10 freshman who played for local high schools.

Early on, though, the team is still a work in progress.

Canyons opened the season with a 0-0 scrimmage against crosstown The Master’s college, and is 0-2-2 so far.

Only four players have scored, with Esteven Andrade, Tony Barron, Jamie Bent and Juan Carlos diaz each recording one goal.

Steven Rodriguez and Miguel Lopez have spent time at goalkeeper for Canyons, with each at 0-1-1 on the season.


Women’s Soccer

There are plenty of new faces around the preseason NSCAA No. 7 College of the Canyons women’s soccer team, but the returning faces are pretty familiar.

The Cougars, who have won the Western State South Conference title each of the last two seasons, return just five players (including one redshirt) from last year’s team.

Leading the way among those five is Saugus graduate Stacey Atwater, Hart graduate Allie Leon and West Ranch graduate and goalkeeper K.T. Koury.

Still, the inexperience is an issue the Cougars will need to overcome if they are going to three-peat as conference champions.

“It makes us have to work harder at the beginning for sure,” said COC head coach Justin Lundin. “It was an issue in our first game. We controlled almost the first half of our first game but one mistake — the other team got one shot on goal and it went in. And that’s where our inexperience showed. We were dominating and then we gave up a goal and that’s where we lost our way.”

COC’s season is still young, but the team has already shown signs of growing up quickly.

Newcomers Elise Wassner, Saugus graduate Lizzie Rivas and Moorpark College transfer Allison Oliver are all expected to make an immediate impact.

“I feel like every year now the expectation is to be champions,” Lundin said.

The team is 2-1-1 on the season.


Women’s Volleyball

All-First Team Western State Conference player Kelsea Hundtoft and second-teamer Cory Nua are both gone, but sophomore middle blocker Ashley Pagan returns to lead the way for College of the Canyons.

In addition to Pagan, who was a first teamer in 2012, the team also returns honorable mention athletes setter Jordan Carter and left outside hitter Cassidy Fitzpatrick.

The team will be rife with familiar faces, as the Cougars feature 10 players from Santa Clarita Valley high schools on their roster of 16 players.

So far in 2013, the team is off to a fine start. The Cougars have won their first two games over Victory Valley and Moorpark colleges.

Among many newcomers, freshmen West Ranch graduate Serena LeDuff and Canyon graduate Lauren Underwood have been standouts so far, with each ranking in the top four in the conference in kills (LeDuff is second with 32 and Underwood is fourth with 22).

The Cougars sit at 3-1 on the year.


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