Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
The Madera South boys soccer team celebrates the school’s first-ever CIF NorCal State championship with a victory over Sacred Heart on March 2.
1. MSHS boys soccer state champ (March 6) — Stallions etch their names into history
The 2018-19 season was one of firsts for the Madera South Stallions boys soccer team.
The program won its first Central Section Championship in program history after defeating Tulare Union, 3-1, in the title game and the NorCal Div III Championship with a win over Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory-San Francisco, 4-2, — the first state title in Madera South history.
“They believed in themselves from the beginning and wanted to do something special,” Madera South head coach Enrique Garcia said. “First, they were Valley Champions and State just ended up having to be the cherry on top.”
Goals from captain Christian Garcia, David Vasquez, Abraham Vasquez and Arturo Zavala sealed the deal for the Stallions over the Fighting Irish, but Luis Segura also contributed.
The sophomore goalkeeper remained a constant in the back for Madera South with five saves, including an assist.
Although their run culminated with a championship, there were tough tests along the way for the Stallions.
Against the University Red Devils in the NorCal semifinals, the Stallions were pushed to the brink. Madera South came away with a 3-2 victory, with two goals from Angel Avila and one from Garcia, but a quick comeback by the Red Devils tied the game and forced the Stallions to fight for a winner.
They did just that after Avila’s goal in the final minutes guided Madera South into the state championship. The players have shown the same courage and fortitude throughout the season and while the players execute it on the pitch, the ones behind it — head coach Garcia and assistant coach Fernando Delgadillo — preach it.
2. MSHS boys soccer valley champ (Feb. 27)
Some say the best things in life never come easy and the Madera South Stallions boys soccer team proved that notion correct.
From their Valley Championship loss to Dinuba two seasons ago to their playoff elimination last season, the Stallions harnessed their shortcomings over the years to launch the soccer program to new heights.
The top-ranked Stallions eliminated the Tulare Union Tribe 3-1 in the Div. III Central Section Championship at Memorial Stadium. Their championship win catapulted the squad into untouched territory. For the players, coaches and staff — they walk away as legends.
“We’re the greatest right now. We walk with the old Madtown team that came with coach Bobby Gutierrez,” Madera South head coach Enrique Garcia said reflecting on the programs inception. “Bobby is the reason we are here today — rest in peace to him.”
Despite his age and experience, sophomore Carlos Cardenas guided the Stallions throughout the postseason. After a goal and two assists in the semifinals, Cardenas scored the opener to get his side going.
While Cardenas grabbed the headlines, sophomore goalkeeper Luis Segura provided the safety net Madera South needed between the sticks with eight saves.
3. MSHS boys volleyball valley champ (May 11) — Stallions find elusive Valley title
After two grueling sets that saw both team putting balls down, the final point of the night was just a simple ball falling on the floor between two Sunnyside-Fresno players to give the Madera South Stallions boys volleyball team its first Central Section Championship in the program’s history.
The Stallions, seeded No. 1 in Div. II, swept the second-seeded Wildcats in the second-ever Central Section championship game/match held on the Madera South campus.
Playing before a packed house that saw all the bleachers pulled out, the Stallions held off the Wildcats 25-22 in the first set and came back from three set points to win the second set 29-27 before drubbing the Wildcats in the third set 25-17.
The Stallions put down 49 kills in the sweep and Christian Sylvia led the team with 24 of them, almost half. Ruben Jaimez added nine kills and Riley Maciel added six more.
4. Unique Ford Div. II wins cross country champ again
FRESNO — Madera Coyotes girls cross country runner Unique Ford captured her second straight Div. II Central Section Cross Country championship in dominating fashion at Woodward Park.
Ford won by 12 seconds and set a personal record for the second week in a row. In addition, she beat the second place runner by 15 seconds despite running the final two miles after turning her ankle.
“It feels so awesome to PR again. I wanted to take it two years in a row,” she said.
“I’m just curious of what she would have done if she didn’t hurt her ankle,” Madera head coach Russ Stanford said. “She could have broke 18. When you’re running by yourself, it’s hard to get pushed. She’s pretty excited about winning two Valley Championships in a row.”
5. Liberty baseball wins back-to-back Valley championship (May 22)
FRESNO — The Liberty Hawks baseball team leaned on its ace and its ace leaned on its defense to hold off the Minarets Mustangs in 2-1 victory to capture its second straight Div. V Central Section Championship.
The second-seeded Hawks scored a run in the second and third innings and Nathanael Samarin made the runs stand up against top-seeded Minarets at Fresno State’s Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium.
Colton Cardoza scored a run in the second and Quaid Copher scored on an interference call in the third inning for all the runs Samarin needed.
“With a one run lead, anything can happen,” Samarin said. “I was confident in both myself and defense. It was a complete team win and a great way to end my high school career.”
Samarin tossed a complete game and allosed just four hits with a pair of strikeouts. He didn’t walk a batter and allosed just two baserunners to reach scoring position.
6. Liberty boys basketball wins Valley Championship (Feb. 27)
FRESNO — One year ago, Liberty boys basketball head coach Johnny Gonzales lost his mother to cancer. Since then, Gonzales has coached every game with his mom on his heart.
In every win or loss for the past year, Gonzales always felt that his mom was nearby to support or celebrate together.
Gonzales carried that same feeling when he led the Hawks to a Div. V Valley Championship title at Selland Arena on Friday, taking down Firebaugh 65-46.
“For us to actually fulfill our promise feels great,” senior Makani Whiteside said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. For us to say it and go do it, that’s the best thing.”
As he has been throughout the season, Whiteside was once again the centerpiece in the championship game. The senior led the way with 38 points, including going 20-of-22 from the free throw line.
7. Dodgers select Alec Gamboa in ninth round of MLB Draft (June 8)
Madera’s Alec Gamboa was selected in the ninth round of the MLB First-Year Player draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers, completing a journey of baseball that started in the Madera American Little League.
“It’s unbelievable to get drafted,” he said. “It’s unreal. You think about this as a kid in Madera American Little League and you are getting older, it might become a reality some day. You keep working hard and here it is.”
Gamboa, who is a lifelong Los Angeles Dodgers fan, was the Central Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year for Fresno City College and had a circuitous route to the selection.
Gamboa, who was an All-Madera Tribune Most Valuable Player and Pitcher of the Year in 2014 and 2015, helped lead the Coyotes to the Div. II championship in 2013.
He began his collegiate career at Fresno State, but suffered an elbow injury and redshirted his freshman season.
After undergoing Tommy John Surgery in 2016, Gamboa transferred from Fresno State to Fresno City College and had an outstanding 2019 season with the Rams.
Gamboa helped lead the Rams to the CVC title and was 7-1 this season with a 1.96 ERA with 88 strikeouts in 55 innings pitched. Overall, he had a 1.97 ERA with 97 strikeouts in 64 innings.
8. Coyotes add another year to CMAC streak (March 9)
Madera Coyote wrestling coach Joe Romine makes sure to keep athletics director John Fernandez busy at the end of each wrestling season.
For the past nine years, Romine has added a County/Metro Athletic Conference championship to the banners inside Joe Flores Gym and this year was no exception after the Coyotes went undefeated throughout the CMAC dual meet season.
In a different format this year, the CMAC didn’t have an end-of-the-year tournament to determine league champions. Instead, the league went to an All-League voting format and six Coyotes were named first team All-CMAC out of 14 weight classes. In addition, head coach Romine was voted the first CMAC Coach of the Year.
Senior Giovanni Madrigal (113 pounds), senior Cristian Solorio (120), senior Rudy Paredes (132), junior David Diaz (138), senior Oscar Ruiz (145) and senior Alex Vaca (195) were named first team All-CMAC.
With a ninth championship, Romine still doesn’t think he belongs in the same sentence as Madera wrestling coaching legends Vern Brooks, Al Kiddy and Corky Napier. Although winning nine straight league championships is a first in the program’s history.
9. MHS GVB wins back-to-back CMAC titles (Oct. 26)
In a battle between the top two teams in County/Metro Athletic Conference, the Madera Coyotes girls volleyball team swept the visiting San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno Panthers on Senior Night in Joe Flores Gym.
With the win, the Coyotes improved to 8-1 in CMAC, while dropping the Panthers to 7-2 with one match remaining. Madera has reeled off eight straight wins after a CMAC-opening loss to Madera South.
“I really didn’t know what to expect at the start of the season, but they exceeded my expectations for sure,” Madera head coach Meghan Haas said. “Tonight, it was just great team play and it was really fun to watch.”
The Coyotes completed their run in the CMAC with a nine-match winning streak after sweeping Edison-Fresno it their final regular season match.
10. Andrews and Alvarez earn college honors (May 25- Alvarez, Dec. 14- Andrews)
• Former Madera Coyotes and Fresno Pacific University shortstop Tristen Alvarez has been named to the National Collegiate Writers Association (NCBWA) All-West Region Honorable Mention Team.
Alvarez, a senior, hit a career-best .324 with 13 doubles and a team-high 33 RBI, recording 16 multi-hit games and a 12-game hitting streak along the way. Defensively, Alvarez was among the best in the entire West Region, committing just six errors for the year and helping the Sunbirds turn 25 double plays in the middle of the diamond.
• UC Merced women’s volleyball graduating seniors Dominique Andrews was named 2019 NAIA honorable mention All-American.
Andrews (Madera South) earns her second straight honorable mention All-American honor.
Andrews was also named to the All-California Pacific Conference First Team and landed on the AVCA Southwest Region team. She was also an AVCA honorable mention All-American.
Andrews, an outside hitter, highlighted the Bobcats offense with 353 kills in 2019, 3.67 kills/set which was good for second in program history. Andrews had double figure kills in 22 of 28 matches and at least 15 kills in eight matches. Andrews also finished with a career- high .249 hitting percentage, 49 digs, a career-high 10 solo blocks (39 total) and a career-high five service aces. Other accolades for Andrews this year include recording her 1,000th career kill and earning a pair of California Pacific Conference Player of the Week awards.
Andrews finished her four-year career ranked first in program history in kills per set (3.00), second in total kills (1,056) and third in blocks (178).
11. Madera Babe Ruth All-Stars win state (July 13)
The Madera Babe Ruth 15-year-old All-Star team opened the Central California State Tournament with a loss to host team Santa Maria.
From there, Madera won six straight game in four days, including two to defeat previously undefeated Delano to capture the state championship in Santa Maria’s Elks Field.
Madera recorded a 4-2 win over Delano to force a championship game. Madera scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning for the 5-4 victory.
Previously, Madera needed a walk-off 7-6 revenge victory over Santa Maria to advance to the finals.
Madera started the run with a 3-2 victory over Northwest Bakersfield in the loser’s bracket. They eliminated Lompoc, 12-4, and Reedley, 8-4, before battling Santa Maria.
The win was the second for this group of All-Stars managed by Danny Cosgrove. They previously won the 13-year-old State Championship.
Charlie Monterrosa was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player while Murf Gray and David Ramirez also earned All-Tournament honors.
12. MNLL 12s win Section 7 title (July 17)
PORTERVILLE — In the Section 7 championship game against host Porterville, the Madera National Little League 10-12-year-old All-Star team had plenty of obstacles to overcome and it took a ninth inning sacrifice fly to win and send them to the State Championship in Castro Valley.
Like he did in Madera National’s last victory, Paul Stroemer came through in the clutch. His sixth-inning, two-out single gave Madera National a 3-2 victory over Porterville to send Madera National to the Section 7 title game.
With a runner at third, Stroemer hit a deep fly ball to right that easily scored Joel Arellano, who doubled, from third for the tournament-winner in a 6-5 victory.
Madera National had a proverbial hill to climb in that game. Porterville beat Madera National, handily, the previous night to force the penultimate game. Madera National traveled to Porterville for the fourth time in five games and faced a hostile crowd. On top of that, Porterville’s best player returned from a trip to New York with his travel team to start on the mound.
Madera National persevered and came through with the win despite the obstacles. They forced the ace out of the game in the fifth inning, Aiden Medina silenced the pro-Porterville crowd with a three-run, bases clearing double to tie the game and Stroemer sent Madera National celebrating into the night.
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Note: Dates are when the articles appeared in The Madera Tribune.