Beavers across different games prep for championship opportunities
The temperatures are dropping and the stakes are rising, meaning the American River College athletic department is gearing up for the Northern California playoffs and State championships.
Rick Anderson, recently deemed California cross-country men’s Coach of the Year, prepares to help lead the men’s cross-country team in its efforts to repeat as state champions. They finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the state. The men also won the Big 8 conference for the sixth season in the row.
The men will be led by sophomores Matt Airola and Will Melton, as well as freshmen Luis Luna, Jacob Huston and Will Reyes who all have posted strong times throughout the season.
“We train as a pack,” said Anderson. “In a lot of the workouts I have, Matt and Luis run together and I have the next four guys run together. Then I have the rest of the team run together and that way, when they race, they’re not used to anyone running away from them.”
In the nine matches the men have run this season, they have finished in the top ten 29 times.
“If the guys hit the time that I’ve given them this year then no one will touch us,” said Anderson.
For the first time since 1967, the American River College football team clinched the Valley Conference title with a 52-13 win over Sierra College on Nov. 10 at Beaver Stadium.
The Beavers will travel to San Francisco on Nov. 24 to play in the San Francisco City College Bowl in a rematch with City College of San Francisco. The Rams defeated ARC 52-33 on Sept. 29, ending a 22-game win streak for the Beavers.
The winner will advance to the California College Athletic Association Football State Championship game on Dec. 1 at the home site of the Southern California champion.
Following an 11-0 season in 2011, the Beavers moved up to the “A” tier in community college football this season with a Valley title and a shot at the state championship as goals.
“For the first time in the conference, we really stepped up big,” ARC Head Coach Jerry Haflich said.
Despite a two-game losing streak, including the conference opener at San Joaquin Delta on Oct. 13, the Beavers won three straight games heading into the season finale.
“The chance to get another shot is good,” said Haflich.
The Beavers’ dominating performance against Sierra has given players an added boost of confidence going into the title game.
“I think we have the advantage with how we played in this one and how we have finished lately,” sophomore safety Zane Petty said. “We are going to come in way ready and not start out slow.”
After a strong regular season, the ARC women’s soccer team finished with an overall record of 11-5-3 and a division record of 7-4-3. The team looks to make a run during the playoffs.
Despite finishing the season with back-to-back ties against division rivals Cosumnes River College (1-1) and San Joaquin Delta College (3-3), the team and Head Coach Paul Arellanes have a positive outlook for the post season.
“There’s not a team out there that I have seen that is better than us. We just have to play well on our day,” said Arellanes. “It’s like I told them, ‘we don’t have to be the best team in the state, we just have to be the best team on the field.’”
The women have had strong showings by sophomore goalie Heather Derossett, who allows a little over a goal a game, as well as freshmen forwards Alexis Wallace (nine goals and six assists) and Ceci Velasquez, who led the team in goals (11 goals and three assists).
The Big 8 conference sent seven of its eight teams to the playoffs this season, including the Beavers who are ranked No. 15 in the state and No. 17 in the nation.
“I always tell people (Big 8 is) the best conference in the state,” said Arellanes.
The women kicked off the postseason at home versus Ohlone College on Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. The women won the match 2-0, both goals were scored by Ceci Velazquez.
Dominant performances throughout the season have helped ARC claim the No. 4 seed in the NorCal playoffs.
In the past 10 regular season games, the women have gone 8-2. During the streak, the Beavers beat division rival and state-ranked No. 14 Sierra College.
“The biggest advantage this team has is they’re extremely motivated and that’s hard to find in November,” Head Coach Ashlie Hain said.
Sophomore Bailey Humes has led the offensive attack for the women. She has tallied 486 assists that have led to kills this season. Katie Christner leads the team in kills; she accounts for 242 of the 665 the team has had. Nicole Hareland leads the team in blocks with 24 and Hillary Horton has 182 digs.
“If we could serve harder and get the ball to Nicole Hareland a little more often, she’s pretty unstoppable,” said Hain.
The team finished the season ranked No. 7 in the state. The team will host the first two-playoff matches of the season on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. and the second round of the playoffs will be held on Saturday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m.
These four teams may be from different sporting realms, but one thing all the teams can agree upon is something freshman volleyball middle hitter Katie Christner put best.
“I want to win state,” said Christner.