Oakmont track and field has big expectations in CVC
Oakmont High School’s track team has had a successful recent history with a few tough seasons interspersed. This season looks to be a turnaround with coach Ryan Nugent predicting his teams will be among the top two in the Capital Valley Conference after the Vikings struggled last year in the Sierra Foothill League.
Nugent said the squad has more than doubled in size after giving up many points in the SFL due to its lack of numbers.
Senior star Jazmin Harper returns after signing with Stanford and will race in the 400, her main event, and the relays.
Harper hopes to hit a personal best and cut her 400 time to below 55 seconds.
“It’s hard work, but the reward in the end is amazing,” she said.
A big change for Oakmont this season is that the CVC doesn’t have JV girls teams, so freshmen and sophomores will compete at the varsity level in league meets.
“It’s a huge difference from last year. Just the coaches’ expectations is to have good sportsmanship and good team spirit and working hard out there,” Harper said.
Oakmont has other key components in junior Edixon Puglisi. Nugent said he’s expected to qualify for the state meet in either the mile or the 800 and maybe both.
Derek Booth is a 300-meter hurdler who transferred from Chico-Pleasant Valley and is one of the best hurdlers in the state.
“He’s going to come in and probably break our school record this year and make it to the state meet as well,” Nugent said.
Karlie Garcia will step up and run the mile and two mile. Nugent said she was a national finals qualifier in cross country last year as a freshman.
With strength and firepower tucked in throughout his team, Nugent believes the Vikings will do well this season.
“Our intentions are to win league in all three divisions,” Nugent said. “Whether that’s realistic, we’ll find out. We’ll see how that comes together. We don’t have a very big group of freshman boys right now, so we’ll see about the JV boys. In varsity boys and varsity girls, we should be top two unless we lose some key people to injuries.”
OAKMONT SPRING SPORTS AT A GLANCE
Six of 10 players on the roster are freshmen for an Oakmont team that’s off to a 1-7 overall start and 0-1 in the CVC.
Sophomore Tiara Turner, an All-CVC first-team selection last season, is the Vikings’ ace and has 25 strikeouts and a 2.60 ERA in 35 innings.
Freshman Savannah Loomis was hitting .429 with a double, two triples and two home runs through eight games.
Oakmont has several varsity players returning from last year’s team.
“We work hard, and I expect good things from our team,” coach Kevin Chorjel said. “We’ll have a much more competitive season.”
Singles looks solid for Oakmont, notably Zach Paiva. The Vikings are working on doubles, though the teams of Chris Dale and Sri Mandava, Miguel Yanez and Kevin Salatti, and Austin Somers and Vaerun Ved swept their Rio Linda competition in a recent CVC match.
The Vikings were battling injuries with a fairly new starting lineup early this season.
There are returning players but not starters from last season, coach Sondra Myles said.
“We have moments of glory, and then we have a few lapses in our formation and learning how to play together,” she said. “We haven’t played together really.”
The six-game preseason was a blessing for Oakmont, which split its first two CVC matches.
Coach Jaime Olson described this as a “rebuilding year” for Oakmont, which has four seniors on the squad. With 20 athletes on the team, the Vikings are working on building up their underclassmen.
“We have a really strong sophomore class with the relay,” Olson said. “We’re one person short in the 400 free relay. We have three really fast swimmers; just need one more.”
The Vikings have a new coach in Art Hickey.
“What I hope to bring is an ability to motivate the swimmers to work hard,” he said. “What I arrive with is a willingness to work hard and a readiness to teach what I know.”
Hickey said the team has more than doubled in size from last season, with a large group of freshmen and sophomores. Many have never swam competitively. There are no seniors.
Sophomores Hannah Woster, Miranda Green, Brigid Wheeler and Hannah Quitugua will compete on varsity for the most part.
Like all other teams in the area, poor weather led to cancelled games and practices for Oakmont (5-2).
“There’s a lot of really good camaraderie among the players,” coach Dean Perkins said. “We have four pitchers with experience coming back, and we’ve got three starters in the outfield coming back.”
The team that finished sixth in the SFL last season hopes to compete in the CVC. The Vikings lost to Casa Roble 13-8 in their conference opener Friday.
“This is a baseball league. Out of all their sports, they are a baseball league,” Perkins said of the CVC. “Football is not too far away, but these are all teams that have been in the playoffs eight to 12 times in the last 20 years. So it’s going to be a very tough league.”
Oakmont has a seasoned team with eight seniors. The team that was 9-12 last season, including 3-5 in the SFL, is off to an 8-7 overall start this year and 3-0 in the CVC competing against new foes Pioneer, River Valley, Rio Linda, Del Campo and Christian Brothers.