Sports briefs: chatting with Warren High's AD

DOWNEY - Warren High School has been busy this summer not only hosting summer school, but with sports teams preparing for their upcoming seasons.I had an opportunity to talk to Warren Athletic Director Russ Heicke and ask him a few questions about the upcoming year and respective sports seasons. Heicke mentioned that Coach Starksen's girls' tennis team will be strong as will both Coach Miranda's boys' and Coach Waldron's girls' cross country teams. Heicke also said that Coach Lane's girls' volleyball team will be on the rise and Coach Jimenez's football team should be improved. Heicke mentioned some names to keep an eye on this fall. Boys' cross country runners Ben Gonzalez and newcomer Faustino Diaz should be fun to watch compete as should girls' cross country runner Yajaira Zarate. Heicke also mentioned standout Whitney Pemberton, who excels at both softball and water polo, and water polo standout Destiny Hernandez should have excellent seasons too. Pemberton has been nursing a hip injury but appears poised to return to the pool and diamond. Hernandez is being looked at by Arizona State, amongst other Pacific 12 Conference schools. Senior Gianni Blankenship is another name to remember for the Lady Bears' basketball team. The most noteworthy event for Warren athletics this summer has been the re-surfacing of the gymnasium floor. All Bear athletic teams have made adjustments with practice schedules and are looking forward to returning to the "Cave." There have been no new varsity coaching hires or changes but a few new lower level coaches have been added. As fall sports teams finish their C.I.F. mandated three week "dead periods," the fall sports season will be here before you know it and the Warren Bears will be ready to compete. ** Warren High School girls' volleyball team has been working out this summer as have other Bear athtetic teams but the Lady Bears have not had the luxury of practicing on their home floor due to the re-surfacing project in the gymnasium. Combine that with complying with the C.I.F. mandated three week "dead period" and practices can be challenging. Perhaps volleyball feels the biggest pinch of all athletic teams because not all other off-campus gymnasiums have volleyball accessible facilities. Coach Scott Lane has had to mix things up and keep things interesting to get his team ready for the start of their fall season. Lane lost senior standouts Katherine Trejo, Brianna Cervantes and Madeline Gulck to graduation. Coach Lane and his Lady Bears will be a young team this year looking to keep improving as the season moves on. Warren finished in second place last year in the final S.G.V.L. standings at 8-2. Their two league losses were to cross-town rival and perennial C.I.F. title contender Downey. Coach Lane is looking to improve each game and once again sees Downey as the league team to beat. Coach Lane consistently has his team focus on passing and ball control. In the past, beach workouts in the sand have paid off as have participating at the MAC in Carson against such teams as Poly, Wilson and Bishop Montgomery. Coach Lane maintains that there is a lot of hard work still ahead and building a strong foundation for future years remains a focus for Warren girls' volleyball. ** Downey High School girls' basketball team has had a busy summer. The Lady Vikings participated in the Cantwell and Downey summer leagues in addition to six tournaments in the past six weeks totaling 45 games. Coach Harris maintains that these games are treated as practices where the coaching staff evaluates players and practice game situations. Downey played in the St. Paul, Bishop Amat, Redondo and 3 Best in the West tournaments. The Lady Vikings won two of the Best in the West tournaments including this past weekend by beating South Torrance in the championship game. The Lady Vikings are led by Bukky Adefeso, who was an All-S.G.V.L. performer last year as a junior. Adefeso has had to battle through injuries this summer so other players have had to step up. Coach Harris maintains that "we are very deep and all twelve played important minutes this summer. Different girls step up each game." Harris continued by saying that "Nona Carter and Maribel Coss are returning starters who will need to step up and fill the void left by Kristin Johnson, who graduated in June, and will be playing at Park University in Missouri." Harris said that Coss has had a good summer and will play a greater role in the fall. Other Lady Vikings competing for minutes include Angel Gonzalez (12), Diana Acholonu (11), Alexis Zavala (12), Dona Maklouf (12), Kim Peraza (12) and Ayla Pruneda (10). The Lady Vikings start their season Nov. 29 at home in the Downey Classic Tournament. This tournament will feature a 16 team bracket and will run through Dec. 5. ** Head Coach Jack Williams and the Downey High School football program concluded its five-week football camp this past Sunday at Allan Layne Stadium. The three-hour camp featured 65 campers ages 6-14 who participated in football drills and heard from college players. USC players Jabari Ruffin, Zach Banner, Leo Williams and Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick were all in attendane helping with instruction. Ruffin, a 2012 Downey High School graduate, and Zach Banner both helped with this camp last year. Ruffin will be playing defensive end for the men of Troy this fall, Banner will be playing offensive tackle, Williams will be playing on the defensive line and Cope-Fitzpatrick will be playing tight end. Current Vikings Jorge Reyna, Art Gomez, Eric Carrillo, Conor Hill, Anthony Florido, Anthony Garcia and Jason Thomas were all in attendance helping out as well. Williams said that camp went well and that kids have improved over the five weeks of the camp. Kids worked really hard and had fun. Downey will now turn their attention to finishing their summer practice schedule and getting ready for their first game of the season on Thursday, Aug. 22, against Orange Lutheran. The season is fast approaching and Downey will begin their quest to defend their C.I.F. Southeast Division title.

********** Published: Aug. 1, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 16