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Ranking the most successful teams from 2000-09

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1. East Union girls golf

Bulletin file photo/

POSTED January 2, 2010 3:41 a.m.

The perception around these parts is that Manteca rules the high school football scene, Sierra reigns in soccer and the softball crown rests on the heads of the Lancers of East Union.

In Ripon, tiny Ripon Christian is big on volleyball and basketball.

These perceptions stem from reality — each school has been real good at those sports.  

Bulletin staff reporters from years past and present have enjoyed chronicling the success stories of various sports programs representing area high schools since the world survived the Y2K scare.

But pound for pound, which is the best? How does the success of Manteca football from 2000-09 stack up against East Union softball?

Here, the Bulletin ranks the decade’s top-10 sports programs from its coverage area — Manteca, Lathrop, Ripon and Weston Ranch.

So tee it up, run through your pre-shot routine and prepare to be surprised.

1. East Union girls golf: The Lancers got off to a great start last decade, capturing consecutive Valley Oak League championships from 2000-02.

The program’s finish was even better.

East Union’s girls golf team capped its impressive decade-long run by earning its fourth straight Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV banner — the most in a row by any Manteca Unified School District sports program — this past fall.

The Lancers also won their third straight VOL title and haven’t lost in 48 regular-season dual matches since late in the 2006 season.

Still not impressed?

East Union’s girls golf team has proven to be one of the five best in the entire Sac-Joaquin Section — regardless of enrollment-based division — in each of the last three seasons, twice placing fifth (2009, 2007) and once taking third (2008) in the Masters Tournament, which pits the best of the best from the Sacramento area down to the northern parts of Merced County.

The third-place finish two years ago was good for a berth to the California Interscholastic Federation/Northern California Golf Association Championships (NorCals), and the Lancers became the first Division-IV team from the Sac-Joaquin Section to achieve that feat.

2. Sierra girls soccer: Since the school’s first varsity season, without seniors, in 1995, Sierra owns 10 of 15 VOL championships.

Six of those titles (2000, 02, 03, 04, 06, 09) have come over the last 10 years, and what a 10 years it’s been for the Timberwolves. From Marti Teuniessen and Cherie Early, to Katelyn Quaresma, to Bri Doty and Nicole Vanni, Sierra has boasted some fantastic goal scorers.

When it comes to the major team sports, only Ripon Christian volleyball matches Sierra girls soccer’s six postseason-finals appearances (2001, 02, 03, 04, 06, 09), and the Timberwolves won two of them back-to-back in 03-04.

This past fall, Sierra took an undefeated record (26-0-2) into the section’s Division IV championship match but was stunned 4-1 by Whitney of Rocklin. Sierra was ranked as high as sixth in the nation by ESPN Rise and No. 2 by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and adidas.  

Vanni produced arguably the best single-season effort by any individual of any sport from the area this decade, scoring 53 goals (third most in the nation and a new Sierra record) against top-caliber competition in non-league, VOL and postseason play.

3. East Union softball: Success in softball is contingent on the talent of a team’s pitcher, and East Union was fortunate to have one great hurler follow another last decade.

Brittany Tachara (2001-04) and Erin Arevalo (2005-08) combined to help EU win five of its six VOL championships since 2000. The Lancers have 15 overall.

Tachara’s Lancers continued the team’s conference dominance from the later stages of the 1990s, as its 2003 title represented its seventh in a row.

Oakdale began its mid-decade reign by ending EU’s streak in 2004, but that was also the year the Lancers twice beat UCLA-bound Angelica Selden and the Vanden Vikings in the championship round to earn a section title.

The title-clinching second game ended with a play at the plate in extra innings, and EU’s seniors had to rush back to school to graduate while still in uniform.

That, however, was East Union’s only section title this decade. The made other championship-round appearances in 2000, 03, 07 and 08. Bear River defeated Arevalo’s Lancers in 2007 and 08 and claimed its third straight section title in 2009 with a win over Oakdale.

4. Manteca football: The Buffaloes’ football team is one of two teams on this list to have just three league championships, but few have matched its consistent level of success. Manteca finished 6-4 or better in every season but one, going 5-5 in 2003.

Manteca won the first of three section titles in 2001 at the Division II level in Joe Miller’s 10th and final year as head coach.

Eric Reis took the torch and led but the Buffaloes’ improbable run to the section’s Division III title game, where it lost to Colfax 33-30 in controversial fashion. Manteca finished third in the VOL and was expected to lose every playoff game it played.

Manteca went on to win VOL and section Division III and IV titles in 2005 and 06 to finish the first decade of the 2000s with three section banners in four finals appearances. The Buffaloes missed the postseason just three times (2000, 2003, 2008), though in 2008 they were a more-than-respectable 8-2.

5. Ripon Christian volleyball: Trans Valley League titles? Who needs TVL titles when you’re the Knights of Ripon Christian volleyball?

Ripon Christian hasn’t won a conference title since 2002, having trouble competing with the likes of rival Escalon and Ripon — public schools more than three times the enrollment size of RC. But against schools of equal size, the Knights are an unstoppable force.

The Division IV competition in the TVL traditionally has RC battle tested for the Division V playoffs, where it has a section-best 13 championships.

In this decade alone, the Knights have seven section titles and head coach Renae Goslinga guided them to the NorCal finals from 2000-02. The rebuilding process after Goslinga’s final year at the helm in 2003 didn’t take long.

Tiger Shelton revived the program and led it to the first of three straight section championship runs in 2007. Ripon Christian’s latest section appearance was its most surprising.

The Knights came into the postseason with a 13-16 overall record and were seeded 10th, but they swept every opponent it faced including No. 1 Bradshaw Christian of Sacramento in the title match.

6. Sierra boys track: Three different head coaches led Sierra’s boys track team to Division III section championships, starting with current athletic director Greg Leland’s 2000 squad.

The Timberwolves won two more section titles under Steve Unterholzner in 2005 and 06 and ran their decade-long total to four in 2008 with Anthony Chapman in charge. Sierra finished the decade with four VOL boys championships.

James Sadler won the section triple jump in 2000. Derek Sinclair and the mile relay team anchored Sierra’s 2008 title, and Sinclair earned individual titles in the shot put and discus throw at the Masters meet.

Standout hurdler Avery White took first in the 2007 300-meter race at Masters and earned three individual titles at divisional in 2006-07.

7. Ripon boys golf: The Indians claimed TVL championships in 2000, 01, 03, 05 and 07 with section Division III titles in 2003 and 07.

Ripon was led by several top-flight individuals. Josh Ramey and Kyle Huckell shared the individual Division III title in 2003, and Ben Van Vuren won in 2004-05. David Kukesh continued the all-Ripon reign in 2006 with his own title.

8. Ripon volleyball
: Larry Keethe led the Indians to the first of their four straight TVL titles in 2006, which was also his first season as head coach. Ripon has five titles from 2000-09, the other coming in 2004.

Christian Brothers of Sacramento is the roadblock that has kept Ripon from reaching ultimate success. Christian Brothers has won five straight Division IV section championships, the last four coming at Ripon’s expense.

Ripon has lost its last five section finals appearances, the other being to Christian Brothers in 1999. The Indians reached the NorCal finals the past two seasons but fell to, you guessed it, Christian Brothers both times.

9. Sierra boys cross country: John Bowers led Sierra back to its earlier success from the decade by leading the team to its fourth VOL title and the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III meet this past fall.

The Timberwolves did most of their damage in the first half of the decade, winning league titles in 2001, 02 and 04. They also won the program’s third of three overall section titles in 2001. The one constant during those early years was four-year standout Jimmy Elam.

10.  Ripon girls soccer: The Indians took the better-late-than-never approach.

The program made its first-ever postseason appearance in 2006 to get the ball rolling, and it picked up steam from there.

Ripon went on to win its first of three straight TVL titles in 2007 and made its first-ever section finals appearance that season but narrowly lost to Hilmar.

Led by Renae McFadden, the state’s leading scorer in 2009 behind Sierra’s Vanni, the Indians captured the team’s first Division V championship with a 1-0 victory over Central Catholic last spring.

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