Top 10 sports stories of 2008
10. Derek Sinclair
9. Roberto Alvarez
8. Lathrop High
7. East Union baseball
6. East Union golf
5. Ripon/RC volleyball
4. Justin Graham/Mike Nunnally
3. Spencer Arroyo
2. Amy Haapanen
1. To be announced Friday
5. Ripon serves up history
Ripon is known for its abundance of almond orchards. Now it’s be known for its wealth of volleyball talent.
The Ripon and Ripon Christian volleyball teams made historic postseason runs this past fall.
After Ripon swept its rival in three matches en route to winning its third straight Trans Valley League championship, the Indians made all the way to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV finals only to lose to Sacramento power Christian Brothers for the third time.
Meanwhile, RC swept four straight matches in winning its 12th Division V title — the most won by a single program in section history.
But both teams had greater goals in mind as they entered the Northern California Regional Championships.
Pacific-bound middle blocker Andrea Terpstra and her Knights advanced as far as the second round, where they lost to top-seeded St. Francis of Watsonville. RC setter Candice Adema was named the Bulletin’s All-Area Most Valuable Player.
Ripon went a step further, upsetting Northern California’s top-seeded Division IV team, Menlo, in a five-game thriller to again meet arch-nemesis Christian Brothers in the finals. The Kirsten Duren-led Indians nearly advanced to the state championships, taking an early two-game lead before falling to the Falcons for the seventh time in three years.
4. Former area stars collide
Former Ripon High star guard Justin Graham earned back-to-back Bulletin All-Area Most Valuable Player honors right after former East Union standout center Mike Nunnally did the same.
On Feb. 24, the two finally met at Pacific’s Spanos Center. On one side was Nunnally and his Tigers, who defeated Graham and San Jose State 84-75 in a hotly contested non-conference contest. Graham finished with 15 points, while Nunnally had five points and four rebounds before fouling out.
Their paths went different directions after that night.
Graham went on to piece together one of the finest freshman seasons ever at San Jose State, averaging 10.9 points and 2.8 assists.
Nunnally finished with 7.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game but was later one of three players excused from the team for an alleged sexual assault.
3. All in the family
On June 9, East Union graduate Spencer Arroyo became the third member of his family to be selected in the Major League Baseball first-year player draft.
Arroyo was scooped up by the Philadelphia Phillies with the 946th overall pick in the 31st round and was convinced to sign when offered a more lucrative-than-usual contract for a second-day draftee.
After completing his sophomore season at Modesto Junior College, where he compiled a sparkling 2.22 ERA, teams shied away from drafting the lanky 6-foot, 3-inch southpaw hurler because he had just signed with Cal.
Arroyo wrapped up his first season in the minor leagues with a 5.53 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings.
His brother, Jack, who led East Union to its only Sac-Joaquin Section title in 1998, was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 18th round in 2004. Their father, Rudy, was taken in the fourth round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1970.
2. Manteca’s first Olympic hopeful of new millennium
The well-traveled Amy Haapanen — a former three-sport standout at East Union and three-event program record holder and NCAA All-American for UC Santa Barbara’s women’s track and field team — had her sights set on the Beijing Olympic Games over the summer.
Haapanen now resides in Ames, Iowa so that she can train with her college coach John Dagata, who accepted a job to head Iowa State’s track team.
She qualified to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials at the University of Oregon’s famed Hayward Field in the hammer throw and entered the competition the 11th-seeded mark.
Haapanen ended up two spots shy of advancing to the final round, finishing 14th out of 23 while topping out at 207 feet, 8 inches. Her personal best is 213-10.