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SJS nominates 3 local coaches for state award
Bulletin girls tennis 2020
Sierra High girls tennis coach Ed Melfort holds up the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship banner - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin

Three coaches from area high schools have been nominated for a top award, the California Interscholastic Federation announced Thursday.

Michele Fay (Sierra cheer), Ed Melfort (Sierra girls tennis) and Chris Musseman (Ripon football) are among the 22 from the Sac-Joaquin Section who are up for the National Federation of State High School Associations California State Coach of the Year award. 

Nominees were selected by each of the CIF's 10 section offices — Central, Central Coast, Los Angeles City, North Coast, Northern, Oakland, Sac-Joaquin, San Diego, San Francisco and Southern.

“The CIF would like to thank and honor these well-deserving coaches for all they do for the student-athletes of California s their efforts go far beyond the court, field, mat, track or pool deck,” CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti said in a statement.

All three local coaches enjoyed historic seasons for the 2019-20 academic year.

Fay, aided by assistants Chabryel Snaer and Char Hernandez, oversaw a Sierra cheer squad that placed first overall in the Universal Cheerleaders Association Cheer Camp while earning the Leadership Award. The Timberwolves were also invited to the New Year's Day Citrus Bowl pregame show in Florida, and 13 members got to perform. 

Last November, then-senior Anasity Anaya signed with William Jessup University for STUNT, becoming the first student-athlete in the district to do so. 

Melfort and Sierra's girls tennis team made an unexpected run to the SJS Division IV championship. The Timberwolves ended the regular season in a third-place tie in the Valley Oak League and were awarded a playoff spot via coinflip. They took full advantage of the opportunity, knocking off previously-undefeated Mountain House in the opener.

Sierra later upset league rival and No. 1-seeded Central Catholic in the title match, 5-4 — the Raiders twice beat the T'wolves by the same score over the regular season. It's Sierra's first section title in the sport. 

Musseman led Ripon to its second SJS football championship but upped the ante in the state playoffs. The Indians went on to claim regional and state titles in Division 4-AA with their dramatic 31-28 victory over Highland of Palmdale. The game was decided on Nathan Valdez's 36-yard field goal on the suddenly rain-soaked Stouffer Field in the final minute. 

Ripon was named the Cal-Hi Sports Small Schools Team of the Year, while Musseman earned Small Schools State Coach of the Year. Musseman missed an opportunity to pull off a coaching double in the spring season, which was shut down by the COVID-19 outbreak. His boys golf team, which also starred quarterback Nico Ilardi, had high expectations for the season.