Tending Goals After Tragedy in San Juan

AvilaBy Megan Cuniff, OC Register

For Cinthia and Diana Avila, it still seems like a bad dream.

And it happened so fast. One moment their mother sat in her bedroom, nursing a crippling headache. Minutes later, emergency crews whisked her out of her San Juan Capistrano apartment into an ambulance. She arrived at Mission Hospital in a coma, and she never woke up.

Nearly four months have passed, but for the sisters, time seemed to freeze on that day.

“It still feels like it was all a dream and it didn’t happen,” said Diana, 25, and now 14-year-old Cinthia’s legal guardian. “Like she’s just going to walk in the door one day.”

But the sisters aren’t alone. Cinthia’s former soccer coach, Clyde Blackwelder, has set up a trust fund and is working to organize a network of community members to support Cinthia as she tries to do what no one in her family has ever before done: earn a college degree.

They’re off to a great start.

Carlos Solorzano, whose daughter Raquel is Cinthia’s best friend, secured Cinthia a scholarship to JSerra Catholic High School, where he teaches Spanish. Cinthia began her career as a Lion in August. She loves studying science and is interested in a career in nursing. She plans to try out for soccer this month.

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Three JSerra Alums Achieve Eagle Rank

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Three of the five recent Eagle Scout rankings are graduates of JSerra’s class of 2013. Daniel Bondi, Xavier Puga and Andrew Wasilewski each completed the rank while as high school seniors.

“Scouting means to me a time of growth as a young man on the road to become the man I am today,” said Daniel Bondi.

“I’ve learned that with hard work comes great accomplishment and that the right mind set will get you far in life,” said Xavier Puga.

“The pain of discipline is short term, but the pain of regret lasts a lifetime; and that if you do something that scares you everyday your life can never be boring,” said Andrew Wasilewski.

Three have been together in Scouting since first grade, and all came together by fifth grade, when they bridged into Boy Scout Troop 724 – sponsored by the Rotary Club in San Juan Capistrano. Of the original 14 members of Troop 724, six reached the Eagle Scout rank.

After graduation, they celebrated their achievement together, along with families and friends, at a joint Eagle Court of Honor on July 21 at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center. Mayor John Taylor presented each of the boys a special commendation from the City Council. They are among the select few achieving the rank – in the Orange County Council, BSA in 2012, 743 young men attained the rank, among 28,000 youth served.

SCOUTING EXPERIENCE

In addition to earning five previous ranks and at least 21 merit badges, each Eagle envisioned, negotiated, planned, financed and led a service project to improve the community.

Bondi led the construction of two large, portable cabinets for Family Assistance Ministries in San Clemente, storing clothing for the homeless to use for job interviews. Puga led the assembly of “urban survival” backpacks for the homeless, packed with basic essentials. Wasilewski led the installation of a fence protecting another section of the vernal pool at The Reserve.

Alumnus Ali Celentano Named UAA and ECAC South Athlete of the Week

celentano_hs_srJSerra alumnus and Carnegie Mellon University junior Ali Celentano  was named University Athletic Association (UAA) Athlete of the Week as well as Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) South Volleyball Athlete of the Week.

Celentano garners the award after leading the Tartans to a 5-0 record last week to improve on the team’s best start since 2004, as the Tartans are now 8-1 overall.

Celentano recorded double-digit kills in four matches last week with an average hitting percent of .340 in the five victories. The junior now has recorded double digit kills in seven matches this season.

Celentano had season-high 18 kills against Geneva while hitting a season-high .438. She also hit above .400 against Capital. The junior right side hitter also recorded a career-high four service aces and a season-high five block assists against John Carroll.

Big Plays Provide Power for JSerra in Win Over Dolphins

IMG_9931By Steve Breazeale, Dana Point Times

The JSerra football team may not have had possession for very long against Dana Hills but when they did, they made it count.

In a nonleague game filled with fumbles and penalties, the Lions were able to produce enough big plays to come away with a 28-12 victory on September 27 at Saddleback College.

On JSerra’s (4-0) first play from scrimmage, senior quarterback Nick Robinson connected with senior receiver Dante Pettis for an 80-yard touchdown pass, igniting the large homecoming crowd in attendance. It took 14 seconds for the Lions to get on the board.

The Dolphins (1-4) would answer with a drive that ate up five minutes of the clock, but not without a little help. After being forced to punt, JSerra fumbled the return and the Dolphins recovered, giving them prime field position. Facing a fourth-and-one during the ensuing drive at the Lions five-yard line, Dana Hills quarterback Mac Vail dove ahead and got the yardage the team needed. Senior running back Justin Scott would finish it off with a four-yard touchdown run. A blocked point after kept the Lions up 7-6.

The Lions would fumble again four minutes later, but the Dolphins could not capitalize.

After both teams were hindered by multiple penalties to close out the half, bringing the game speed down to a crawl, JSerra junior senior back Casey Eugenio broke for a 52-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that saw him bob, weave and avoid his way to the end zone. The Lions lead never came into doubt from then on.

Junior defensive end Mitchell Deamon returned a Dolphins fumble 42 yards for a score and Robinson would toss a 25-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Zak to close out the scoring for JSerra.

The Lions will travel to play Trabuco Hills on October 4. Dana Hills will host Irvine the same day.

“We did enough to win the game as far as points are concerned. We hung in there defensively enough to keep them from winning the game but we have to improve between now and next week if we’re going to beat Trabuco Hills,” JSerra head coach Jim Hartigan said. “A week ago we had a decent amount of penalties too so we have to clean that up.”

For more on the Lions, visit Facebook.

Baseball: All Eyes Will be on Sophomore Chase Strumpf

Strumpf after winning MVP in Colombia
Strumpf after winning MVP in Colombia

By Eric Sondheimer, LA Times

It has been a little over a month since sophomore Chase Strumpf of JSerra returned from Colombia with a gold medal after helping the USA 15U baseball team win the Pan American championships.

It was another achievement for a young player who keeps raising expectations. Before he even played in his first high school game last season, he accepted a scholarship to UCLA. Then he became a starter for the Lions. And things keep getting better.

Strumpf is ranked No. 3 in the nation among the class of ’16 prospects by Perfect Game. He’s appeared in Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd after hitting five home runs in eight games in Colombia to earn tournament MVP honors.

“It was amazing being able to wear USA on your chest,” he said of his USA 15U experience last weekend at halftime of the JSerra-Buena Park football game. “It was the best feeling in my life. I’ll never forget it.”

Strumpf has already made a big jump from freshman to sophomore year based on his summer. He’s stronger and has more power. He got to see Trinity League pitching as a freshman. It’s a little scary to think what he’ll look like by his senior year.

JSerra Captures Sage Hill’s Prep Classic

TennisJSerra won the round-robin Prep Classic Invitational, hosted by Sage Hill, over the weekend, taking all three matches it played.

The Lionsranked No. 9 in the county, defeated St. Ignatius of San Francisco, 5-4, Sage Hill, 7-2 and Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas, 5-4 to win the tournament for the first time. Jadie AcideraZoe KaffenNatalie Wekand Lauren Burke were named to the all-tournament team for the Lions.

All matches were played at The Tennis Club in Newport Beach. The matches were played in college-scoring format, with five singles matches and four doubles matches.

Here were the tournament’s final standings:

Champion: JSerra (3-0)

Second place: St. Ignatius of San Francisco (2-1)

Third place: Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas (1-2)

Fourth place: Sage Hill (0-3)

 For more on the Lady Lions Tennis team visit them on Facebook.

Unbeaten JSerra Dominates Buena Park

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Dante Pettis

JSerra’s football team believes this is the year its program will have a breakthrough and become a playoff contender in the Trinity League.

The Lions looked like that kind of team at times against Buena Park in a nonleague game on Friday night at Saddleback College, but at other times their sloppy play and penalties allowed the Coyotes to fight their way back into the game.

JSerra running back Casey Eugenio exploded for TD runs of 4, 14 and 40 yards in a 2-minute, 12-second span in the third quarter to bury Buena Park, 52-13. The entire fourth quarter was played with a running clock.

“We’re fighting to be one of the best in the (Trinity) League and all of Orange County,” said Eugenio, who finished with 178 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries.

JSerra, which cracked the county top 10 at No. 9 this week for the first time in school history, looked like a playoff contender when Eugenio scored on a 29-yard run on the Lions first drive of the game.

Dante Pettis blocked a punt and scored on a 3-yard return and then caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from Nick Robinson to make it 21-0 with 4:01 left in the opening quarter.

The Lions slowed down in the second, and the Coyotes seized the opportunity to get back into the game with touchdown runs of 2 and 1 yards by county rushing leader Deven Boston to close the gap to 21-13 at the half.

But JSerra’s defense put the clamps on Boston for most of the game, holding him to 57 yards on 13 carries, and Eugenio’s third-quarter eruption finished the Coyotes.

“I think we’re going to be one of the top (teams in the Trinity League),” Eugenio said. “Everyone doubts us and stuff, but I think we’ll be one of the top.”

Lions coach Jim Hartigan said his team has some things to shore up before league play like the 10 penalties for 105 yards against Buena Park.

“We can’t get used to that in the Trinity League,” Hartigan said. “We won’t be able to turn it back on in the Trinity League. We have to make sure that we can maintain these leads and make sure that we play solid on defense, stay consistent and there’s some things we need to talk about.

“We have to clean up our penalties and keep drives alive. You’re not going to be able to play catch-up in the Trinity, so we have some things to clean up in the next couple of weeks.”

For more on the Lions visit JSerra Football on Facebook.