Rice rides MVP showing to NCAAs

Atwater graduate leads UCSD swimmers to title

slynch@mercedsunstar.comFebruary 20, 2013 

LA MIRADA -- After an impressive junior season -- which included a trip to the U.S. Olympic time trials last summer -- Adam Rice entered his senior year at UC San Diego with big expectations.

So far, so good.

The former Atwater High star helped lead the Tritons men's swim and dive team to a fifth straight Pacific Collegiate Swimming & Diving Conference championship last week.

Rice helped the 800-yard freestyle team set conference and school records and took gold in the 200 and 400 individual medleys. He added a second-place showing in the 400 freestyle relay and was named the 2013 PCSC Male Swimmer of the Year as well as the PCSC Male Championship MVP.

Rice will next compete March 6-9 in the NCAA Division 2 National Championships in Birmingham, Ala.

Realizing a dream

With a few classes to finish up, Tyrell Vinson missed out on the pageantry of national signing.

Still, after a stellar sophomore campaign with the Merced College football team, it was just a matter of time before some schools came calling for the speedy wide receiver. It happened even sooner than head coach Bob Casey predicted.

Vinson signed his letter of intent to play at Division 1 South Alabama earlier this week. He should have an immediate opportunity to make an impact on a Jaguars squad that was just 2-11 a year ago.

Vinson finished eighth in Northern California with 887 yards on 50 catches and six touchdowns. He also proved himself a talented return man, averaging 26 yards a kick return.

Dog day afternoon

Derick Velazquez took a loss in his Fresno State debut last week.

The former Merced College and Los Banos star started the second game of the Bulldogs' three-game series with UC Santa Barbara. Velazquez was solid, allowing four runs on seven hits in six complete innings, but received no run support in the 8-1 loss. The sophomore struck out five and walked three.

No Southern comfort

It's been a long time since the Merced College baseball team entered Central Valley Conference play with a losing record, but that's where the Blue Devils (3-5) found themselves on Tuesday afternoon after an 0-3 trip to Southern California last week.

Both Rio Hondo and Cypress entered the season ranked in the SoCal top six, but head coach Nate Devine can't be pleased with a couple late inning implosions or that MC was outscored 15-4 in the three games.

Tourney time

The UC Merced men's and women's basketball teams will make their California Pacific Conference Tournament debuts tonight.

The UC men enter the tournament as the three seed and having won five straight -- the longest streak in school history. The Bobcats will host No. 6 Pacific Union College. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. at Hostetler Court.

The Golden Bobcat women enter as the five seed having lost three straight to close the regular season. They'll travel to No. 4 Cal Maritime, a team that beat them only by an average of seven points in their two regular-season meetings. That's also a 7:30 p.m. tip.

On the dotted line

The UC Merced men's volleyball team got its first three commitments signed last week.

Head coach David Noble is very pleased with the initial make up of his team after adding 6-foot-5 opposite hitter Daniel Sabzehzar, 6-foot-5 middle blocker Brennon Ng and 6-foot libero Matthew Aguirre.

The men's volleyball team will begin competing as an NAIA independent in the spring of 2014.

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