Kendall Thomas wasn’t sure what to expect this season. The El Capitan High freshman was joining a new team with a new coach.
Thomas and the Gauchos still managed to build on the program’s winning tradition, earning a share of the Central California Conference championship with Buhach Colony.
As the top offensive and defensive player on El Capitan, Thomas was named the CCC Most Valuable Player.
“I was really thankful to have the opportunity we had this year,” Thomas said. “Coming into my freshman year I didn’t know what to expect this season. I hadn’t played with my new teammates and I didn’t know who our coach would be. I was fortunate to have a great team that supported me and a great coach that also supported me.”
Andy Seto took over Kristie Dunham this season as the girls water polo coach this season. It didn’t take long for Seto to recognize Thomas’ talent.
“I had heard a lot about her and I was excited to work with her, Alexis (Smith) and Evie (Mumford),” Seto said. “I got the job so late it was hard to evaluate, but I saw her pass and shoot a few times this summer and I knew right away Kendall was a great player.”
Buhach Colony’s Erin McBride was named the Offensive Player of the Year after helping lead the Thunder to their first championship in school history. Buhach Colony and El Capitan finished the season tied atop the CCC at 11-1 with the two teams splitting their two games.
Golden Valley senior Grace Mello was named the Defensive Player of the Year. Mello led the Cougars with 95 goals and 150 steals this season. Pitman’s Nellie Screen was selected as the Goalie of the Year.
“It’s an honor to carry on what Hope Stokes was able to do last season,” Thomas said. “There’s great players at Buhach Colony, Turlock, Merced and all the schools. It’s great to know I’m up at their level.”
The all-CCC first team selections were Mumford, Smith, Madeline Hall (Merced), Callie Norton (Atwater), Nicole Groteguth (Turlock), Gabriel Sotomayor (Pitman) and Pam Solano (Buhach Colony).
The second team was comprised of Katarina Capulong (Merced), Kaitlyn Cornel (Turlock), Ashland Alcorn (Buhach Colony), Grace Miller (El Capitan), Liberty Hamilton (Golden Valley), Marlo Carpenter (El Capitan), Madalyn Lotz (Merced) and Leah Trainer (Pitman).
All-CCC Girls Golf
El Capitan’s Lauren Gudgel was named the Central California Conference MVP after posting the lowest average score this season in the conference. Gudgel won the conference midseason tournament and tied for the lead at the end of the year tourney.
Buhach Colony’s Maddie Freitas and Selena Thao were named to the all-CCC first team. They were joined by Turlock’s Preeth Singh, Ainslie Coughran and Courtney Malmberg and El Capitan’s Lauren Miller.
Earning second-team honors were Merced’s Phoebe Arista, Kaitlyn Neely, Turlock’s Sarah Musselman and Brooke Adams, Buhach Colony’s Caitlin Garcia, Atwater’s Katlyn Lawrence and Golden Valley’s Hannah Boelter.