Equestrian team makes great strides

The SC Equestrian finished strong after the first two shows of the school year on October 28 and 29. With 69 schools participating and over 175 riders, four members of the SC Equestrian Team excelled amongst stiff competition.

Eleanor DeForest, (6th), Helena DeForest (8th), Cate Lewin (7th) and Lucy Russell (11th) each rode well. Cate and Helena carried the team on the first day, each placing third overall in Novice dressage and Freshman divisions, respectively. Eleanor and Lucy pulled through on day two, placing third overall in the Novice division and champion in Varsity dressage, respectively.  As a result of their combined efforts, Sierra Canyon is tied for 4th out of 69 schools in the high point rider category.

The next shows are March 23 and 24, 2024 at Hansen Dam Horse Park. With more team members likely to compete, we are hopeful to do even better and improve on our current standing.

Sierra Canyon Cheer goes COMPETITIVE!

Sierra Canyon Cheer goes COMPETITIVE!

The Sierra Canyon school in Chatsworth has long been well-known for its top academics and championship athletics program.

Outstanding arts and music. There has always been something for everybody.

Now, you can add competitive cheerleading to the equation for the top independent school on the west coast.

“We are creating a culture and mindset of treating it like any other sport on campus,” head coach Jason Vaca said. “It’s fun and serious business at the same time.”

Sierra Canyon has always had sideline cheer. It’s now going to another level with competitive cheer.

“The team is practicing 3-4 days a week, conditioning, weight lifting and putting in the work,” Vaca said. “We are trying to gain respect on campus like any other sport. The girls are working just as hard.”

The competitive cheer team has performances and competitions with and against other schools. There are regional, state and national competitions.

The team is currently signed up for a regional competition in November in Manhattan Beach. A berth to the national tournament in Orlando, Florida will be on the line.

“It’s like the super bowl of cheerleading,” Vaca said. “The event is televised on ESPN and has been around since the 70’s. There are college, high school and middle school divisions. So much time and effort goes into a 3-minute routine.”

The thought process for competitive cheer is just like football, basketball, baseball or any other sport on campus.

“It takes structure, discipline and a sense of pride to be successful,” Vaca said. “It’s getting the girls to understand there is meaning to all of this. It’s very competitive.”

Vaca pointed to a few key standouts early on.

Twins Jessie and Delilah Combs, Jayde Alexander, Sienna Singer, Jordan Strum, Ava Nut, Camden Davis and Sahhra Mazaheri have all stood out.

Alexander is excited for the transition, “Going out there and competing against other schools will be super exciting.  It adds another element to the cheer program.  Everyone knows the name Sierra Canyon, now they are going to know it for a different reason.”

“It’s their leadership, drive and passion for the sport that has been impressive.” Vaca said.

Sierra Canyon is not only catering to the high school for its cheer program. The mission of the school is to build from the elementary on up.

“We want to make our program welcoming and available at the lower school level to start the interest and grow the future of the team,” Vaca said.

Alexander has her eyes on a goal that all student-athletes have at Sierra Canyon, “We want to hang a banner, just like all of the other sports at Sierra Canyon,” she said.

Trailblazers open with 9-7 victory

Trailblazers open with 9-7 victory

The Sierra Canyon football team returned the favor Friday night in the 2023 season opener against JSerra of San Juan Capistrano.

After a tough road setback last year, Sierra Canyon turned the tables and came away with a closer than expected 9-7 nonleague victory in the season opener for both teams in Chatsworth.

JSerra had the ball last and was driving for a potential game-winning field goal but the stout Sierra Canyon defense came through and forced a long wild pass from Michael Tollefson from near midfield that didn’t even come close to the end zone as the clock hit all zeros.

“It was ugly,” Sierra Canyon coach Jon Ellinghouse said. “We will take it. Any win is a good win. We have some things to clean up and we will. Our defense was great and is ahead of the offense right now.”

JSerra’s only touchdown came when Tollefson connected with Axel Olander on a broken play from 32 yards out down the right sideline in the third quarter to make it the final margin.

Sierra Canyon took over with five-plus minutes remaining and gained two crucial first downs before JSerra used its timeouts wisely and finally stopped the Trailblazers on its third opportunity. But with less than 90 seconds remaining and no timeouts. JSerra was up against it for the comeback.

“Both teams were sloppy and both teams made some plays,” Ellinghouse said. “Week zero is tough. It’s the first time out there. We expect to get better and play much better in the coming weeks.”

Wyatt Becker completed 13 of 16 passes for 189 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Mitchell for Sierra Canyon.

Dane Dunn gained 74 yards on 17 carries for the Trailblazers.

Sierra Canyon’s receiver crew looked fantastic.

Mirchell caught four passes for 32 yards and UCLA-bound Kwazi Gilmer had two catches for 21 yards. USC-bound Xavier Jordan didn’t suit up, pending paperwork issues. Jordan is expected to be available next week.

Terrell “Choppa” Cooks caught four passes for 57 yards and Jae’on Young had two receptions for 43 yards.

Sierra Canyon had two miscues on punt returns. JSerra recovered fumbles each time.

Tollefson was 8 of 18 for 30 yards and gained 40 yards on 22 carries. Tollefson was sacked nearly 10 times.

George Perez rushed for 20 yards on 14 carries for JSerra, which knocked off Sierra Canyon last year after trailing by 10 points at halftime.

Shayne Daly missed a 46-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter.

A bad snap on a punt attempt early in the first quarter gave Sierra Canyon a 2-0 lead, the margin of the final score.

JSerra was penalized 11 times for 93 yards. Sierra Canyon was only a tad better with 10 miscues for 65 yards.

Sierra Canyon has another tough test next week at Oaks Christian, a big winner against Chaminade.

Tennis team ready for more…

Tennis team ready for more

The Sierra Canyon girls tennis program is coming off a Sunshine League championship last year and ready for more.

The Trailblazers open the season August 25th with a nonleague home match against Oakwood.

This year’s team will be led by two solid returners in individual league finalist Lyric Wilson, only a sophomore, and Betty Chen, a junior.

Chen finished in third-place last year in the league individual tournament.

“Our main players are still around and we really made some good strides last year,” new head coach Carlo Bertumen said. “We have many new players in the program and a full schedule to get everybody quality time on the court.”

While Wilson and Chen will be counted on to rack up points in singles action, Bertumen is looking to Hannah LaChappelle and Emma Nasiri to lead the doubles group.

“They have been working extremely hard in the offseason,” Bertumen said. “The whole team has been going since June. We feel good about going into the start of the new season. We have a lot of momentum from last year.”

The team has nonleague matches with Upand, Chaminade, Garces Memorial of Bakersfield, Buckley, Archer, de Toledo and Viewpoint.

The league matches will be against Marymount, Louisville, Marlborough, Notre Dame Academy and Immaculate Heart.

“Marymount will be right up there, again,” Bertumen said. “I like our chances to do well, again.”

Trailblazers ready for next step

Trailblazers ready for next step

The Sierra Canyon football team is ready to take the next step.

The Trailblazers have moved up the ladder year after year. Sierra Canyon has six Southern Section championships and two state championships under veteran coach Jon Ellinghouse.

Sierra Canyon has dominated Division 2 in recent years, most notably a 2022 title and 2021 semifinal appearance.

A Division 1 playoff berth is the goal. Short of that, disappointment. Because of how talented this 2023 roster is thought to be.

“We want to compete in the highest division,” Ellinghouse said. “We really believe it’s our time and we have the personnel to do it the right way.

Ellinghouse is absolutely right about the roster.

He will look to reigning Mission League MVP Dane Dunn, who gained nearly 2,000 yards and scored 24 touchdowns as a workhorse running back last year as a sophomore.

Dunn won’t have to shoulder all the load with Notre Dame transfer Wyatt Becker at quarterback and two outstanding receivers in the fold.

Chaminade transfer Kwazi Gilmer and Cathedral transfer Xavier Jordan will be nice targets, along with Cameron Mirchell-Jones and Cole Crawford.

Terrell “Choppa” Cooks is another super-fast running back to help Dunn. Cooks is a big-time playmaker. Two emerging bacjfield threats are Jesse Lepore and “Downhill” Dallas Jones, only a sophomore.

Jae’on Young, a junior athlete, is receiving college interest, Jaylen’dai Sumlin is committed to Stanford and we haven’t even talked about the defense or lineman.

Ruben Gamboa is back to lead a defense that should keep opponents out of the end zone.

Carmel Crunk is a talented linebacker, Carnell Ferguson can disrupt things and Chaminade transfer Marquis Gallegos recently committed to USC.

The line will be anchored by Oklahoma-commit Eugen Brooks and 6-foot-8, 310 pound junior man-child Ashdon Wnetrazk.

There are even two freshmen that could make an impact right away. Watch out for Havon Finney, already gaining serious Division 1 interest and Richie Wesley. Other key freshmen include Jaxsen Stokes, Kasi Currie and Braydenn Mercer.

The schedule is one of the best in school history.

The Trailblazers play Trinity League teams JSerra and Orange Lutheran, a road game against Oaks Christian and two out of state opponents in Green Valley of Nevada and Saguaro of Arizona.

Then, Mission League rivals, with Notre Dame, Serra, Bishop Amat, Alemany and Chaminade.

There are no easy games at all.

Defending Division 1 Champs head to Hawaii to Open 2023-2024 Season

The Sierra Canyon girls volleyball program is trying to pick up right where it left off.

The defending Div. 1 champions are ready and excited about 2023.

The new season starts with a trip to Hawaii to play in the prestigious Iolani Classic in Honolulu.

“It’s an honor to be invited and travel to Hawaii for one of the best tournaments in the country,” Sierra Canyon head coach Stefanie Wigfall said. “We were there last year and we did well. We want to do better and win the tournament this season.”

Wigfall, who guided the Trailblazers to their first ever upper-division title last year in a three-set sweep against Mira Costa at Cerritos College, will lean on a group of Division 1-bound seniors and a host of youngsters.

Leading the way is Danica Rach (Boston College) and Maddie Way (Hawaii). Rach will be counted on to fill the shoes of Olivia Babcock (Pitt). Another top senior is Saugus transfer Taylor Treahy. The 6-foot-1 opposite will be ready to send home some balls over the net. And the Trailblazers should benefit from the arrival of Long Beach Poly’s Halie McGinest.

“I really like our senior leadership this year.” Wigfall said. “We have some experienced players to count on that know our system.”

Sade Ilawole returns as one of the top setters in the area, junior Lauren Lynch is one of the best libero’s in the area and already committed to San Diego.

“They might be little but they are so good,” Wigfall said. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight. It’s about the size of the fight in the dog.”

Mia Stewart, Rachael Reyes, Lola Brown and emerging Brandie Boston provide depth and round out a great all-around roster.

“Each player on our team brings a valuable component to the overall success of the team,” Wigfall said. “It’s amazing we have so many players that play a key role.”

Two freshmen that could make an impact are Eva Jeffries and Hanna McGinest. Jeffries’ dad was a standout basketball player at Indiana and was the No. 11 overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft. McGinest is the younger sister of Halie. The McGinest sisters’ dad is former NFL and USC standout Willie McGinest, three-time Super Bowl winner.

“Eva and Hanna are going to be studs,” Wigfall said. “Bright futures for them and our program.”

The schedule features nonleague contests with La Canada, JSerra, Santa Barbara, Redondo, Buckley, Oaks Christian and Santa Margarita.

Tournaments in Las Vegas and Phoenix will be challenging, as well.

Playoff competition should come from usual suspects Mira Costa, Mater Dei. Huntington Beach, Palos Verdes and Mission League rival Marymount.

Alemany could provide the biggest challenge during Mission League play.

Sierra sets record with four Southern Section CIF Championships

The Sierra Canyon athletics program enjoyed a huge amount of success in 2022-2023.

The school won four Southern Section championships in the same school year for the first time in school history after capturing titles in football, girls volleyball, girls basketball and boys swimming.

Jon Ellinghouse’s juggernaut football program regrouped from a 1-3 start to not only win the Mission League outright in its first year in the powerhouse league but also won the Division 2 championship with an impressive  23-7 victory against previously unbeaten Inglewood and star quarterback Huson Longstreet.

Dane Dunn emerged as an impressive running back and he’s only a sophomore.

The team featured some great college bound seniors. Lavon Brown is headed to Colorado State, Cameron Brandt is headed to Michigan, JoJo Phillips is going to BYU and Eddie Byrd will play at Wagner.

The girls volleyball team shared the Mission League championship with Marymount, splitting two league contests. The Trailblazers went on to knock off Marymount in the Southern Section playoffs en route to beating Mira Costa in the Division 1 championship at Cerritos College.

Pitt-bound Olivia Babcock led the way this year, along with Cornell-bound Jada Sione, and Clemson-bound Ava Hewitt-Smith.

The team returns talented juniors Danica Rach (committed to Boston College), Maddie Way (committed to Hawaii) and Sade Ilawole. Lauren Lynch is the best sophomore.

The girls basketball team won the Open Division championship, avenging last year’s setback against Etiwanda.

This was the year of JuJu Watkins, the nation’s top-ranked player that will continue at USC before a pro career.

The team went 31-1 overall and won the Mission League championship without a loss.

Watkins received great help from juniors MacKenly Randolph and Izela Arenas. Crystal Wang was a power forward role player that will attend Northwestern.

Watkins averaged nearly 30 points per game and almost 20 rebounds. Her commitment to USC was broadcast live on ESPN in a special ceremony in the school gym.

The only blemish came when Etiwanda returned the favor with a 55-54 setback in the state playoffs in a game that determined which team would travel to Sacramento to play for the state championship.

The Spring time saw the boys swim program capture the Division 4 championship, holding off Liberty of Winchester and Hemet in the finals meet in Riverside.

The top swimmers were Jason Zhang, Anthony Kim, Luke Haas, Chris Cain and Cayden Cain

The boys basketball program qualified for the Open Division for the 10th consecutive year, the only program in the section with that distinction. Despite not winning a game for the first time ever, the team was put in the Division 1 state playoffs and won two games before losing to Notre Dame for a fourth time, one win shy of advancing to Sacramento for a state championship appearance.

The baseball and softball teams had outstanding years. The baseball team finished fourth in the Mission League and qualified for the Division 1 playoffs. The team made a valiant run to the quarterfinals with wins against Bishop Amat and Cypress before losing to defending champion JSerra.

Oregon-bound Kheden Hettiger was the team’s top hitter along with Omar Cisneros and Ethan Munoz. Freshman Mikhal Johnson showed great power.

Watch out for two young pitchers.Caden Sramek (sophomore) and freshman Brayden Charness are ready to be leaders next year.

The softball team had a stranglehold on the Mission League championship until the final week of the regular season before a run to the quarterfinals of the Division 3 playoffs. The Trailblazers knocked off No. 3 Santa Margarita, Sunny Hills and Diamond Ranch before losing to Santiago of Corona.

Duke-bound Hailey Shuler was awesome in the circle and Central Florida-bound Izzy Mertes was a top power hitter.

Maddie Debs, Nina Peyton-Johnson and Lianna Lara all had key contributions. Sophia Sarni, a freshman, is a player to watch.

Track & Field finds success in Division IV Finals

It was a successful day for the Sierra Canyon track and field program at Moorpark High in the Southern Section Div. 4 championships.

The boys 4×100 relay team placed second in a school record 41.40 right behind Oaks Christian.

Xavier White, freshman Jalen Aguilar-Carnes, 400 standout Matthew Curry and sophomore Jae’on Young formed the outstanding quartet.

Aguilar-Carnes finished in fourth place in the 100 with a time of 10.66 (personal record). He also clocked 21,45 for a third-place finish in the 200, also a personal record.

Young ran a personal best 10.77 for a fifth place finish in the 200. Young ran 22.28 in the 200 to place seventh.

Curry just missed on a title in the 400 with a time of 50.25 for a second place finish.

Jai Bell ran the hurdles. He secured third  place in the 110 with a time of 15.58 and took seventh in the 300, clocking 42.78.

Laila Bowens led the girls with a 57.69 in the 400 for sixth place. It was a personal record.

The field events were led by Wagner football commit Eugene Brooks and Michigan-bound lineman Cameron Brandt.

Brooks threw 55-06 in the shot put to win the event. Brandt was 133-02 in the discus for fifth place.

The 4×100 team qualified for the Masters Meet and Aguilar-Carnes qualified in the 200. Brooks advanced in the shot put.

Golf looks to next season

There were definitely going to be some growing pains for the Sierra Canyon golf program.

The team was not only super young with mostly sophomores and freshmen, it was competing in the ultra-competitive Mission League for the first time.

The Trailblazers finished in sixth place.

Zander Clift, Sahlil Banker and Neal Sodhi led the way.

“We were just so young and inexperienced going up against some really good teams,” Sierra Canyon coach Mike Low said. “Loyola is the No. 1 team in the state.”

Low is excited about the future.

“All the kids really made some good improvements. It was a great eye-opening learning experience. This year should really help us the next two years. We have a lot of players back and some good junior high kids entering high school.

Softball advances to Elite 8

The Sierra Canyon softball team has made the Elite Eight.

Nina Peyton-Johnson was the hero Tuesday with a dramatic two-run walk-off home run against Diamond Ranch’s UCSB-bound pitcher in the bottom of the eighth.

“That’s how Nina does it all the time,” Sierra Canyon coach Regina Jorgensen said. “She always is good for a home run late in the game. We needed that one, today.”

The Trailblazers, who knocked off third-seeded Santa Margarita in the wild-card round and avenged last year’s setback against Sunny Hills last week, trailed 2-1 before mounting a rally in the fifth.

Sophia Sarni, a promising freshman, led off with a single and came home to score the tying run when Izzy Mertes’ ground ball wasn’t handled properly by the shortstop.

Sierra Canyon had a chance to break the game open but an inning-ending double play kept the score tied 2-2.

Peyton-Johnson’s two-run blast to deep right center ended it.

Sierra Canyon led 1-0 in the first thanks to a Mertes double and a Diamond Ranch error before a clean RBI single from Peyton-Johnson.

Hailey Shuler was outstanding in the circle, the only blemish being a two-run single in the fourth. Shuler nearly wiggled out of the jam after the bases were loaded with no outs. Shuler struck out the next two batters before yielding a seeing-eye grounder up the middle.

The Trailblazers now move into the round of eight Thursday with a game against Santiago of Corona on the road.