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.

Baseball continues magical run

What a magical run the Sierra Canyon baseball team is on.

The Trailblazers won their second consecutive one-run game by the identical score of 2-1 after knocking off Cypress on Tuesday in the Division 1 playoffs.

Sierra Canyon took down Bishop Amat last week and now advances to Friday’s elite eight game against JSerra down in San Juan Capistrano.

Omar Cisneros was 2-3 with a double and two runs scored. Oregon-bound Kehden Hettiger had a hit.

But it was the pitching and defense that stole the show.

Ethan Munoz threw out two would-be base stealers and Sierra Canyon turned three double plays in the win.

Ethan Montes was the winning pitcher going four innings and giving up only one run on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts.

Jonny Hagopian came in for 1 1/3 innings of work and Brady Hewitt got the save with 1 2/3 innings.

Hagopian performed some magic in the fifth. He squirmed out of a bases loaded, no out jam, giving up just one run and keeping Sierra Canyon in the lead.

The Trailblazers are in the quarterfinals in Division 1 for the first time in school history.

Track having best season ever

The Sierra Canyon track and field program is fast.

That’s an understatement.

It’s really fast.

The Trailblazers took home four Mission League championships and nearly a fifth.

Sierra Canyon competes this weekend in the section finals at Moorpark High.

The star has been freshman sensation Jalen Aguilar-Carnes. JAC ran a 10.83 in the 100 and 21,77 in the 200 to bring home league championships. He’s only 15 years old.

The 4×100 relay team ran a 42.44 for the league championship. Xavier White, JAC, sophomore Matthew Curry and sophomore Jae’On Young formed the super fast quartet.

The team ran 42.11 at the section prelims and coach Troy Samuels thinks the foursome can go 41 high this week.

The relay team’s stiffest competition will come from Oaks Christian on Saturday.

The other league champion is sophomore Laila Bowens. Bowens ran a :58.86 to capture the 400 title.

Bowens recently went :58.12 at the section prelims.

Curry just missed out a league championship with a second place finish in the 400. Curry ran :49.80

Two football players also did well this year.

Eugene Brooks was second in the shot put with a throw of 50 feet, three inches. Cameron Brandt was second in the discus with a throw of 147-10, setting a new school record in the process.

Sramek, Trailblazers advance in Division 1 Playoffs

The Sierra Canyon baseball team made history Friday.

Competing in the Division 1 playoffs for the first time ever after playing 21 Mission League games for the first time ever, the Trailblazers went on the road and got a 2-1 victory against Bishop Amat.

Caden Sramek, a promising sophomore right-hander, went the distance yielding five hits and a walk with nine strikeouts.

“Caden has a chance,” Sierra Canyon asst. coach P.C. Shaw said. “Caden is a dude and getting better.”

Ethan Munoz went 2-3 with a double and RBI.

Oregon-bound Kheden Hettiger was 2-3 with two runs scored.

Mikhal Johnson (freshman), Andrew Nelson and Brady Hewitt each had a hit for Sierra Canyon, the fourth-place finisher in the league.

Sierra Canyon joined top-seeded Notre Dame, Harvard-Westlake and Crespi to give the league four winners in the opening round of the playoffs.

The Trailblazers will host Cypress at 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday

Softball advances to round of 16

The Sierra Canyon softball team had a disappointing end to the regular season losing twice and falling to a tie for second place in the Mission League.

Those bad feelings are all gone after a great week with two Div. 3 playoff wins.

The Trailblazers had a tough task Tuesday against No. 3-seed Santa Margarita but went on the road and knocked off the Eagles, 4-3 in 14 innings.

Duke-bound junior Hailey Shuler went 13 innings with 13 strikeouts, facing 50 batters.

Maddie Debs closed the game for the save.

Shuler was 3-6 with two doubles. Central Florida-bound Izzy Mertes was 3-4 with a double and RBI. Ava Debs homered. Nina Peyton-Johnson homered..Natalia Areliz, a promising freshman, had an RBI.

Sierra Canyon faced Sunny Hills on Friday in a rematch of last year’s first-round setback.

The Trailblazers got the revenge it wanted with a 6-1 victory.

Shuler gave up three hits and had nine strikeouts while facing 24 batters. She had two hits, including a double.

Maddie Debs had quite a day with a two-run home run and a two-run double.

Debs two-run blast in the second inning gave Sierra Canyon a 2-0 lead it would never relinquish. Debs two-run double in the fourth extended the lead to 4-0.

Areliz added an RBI double in the fifth and Lianna Lara added a solo home run in the sixth.

Sierra Canyon plays Tuesday at home in the round of 16

Swim wins first CIF Championship

The Sierra Canyon boys swim program is your Southern Section Division 4 champion.


With victories in the 200 medley and Luke Haas’ top finish in the 200 individual medley, the Trailblazers outlasted Liberty and Hemet to win the title.


It’s the first ever swim championship in school history and comes on the heels of girls volleyball, football and girls basketball taking home crowns this school year.


Anthony Kim, Chris Cain, Cayden Cain and Haas were the four legs of the medley and Haas finished fourth in the 100 fly to add more valuable points.


A big showing happened in the 200 free relay, again with the same quartet. The second place finish added key points.


“We weren’t supposed to do that well,” Sierra Canyon coach Courtland Day said. “We were seeded fourth and swam better than expected.”


Other key points came from Kim in the 100 backstroke and 200 freestyle. Zhang scored in the 100 breaststroke.

Swimming on the rise

The Sierra Canyon boys swim program is on the rise.

The Trailblazers competed in the tough Mission League and have five individuals now moving onto the Div. 4 playoffs this week.

Jason Jang will compete in the 100 butterfly and 50 freestyle.

Caden Cain will compete in the 500 freestyle.

Chris Cain will compete in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle.

Luke Haas will compete in the 100 fly and 200 intermediate medley.

Anthony Kim will compete in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke.

Sierra Canyon head coach Courtland Day has been impressed with Caden Cain.

“Caden has shaved nearly a minute off his time from when he began,” Day said. “We put him in that event and he has continually gotten better. I think he can get under six minutes.”

The top two finishers this week advance to the state tournament in Fresno.

Good luck to our swimmers.