Casey Burrill remembers his first year coaching West Ranch baseball 12 years ago. The program’s first year.
It was just a freshman team at the time. Then they added a JV team. Finally, in the third year, it was time to field a varsity squad.
“We went out there … with no seniors and just got annihilated and took our lumps,” Burrill said.
It was the same for all of West Ranch’s teams. But after years of growth, West Ranch athletics has carved out its place in the Foothill League – with this year being no exception.
The once-struggling baseball team took second place in league and went to the playoffs once again with a roster that included All-CIF first-teamer Christos Stefanos and sophomore twins Jovan and Ryan Camacho.
The tandem did their part on the football team, too, on both sides of the ball to help the Wildcats pick up some steam on the gridiron. Jake Rice was key at running back, shattering two program records in his first league game at the position.
Boys golf, tennis, lacrosse and volleyball each made a run in the playoffs. Gunnar Murray took the league title as the best individual golfer and Davey Woodland repeated as the league singles champion as the Wildcats took the team title. Lacrosse made the postseason for the fourth time in the program’s five-year history and volleyball took its second consecutive league title.
The girls track team won its first-ever Foothill League crown in program history, while the girls soccer team made its mark by winning its very first playoff game.
“That’s the big thing for us, obviously, the playoff win and continuing to take those steps to continue to build a program,” said girls soccer coach Jared White. “We were just short again of winning a league title, but we were in the race for the majority of the season.”
White, too, has seen West Ranch’s progress since becoming a coach at the school six years ago.
“We started small,” he said. “(We said) let’s have good preseason record and then it was make a push for a league title and consistently make playoffs and get a playoff win.
“We’re starting to build a history of success which I think is important for players coming into the program.”
Girls lacrosse, volleyball, tennis and golf had postseason pushes of their own. Wildcats lacrosse player Audra Kim was the Pacific League Offensive Player of the Year and volleyball player Tasha Skabelund was named co-Foothill Player of the Year.
Mack Bailey represented the golf team in the state-qualifying round and the girls tennis team won its first league title since 2011.
West Ranch is well on its way to a rich tradition of athletic achievement, if it isn’t there already.
It was a tight race for the Foothill League crown this season. West Ranch ended the season second in the standings with only three league losses.
Boys cross country
A talented group led by Preston Pope and Jack Arnold took the Wildcats to new heights with a third-place finish at the CIF State Cross Country Championships.
After four consecutive seasons of being trapped in the first round of playoffs, the Wildcats broke through and won their first postseason game against Agoura High in the CIF-SS Division 2 tournament.
Girls track and field
The team-first mentality of West Ranch earned the program its first-ever Foothill League title. Along with the boys cross country finish, it was a great way for coach Sara Soltani to start her Wildcats coaching career.
Nate Sparks ended his West Ranch coaching career on a high note, with the Cats earning their second straight league title and a flawless 10-0 record.
Jovan and Ryan Camacho
The dual-sport twins played major roles on the gridiron and the baseball diamond. Jovan had 32 catches for 435 yards as a receiver in addition to 13 RBIs and 12 stolen bases. Ryan had four receptions for TDs and 344 yards off kick returns while driving in 14 runs in spring.
Galuppo scored 51 points in one game (which included nine 3-pointers) to break a school and Foothill League boys basketball record. He averaged 18 points per game.
Rice had a breakout season at running back. In his first league game at the position, he broke the program record for single-game rushing yards and number of touchdowns with 314 and four, respectively.
The All-CIF first team honoree had a .386 batting average, 28 RBIs and three home runs in his junior year.
Woodland repeated as the Foothill League tennis singles champion after beating teammate Parker McBride. He was a major factor in West Ranch’s fourth straight league title.
As the top individual golfer on the top team this season, Bailey made it to the state-qualifying round for the second year in a row.
Kim led the Wildcats lacrosse team with 71 goals and 32 assists and was named the Pacific League Offensive Player of the Year as a result.
She had the farthest throw in league in both shot put (44 feet, 1 inch) and discus (148-2) this year and placed ninth in her first CIF state meet appearance.
Of her 19 goals on the season, her most important was the game-winning one in the Wildcats’ first-ever girls soccer playoff win. She also tallied 12 assists.
Skabelund played fearlessly alongside Katie Jacobs and Kaitlin Schultz. She finished the season with 161 digs, 160 kills and 31 ages as the co-Foothill League Player of the Year.
After finishing second in the Foothill League behind Valencia, the Wildcats fell in the first round to El Dorado High, 3-1, in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 tournament. They ended the season 20-9 overall and 12-3 in league.
The Wildcats 6-4 season earned them a spot in the CIF-SS Division 1A playoffs. Their postseason was cut short after a loss to Harvard-Westlake in the first round.
West Ranch was 13 strokes short of making it through the CIF-SS Northern Division Team Divisional. They came in fourth place out of 16 teams at the tournament.
The team made it to the second round of the CIF team playoffs, placing third out of 24 teams at the CIF-SS Central Division championship after a first-place finish in the Foothill League.
For the fourth time in five years, the Wildcats made the playoffs, but lost to Palos Verdes 17-1 in the first round of the LA Conference Playoffs.
The Cats were the No. 12 seed in the US Lacrosse Southern Section North playoff bracket and lost to Oak Park in the first round, 17-9.
For the first time in program history, West Ranch won a playoff game. That win was a 1-0 result against Agoura. They lost to Temecula Valley 3-0 in the second round of the CIF-SS Division 2 playoffs.
West Ranch first beat Beverly Hills High, 14-4, in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs before falling to Peninsula in the second round, 13-5.
The Wildcats faced defeat after taking on Oaks Christian in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs. The final score was 11-7.
The Wildcats finished first in league with a perfect 10-0 record. After four sets, West Ranch couldn’t get past Oak Park in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.
This team dominated all season, securing the Foothill League title with a 9-1 record. The Cats made it to the first round of the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs.