Throughout the 2017-2018 school year, College of the Canyons was constantly making headlines for the way their sports programs performed on and off the field.
“Our resources are pretty fantastic as far as what we provide for our student-athletes,” said women’s volleyball coach Clay Timmons. “We are just a college that has the best intentions of the students in mind. Every year we seem to be rolling out something new that might give us an edge. From the top down they did a great job of hiring people in the respective sports that are passionate about working with young people.”
Winning the Western State Bowl, the Cougar football team defeated Mt. San Antonio College 28-16 to bring home the championship with an overall record of 9-2. The Cougars send multiple players to four-year programs including Dorian Gerald (University of Arkansas), Noel Iwuchukwu (Arkansas State University), Desean Holmes (Florida Atlantic University), RB Marlow (Bowling Green State University) and Carlton Lorenz (Vanderbilt University).
The boys and girls golf teams both had equal success, reaching the CCCAA state championships and finishing second and seventh with final scores of 754 and 706, respectively.
The baseball team finished the regular season 28-14, losing in the CCCAA Regional Playoff against Palomar 2-1 in the best-of-three series. Thanks to the success on the year, the Cougars’ pitcher Jacob Lopez and outfielder Corbin Williams signed MLB contracts with the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies.
COC swimmers Rowdy Feather and Jennifer Yamauchi made it through to the CCCAA Swim and Dive State Championships. Feather finished seventh in the men’s 200-yard backstroke setting a new school record with a time of one minute, 54.08 seconds. Yamauchi finished 16th in the women’s 100-yard backstroke with a time of 2:21.01. Overall, the men’s team finished fifth and the women’s team finished ninth.
Softball ended the season undefeated in WSC play, going 16-0 on the way to the program’s 15th title and seventh under head coach John Wissmath. The team’s players picked up different types of awards and accolades like Player of the Year, All-American honors, All-Southern honors and East Coach of the Year honors after winning the 300th game under Wissmath.
“They were solid across the board,” Wissmath said. “The sophomores did an outstanding job by helping the freshmen understand our philosophy. Our main goal was to get as far as we could. They just worked so hard every day at practice and it showed.”
Highlighted by the play of Emily Burns, the 2017 Player of the Year, the Cougars’ women’s volleyball team had seven players named to the All-State team and reached the CCCAA State Championship semifinals where they fell to the eventual champions Irvine Valley in five sets. Finishing the season with an overall record of 25-6, the Cougars went 7-1 in WSC play to win a share of the South Division title.
“They really kind of banded together,” Timmons said. “A lot of players that really fit the mold as far as being dedicated and determined to make it to the championship match. They were like a family and they had each other’s best interest in mind.”
For most schools, duplicating the success that Canyons had during the 2017-2018 year would be a hard task to accomplish. For any Canyons student-athlete, challenge accepted.
“The level of success our coaches and players achieved, both on the field and in the classroom, is remarkable, and 2017-2018 was another banner year for COC Athletics,” said COC Sports Information Director Jesse Muñoz.
“With multiple team titles academic awards and scores of individual accolades, our student-athletes gave Cougar fans and supporters reasons to be proud once again. It’s their hard work and dedication, along with the support of so many behind the scenes, that continues to position College of the Canyons as one of the state’s most competitive and highly regarded athletic programs.”
Five most memorable male athletes
Andrew Brito – Winning the Western State Bowl, the freshman quarterback threw for 2,854 yards and finished second in the Southern California Football Association with 27 passing touchdowns, adding another three touchdowns on the ground en route to being named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year.
Calvin Estrada – Named to both the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings Pacific Association Division Southern California All-Region Second Team and the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association Southern California All-State Team, as well as winning the 2018 Western State Conference, East Division Player of the Year. Estrada finished the season with a .434 batting average on 63 hits and 44 RBIs.
Dorian Gerald – Attracting attention from colleges and universities across the country, Gerald ranked as the No. 1 Junior College defensive end prospect, ultimately signing a National Letter of Intent with the University of Arkansas in February. Leading the conference in sacks with 10 on the year, Gerald ends his Canyons career with 96 tackles, 43 tackles for loss, 22 sacks, three forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in 21 games.
Michael Kalu – Being named to the 2018 All-Western State Conference, South Division Team for the second year in a row, Kalu led the Cougars men’s basketball team in scoring with 17.1 points per game, good for 12th in the WSC. He also pulled down 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 47 percent from the field.
Jacob Lopez – Signing a professional contract with the San Francisco Giants earlier this month, Lopez finishes his Canyons career being named the 2018 WSC, East Division Pitcher of the Year, the 2018 ABCA/PAD All-American Second Team, the ABCA/PAD Southern California All-Region First Team and the CCCBCA Southern California All-State Team. Winning nine games in 14 appearances Lopez gave up 70 hits, allowing 16 earned runs while striking out 128 batters in 88.2 innings of work on the year.
Five most memorable female athletes
Emily Burns – Signing a national letter of intent in January with San Diego State University, Burns will look to continue the success she had this year as she finished the season with 502 kills, ranking her second in California, 67 aces and 177 digs on the season to finish out her Cougar volleyball career.
Danielle Chatman – Named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association California Junior College South Region-All American First-Team after getting named as the Western State Conference, East Division Player of the Year Honors. Leading the softball team to the Southern California Super Regional, Chatman finished her sophomore year with a batting average of .424, 10 home runs and 49 RBIs.
Kalana Inemer – Being named to the 2018 All-Western State Conference First-Team, South Division Team, the Canyons’ girls basketball sophomore played her second season with the Cougars this season seven years after making her debut in the 2010-2011 season. In her first year back, Inemer was second on the team in scoring with 15 points per game, fourth in the state with 13.9 rebounds per game and fifth in the WSC with 1.5 blocks per game.
Angel Quintero – She won the Western State Conference, East Division Player of the Year, finishing the season with six goals and three assists in 19 games and helping the women’s soccer team to the SoCal Regional First Round. Quintero was also named to the 2017 CCCAA Southern California All-Region and All-State teams.
Jennifer Yamauchi – Continuing her monumental career for Canyons swim team, Yamauchi defended the program’s first conference title in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 1:01.35, winning it for the second year in a row and taking home the title in the 200-yard backstroke the next day. Yamauchi finishes her Canyons career with three conference titles, two this year (100-yard backstroke and 200-yard backstroke) and one last year (100-yard backstroke).
Five most memorable teams
Football – Earning the program’s first Bowl Game win under Head Coach Ted Iacenda, the Cougars took down Mt. San Antonio College 28-16 to win the Western State Bowl.
Men’s golf – Winning their ninth straight Western State Conference and bringing home the California Community College Athletics Association SoCal Regional Championship for the fourth time in the last five years, the men’s golf team proved that they were not to be taken lightly. Stumbling in the CCCAA State Championships the Cougars finished as runner-ups to Cypress College and had two players finish in the top-10 at Sandpiper Golf Club.
Women’s golf – Finishing second in the Western State Conference, the Cougars made it back to the CCCAA Southern California Regional Championships after two years of missing the cut. Reaching the state championships, the women’s golf team finished in seventh-place at the state tournament.
Softball – Going 16-0 in the Western State Conference the Cougars finished first in the conference, making it back to the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year. Taking down Cerritos College in two games, the Cougars’ triumphant season was ended in the Southern California Super Regional against Mt. San Antonio.
Women’s volleyball – Ending the season with an overall record of 25-6 and dropping only one game in the Western State Conference, the Cougars were led by sophomore Emily Burns, Shayla Johnson and Rachel Perez into the CCCAA State Championship Semifinals where they dropped the last game of the year to eventual champions Irvine Valley College.
Baseball – CCCAA Regional Playoff Round 1 against Palomar dropping best of three series.
Men’s basketball – Regional Playoff Game against Santiago Canyon 99-73.
Football – Won Western State Bowl over Mt. San Antonio 28-16.
Men’s golf – Won the CCCAA SoCal Regional Championship with a score of 747 (374,373). Made it to CCCAA State Championships with a score of 754 (381,373).
Swim – Western State Conference Swim Championships Men finished 5th and Women finished 9th. Two swimmers advances to CCCAA swim & dive state championship.
Track & field – Western State Conference Finals Men finished 7th and women finished 6th. CCCAA SoCal Championships Men finished 10th and women finished 11th. CCCAA State Championships Men finished 14th and women finished 26th.
Women’s cross country – Western State Conference Championships Men finished 7th and women 2nd. CCCAA Southern California Championships Men 19th and women 6th. CCCAA State Championships Women finished 8th and men only sent individuals.
Golf – Western State Finals finished 2nd with 685 (353,332). CCCAA Southern California Championships finished 3rd 696 (349,347). CCCAA State Championships 7th 706 (364,342).
Girls soccer – SoCal Regional Round 1 lost to Santa Barbara 1-0.
Softball – Southern California Super Regional lost to Mt. San Antonio in best of three series 2-0.
Women’s tennis – two doubles teams lost in the 2nd Round of CCCAA SoCal Regional.
Women’s volleyball – CCCAA State Championship Semifinals lost to Irvine Valley 3-2.