COC Insider: Cougars golf sit atop WSC standings

College of the Canyons freshmen Nobuhiko Wakaari and Jules Lavigne finished first and second, respectively, in the field at the Western State Conference (WSC) event hosted by COC at Valencia Country Club on Monday. Wakaari and Lavigne have now finished first and second in back-to-back tourneys to help lead the Cougars, which won the event, back into first place in the season standings. Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director

Jesse Munoz

For The Signal

Four tournaments into the 2019 season and the College of the Canyons men’s golf team is back in familiar territory, at the top of the Western State Conference (WSC) standings.

The Cougars, winners of nine straight conference titles, moved into a first-place tie with Santa Barbara City College after topping the field at the WSC event played at Valencia Country Club on Monday. COC and SBCC are currently knotted with identical 29-3 records.

On Monday, COC’s five-man team, which represented five different countries, carded a score of 381 playing from the blue tees under winter weather rules. The Cougars’ home tourney was originally scheduled as the season opener on Feb. 4, but had to be rescheduled due to weather.

The tournament win was the second in as many weeks for COC which had finished second and third, respectively, at the first two outings of the season. SBCC (392) was runner-up for a third straight week. Ventura College (405) finished third followed by Glendale College (418).

Nobuhiko Wakaari made the most of Monday’s short-lived sunshine by firing off a three-under-par round of 69 for Canyons. The freshman from Niigata, Japan birdied the first two holes of the day en route to his lowest score of the season. As a result, Wakaari earned tourney medalist honors for the second straight week, and third time this season.

Jules Lavigne shot an even-par round of 72 to finish second in the field of 49. The Frenchman, who has finished as runner-up in two straight events, birdied the opening hole to start strong.

Australian Tom Sims continued his streak of top-three finishes for COC with a round of 76 to rank third overall. Sims has been a regular atop the leaderboard in recent weeks having finished no worse than third in the individual standings since week two.

“Nubo, Jules and Tom met the challenge of protecting our home course in stellar fashion,” said COC head coach Gary Peterson. “Despite the pressure of a home match, and the conditions of the course, all three turned in some great rounds.”

Anguerrand Voisin of France was next at 81 and American Jack Greene’s score of 83 rounded out the Cougars’ final score.

Voison also made some noise the previous week by recording a hole-in-one on the 17th hole at River Ridge Golf Course. According to Peterson, Voison’s shot was the first hole-in-one for a Cougar golfer since Shane O’Brien accomplished the same feat in 1991 at the par-three 12th hole at Montecito Country Club.

Canyons will continue conference play at the WSC event hosted by Allan Hancock College on Monday at Santa Maria Country Club. Play is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

“This team started out slow and we are still searching for our 4-5-6 golfers,” added Peterson. “Once we have three guys step up and earn one of those last three spots we will be headed for a strong finish this season.”

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Cougar Men’s Swim is Runner-Up at WSC Meet

Canyons swimmers Rowdy Feather and Kenny Payne each won an event and combined to bring home 22 event points as the Cougars’ men’s team took second place at the WSC meet hosted by Ventura College last Friday.

Ventura won the event with 63 event points. COC (52) was just off that pace but outlasted Bakersfield College (48) in third and fourth place Cuesta College (24).

“We had a very strong showing,” said COC head coach Sean Kakumu about his team’s first conference meet. “To place as well as we did, both individually and as a team, bodes well for our end of season performances.”

Feather was first in the 200-yard IM at a time of 2:04.98. The Canyon High School graduate also clocked a time of 59:06 for third place in the 100-yard backstroke and continues to be a stalwart in his second year with the Cougars. The previous week Feather put together a trio of top-five performances (400-yard IM/3rd-4:29.81; 200-yard IM/5th-2:04.72; and 200-yard backstroke/5th 2:05.5) at the annual Mt. San Antonio College Swimming & Diving Invitational.

“Rowdy has continued what he started during freshman year,” said Kakumu. “He’s dominating the 400 IM while fine-tuning his backstroke events. Some adjustments still need to be made, but Rowdy clearly sees a potential conference title and a berth to the state championships ahead of him.”

In 2018, Feather was named an All-American in both the 200-yard backstroke & 400-yard IM after competing at the CCCAA state meet. His seventh-place time of 1:54.08 in the 200y backstroke at the 2018 state championships is a school record.

Payne’s event victory came in the 1,650-yard freestyle at a time of 18:25.68. The sophomore, who was battling a cold on meet day, was also fifth in the 100-yard backstroke at a pace of 1:05.3. The former Valencia Viking was a 2018 All-American in the 1,650-yard freestyle.

“Kenny winning the 1,650 was not surprising, he’s been training in practice for this event for months,” Kakumu added. “Recovering from a cold does not make for a perfect race, so I can’t wait to see what he can do when fully healthy.”

Sophomore Miguel Martinez finished runner-up in both the 100-yard butterfly (55:00) and 100-yard breaststroke (1:05.87). Hart grad Emilio Santayo was the other major scorer for Canyons with a third-place result in the 100-yard butterfly (57.62), later finishing fourth in the 200-yard freestyle (1:59.01).

COC will compete at the annual Cuesta College Invitational this weekend, before hosting WSC Meet No. 2 on Saturday, March 16, at the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center.

Cougars Hoopsters Receive All-WSC Honors

COC sophomore Alexis Orellana and freshmen Cristian Patron and McKenzie Stoehr have been named All-WSC South First-Team honorees after leading the Lady Cougars back to the post season after a two-year hiatus.

Orellana averaged 18.3 points, five assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. Her scoring and assist totals both ranked first on the team and second in the conference.

Stoehr averaged 13.4 points per game while leading the team in shooting percentage (45.5 percent) and three-point efficiency (36.1 percent).

Patron finished the year with a stat line of 13.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. The Saugus High School grad reached double-digit point totals in 23-of-29 games, including 11 straight down the stretch.

The Lady Cougars (17-12, 4-2) finished as runner-up in the WSC, South Division before qualifying to compete in the CCCAA SoCal Regional Playoffs. No. 15 Canyons was defeated 70-69 by No. 18 Mira Costa in the opening round.

COC’s men’s team also featured three all-conference selections with sophomores Jude Agbasi, Anthony Simone and Denzel Nwanguma each receiving post-season honors.

Agbasi was named an All-WSC South First-Team selection after averaging 17.1 points, five rebounds and 2.8 assists per game through the regular season. His scoring mark, which improved to 19.6 vs. conference opponents, led the team.

Simone was an Honorable Mention selection for the second season after ranking third on the team with 13.5 points. His field goal percentage of 58.3 percent and an average of 7.4 boards each night out also led the squad.

Nwanguma also earned Honorable Mention status. His 5.6 assists per game led the conference and tied for 11th in the state. The former Golden Valley standout also averaged 7.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals a game for the Cougars.

COC (14-14, 5-3) won four of its final five games but narrowly missed out on a postseason bid.

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