Paseo Aquatics Relay Teams Break Santa Clarita Records At SoCal Junior Olympic Championships

| Sports | April 11, 2019

Two Paseo Aquatics relay teams broke Santa Clarita Valley records and several swimmers had notable performances at the recent Southern California Junior Olympic Championships at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center.

Facing some of the nation’s toughest competition, the 13-14 girls’ 200 Free relay swam the second-fastest time in SoCal Swim history with a time of 1:35.70, also in the process they broke both a Paseo Aquatics and Santa Clarita Valley record. Team members included: Riley Botton, Teia Salvino, Sydney Zancanaro and Cameron Snowden. The previous record was held by Canyons Aquatics (1:37.86).

In addition, Salvino earned her winter Junior National time in the opening leg of the 50 free with a time of 23.45 in the 200 Free Relay.

Boys’ 200 Free Relay team from left to right: Bryant Lee, Michael Lee, Daniel Jo, and Luke Bezanilla.

In the same 13-14 200 Free Relay event on the boys’ side, the team made up of Michael Lee, Luke Bezanilla, Daniel Jo and Bryant Lee took fourth place, breaking a Santa Clarita Valley record with a time of 1:31.10.

Individually, all four of the girls made the finals in the 50 Free with Paseo placing three in the Top 10. Salvino led the way with her second-place finish with a time 20th (25.53). In prelims, Snowden went a 24.80 to earn her first Sectionals time, which is the first stepping stone to national level swim meets.

In the Boys’ 50 free, two Paseo swimmers made the Top 15 overall, with Lee placing second with a time of 21.88 and Bezanilla 14th at 23.17.

The Girls’ 13-14 400 Free Relay team was seeded fourth heading into the finals race but was able to improve on that with an outstanding second-place finish with a time of 3:33.86.

Botton was fourth overall in finals in the 13-14 200 free with a blistering time of 1:52.33. Botton finished sixth in the 13-14 girls’ 100 Free (51.92) while Salvino was just ahead of her in fifth at 51.75. Salvino turned in an impressive time of 2:07.15 in the 200 IM, good for fourth place.

In the boys’ 100 Fly final, Lee was also fourth overall with a time of 53.41 and fifth in the boys’ 100 free final with a time of 48.34 while Bezanilla was 16th (49.88).

Luke’s younger brother Bret Bezanilla finished third in the 10 and Under Free with a time of 1:04.10. The 7-10 boys’ 200 freestyle relay team placed in the top 16 with a time of 2:08.05. Joining Bret on that relay team were Ian Ma, Josiah Cerera, Chase Renno.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | April 4, 2019

Michael Goodman is 20 years old and has been competing in Special Olympics (SO) for six years. He has participated in softball, bowling, floor hockey and basketball. Now he is apart of the new sport offered through SO, flag football.

“Special Olympics is a great community and all of the people are like a family,” Michael said.

Michael is on the Blue Sharks basketball team and is a point guard. He likes his basketball coaches, and says they have helped teach him how to dribble with his left hand. Michael practices at home so he is prepared for practicing with his teammates.

During the week, Michael works at a local SCV business.

Roberto Garza has been in Special Olympics (SO) since he was 9 years old. He competes in bowling, basketball and floor hockey.

This week, SCV Special Olympics is offering flag football for the first time, and Roberto will be on that team as well.

“I brought him to SO to be involved and to be sociable,” said Roberto’s mother, Alejandra. He has grown so much from SO and he has made great friends. I have met a lot of great people too, and SO is like another family.”

During the week, Roberto attends a local SCV school.

Dodgers Hit MLB Opening Day Record with 8 Home Runs

| Sports | April 4, 2019

by Diego Marquez

The Los Angeles Dodgers 2019 MLB season started off with a bang on Thursday – literally.

Our boys in blue hit eight home runs on their way to a 12-5 dominating victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Two home runs shy of the MLB record (10) hit by the Blue Jays in 1987, the Dodgers tied the franchise record in a single game and set a new club record for most home runs on Opening Day as well as the most number of home runs hit by players, also an MLB record.

“I think last year we spent a lot of time — not only with you guys [in the media], but within the clubhouse — talking about what happened in October,” said Dodgers second baseman Enrique Hernandez in an interview with ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez. “This year we didn’t really do that much of that, if any at all. We were really focused from day one, and focused on this year, and taking care of the business that we have to take care of.”

Hernandez and Joc Pederson each hit two home runs. Austin Barnes, Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager and Max Muncy each hit one of their own in the Dodgers win. Their eight home runs matched the club record set back in 2002 and continue last year’s hot streak as the Dodgers led the National League with 235 home runs, setting a new franchise record in the process of making it to their second straight World Series.

“It’s probably not going to always be like that,” Bellinger said. “But it’s great to start off the season like that.”

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | March 28, 2019

Pierce Harlin is 17 years old and has been in Special Olympics since 2013. While he has competed in tennis and bowling, basketball is his specialty. Pierce is the youngest of five children and developed his athletic skills watching his big brother Brett play basketball.

Pierce’s position on the team is point guard. “Pierce has a good basketball IQ and we welcome him to our team,” said Coach Brad Bowers. Coach Dana Bowers said, “Pierce is eager to be a better player.”

“Special Olympics is where Pierce is allowed to participate and be fully engaged and not sit the bench,” said Pierce’s mom, Cheryl. “He is a part of a team.”

When there is a break in the action, Pierce can be seen on the sidelines dancing and doing his impersonation of Michael Jackson.

Pierce attends a local high school during the week.

Josh Cioffi has been in Special Olympics for 20 years. He has competed in basketball, bowling, track, soccer, swimming and floor hockey. Basketball is his favorite sport to compete in, although football is his favorite spectator sport – and the Chargers are “his team.”

Participating in Special Olympics is fun for Josh because he has made many friends and he likes his coaches. “I enjoy having Josh on the team. He is a good perimeter shooter,” said Basketball Coach Brad Bowers.

“He is very dedicated to his team,” Coach Dana Bowers said.

During the week, Josh is a member of a local day work program.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | March 21, 2019

Matheson (Mat) Walker began competing in Special Olympics during his junior high school years. Over the past 13 years, he has participated in track, bowling, and his favorite sport, basketball.

For the past four years, Mat had been out of SO, as he participated in Independent Living Skills (ILS) programs. The first program was UCLA Extension’s Pathway, where he lived in an apartment and attended ILS classes. The Pathpoint Community Independent Living Program was another program where Mat lived in an apartment, attended classes at Pierce, and received ILS services.

Mat attended the Taft’s Transition to Independent Living for the past two years, staying in the dorms and then out in the community in a house, again receiving ILS services.

“While we were happy that Mat was exploring his options for the past four years, we are very excited to have him on our team again,” Basketball Coach Brad Bowers said. “It is really amazing to see the progress he has made in those years. He is a go-getter.”


Micah Molacek, now 24, joined Special Olympics (SO) when he was 8 years old. He started out competing in swimming and now competes in basketball, bowling, floor hockey, and golf. Golf is his favorite sport and his father, Mike Molacek, coaches him.

“Micah is easy to coach and he loves to participate,” said Mike. Micah had a unified partner in golf and they won the gold medal.

Special Olympics Unified Sports, according to their website, “is an inclusive sports program that combines an approximately equal number of Special Olympics athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities) and partners (individuals without intellectual disabilities) on teams for training and competition.”

Micah likes SO because he gets to meet new people and develop friendships. During the week, Micah belongs to a local day work program.

Freshman Rachel Bowers Gets Playing Time with Boise State

| Sports | March 21, 2019

by Tom Pedersen

Canyon High grad Rachel Bowers has been a key contributor to the success of the Mountain West Champion, Boise State women’s basketball team. The freshman forward has played off the bench for the Broncos in every game, with 104 rebounds and scoring 195 points while leading the team with a .559 shooting percentage.

As league and league tournament champions, Boise State earned an automatic bid to the “The Big Dance.”

Boise State, 28-4 overall, plays the first round of the national championship tournament this Saturday in Corvallis Oregon. Their opponent will be Oregon State, 24-7 overall.

Angels Sign Mike Trout to Richest Sports Contract in History

| Sports | March 21, 2019

by Diego Marquez

The Los Angeles Angels are wasting no time in reassuring the stability and future of the organization. On Tuesday, the Angels and the superstar center fielder Mike Trout agreed to a 12-year extension that is said to be worth more than $430 million and will probably be the place where he will finish his career.

The deal is set to make be the most expensive contact in not only Major League Baseball, but the biggest in sports history. Trout would make $36 million per year and comes on the heels of the Philadelphia Phillies signing Bryce Harper to a 13-year, $330 million deal last month. Trout is entering the fifth year of a six-year, $144.5 million extension and if he stays for the duration of the supposed contract, Trout will be near 40 years of age.

Over the course of 1,065 games, since his debut in 2011, Trout a .307 batting average, .416 on-base percentage and a .573 slugging percentage while accruing 1187 hits and 240 home runs.

The Angels are known more hefty contracts, signing Albert Pujols to a 10-year $240 million contract and Josh Hamilton to a five-year $125 million dollars contract. Hamilton is no longer with the team. Pujols on the other hand is, and showed his contentment with the signing in an interview with ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

“It’s well-deserved,” Pujols said. “I don’t think there’s anybody in baseball besides him that deserves that [contract]. Trout is the best and the number speak for itself.

“I got mine in my time, and [I’m] just really excited, really pumped up for him and his family, for his mom and dad… just real exciting. To sign and be here hopefully for the rest of his career is gonna be pretty special, too.”

For the third consecutive year, the Angels are set to begin the season visiting the Oakland A’s for a four-game series beginning on March 28-31. Their home opener will be on April 4 against the Texas Rangers.

Los Angeles Rams Pick Up Free Agents

| Sports | March 14, 2019

by Diego Marquez

The Los Angeles Rams have picked up two key free agents, including safety Eric Weddle on Friday, Mar. 8 and re-signing outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. on Sunday.

Weddle signed a two-year deal worth $10.5 million on the heels of reports that Lamarcus Joyner will be relocating to Northern California and sign with the Oakland Raiders. The six-time Pro Bowl safety will likely join Rams cornerbacks Aquib Tali, Marcus Peters and John Johnson to form one of the most formiddibale secondary units in the National Football League.

The 13-year veteran finished the 2018 season in his third year with the Baltimore Ravens with 68 total tackles, three pass deflections and one sack in 16 games played.

Re-signing Dante Fowler Jr. will cost Los Angeles $12 million for a one-year contract with incentives worth up to $2 million. Fowler returns to LA after getting acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars in a mid-season trade, in exchange for third-round pick in this year’s draft and a fifth rounder in 2020.

In 15 games played last season, the linebacker combined to record 30 total tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles between the Jaguars and the Rams in 2018.

With the two signings, Los Angeles fills key defensive positions and assures that Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will have the proper tools to once again have a problematic 3-4 defense in 2019.

Former Paseo Aquatics Standout Julia Wolf Helps Lead Indiana Hoosiers to Big Ten Conference Swimming Title

| Sports | March 14, 2019

Former Valencia High School and Paseo Aquatics standout, Julia Wolf, left California for the state of Indiana with a few goals in mind: most importantly, helping the Indiana Hoosiers win the Big Ten Conference Championship and a national team title.

Wolf is halfway to realizing that dream, as Indiana toppled conference foe and No. 2 nationally ranked Michigan to claim the Hoosiers first Big Ten Conference Championship since 2011. Wolf, a freshman, did her part by finishing fifth overall in the 50 Freestyle, 10th in the 100 freestyle and led off the 200 freestyle relay that won a Bronze Medal and set a new Indiana University team record.

Wolf began her swim career with Paseo Aquatics, coached by Head Coach and team co-owner, Chris Dahowski. She was also a High School All-American for three years at Valencia High School, before leaving to spend her senior year of high school in Bloomington, Ind., to get a jump-start on her college training. Wolf set several school and area records, and is the current Foothill League record-holder in the 50 Freestyle.

Wolf and the Hoosiers next move on to the NCAA Division I Women’s Championships, which run March 20-23 in Austin, Texas.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | March 14, 2019

Aaron Fox-Hanson and Jordon Hanson are brothers who compete in Special Olympics (SO). Aaron has been competing since he was 8 years old, but it took Jordon a little longer to get the competition bug.

Christine Fox, single mom to both young men, said of SO, “This program has given them encouragement, self esteem, and taught them how to interact with other athletes. They both love it.”

According to Christine, Aaron slowly but surely became interested in competing.

“It took a couple of years, but then Jordon tried track and field,” Christine said. “When Coach John Parks was coaching the younger basketball team, the Sharkies, Jordon decided to give basketball a try. Now Jordon wants to try every sport. I just had to be patient and let him get involved when he was ready.”

Brad Bowers, Aaron and Jordon’s current basketball coach, said, “Both of those young men enjoy basketball, and you can tell it when they play.”

Aaron is a huge Lakers fan and Jordon is a huge Kobe Bryant fan.

During the week, Aaron is in a local day work program and Jordon attends a local SCV high school.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | March 7, 2019

Charlie Kayne is 16 years old and has been in Special Olympics (SO) for eight years. He competed in basketball, bowling, track and swimming.

Charlie’s mom, Faye, said, “We appreciate SO because Charlie gets to participate in sports. SO offers a social opportunity for children and parents where they are not judged.”

“Charlie is a fun kid who is always smiling and is willing to work,” Coach Scott Schaefer said.

Charlie also participates in horseback riding at Carousel Ranch and attends a local SCV school.


Vanessa Planas has been in Special Olympics (SO) for nine years. She competes in bowling and basketball. Vanessa feels that SO helps her make friends.

“She is a very talented basketball player and has good skills,” Coach Scott Schaefer said.

Vanessa also competes in VIP soccer and is an animator. She attends a local SCV high school.

Lakers’ and LeBron’s Playoff Chances Fading

| Sports | March 7, 2019

by Diego Marquez

After Monday night’s 113-105 loss to the Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers’ chances of getting into the playoffs are slim to none. The Lakers sit in the No. 10 seed in the West 5.5 games in back of the eight and final playoff spot, with 18 games left to play in the regular season – and the road doesn’t get any easier.

Los Angeles has the seventh-toughest remaining schedule, facing just five teams that have a sub.-500 winning percentage, and since the Lakers lost to the Clippers for a second time in a year, they cannot own the tiebreaker or the better division record and sneak into the playoffs.

The performance sparked rumors that LeBron James will “shut it down” or be on a minutes restrictions the rest of the season, with the possibility of making the playoffs in the rear-view mirror. Following Monday night’s loss James had this to say in a post-game interview with ESPN:

“That would take a lot of convincing from Luke [Walton] on up,” James told ESPN, referring to the Lakers coach, as well as (most likely) everyone from general manager Rob Pelinka, to president Magic Johnson, to governor Jeanie Buss. “Unless I’m hurt, I’m not sitting games.”

It is still unclear whether or not the Lakers will seriously look at shutting down James or pulling back his minutes the rest of the way, but with James averaging 40-plus minutes in five out of the eight past games, it looks likely that the king will be sitting on his throne a lot more as the season winds down. The Lakers host the Denver Nuggets at the Staples Center at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and then host the Boston Celtics at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Local Team Wins State Cup

| Sports | March 7, 2019

A local club soccer team won the prestigious Cal South State Cup tournament over the weekend. It’s the first such title for the club, the coach said.

The girls 2007 team from Fútbol Foundation Santa Clarita outscored its opponents 31-5 in eight games to capture the Governors Division. Sixty teams started the tournament, and FFSC was left standing after beating the Apple Valley Soccer Club Storm 3-2.

Kayla Lugo led all team members in goals, and goalie Sierra Cordola amassed five shutouts and even scored a goal in the final.

Other top players include twins Gianna and Bella Costello. Gianna assisted on Bella Bruno’s goal in the final, and Bella Costello helped anchor the defense. Ava Magana scored the first goal in the final.

At this age, the teams field only nine players at a side and play on smaller fields. Coach Adam Waddell said FFSC will move up to 11-on-11.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | February 28, 2019

Jenny Barlog is 14 years old and has been in Special Olympics (SO) for five years. Not only does she compete in SO bowling and basketball, she is also involved in VIP soccer and rides horses at Carousel Ranch.

Jenny’s grandmother was a college basketball player and taught Jenny how to play the game.

“Special Olympics made Jenny a better basketball player. We love the coaching and Jenny loves them too,” said Jenny’s mom, Jo Ann. “Special Olympics helps with Jenny’s social interactions and the program gets her out of the house and keeps her active.”

During the week, Jenny attends a local private school.


Derek Schaefer began his involvement with Special Olympics at the age of 8. Now, at 13 years old, he competes in basketball, golf, softball and bowling. Derek loves golf and the Dodgers.

“Special Olympics helped Derek come out of his shell,” said Derek’s mom, Cindy. “He was a bit shy.”

Derek’s dad, Scott, not only coaches Derek’s basketball team, but his golf team, as well.

“I am really impressed with his interaction with the other athletes,” said Scott. “He has really blossomed.”

Derek attends a local SCV school.

Free Agency Talks: Harper and Dodgers

| Sports | February 28, 2019

by Diego Marquez

The Los Angeles Dodgers and free agent Bryce Harper contract negotiations continue to build steam after news that the Colorado Rockies and Nolan Arenado agreed to an eight-year $260 million contract that would dish out $32.5 million annually to the third basemen. The deal would surpass Miguel Cabrera’s record deal that paid him $31 million average per year and is only second to pitcher Zack Greinke. The signing of Arenado is precarious because that gives the Dodgers more wiggle room and a bigger offer now that Arenado is out of the picture.

Los Angeles is in a serious standoff with the Philadelphia Phillies, but rumors have spread that Harper and the Dodgers were able to meet in Las Vegas over the weekend with the hopes that Harper would come to a decision by the end of the week. The outfielder is currently batting .279 for his career, has hit 184 home runs, 521 RBI and was named the MVP in 2015. Harper’s agent Scot Boras has not only praised Harpers work on the field, but also highlighted some of his off the field contributions to an organization in a statement earlier during free agency.

“Harper’s bazaar has begun and it’s fashionable, it’s historical, it’s elite and global,” Boras said in a statement earlier during free agency. “You’re in a category of talent that is rare, a generational player, an iconic player. For his past franchise in Washington, the attendance went up over 600,00 fans and remained there. There TV ratings have nearly tripled. Their franchise value went from $480 million to over $2 billion. You’ve seen an owner’s dream happen before you. For an owner to know the rocket ship of economic opportunity is just blasting off because the player is just entering the prime of his career — you’re talking about just a unique and rare opportunity for an owner.”

The 25-year-old All-Star is in the prime of his career and looks to continue his legacy with a strong franchise for a long time. Will Harper end up being a Dodgers, we will just have to wait and see.

UCLA Baseball Begins 2019 Season with Sweep of St. John’s

| Sports | February 21, 2019

by Diego Marquez

The Bruins baseball team got off to a fast start, beginning the 2019 season with three consecutive victories against St. John’s to sweep the three-game-series between Feb. 15-17. The No. 4 ranked UCLA team allowed just three runs over the three-game span, while bringing in 23 runs to cross the plate. Two of those three runs came in the season opener where the Bruins came away with a 3-2 victory. Down 2-0, the Bruins battled back in the sixth and seventh innings thanks to First Team All-American Chase Strumpf and Jake Pries, who each brought in a run in the come from behind victory.

In the second game of the series and the series clincher, UCLA’s hitting woke up scoring nine in the shutout victory for the Bruins. Matt McLain, Pries, Kreidler and Noah Cardenas all finished with RBIs in the second inning to extend the Bruin lead to 4-0. In the sixth inning, Jeremy Ydens singled allowing Kreidler to score to extend the lead to five runs. With the lead, Hart High grad and Bruin pitcher Jack Ralston pitched a brilliant game throwing six shutout innings, allowing three hits while striking out seven and walking one. UCLA would score four more runs in the seventh to add insult to injury to secure the series win with one game left.

Missing their season total by one run, the Bruins had 11 batters cross the plate in the final game of the the three-game series with St. Johns in an 11-1 victory. Kyle Cuellar, Chase Strumpf and Garrett Mitchell all finished the game with two RBIs apiece, while Ydens, Toglia, McLain and Will McInery all had one UCLA batter cross the plate. Pitcher Jesse Bergin pitched a six-inning beauty, allowing just two hits while striking out nine batters over the course of facing 21 batters and allowed the bullpen to do the rest of the work.

Just three games into the season, the Bruins are proving to the rest of the NCAA why they should be mentioned among the league’s best programs, scoring 23-3 runs over 27 innings while not allowing any earned runs to cross the plate.

Los Angeles Lakers Busy During Trade Dealdine

| Sports | February 14, 2019

by Diego Marquez

The 2018-19’ NBA trade deadline came and went and still the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves without one of their most prized targets, New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis. Instead the Lakers turned their attention towards other key role players. The Lakers got the ok when Davis intentionally made a trade demand 10 days before Thursday’s trade deadline. All indications pointed to a clear and cut decision that Davis wanted to join the Lakers and play alongside fellow superstar, LeBron James.

Things didn’t go as planned.

The Lakers’ initial lowball offer stunned the Pelicans organization and Los Angeles raised their offer to multiple first-round picks along with much of their young core like: Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball. Still New Orleans wanted to get more out of the trade for their superstar. It is reported that they wanted a couple of first-round draft picks, something that the Lakers were not willing to give up. The Lakers wound up turning their attention to acquiring established role players to try and fit around James and the rest of the young Lakers core by trading for guard Reggie Bullock and center/forward Mike Muscala.

Bullock was acquired on Feb. 6th from the Detroit Pistons for Svi Mykhailiuk and a future second-round pick. With Bullock, the Lakers add some depth at guard while he is avergaing 12.1 points, 2.5 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game in his sixth year in the NBA. On Feb. 7th, the Clippers and Lakers made a in-city trade, the Clippers traded away center Mike Muscala and received Lakers forward Michael Beasley and center Ivan Zubac. Muscala is an interesting add because he can stretch the floor for the Lakers shooting 34.2 percent from 3-point range and attempts 6.9 3-point shots per game. Muscala also has an expiring contract meaning that the Lakers could go after another prized free-agent this off season if things did not work out after this year.

Clippers Trade Tobias Harris and Company to 76ers in Surprising Deal

| Sports | February 7, 2019

by Diego Marquez

With the trade deadline right around the corner on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 3 p.m. ET, the Los Angeles Clippers front office made a surprising move to trade Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott to the Philadelphia 76ers in return for Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, Landry Shamet. The two first-round picks and two second-round picks when news broke late Tuesday night and into the early morning on Wednesday.

Los Angeles will receive Philly’s 2020 first-round pick, along with Miami’s unprotected 2021 first-round pick, which the 76ers acquired last summer during the draft. LA will also get the 2021 and 2023 second-round picks. The news comes as a little bit of a shock for Clippers fans, as Harris and Marjanovic seemed to be crowd favorites because of their chemistry on and off the court. Not to mention, Harris just hit the game-winning jumper in the lane with 4.3 seconds left to rally and take down the Charlotte Hornets 117-115 on Tuesday.

The Sixers receive another all-star level talent in Harris, who is in the middle of a year that he is averaging 20.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game and 42 percent from 3-point range. Harris slides right into the 76ers starting lineup alongside Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid forming arguably one of the most potent and intimidating starting lineups in the NBA.

Los Angeles, after trading away super-star Blake Griffin last year, has positioned themselves to try and land upcoming free agents like Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant. The Clippers also walk away winners because they received a lot of picks in the upcoming years, the two expiring contracts of Chandler and Muscala, as well as a handy point guard that is still on a rookie deal in Shamet. Long-term, Los Angeles has enough ammunition and assets to try and offer up a trade proposal for that guy in New Orleans, Anthony Davis. Things will all play out in the coming hours as the trade deadline approaches, but for now, it looks like the Clippers have positioned themselves to be a contender to land a top free-agent in the coming months.

Athlete of the Week

| Sports | February 7, 2019

Ali’i Vasquez competed in Special Olympics (SO), participating in track and field and bowling. He was a participant in the Hart Games for four years while in high school.

Ali’i likes to be in SO because he can be surrounded by his peers. Right now, he is limited to only bowling, due to an increase in seizures that are affecting his health. However, he still gets outside with his family and goes for walks or strolls in his stroller, and he is a familiar face in the community.

“Special Olympics is about real athletes who demonstrate genuine sportsmanship and achievement, all with a smile on their faces,” said his mother, Kellie.

Ali’i participates in a day program during the week.

USC Men’s Basketball on Three-Game Winning Streak

| Sports | January 31, 2019

by Diego Marquez

Since dropping two straight games between Oregon State and Oregon University on January 6 and January 10 respectively, the University of Southern California men of Troy have gone on a three-game Pac-12 winning streak.

USC defeated their crosstown rival UCLA 80-67 on January 19. The Trojans achieved this with tough, hard-nosed defense and great play from their center Nick Rakocevic, who finished the game with a double-double scoring 21 points and 12 rebounds in the win. Along with Bennie Boatwright, who did his part scoring 21 points while Prince Ali and Jaylen Hands chipped in with 15 points each.

The Trojans then headed off to Arizona to face off against the Wildcats and the Sun Devils in back-to-back games. The Bruins kept on rolling, defeating the Wildcats 80-57 on the road in dominant-style, defeating the Wildcats in the largest margin of victory since 1978. Rakocevic had a career game, tying his career-high with 27 points and 12 rebounds, finishing with his ninth double-double of the season. Boatwright recorded 12 points and 12 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. Kevin Porter Jr. returned to action after a thigh injury sidelined him earlier in the year and finished with 14 points.

Moving on to Tempe to take on the Sun Devils on Saturday, Boatwright continued his scoring, pouring in 17 points and the game-winning three-pointer with 14 seconds left to sweep the Arizona teams, thus defeating the Sun Devils 69-67. The Trojans finished the game with four players in double digits as Rakocevic scored 15, Shaqquan Aaron’s 13 and Jonah Matthews with 11, along with Boatwright’s 17. With the current three-game winning streak, the Trojans move into a tie for second place with Utah, with a 5-2 record in Pac-12 play and behind the undefeated 7-0 Washington Huskies.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | January 31, 2019

Jerry Chandler has been in Special Olympics (SO) since he was a teenager. He has been in basketball for at least 10 years, with softball, bocce ball, floor hockey and bowling filling out the rest of his seasons.

Jerry is a high-scorer in floor hockey. His teammates are his friends and the coaches help him with skills and game rules.

“Jerry likes to be a role model for the other players,” Coach Stephanie Liedblad said. “Last year, he went through the SO coaching training and became a coach. This season he wanted to play again.”

During the week, Jerry is part of a day work program.









Ray Crouse has been in Special Olympics since he was a teenager. He competes in floor hockey, track and field events, and soccer. Ray prefers sports that “let him run.”

“Floor hockey is my favorite,” Ray said. “I like to shoot the puck into the net.”

To Ray, the best part about Special Olympics is that the teams travel to tournaments. “Ray is team-oriented and loves applause,” said Coach Stephanie Liedblad.

Ray attends a work day program during the week.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | January 24, 2019

Rene Barcena has been in Special Olympics for over five years. He competes in floor hockey, basketball, soccer, swimming and bowling.

“Rene likes to take the initiative to help,” said Coach Steve Bratzel. “He is always ready and willing to help in practice and in games.”

During the week, Rene works in a local day program.



Tim Auten started competing in Special Olympics (SO) as a teenager in Van Nuys. He now competes in floor hockey and basketball in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“I like SO because it gets me out of the house,” Tim said.

“Tim is a competitor and steps up to do the best he can for his team,” Coach Steve Bratzel said.

During the week, Tim works in a local day program.

Los Angeles Rams Headed to Super Bowl for First Time Since 2002

| Sports | January 24, 2019

by Diego Marquez

After Greg Zuerlein sent a 57-yard field goal kick through the uprights in overtime, defeating the New Orleans Saints 26-23 in NFC Championship game on Sunday, the Rams are headed back to the Super Bowl for the first time in over 15 years.

For the first time since 2002, and the first time a Los Angeles team has made an appearance in the Super Bowl since the ‘80s, the Rams will face off against the New England Patriots in Atlanta in Super Bowl LIII. But, in spectacular L.A. fashion, there was controversy surrounding the win.

In the fourth quarter after Ted Ginn Jr.’s big third down catch, Saints quarterback, Drew Brees, threw a pass for TommyLee Lewis, who by the naked eye looked like he got hit before the ball was even close to getting there, but no “pass interference” call was given. If the call was given, the game would have been essentially over. The Saints could run down the clock to near zero and kick the game-winning field goal.

Instead, Brees threw an incomplete pass, stopping the clock, and let the Rams keep their precious timeouts. After the Saints kicked a field goal to put them up 23-20 with 1:41 left, the Rams took over to try and score on the last possession in regular time.

The Rams marched down the field and Zuerlein kicked a 48-yarder to send the game into overtime. The Saints won the coin flip and began to drive down the field, but just when things were going right, and after advancing to their own 40 yard line, Brees was hit in the backfield by Rams defensive end, Dante Fowler, throwing up a duck and allowing Joe Johnson III to get underneath the ball for the interception.

The interception proved costly for the Saints, as the Rams drove 15 yards and kicked the game-winning field goal in overtime to send the Rams to Super Bowl LIII. Since the conclusion of the game, the NFL front office contacted New Orleans head coach Sean Payton and accepted responsibility for the blown call. Unfortunately, that’s how the year ended for the New Orleans Saints, as the Rams got revenge from earlier in the season when the Saints handed the Rams their first loss of the season in Week 9.

The Los Angeles Rams will face-off against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3 from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. ET.

Lakers’ LeBron James Still Out Due to Hamstring

| Sports | January 19, 2019

By Diego Marquez

The Los Angeles Lakers will have to deal without NBA All-Star veteran LeBron James for a couple more games due to a nagging hamstring injury. He has been suffering with the injury since Christmas Day, when they Lakers defeated the Golden State Warriors. Being re-evaluated sometime this week, James will most likely have to sit out for games against Oklahoma and Houston, bringing the total of games missed due to the injury to 13. Prior to this absence, the King never missed more than 13 games in a row during his 15-year NBA career.

Since suffering the injury on Christmas Day, the Lakers have gone 4-7 with the King not in the lineup, and they also took down the Chicago Bulls 107-100 on Tuesday. The Lakers currently sit in the last and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings, sitting 6.5 of first-place Golden State Warriors. And, according to FiveThirtyEight, they have the second-most difficult strength of schedule, as they will have to take on the Warriors and Bucks twice, with Toronto and Denver once each.

Before the injury occurred, James was off to yet another outstanding start to his career with the Lakers. James is the sixth-leading scorer, sitting at 27.3 points per game along with 8.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists. If the playoffs were to start today, James would be guiding the Lakers to their first postseason berth in five years. Some good news broke on Monday, however, as the Lakers found out point guard Rajon Rondo has been cleared by doctors to resume dribbling with his right hand. He broke his hand on the same Christmas Day game that James suffered the hamstring injury. Rondo is expected to be out for another four to five weeks.

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