Last week Tehachapi High School graduated yet another senior class, sending off a very successful group in terms of their contributions to the school, the community and athletics. With the school year over, it’s time to look back at some of the top highlights of the 2017-18 Warriors season.
Many of the highlights include championships. Many I had mentioned before; some are simply an attempt to catch up and recap what was a successful season for Tehachapi. These young men and women deserve one final mention of their success, and then as is the case with prep sports, we turn the page and look toward next season. Here are some of last season’s highlights, in no particular order.
The Lady Warriors volleyball team won yet another South Yosemite League championship, this year under first year head coach Rachel Wulff. Interesting to note that the Warriors rarely played past the minimum amount of sets all season as well, wins or losses, and there were few losses as they posted a 25-5 overall mark and were 10-0 in league play. At one point in the season Tehachapi won 17 straight matches without losing a set. They won one playoff game and lost in the semifinals to Madera. While they lost five seniors to graduation, with both the junior varsity and frosh/soph teams winning league championships as well, it's clear to see that future championships are within reach for this new sport dynasty in green and black.
I haven’t written much about soccer. To be quite honest it’s a tough sport to cover in Tehachapi. We always give a lot of credit to Tehachapi football playing outside in the “cold.” Have you ever been to a Tehachapi soccer match? In January? It’s another animal. Boys’ varsity soccer this season didn’t win a championship, but they took the first steps in making the program viable, snapping 30-league-game losing streak by defeating West 2-1 on Jan. 9. Tehachapi won three league games this season and qualified for the CIF playoffs for the first time since 2013-14. Not a dynasty, but a testament to a turnaround.
There were more titles to be had this season. The girls’ varsity golf team finished the SYL season with their second championship in three years. Tehachapi entered the SYL league tournament back in November with a six-point lead, meaning they just needed a fourth-place finish to grab at least a share of the league crown. Instead of settling for a piece of the title, THS posted their best tournament score of the season, running away from the rest of the field to capture the championship outright. They would go on to finish 13th in the CIF playoffs.
Also winning multiple championships yet again was Tehachapi swimming. Both the boys and girls varsity teams continued their dominance of the SYL with their fourth straight championship. To add to that highlight, the Warriors had a CIF Central Section championship for the first time in 15 years as the girl’s 200 medley relay team consisting of Molly Miller Rijfkogel, Jessica Riggs, Annika Ostrem and Amanda Arebalo took home the Division II crown with a time of 1:55.61. The senior team will be tough to replace next season.
Warrior softball will not have to replace many seniors next season, and that’s a good thing for a program that won a share of the SYL title this year and did so with just two seniors in the lineup. That means the team chalked full of what was seven juniors and five underclassmen will have a great shot at capturing the CIF championship that has somehow alluded them the last two seasons.
Then, of course, there is always football. It was a historic season as Doug DeGeer took over for hall of famer Steve Denman as head coach. DeGeer made a splash early by leading the Warriors to an overtime win over rival Garces in week 2. They would go on to lose four straight games, including a couple of lopsided defeats to state powerhouses. Eventually they found their way back into the win column, into another SYL championship and into the CIF Central Section Division III Semifinals after closing out the season with six straight wins before the playoff loss to Tulare Western.
DeGeer knows another challenge awaits him when the new season opens just nine weeks from now, not of the magnitude of replacing a legend, but having to instead replace a good chunk of his roster that graduated, including most of his defense that sparked last season’s winning streak.
But as has been the story with all the highlights from the 2017-18 season for Warrior teams, challenge and adversity is nothing new. What makes our teams special is that innate ability to overcome those hurdles and find success in competition — for themselves, for their team, for our town.
It’s just the Warrior Way.
Corey Costelloe has covered the NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. A THS graduate, he now resides and works in Tehachapi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are his own.