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A look back at the 2019-20 year for Garces Athletics

As the entire state of California awaits the news from the CIF on Monday morning regarding the fate of high school sports, let’s take a look back at the 2019-20 year for Garces Memorial High School athletics.

Through this look-back, we take the trip down memory lane of one of the most rewarding and challenging years for Garces via tweets dating back to July of last year.

Let’s go!

It all began on July 30 of last summer with the first post from the newly created @GarcesAthletics Twitter account of Alexsia Drulias and Jackie Sala.

The Garces girls tennis duo came into the season as returning Central Section doubles champions and were looking to lead the Rams. More on the success of these two and the girls tennis team as a whole coming.

A day later, we all celebrated senior Ebube Ekpemogu as he scored a goal in the All-State Cup in Orlando.

Ebube wasn’t the only Garces athlete taking a larger stage before the school year began. Sophomore Logan Wimbish was in Barcelona, Spain competing in water polo.

In a true show of sportsmanship, the Garces girls tennis team, along with Bakersfield High and Bakersfield Christian girls tennis teams held a moment of silence for Frank Thiessen. Coach Thiessen was a long-time area football, tennis and girls basketball coach in Kern County who passed away last July.

The fall sports season really kicked off the week of Aug. 19.

That same week, a lot of time and dedication came to fruition with the official unveiling of the “Papa” Joe Campbell Team Room in the Campbell Field House. The room has 50 theater-style leather seats to allow our athletic programs a larger room to study film and have team meetings in. A great edition to the Garces campus with many generous donation from our Hail Mary Club members.

With the football season opener at BCHS the following evening, our Garces cheer squad was on-hand for a live preview with ABC 23 on Aug. 22.

The start of the football season didn’t go as planned for the Rams, but the defense against BCHS (four interceptions) showed how dominating they could be all season long.

The start of the boys and girls water polo season began on Aug. 28 at home against BCHS as the Rams were victorious in the double-header over the Eagles.

The Garces volleyball team’s home opener was Sept. 4 against Clovis West. The Rams were young and energetic throughout the season despite the loss against the eventual Central Section Division I champions.

Here’s a sight we will all miss dearly. During an unseasonal rain storm, longtime teacher and coach, Mark Brown, caught standing in the middle of quad taking in the percipitation to the delight of the student body. We already miss Mr. Brown, who retired after 42 years on campus and is living in Sacramento.

The 2019 version of the Holy Bowl was in Fresno on Sept. 14. It was an exciting day that came to an end in an exciting football game against the Panthers. The return of senior quarterback Joseph Campbell brought back life to the Rams offense, but the Rams fell 28-21.

Just six days later, the football team finally secured the first win of the Paul Golla era with a 63-0 rout on the road at Tehachapi as Jalen Smith scored four touchdowns on the ground for the Rams.

A big season was really starting to roll the weekend of Sept. 28 for the Garces girls water polo team as the Rams took down Porterville for the tournament title in Clovis over the weekend.

The excitement of the season for the girls tennis team was beginning to really take off as free tacos were being handed out to our student body in attendance on Oct. 3 to watch the Rams down Stockdale in Southwest Yosemite League play.

The Jockey Club is such an awarding presentation for student-athletes in Kern County. Volleyball senior Luisa Dulcich was the first Ram this season to be honored at Hodell’s. Wouldn’t be the last.

Oct. 16 was a special one for the volleyball team, taking down BHS for the first league win of the season.

It was a big day for girls tennis at BHS as freshman Kylee Limpias won the SWYL singles title and Drulias and Sala won the doubles title.

In Porterville on Oct. 29, both of the water polo teams secured outright East Yosemite League titles with wins at Porterville, setting the Rams up for a big push in the playoffs coming in the coming days.

Junior Julianna Escobedo qualified for the CIF Southern California Regional Girls Golf Championships out of the section championships on Nov. 4. Escobedo would earn BVarsity All-Area first-team honors after the season concluded.

On Nov. 7, a great crowd was on hand for the section D-I girls tennis semifinals.

The Rams defeated Clovis-Buchanan at home and advanced to the section finals in a loss at Clovis North days later.

The season extended because of this three-hour plus singles match for junior Sierra Kent. Just watch the excitement for the Rams to go from league champions to section D-I runners-up.

Despite an 0-3 start to the season, the Garces football team advanced to the playoffs, winning four of the last seven regular season games and avenged a regular season loss to Frontier with a 37-7 rout over the Titans in the first round of the D-II playoffs. The Rams would eventually fall to Hanford 33-20 in the quarterfinals.

A busy Saturday on campus Nov. 9 as the Central Section girls tennis individual championships and water polo playoff double-header were all at Garces.

Both water polo teams advanced, but the day ended with Drulias and Sala repeating as section doubles championships. It also marked the third doubles title for Drulias after winning the title as a freshman with her older sister, Anastasia.

And as night fell that evening, the baseball Hot Stove dinner had a very special guest, the lengendary Tommy John was a guest speaker and took time before the banquet to speak with the baseball team.

Nov. 13 was a special day for Ebube Ekpemogu. The senior soccer standout signed to play men’s soccer at Cal State Bakersfield in front of a large lunch-time crowd in the gym.

The first Central Section team championship of the year for Garces came on Nov. 16 as the girls water polo team downed Porterville-Monache 15-8 for the D-II section title.

Less than a week later, both water polo teams were in the CIF NorCal water polo semifinals. Both team lost heart-breaking games with the boys at Buchanan and the girls across the Golden Gate Bridge north of San Francisco at Mill Valley-Tamalpias. Two incredible seasons for the water polo teams.

It was one final sendoff for the cross country teams as the Rams headed to the Central Section championships at Woodward Park in Fresno on Nov. 21, completing the fall sport season for Garces and ended an incredible coaching career for Mark Brown at Garces.

December came in a blink and the Garces girls soccer team opened up at home with a 5-0 win over North on Dec. 5.

Garces wrestling’s lone home dual was on Dec. 12 in a loss to Highland. But the night also proved that there was some serious talent on the team this season. Stay tuned.

The boys basketball season was off and running and on Dec. 20, the Rams defeated Tehachapi 61-36 at home.

With the New Year upon us, at least 2020 started off well as the Garces boys basketball team defeated Delano-Chavez 61-47 for the title in the Garces Elite Eight Challenge.

A big day on campus was Jan. 6, as it was announced that Garces would become the first school in Kern County history to have a competitive dance team. The Rams were set to compete twice in the spring before COVID-19 forced shutdown of campuses nation-wide in mid-March.

For their efforts in the pool, winning the section D-II title, the girls water polo team was honored by the Kern County Board of Supervisors on Jan. 7.

The Garces boys soccer team opened up SWYL play with a 5-0 win at Frontier on Jan. 8. The Rams overcame some injuries early in the season and were gearing up for another big postseason push.

Maybe the top individual play of the season for Garces athletics came on Jan. 17 as senior Joseph Campbell hit a running three-pointer at the buzzer as the Rams beat Liberty 56-55.

On Feb. 3, the boys soccer team secured a second consecutive SWYL title with a 1-0 win at Liberty. The Rams would go undefeated at 10-0 in league play and earned the No. 1 seed in the D-IV section playoffs.

The season ended for the girls basketball team in the inaugural South Yosemite Conference tournament at North High on Feb. 10, but what a way to go out. Addi McMurtrey scored 29 points and the Rams nearly upset No. 2 Tehachapi in the opening round.

On Feb. 13, the boys basketball team finished off an incredible four-day run in the SYC tournament with an overtime win over BHS to secure the title. The win also pushed the Rams to No. 2 in the D-III playoffs, allowing the Rams two more home games in the playoffs.

Feb. 16 belonged to Darius Picar. With just a 4-9 record coming into the D-IV championships in Visalia, the senior 106-pounder went 5-1 and placed third, earning his first Central Section Master’s appearance.

Overall, a great day for Garces wrestling as freshman Tye Montiero won the 152 title and junior DeAndre Beldo won the 220 title. And junior Sarah Machado became the first Garces girls wrestler to qualify for Masters.

It was a magical night for the boys soccer team on Feb. 22. The Rams blanked Shafter 4-0 for the D-IV title. It marked a second consecutive section title for the Rams and another berth in the state playoffs after winning the D-V title in 2018-19.

The incredible late-season run for the boys basketball team came to an end on Feb. 25. But it was a special night with a packed house against Fresno-Hoover with the Rams falling 75-64. The best student section of the season.

The night also showcased the photo of year by George Ayonayon as J.J. Uphold threw down a thunderous dunk.

Spring sports were off and running by the end of February. On the road, the baseball team fell to Highland 2-0 despite a great pitching performance by Landon Riley.

On Feb. 27, there was excitement for freshman Tye Montiero heading into the CIF State Wrestling Championships at Mechanics Bank Arena downtown. But what transpired over the next three days was legendary.

After losing the opening round pigtail match at 152 pounds to the top wrestler in the weight class in the state, Montiero won five consecutive win-or-go-home matches to become the first Garces wrestler to medal at state. Montiero took down four of the top 30 seeds en route to an 8th place finish. Wow.

Shelby Buchanan appeared ready for a huge senior season for the softball team. The senior now headed to Bakersfield College had three home runs in the first two games of the season.

The boys soccer team earned a second consecutive state title game apperance after beating Norwalk 3-0 at home on March 6. The Rams hosted Corona-Santiago in the D-III finals two days later in a heartbreaking loss in penalty kicks. What a wonderful season for the boys soccer team that eared junior Alex Halevy BVarsity co-Player of the Year and coaches Robbie Gouk and Hassan Halevy named co-Coaches of the Year.

The spring was heating up and both boys and girls swim teams were looking for big seasons, coming away with titles at the Taft Invite on March 7.

Wednesday, March 11 marks the final sporting event for Garces Memorial in 2019-20 as the softball team lost the SWYL opener to Frontier.

There was indication that the spring sport season would halt the next day or two, but no one envisioned what has happened over the last four months.

There was some good that came out of the time away from campus.

Drulias was named the 2020 winner of the Jim Tyack Award on May 11. Drulias ended her high school career as one of the most decorated in school history with three section doubles titles and being named BVarsity Girls Tennis Player of the Year three times.

We also got to spend six weeks showcasing every senior on campus with “Senior Spotlights” daily on social media.

The 2019-20 season may have came to a halt way too soon for our spring sports athletes and the start of the 2020-21 season may not start any time soon, but when high school sports are back in action, Garces Athletics will be there to showcase all of the wonderful things our student-athletes accomplish.


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