Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Like Father, Like Son - Larson Had Racing In His Blood

NASCAR Illustrated recently published a feature story on Elk Grove driver Kyle Larson and his father, Mike. The story recounts how dad, a big race fan, had son at the dirt tracks in Northern California at an early age. Mike recounts the quick rise to stardom in racing his son has experienced.

Mike and wife Janet still reside in Elk Grove.

Now 22 years old, Kyle is one of the top drivers in NASCAR's top circuit. He frequents advertisements for his race team's chief sponsor, Target. Plus, he's now a father. Young Owen was born in December.
A young Kyle Larson on his dad's shoulders

Last Sunday Larson finished 15th at the Toyota-Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Speedway. Larson has had one top five finish thus far this season and probably should have won the Michigan 500 two weeks ago, but pitted for fuel just moments before a big rain storm halted the race.

At the wheel of Chip Ganassi's No. 42 Chevrolet, Larson is competing this weekend in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona Motor Speedway. It's officially the halfway spot of the 2015 Sprint Cup season.  Larson is in 17th place in the Sprint Cup standings at this point.

Levin Update

It's been a while since we last checked in with Elk Grove H.S. 2003 grad Spencer Levin.

He finished in a tie for 48th last weekend at the Travelers' Championship in Connecticut. Bubba Watson was the winner of the event.

Levin is currently in 105th place in the FedEx points standings. In the 22 PGA Tour events he's entered in 2015 he's made the cut 13 times. He has five top-25 finishes and to date has earned $601, 824.
Spencer Levin

In recent months Levin has picked up a sponsor in Major League Baseball. He's seen on the course wearing a hat with the MLB logo on it and frequently wears clothing in the colors of the area baseball team.

Bradshaw Ranked Top D-5 Team In State

In its end-of-season rankings, Cal Hi Sports selected Bradshaw Christian H.S. as it's top baseball club in Division V.

The Pride has won the last three Sac-Joaquin Section championships in its division.

Head coach Drew Rickert, who also coaches football at the small school on Calvine Road, last month announced he's stepping down and will concentrate on just the football program.

Former Sheldon head coach John Misplay will take over. Last season Misplay was the pitching coach for the Pride.

Detrick In Alabama

Professional water skier Brian Detrick won't be around this weekend to shoot off fireworks in Elk Grove. He's entered into the Malibu Classic in Alabama which begins Friday.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Briggs To Receive Key To City

Elk Grove News is reporting that the Elk Grove City Council will vote Wednesday on whether they will hand out a key to the city. The two names that will be lofted to city fathers are former Chicago Bears All-Pro linebacker Lance Briggs and professional water-skier Brian Detrick.

 [Update- The EG City Council did, by a 4-1 vote, approve the awarding of the Key of the City to Briggs. However, the Council deadlocked 2-2 (with Detrick's father, Steve - a city councilman- recusing himself from the vote) on approval for Derrick to receive the Key]

A year ago, in the City's first such honor, NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kyle Larson was awarded a key.

The idea of Briggs receiving such an honor is a no-brainer. Since graduating from EGHS in 1999 he's been one of the top linebackers in football, first with the University of Arizona and then with the Bears. Recently, Briggs opened a BBQ restaurant in the city and for several years has been financially helping youth football locally with big donations to his alma mater along with holding an annual football camp.

His foundation annually purchases Christmas gifts for children in need in Chicago.

At first the notion of Detrick getting a key was a head scratcher, until I thought about it for a while. Like Larson, Detrick is at the top of his sport at a young age. The 2007 EGHS grad is ranked in the top ten worldwide in waterskiing and his accomplishment in his sport is unmatched by any one ever from Elk Grove.

Larson, likewise, is the first Elk Grove resident to ever reach the top rung of NASCAR. He was his sport's Rookie of the Year and though he has yet to win a Sprint Cup race, Larson has finished in the top five twice in the past month.

But here are three other Elk Grovians (is there such a word?) worth considering for future Keys To the City:

1. Stephanie Lopez-Cox
Easily the best soccer player to ever come out of EG. The 2003 EGHS grad helped Portland University to a NCAA Soccer championship and was a member of the 2008 Olympic Gold Medal-winning women's team in Beijing.

2. Bill Cartwright
Old timers who saw him play at EGHS in 1975-1977 say he was the best basketball player this region has seen. He was one of only two EG residents to ever be drafted by the NBA. The other one was Xavier Thames of Pleasant Grove H.S. two years ago.

Cartwright played alongside Michael Jordan and Scotty Pippen helping the Chicago Bulls win three NBA titles before retiring. He's coached in the NBA and in Japan since.

3. Buck Martinez
He goes back many years but John Albert Martinez is Elk Grove's most accomplished baseball player. He spent 17 seasons with the Blue Jays, Royals and Brewers. He briefly managed the Blue Jays and Team USA but in recent years has been in the broadcast booth in Toronto.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Want A Unique Fishing Experience? Try Lake Michigan

The 30-foot Baja Cruiser slowly moves through the peaceful waters of the fishing harbor at Two Rivers, Wisc. It’s headed east into the expanse of Lake Michigan, one of the largest freshwater lakes in all of North America.

Sixty-two nautical miles wide and 307 statute miles long, the second-biggest of the Great Lakes chain offers one of the most unique fishing experiences anyone can imagine.  King and Coho Salmon, rainbow trout, lake trout and brown trout populate its waters in good numbers.

And as two of this craft’s fishing charter customers found out this particular June afternoon, the fish are big.

At the helm is the boat’s captain, Chad Kakes, who along with his brother Ed operate Shur-Katch Charters. When the craft passes the end of the harbor’s breakwater, the swales of Lake Michigan suddenly grow to between two and three feet high. 
Lake Michigan charter captain Chad Kakes 

Kakes turns the bow into the northeast wind and presses the throttle forward. The boat’s twin 350-cubic inch engines roar to life and the craft rapidly increases in speed. Everyone on board grabs something nearby to steady himself or herself as the craft cuts through the waves to a spot roughly three miles from shore.

A large video monitor directs Kakes to a place in 60 to 70 feet of deep blue waters where his customers have regularly caught fish. He cuts the engines down to a low purr and turns on the auto-pilot on a heading right into the 20 mph northeast wind.

Kakes and his first mate, Josh Rysticken, spring to work setting out into the water a fairly complex series of downriggers and planner boards.  Within a few minutes 12 fishing lines will be attached to this system of cables and lines.

At the end of each line is a lure presentation called a “fly dodger.” A piece of reflective aluminum roughly eight inches long is attached to the end of 50 lb. test braided line. Trailing roughly 24 inches behind is a jighead with a treble hook covered with a skirt of sparkled material.

The idea, Kakes said, is that the fly dodger looks like a school of baitfish with a small fish trailing.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

EG Rec Soccer Boasts More Than 800 Players In First Season

It's a familiar battle amongst all youth sports. The kids and coaches (and parents) that really take the sport seriously and play very competitively and tirelessly versus the kids and coaches (and parents) that just want to play for the fun of it.

Then the board members of these youth sports groups try to balance the two directions and, at times, no one seems to be satisfied with how their league is operated.

There's no sport that doesn't deal with this dilemma. Unfortunately, it often causes divisions and hard feelings amongst their members. At times it's expected.  But, that’s the nature of the beast when it comes to organizing competitive athletics.

This kind of edgy situation has been brewing amongst Elk Grove's largest youth sports organization, Elk Grove Youth Soccer League (EGYSL), for a while. EGYSL has ruled the roost, so to speak, in the city when it came to soccer. Though they have several neighborhood clubs organize teams and take registrations in their region of Elk Grove, EGYSL has always held the fort overall. They have hundreds of recreational teams, select squads and even manage a traveling competitive organization, FC Elk Grove. 

EGYSL, claiming more than 6,000 participants, has grown to a $3 million operation complete with leased office space and full-time staff. They've been soccer to the city of Elk Grove.

But, finally a few members said they didn’t like the overall direction of EGYSL, had enough and decided to begin their own soccer organization. 

And, their goal: to just teach the sport of soccer to young people and have fun. Throw out the scoreboard. Let's just kick the ball around the field and let the kids have a blast.

Thus, the creation of the Elk Grove Recreational Soccer League (EGRSL).

Madrigal Drafted By Indians

Elk Grove shortstop Nick Madrigal was selected this week by the Cleveland Indians in the 17th round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft. He was the 514th player selected overall.

Madrigal, a four-year starter for the Herd, batted .450 with 31 stolen bases in leading Elk Grove to the Sac-Joaquin Section's Division I championship.
Nick Madigal

Now, the decision for Madrigal will be whether to sign (and there will likely be an upper five- to low six-figure signing bonus offered for being selected in the 17th round) with the Indians or attend Oregon State University, where he is currently committed.

Other area players taken over the past three days of the MLB Draft include Tanner Dodson of Jesuit, selected in the 31st round by the Mets, Nick Sprengel of El Dorado, in the 31st round by the Nationals, and Nathan Lukes of Sacramento State, in the 7th round by the Indians.

In the pick immediately after Madrigal, the 515th overall, the Giants selected Cameron Avila-Leeper, formerly of Grant High School and this past season was the ace of the staff at Delta College in Stockton.

Last summer Elk Grove centerfielder Derek Hill was taken in the first round by the Tigers. He's now in the Midwest League with Western Michigan.

In 2013 Herd stars Rowdy Tellez and Dom Nunez were drafted. Both are in Class A baseball, Tellez with the Blue Jays' organization and Nunez with the Rockies.

Elk Grove's J.D. Davis was selected last summer by the Astros in the 3rd round after three seasons at Fullerton State. He's currently playing in the California League.

Monday, June 08, 2015

MLB Draft Underway

Major League Baseball's draft of first-year players is now underway. You can follow it HERE.

Interestingly there are very few Northern California players listed in Baseball:America's top 500
Nick Madrigal
prospects. Elk Grove's Nick Madrigal is ranked 180th overall. He's planning on attending Oregon State University next year, but a high draft selection may change those plans.

We'll keep you informed if anyone else locally gets a call from a MLB club.