2019: A look back to the future. The top five highlights from the year in Kern Valley sports

Kern Valley Sun File Photos
From top: Joe McIrvin after getting the varsity softball head coaching job at Centennial High School in Bakersfield. Helen Hayes with her parents after signing to play softball at Arizona Christian University, Hannha Hurley with Bill Gallis gets ready to sign to play basketball at William Jessup University. Zach Bushling with his parents signs to play baseball at UConn (University of Connecticutt). Sadi Hartman signs her letter of intent to play softball at Vanguard University.
Kern Valley Sun File Photos
River Sartor of the Lady Broncs tennis squad returns a shot in the CIF playoff match. The Lady Broncs varsity softball team celebrates after winning their second consecutive CIF title. Gabby Mayfield is crowned as the inaugural winner of the Queens and Princesses Bowling Tournament held at Mt. Mesa Lanes. The varsity Broncs youth football team show who is No. 1 after winning the Super Bowl. The scores says it all after the Kern Valley wrestling team captured its third straight High Desert League championship.

By: Ray Conner
Sports Editor

As we enter 2020, it’s with ‘perfect vision’ we look back at the year 2019.
This year’s look back will once again be the top five highlights. This is according to the splashes that were made on the Kern Valley Sun sports pages.

This is always a tough job, as how one rates a top highlight. There is only one vote that carried the motion as to what the five highlights will be. There were quite a few that met the criteria, but only the top five will be featured here.

The top highlight is the fact the Kern Valley athletes have the country covered. This is the common thread that came to the forefront. This past year the top highlight is of former Kern Valley athletes that may have, or had moved on to the next level. In the past year of 2019, there have been no less than nine former athletes that continue to compete at some level of competition. Three of those are just getting started at the college level, while two have finished up. One athlete is performing well at the next level coming close to making history, while another just finished her season. Another athlete made a name for himself by moving on to a Division 1 school after a successful junior college venture. The final piece to the 2019 puzzle comes from a former athlete nailing down a job at a highly competitive high school as a head coach.

These nine names made splashes on the sports pages and therefore are the top highlight of 2019.

We will start with the three athletes that signed letters of intent to play their individual sport. Two of those will be playing softball, while one is currently running up and down the basketball court.

Sadi Hartman, Helen Hayes, and Hannah Hurley fit the bill here.
Hartman will be playing for Vanguard, Hayes will play at Arizona Christian University, while Hurley plays at William Jessup University. Hurley in two games has scored three points in six minutes of action.

Becca Gallis, playing basketball at Monmouth is taking the court by storm leading her team. Earlier in the year she came close to making history. And in the same week was honored for being the player of the week. Arika D’ Amico just finished her season of soccer at Florida College and Zach Bushling after a stellar career at Sierra, will now play baseball for the UConn Huskies.

Two former Lady Broncs softball players finished and started in college softball. Lexi LaFarga played two seasons of softball at Porterville and Sam Alvarez played her first year at San Francisco State.

This past year a former Broncs baseball player decided after being an assistant to go after the golden ring, or rather the Golden Hawk. Joe McIrvin who graduated in 1997 took the job as varsity head coach of the Lady Golden Hawks softball squad.

In this year, the year of the former Broncs and Lady Broncs, its plain that if you push the envelope you can open doors to the next level.

2.Coming real close, but finishing as the second top highlight of the year was the Lady Broncs tennis team. This group of ladies earned Kern Valley its sixth High Desert League title and put their names in the history books.

This team went undefeated in HDL action, including disposing of Rosamond who tried to spoil the fun. Then the Lady Broncs did something no team from Kern Valley had ever done. They won a CIF playoff match. Kern Valley in recent years has had byes that pushed them to the next round, but this year they physically dispatched Fowler to claim their mark in history.

3. Last year’s top highlight made a strong case to be included in the mix, but once again came up just short. The Lady Broncs varsity softball team won their second consecutive CIF title. They became the first team in school history to record back-to-back CIF title since moving to the Central Section of the CIF.

4. It seemed the trend this past year was winning consecutively. This is what the Kern Valley wrestling team did as they collected their third straight High Desert League title.

A mixture of youth and experience pushed the Broncs grapplers to the elite position of winning three straight titles. Along with that they sent a wrestler to the State Tournament for the third time. Jacob Ligthner finished off a successful run at Kern Valley and now serves his country in the U.S. Army.

5. Last, but not least in looking back over this past year, the fifth top highlight came from Mt. Mesa Lanes. Gabby Mayfield who owns and operates Mt. Mesa Lanes with her family took some time off and was crowned the inaugural Queens and Princesses Singles Tournament. She became the overall winner by defeating Becky Harwick to claim the title.

Of course there were many other highlights that could be mentioned. There was the varsity Lady Broncs and the jayvee Broncs basketball teams winning HDL titles, the varsity youth football Broncs winning the Super Bowl, and of course some guy that rolled his first-ever 300 game at Mt. Mesa Lanes.

But in the end the top five highlights deserve their place in the (Kern Valley) Sun as it fades from 2019 to the New Year.

Sports Editor’s Note: As is the case most of the time, someone gets missed who is currently competing at the next level, or even coaching a team somewhere, and was a former Kern Valley Athlete. Let me assure you that it was never the intention to be missed, but no information was afforded the Kern Valley Sun. Please do not hesitate in bringing this to the Sports Editor’s attention. You may do so by email at sports@kvsun.com