Bruso’s mound mastery tops 2002 feats |

Bruso’s mound mastery tops 2002 feats

APJonna Mendes' nerves showed after her Olympic races in Salt Lake City, but during competition she was all business, finishing 11th in downhill and 16th in super-G

While 401K retirement plans took a nosedive in 2002, sports feats on the South Shore rose to new heights.

From former South Tahoe High pitcher Greg Bruso winning the earned run average title in the Northwest League to Travis Cabral claiming his first World Cup freestyle title, there were enough great feats to make a city the size of Sacramento envious.

Below is a brief look back at the accomplishments, as ranked by the Tahoe Daily Tribune sports staff:

1) Bruso pitched so well in 2002 that he actually could have compiled his own top 5 list. In addition to posting the league’s lowest earned run average at 1.99 during his rookie season with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in the Class A Northwest League, Bruso had a breakout season with U.C. Davis beforehand.

UC-Davis’ ace compiled a 10-4 record with a 1.94 ERA, 11 complete games, 100 strikeouts and three shutouts.

As a result, he was selected second-team All-American, California Collegiate Athletic Association Pitcher of the Year and American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings West Region Pitcher of the Year.

After his sensational senior season at Davis, Bruso realized a dream and prolonged his baseball career by being selected in the 16th round by his favorite major league team — the San Francisco Giants.

After a rough minor league debut, Bruso settled down to become the most dominant pitcher in the Northwest League.

“He pitched like a No. 1 draft choice,” said Salem manager Fred Stanley, a former shortstop for the New York Yankees. “He was in great shape and he took his job very seriously. He’s a bulldog-type guy.”

Despite his league-leading 1.99 ERA, Bruso only won four games while dropping three. He allowed 58 hits in 81 innings and struck out 78 batters compared to 17 walks.

Naturally, Bruso was pleased with his first pro baseball season.

“I exceeded every goal I had. I wanted to be a starter and throw well,” he said. “I didn’t think my season was going to be that good. I put in the work and it paid off.”

2) The area’s worst news of the year came in August when Tom Orlich’s 27-year run as teacher/basketball coach came to an end when he was lured away by Clovis West High School in Fresno. During 25 years as South Tahoe High’s boys’ basketball coach, Orlich’s teams won 521 games, nine zone titles and two state championships. His 1991-92 team not only won the school’s last Nevada state title but finished No. 19 in the country.

Orlich relinquished his Viking coaching duties in 2000, hoping to return after a brief respite to rebuild the area’s youth basketball program. However, the school chose not to rehire him as a coach.

3) Cabral opened the 2002-03 World Cup freestyle season with a bang in December, earning his first career victory in Tignes, France. A discretionary pick to start the World Cup season, the 19-year-old Cabral is thriving now hat he doesn’t need to worry when his next international start will come.

The pride of Sierra-at-Tahoe, who became the nation’s youngest moguls champion at 15 in 1998, was fourth in the World Cup standings — 28 points out of first place — entering the new year.

4) Following the lead of the area’s other great walk-on college football player, former STHS star linebacker Garrett McIntyre one-upped ex-Miami Dolphins linebacker Mike Crawford by receiving substantial playing time as a true freshman at Fresno State.

The 2001 Northern Nevada 4A Sierra Division Defensive Player of the Year received only lukewarm interest during his senior year at STHS but the Bulldogs quickly utilized McIntyre’s pass-rushing skills in their third-down defensive packages.

The promising Bulldog defensive lineman capped his inspiring freshman season by receiving an athletic scholarship and a start in the Silicon Valley Bowl against Georgia Tech on Tuesday in San Jose.

5) The roller-coaster ride of the year belonged to freestyle skier Travis Ramos, who must have felt like a foreigner on the U.S. team. Based on pre-Olympic performances, the seven-year veteran of the U.S. Ski Team worked his way into position to receive one of the U.S.’s four Olympic spots for men’s moguls skiers. However, the team selected Evan Dybvig for the fourth-and-final slot, depriving Ramos of his first Winter Games.

In March, a scoring error was detected following the national championships, vaulting Ramos past Jeremy Bloom for his first national title. The manner in which U.S. officials handled the gaffe transcended Ramos’ season. Ramos was aware of the error the day of the competition, but U.S. team officials didn’t fix it until nearly a month later.

Team officials never called Ramos with news of the mistake, reporting the change in standings on its Web site.

“I still believe there is a little bit of integrity in the sport, so, to me, it will remain a clerical error,” Ramos said. “Even though they mentioned it on the Web site, it’s merely a mention. They don’t want it made public that they (messed) up like they did.

“I missed out on the podium celebration, but I’m glad to know that it will be written in the record books. I know I put the best run on that course that day, and they can’t take that away.”

6) Jonna Mendes was the overall leader of American women in speed events at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

With a throng of wide-eyed relatives in attendance, many who were watching her race for the first time, Mendes led the Americans with an 11th-place finish in downhill in Snowbasin, Utah.

“I felt such a sense of accomplishment to finally have my family see me race, and to have it be the Olympics as an introduction to what I do, it couldn’t be any better,” Mendes said.

Next, Mendes trailed gold medalist Daniela Ceccarelli of Italy by .04 of a second through an intermediate section of the super-G, but lost speed on the bottom of the course to finish 16th — second among Americans

Mendes punctuated her season by becoming the surprise repeat winner in giant slalom title at the 2002 Chevy Truck U.S. Alpine Championships at Squaw Valley USA.

7) Adrian Hankoff’s progression as a collegiate volleyball player reached a crescendo during her senior season at Washington State. With Hankoff leading the Cougars in kills, digs and service aces per game, the Cougars finished in a tie for third in the Pac-10 Conference and won three NCAA Tournament matches to advance to the Elite Eight. The Cougars won the first game against Florida in the East Regional finals, but the Gators took the next three games to deprive WSU of a Final Four berth.

8) Former Nevada Wolf Pack quarterback Eric Beavers resigned as STHS football coach two days before practice opened in August.

Beavers resigned under protest because he didn’t want to reward players who refused to participate in the team’s off-season training and conditioning program with playing time.

Earlier in the summer, Beavers proposed that the school not field a varsity team because most of his players had not completed an off-season conditioning program.

Before the season began, school administrators allowed Beavers to serve as an assistant coach for the junior varsity team.

9) Whittell High won its first state girls’ cross country title, upsetting four-time defending champion Faith Lutheran.

10) Heavenly snowboarder Elena Hight won the combined title in the Vodafone Snowboard Nations Junior World Championships in Wanaka, New Zealand. Displaying the consistent performance of a mail carrier, Hight was runner-up in halfpipe, third in parallel giant slalom and fifth in boardercross.

At the same competition, Sierra-at-Tahoe’s Joanie Anderson, 16, won the boardercross title. Anderson’s spectacular season also included a second-place finish in boardercross at U.S. nationals at Northstar-at-Tahoe.

Best of the rest (no particular order): STHS girls qualified for the state golf tournament for the first time; the South Shore Snowboard Series won the most medals for the fourth year in a row at the U.S. Amateur Snowboarding Association nationals; former NHL center Dan Quinn became the first repeat champion in the celebrity golf championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course; two South Lake Tahoe Junior Viking teams won regional football titles; the Whittell High softball team won the Nevada 2A Northern softball title and advanced to the state tournament for the first time; Heavenly’s Danny Lear, 17, skied to first place in the J1 downhill at Mount Bachelor; snowboarder Stacie Anderson, 13, won $550 in Vans Triple Crown of Snowboarding; STHS junior sprinter Karen Dalmacio won the zone 400-meter title and set three school records; catcher Chris Barna, a STHS grad, helped power Lambuth College to the NAIA Baseball Super Regionals; New York Rangers’ coach Bryan Trottier put on a clinic at the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena in July; Wisi Betschart retired from the U.S. Ski Team; STHS went undefeated in winning the boys’ zone soccer title; Michael Sharp completed the Ironman in 11 hours, 52 minutes and 47 seconds in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii; ultimate fighter Gil Castillo lost for only the second time, dropping the Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight title to Matt Hughes by technical knockout.

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