John Hull came out of retirement in 2021 to return as the Citizen's Sports Editor. He started writing sports for the Citizen in Dec., 2007. Hull retired from teaching Mass Media/Journalism at Cosumnes River College and Luther Burbank H.S. in 2019.

Petra Yee, Hannah

Two of the leaders of this year’s Pleasant Grove High School golf team are freshman Petra Yee, left, and junior Hannah Camara.

Rob Rinaldi and Dan Ariola faced off against one another once again in the coaching ranks last week. But, for the first time the two friendly rivals were not on the baseball diamond. These two veteran high school mentors are now their school’s girls golf coach. 

Rinaldi at Pleasant Grove and Ariola at Davis. 

Rinaldi and Ariola-coached teams first competed against each other in the spring of 1988 when both men were junior varsity baseball coaches – Rinaldi, then at Woodland and Ariola at Davis. Both moved up through their school’s ranks to head coaches of the varsity baseball teams. They became friends and made certain they scheduled off-season and pre-season games between their clubs.

In 2005, Rinaldi moved to Pleasant Grove when that school opened its doors and the relationship continued, but now with their teams in the Delta League for many of those years. In 2018 Rinaldi hung up the steel spikes and took a break from coaching. But, that vacation ended this fall when he took on the task of leading the Eagles’ talented golf program.

“I just drive the bus,” Rinaldi said. “That’s how talented these girls are.”

Rinaldi has acquired a group of girls that already are well accustomed to the game of golf. The scores show it. Four of his players have a 9-hole average of 40 or better. For those of you unfamiliar with the game, that means they already are playing par golf and par for nine holes on most courses in this area is 36.

Plus, these are mainly 14- to 16-year old girls. Sophomore Alaythia Hinds is the Eagle’s No. 1 player with a scoring average of 36.2. Freshman Petra Yee (who just turned 14) averages 37.7 strokes per round. Hannah Camara, a junior, has a 39.1 average and senior Ingrid Yee averages 40.2. Remember, too, that most of their play has been on one of the area’s toughest course, Rancho Murrietta North.

And, just to show you how good the Eagles are this year, Rinaldi had his No. 7 through No. 12 girls represent Pleasant Grove at the annual Loren Roberts Tournament and they took first place. The rest of the field included the girls teams from all the other Elk Grove Unified schools.

“It’s strange knowing you’ll win before you show up,” Rinaldi said humbly. “I have never saw or experienced that kind of competitive edge in my 30 years of coaching baseball.”

He says he’s daily impressed with the daily commitment his team has toward excelling in the game of golf. 

“This is nothing to do with me,” Rinaldi said. “They spend tons of time on their own. They want to improve. This is a special group.”

As with all sports, the Eagles want a Sac-Joaquin Section championship and the team that has grabbed the last five Division I banners has been Granite Bay. That’s a team Pleasant Grove beat earlier this year, albeit with some of the Granite Bay girls missing that day.

After that first playoff test, which will be later this month on Oct. 25 at Rancho Murrieta Country Club’s North Course, the Eagles hope to win the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championship, Nov. 1 at the Reserve at Spanos Park. 

If they finish high there, Pleasant Grove can advance to the Northern California Championships, Nov. 8 at the Berkeley Country Club. The CIF State Championships will be played Nov. 17 at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Monterey.

Cosumnes River College

I recently caught up with Collin Pregliasco, athletic director at Cosumnes River College. He’s excited that for the first time in a year and a half his teams are scheduled to play a full slate of contests.

In 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, his spring sports – namely baseball and softball- had their seasons end with a screeching halt. The Fall 2020 season, namely volleyball and basketball, was completely erased and this spring baseball and softball both played limited schedules with no playoffs.

Now, those COVID-19 restrictions have loosened somewhat and everyone’s back on campus.

“All of us went through so much,” Pregliasco said. “It’s a great vibe around here now.”

He mentioned specifically the good fall thus far by his women’s volleyball team, now with 11 wins, and the men’s soccer team, who had a 1-0 win Oct. 1 over the No. 5 ranked team in American River. They are now on a four-game winning streak.

Pregliasco mentioned that the Los Rios Community College system has placed some pretty tight COVID-19 restrictions on all its campuses to where there are no spectators allowed at any indoor events. His staff has quickly put together a multi-camera video live streaming system so fans can watch the home games.

Basketball will likewise host games this winter with no fans, but Pregliasco is hopeful the Los Rios administration will re-evaluate that restriction in December, the end of the current fall semester of classes.