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ERIC SONDHEIMER

They Are the Classiest of 2002

Word is out about these freshmen, who are ready to make an impact on the region's athletic consciousness.

October 21, 1998|ERIC SONDHEIMER

When a promising freshman athlete shows up on a high school campus, it doesn't take long for "the buzz" to begin.

It was there when Russell White enrolled at Crespi High in 1985. It was there when Jason and Jarron Collins arrived at Harvard-Westlake in 1993. It was there when Manuel White came to Valencia in 1996.

Who has "the buzz" from the class of 2002?

Try Liz Sun of Chatsworth. She's a 5-foot-8 basketball player who several coaches consider the best freshman in the region.

"She's extremely advanced for her age," Coach Raquel Alotis of Chatsworth said.

"She's very talented," Coach Melissa Hearlihy of Alemany said.

Sun tried to enroll at El Camino Real and Harvard-Westlake before settling on Chatsworth.

She has been playing basketball since she was 7. She's agile, quick, can drive, rebound and shoot.

"I consider myself aggressive," Sun said. "I practice at school as much as I can."

"The buzz" is spreading at Simi Valley about Teresa Cooper, sister of former Pioneer basketball star Tawnee Cooper. Teresa is a 5-8 freshman with excellent scoring skills.

"She'll definitely make an impact," Coach Dave Murphy of Simi Valley said.

"The buzz" is strong on Greg Acheatel of El Camino Real. He's 6-3 with the perfect body for a pitcher. Don't look for him to make major contributions on the varsity in spring, but in a year or two, every baseball player in the West Valley will know his name.

There is no foolproof formula for identifying future stars. As freshmen, some athletes stop growing; others enter a growth spurt. Some have already reached their potential; others are just beginning to improve.

So here is my first crack at projecting the outstanding freshmen prospects in the region:

Elena Ferrero, Harvard-Westlake: Not since Maureen LeCocq of Chaminade has an incoming freshman had better softball credentials than Ferrero, a pitcher and shortstop. "She is the best I've seen for her age," Wolverine Coach Terry Elledge said. Ferrero was a pitcher on national championship 12- and 14-and-under teams.

Chris Tarne, Crescenta Valley: Penciled in to start at point guard on the varsity, this 14-year-old displayed impressive maturity and shooting ability during summer play. He's 5-10 and knows when to shoot. He'll be the next outstanding guard to come out of a Falcon basketball program that has produced Brad Holland and Adam Jacobsen.

David Anderson, Thousand Oaks: The 5-11 point guard is well known in the Conejo Valley. He has played with Scott Borchart of Chaminade on club basketball teams. He'll be running the Lancers' attack for years to come.

Nina Yaftali, Westlake: The No. 1-ranked tennis player on the Warriors' girls' team doesn't play like a freshman. She's one of the best in her age group in Southern California.

Bryan Wilson, Alemany: This 6-1 tailback with sprinter's speed is playing on the Indians' sophomore team. When he breaks into the open field, it's an exercise in futility trying to catch him. He won't beat out varsity starter De'Andre Scott, a sophomore, but probably will move to receiver while he waits his turn to run the ball.

Ruben Nevarez, San Fernando: At 6-5, Nevarez is easy to identify. He plays quarterback and pitches. He'll be one of San Fernando's best athletes in the coming years.

Donald Powers, Palmdale: This 6-2, 185-pound linebacker and tight end "is the real deal," football Coach Jeff Williams said. He's quick, tough and destined to be an All-Southern Section selection.

Justin Wyatt, Highland: He's a 5-10, 175-pound cornerback who has reportedly run a 4.5-second 40-yard dash.

Marlon Brisco, Antelope Valley: An outside linebacker and wide receiver on the freshman team, the 6-1 Brisco "plays with a reckless abandon," varsity Coach Brent Newcomb said.

Richard Martinez, Ventura: He's starting at linebacker on the varsity as a 5-7, 206-pound 14-year-old. Toughness runs in the Martinez family. Brother Joe was an All-Southern Section linebacker and brother Mark is a senior linebacker.

Tim Gregory, Hart: The tailback is averaging 8.2 yards per carry for Hart's 6-0 sophomore team.

Jamie Mah, Sylmar: Don't be surprised if the versatile Mah starts on the varsity baseball team as a freshman. He's a pitcher and shortstop who can hit.

Bobby Paschal, Chaminade: Although not very big, he's a hitting machine. The ball jumps off his bat. The only question is whether he'll be in the Chaminade varsity lineup this season or next.

Tyler Carr, Westlake: Carr threw two touchdown passes in his freshman debut at quarterback, then tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in the second game. He'll be sidelined for nine months, but wait until he returns. He's 6 feet and plays baseball. His brother, Tim, is a pitcher in the New York Mets' organization.

Tim Murphy, Burroughs: This infielder hit .417 in American Legion ball before he attended his first day of high school. He'll be in the starting lineup from the opening pitch.

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