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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | SPRING SPORTS NOTEBOOK

Area Divers Flocking to Royal Invitational

April 17, 1999| From Staff Reports

The Royal High diving invitational is scheduled for today at Rancho Simi Community Park in Simi Valley, the largest regular-season diving meet in the region.

Athletes from 10 to 15 schools will compete in the event, which is staged annually in conjunction with the Royal High swimming invitational on April 24.

Most of the schools from the Marmonte League are expected to participate, plus Harvard-Westlake, Crescenta Valley, Camarillo, Huntington Beach Edison and San Luis Obispo. Meet director Judy Wedermann is uncertain of the exact number of schools and divers participating because on-deck check-ins will be taken the day of the event.

The girls' competition will start at 9 a.m., with boys to follow at about 10:45.

Divers to watch among the girls are junior Kasey Reinhard of Crescenta Valley, reigning Southern Section Division II champion, and seniors LaTisha Burnaugh of Royal and Rachel Miller of Simi Valley, both of whom have earned qualifying scores for Southern Section postseason competition this year.

Among the boys will be junior Ryan Southwick of Royal, fourth-place finisher in the Southern Section Division I competition last season. Last month, he qualified for upcoming junior national three-meter springboard competition in St. Louis. Erik Patton of Westlake was fifth behind Southwick in the Southern Section Division I meet last year, and Gavin Harry of Royal has qualified for this season.

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Burnaugh, Miller, Southwick and Harry are coached by Wedermann, although Miller attends Simi Valley High while the others go to Royal.

Wedermann, a Simi Valleygraduate, has coached both schools' diving teams for 21 years, working with the divers in daily practices at Rancho Simi Community Park.

"The kids come out and they become best friends," Wedermann said. "There's no rivalry at all between them."

The teams' meet schedules are identical, and two years ago, when Marmonte League teams gathered en masse at one pool for meets, Wedermann also coached Newbury Park.

"I love diving, and there are so few coaches around," she said.

Wedermann has tried to extend her enthusiasm for the sport to as many youngsters as possible over the years. Accordingly, she doesn't hold tryouts and she doesn't cut anyone, which usually results in larger-than-usual teams.

Most high schools do well have eight or 10 divers on varsity and junior varsity. But Royal and Simi Valley each boast more than 20 this season.

"I just don't like, in high school, pigeon-holing these kids," Wedermann said. "I tell kids, if you can walk, I'll teach you to dive."

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Turnabout was fair play for Stephen Amritraj at the Easter Bowl Junior Tennis Championships in Grenelefe, Fla.

Amritraj, a freshman at Crespi High, and Sam Warburg of Sacramento won the tournament's boys' 16 doubles championship over Rajeev Ram of Carmel, Ind. and Jonathan Stokke of Chapel Hill, N.C., last week.

Last year at the same tournament, Amritraj and Derrick Bauer of Marina del Rey lost to Ram and Brian Baker of Nashville, Tenn., in the 14 doubles final.

"It was a little bit of sweet revenge," Amritraj said. "I was telling (Ram) that all week. This was a major goal and that made it even more special. The competition was great."

Amritraj saw another familiar face when he and Warburg got a victory over Bauer and Drew Hoskins of Los Alamitos in the semifinals.

After playing the 1998 Easter Bowl final and winning another national tournament with Bauer last year, Amritraj teamed with Warburg for the first time.

"It was a big decision, so that was a big match for me, too."

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When Hart defeated Westlake and Simi Valley in a nonleague golf match at North Ranch Country Club in Westlake Village on Monday, it marked the first time in Coach Dennis Ford's career that his Indians beat Westlake at North Ranch.

Ford is in his 10th season at Hart.

Senior J.T. Kohut, who committed to UCLA on Tuesday, was Westlake's top player in the match, but the Warriors were once again unable to field all of their top players.

Senior Ian Medlock was out of town on personal business and missed the match, and senior Chris Darnell hasn't played since the middle of March when he broke a knuckle on his hand after tripping over a desk in a classroom.

"We're having a weird year," Coach Dave Costley of Westlake said. "We haven't had the top six in our lineup all season."

Staff writers Lauren Peterson and John Ortega contributed to this notebook.

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