Don't Have to Be Old to Wear Crown: 9-Year-Old Captures Gymnast Title

The South Bay has a new national champion in rhythmic gymnast Bianca Sapetta, a Class 3 competitor who won the child's division all-around title for the South Bay Waves over the weekend in Livonia, Mich.

Bianca, a 9-year-old San Pedro resident, has been practicing with the Waves for a year after coming to Coach Jolie Barretta's attention in a camp two summers ago. "I took one look and told her mother, 'Your daughter's going to be national champ,' " Barretta said. Bianca bested a field of 125 to win the top award and got her highest score on the ribbon routine.

She comes by her talent naturally. Her father, Martin, is a former Argentine national swimming champion.

Other Waves members also had successful weekends. Mikki Bornyasz, a 14-year-old Class 1 (national class skill level) competitor, won a place on the U.S. junior national team that will train in Colorado Springs this summer. Class 2 competitors Marley Winders, Jenny Cass and Joanie Williams won awards, Winders taking fifth in the optionals and Williams placing fifth in rope routine.

Christen Rush won fifth place in the rope routine in Class 3. Lee Ann Colls also competed in Class 3.

The Waves are coached by Barretta, U.S. national team assistant coach, and Sandi Shannon-Conley, a former international competitor. They work out four to six times a week in four-hour sessions at the team's headquarters in San Pedro.

Signings: Loyola Marymount University probably lost several basketball recruits when Coach Ed Goorjian and his staff were fired after the season, but new Coach Jim Lynam finally signed his first last week, guard Enoch Simmons out of North High in Riverside. Simmons, 6-4, 185, averaged 24.2 points and earned all-CIF 4-A first team honors while leading North to a 24-6 record. He was all-CIF 3-A and averaged 20.6 points as a junior when North was 30-2.

Lynam, who has only one more scholarship to give, said Simmons is projected in a big-guard role, meaning he will probably back up star Keith Smith as a freshman, then compete for the spot after Smith graduates next year. Simmons is also a standout baseball player at North, hitting .350 this year at shortstop, and will try to play both sports at Loyola.

Cal State Dominguez Hills basketball Coach Dave Yanai signed his fifth player, Danny Branch of Dominguez High, and hopes the 6-8 Compton resident will be the big man to replace graduating center Kevin Burrell. Branch averaged 5 points and 8 rebounds for the Dons, who reached the CIF 4-A finals against Glendale.

Dominguez Hills women's Coach Alice Textor has signed guard Nancy Alford of Torrance High and forward Erica Abson of Cleveland High, her third and fourth recruits. Alford, 5-7, averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds for Torrance and shot 86% from the foul line. Abson, 5-10, averaged 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Add signings: Cal State Dominguez Hills baseball Coach Andy Lopez has signed four recruits, all pitchers. The best may be right-hander Brian Ayers from Long Beach City College, who pitched the Vikings into the state playoffs with a 12-3 record. He's out of Fountain Valley High.

Two other junior college recruits are right-hander Dennis Brady from El Camino College and Joe Pulido from King River Community College. Brady, out of Narbonne High, was El Camino's top pitcher out of the bullpen with a 6-2 record and six saves. Pulido, a right-hander out of Reedley High, was 2-2 for King River.

Lopez's high school recruit is Mary Star of the Sea right-hander Greg Vitalich, who pitched the Stars to the championship of the Camino Real League.

The Toros are coming off their most successful season at 34-23 (20-10 in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn.) and return 19 of 23 lettermen.

Mike Henry, a sophomore at Sonoma State out of St. Bernard High, won his conference's hammer throw last week to qualify for this week's NCAA Division II nationals at Cal State Los Angeles. Henry, who has a best of 178 feet, won the conference with a toss of 171-11, making him the first track man at Sonoma to win a conference title. Henry, an all-Camino Real League player at St. Bernard, is also a defensive football lineman at Somona and made all-conference last fall.

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