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Articles by Phillip Brents

For hockey fans in the San Diego region, both inline and ice, it’s been a win-win situation in 2015-16.

The San Diego Gulls are preparing to face off their opening-round series in the Calder Cup playoffs Thursday in Texas as the American Hockey League team celebrates a superlative first season in San Diego. 

Helix High School’s Trence Gillem and Mount Miguel High School’s Laulauga Tausaga were among 14 professional, amateur and high school athletes honored as Stars of the Month for March by the San Diego Hall of Champions.

Gillem, a wrestling standout, captured the 132-pound title at the California state championship tournament March 4-5 in Bakersfield. He was the only gold medalist among the San Diego Section’s 10 state medalists.

Several former East County high school standouts on area community college teams were featured in last Friday’s distance carnival events at the 38th Aztec Track and Field Invitational at San Diego State University.

Runners from Southwestern, Cuyamaca and San Diego Mesa community colleges were prominently featured in the men’s and women’s 1500-meter distance.

Helix High School senior Trence Gillem entered last weekend’s 44th annual California state boys wrestling championship tournament ranked fourth in his 134-pound weight class. But the newly-crowned San Diego Section Masters champion held true to the goal he had set at the beginning of season: He was determined to win the state title.

And, Gillem did just that after recording a 3-2 decision over Buchanan senior Durbin Lloren, the defending state champion, in last Saturday finals at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.

The San Diego Section boys and girls soccer playoffs are set to conclude with championship games at San Diego Mesa College and Olympian High School this weekend, March 4 and 5. The San Diego Sockers hope to make a championship splash as well as they kick off the Major Arena Soccer League’s Pacific Division playoffs.

The Sockers, no strangers to hoisting championship trophies, will host the Tacoma Stars in the return leg of a two-game playoff series Sunday, March 6, at the Valley View Casino Center. Kick-off is 5:05 p.m.

The San Diego Section Masters state-qualifying wrestling tournament has been described as a “meat-grinder” by various coaches over the years. With good reason: only the top three place-finishers in each of the 14 weight classes punch tickets to the state championship tournament.

The San Diego Section divisional dual meet wrestling championships, version 2.0, took place last Saturday (Feb. 13) at Mira Mesa and Rancho Bernardo high schools. Champions were crowned in four divisions, with 32 teams in total participating.

The Division I and Division III tournaments took place at Mira Mesa High School; Rancho Bernardo High School hosted the Division II and Division IV tournaments.

Helix High School alumnus Alex Smith led the Kansas City Chiefs to a 30-0 AFC wildcard-round win over the host Houston Texans. However, the Chiefs’ season ended with a 27-20 loss to the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in the next round.

Smith passed for 190 yards in the win over the AFC South champion Texans with one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed five times for 27 yards.

The Denver Broncos won their third Super Bowl championship by defeating the Carolina Panthers, 24-10, on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. It was a defensive display of excellence for the AFC champion Broncos, who were led on offense by a 39-yard quarterback who was sacked five times and threw one interception.

Poway High School remains the San Diego Section’s wrestling beast with four state championship titles and six runner-up place-finishes to its credit. It’s a proud honor roll for Titan head coach Wayne Branstetter, who is in his 39th season coaching at Poway and 44th overall.

But what constitutes a state or, even, section championship? Bransetter noted there are about 300 schools annually represented at the state championship tournament, but that just one wrestler represents about 250 schools.