Monache Head Wrestling Coach (1972-1997)
Drew Williams life changed when he took a chance on the unfamiliar. As a 103 lb. freshman, he was desperate for a place to compete successfully. A senior wrestler at Paradise High School encouraged Drew to try out for the wrestling team. The weight classes in wrestling leveled the playing field, and the challenge system to determine the lineup immediately appealed to Drew. He accepted the challenge and ventured into unfamiliar territory. By the end of his senior year at Paradise High School (1960-1964), he was a four-year varsity wrestling letterman, and a three-time Northern Section CIF Wrestling Champion. Little did he know, that he would be involved in the great sport of wrestling for the next 45 years.
After graduation from Paradise High School, Drew attended Yuba College, in Marysville, California from 1964 -66, wrestling on Yuba’s first collegiate wrestling team. After transferring to Chico State College, he wrestled in the Wildcat lineup from 1967-69 while earning a B.A Degree in 1969 and a teaching credential in 1970.
Drew’s first teaching job was at Brawley High School in Southern California from 1970-72 where he taught English, and coached the freshman wrestling team to the Desert Valley League title with a 13-0-1 record in 1972.
From 1972-1997, Coach Williams taught English and Physical Education at Monache High School while serving as the Head Wrestling Coach. His teams won 18 East Yosemite League Championships with an E.Y.L record of 161-13-1 (92% wins). His teams won Yosemite Division titles in 1978, 1981, and 1994. They won the Central Section C.I.F (Valley) title in 1978, and were Central Section runner-up 4 times: 1980,1981,1984,1992. His career varsity team record was 401-76-4 (83% wins).
Drew coached 64 C.I.F State Championship qualifiers, including 15 state place winners: 6 -2nd, 2 -4th, 4-5th, 3-6th. He coached 19 Central Section C.I.F “Valley Champions”, including two-time Olympian, Tim Vanni.
Williams organized and directed six summer wrestling tours through the Western United States for Monache wrestlers, logging about 15,000 miles. He was selected as a Central Section All-Star Coach for the 1979 cultural exchange team to West Germany.
After retiring from coaching in 1997, Drew was an Assistant Principal at Monache and Granite Hills High Schools. During his 10 years in administration, he served as chairman for the Central Section Wrestling Advisory Committee, and represented the Central Section on the California State Wrestling Advisory Committee.
Coach Williams was inducted into the Paradise High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2011, and the California Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2017. Drew indicated that induction into the Monache Athletic Hall of Fame, is most significant. At Monache he was blessed with outstanding assistant coaches, and committed, talented, hard working athletes. Coach Williams knows that his success in coaching would not have been possible without 27 years of support from his wife, Tina, who was the team photographer, and never missed a competition in which Monache wrestlers were involved.
Mike was born and raised in Porterville by his parents Bill & Sharon. At a young age, Mike played basketball, baseball, football, and swam. He attended Westfield Elementary and Bartlett Junior High.
Fusco started at Monache High School in 1982 where he earned 11 varsity letters as a three-sport athlete in water polo, basketball, and swimming. While at Monache, Mike was named “Top Male Athlete” his senior year. Both his water polo and swim teams won three straight EYL Championships. In swimming, he broke 4 school records. In basketball, he was named MVP his junior and senior years. His most memorable accomplishment was sinking a shot at the buzzer to win the finals championship game against Lemoore at the Polly Wilhelmsen Tournament in Visalia. He was named game MVP, tournament MVP, and broke field goal percentage records for game and tournament play.
After high school, Mike attended College of Sequoias where he played basketball and swam. He received the basketball coach’s award for most improved his sophomore year. In swimming, he recorded the 8th fastest 50yd Free time in COS history. He later transferred to Fresno State and graduated with a Kinesiology degree in 1996.
Mike lives in Porterville and has been teaching for 25 years. He currently teaches Physical Education for Porterville Unified. He has been married to his wife, Renee, for 23 years and has enjoyed coaching their 15-year-old son, Tony.
Ryan Todd was introduced to the pool at an early age and began his competitive swimming career as a 5-year-old. He would learn to become a fierce competitor as an age-group swimmer and eventually utilize that experience to excel at many different levels.
From 1982-1986, Ryan Todd was a member of the Marauder’s Varsity Water Polo and Swim Teams- earning 6 EYL Championships, named 1st Team EYL, MVP and Co-Captain of his Team’s on several occasions, as well as being named an All-American in Water Polo in his Senior campaign…earning recognition as Monache’s male athlete “DOUBLE M” award winner in 1986.
After graduation, Ryan made the transition to C.O.S. where he led the Conference Champion water polo team in scoring until an injury cut his season short. Later that year he helped the Giant’s Swim Team to another Conference Title and participated on 3 All-American Relay Teams in the process.
He walked-on to the UC Santa Barbara water polo team as a sophomore in 1987 where he quickly climbed the depth charts and became a starter in his first season. In his Junior campaign, his Gauchos would finish the season on a high note but narrowly miss out on qualifying for the NCAA Tournament.
In his final season, Ryan Captained the Gauchos to an NCAA ranking as high as #2, collecting wins against perennial National powers along the way to a 23-9 record. As the season concluded, his Team would earn a bid to the NCAA Championship Tournament as the 3rd ranked Team in the Country and in a hotly contested Final Four game against #2 Stanford, the Gauchos would come up short. Following his senior season, he was recognized with All-Conference Honorable Mention honors as well as earning a Senior Award and UCSB’s first-ever McCormick Memorial Leadership Award.
As the second youngest in a family of six boys, Todd grew up playing sports with his brothers. His parents, Gary and Linda, encouraged all of their boys to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities. Todd would attend many of his older brothers’ events, and his dad would explain the nuances of the sport and interject applicable life lessons. Those early years showed Todd how hard work, discipline, and mental toughness usually prevail over talent alone.
At Monache, Todd participated in football for four years, wrestling for two years, and track for four years. He earned a total of eight varsity letters and was awarded MVP on three occasions. He played cornerback for the 1981 EYL Champion football team and wrestled for the 1981 Yosemite Division Champion wrestling team. He won the Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award all four years and received the Double M Award as the most outstanding senior athlete.
Todd loved football and wrestling but excelled as a distance runner. To reach his goal of becoming a Valley Champion, he gave up wrestling after his sophomore year to focus his training on track. That proved to be a good decision. During his track career at Monache, Todd was a four-time EYL champion, three-time South Area champion, and four-time Central Section (“Valley”) medalist in the 3200 meters. As a senior, Todd won the Valley Championship and placed sixth at the Southern California Region with a time of 9:11.91, a school record that still stands over 35 years later. Todd qualified for the California State Track and Field Championships twice, placing 22nd as a sophomore and 14th as a junior. He was denied the opportunity to race at the State meet his senior year when the CIF added two regional meets between the Valley and State Championships for only that one year. However, Todd’s time at the Southern California Region would have placed him 9th at the State meet.
After high school, Todd earned a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and began his career with Granite Construction Company in Santa Cruz, CA where he met his wife Lina. Todd and Lina were married in 1993 and raised their 21-year old twins Kayla and Jared in Clovis, CA. Todd has worked for Granite Construction Company for 30 years and is currently Vice President, Region Manager in Tucson, AZ.
Valerie (Cowan) Townsend
As a youth growing up in Porterville, Valerie participated in after school sports, competing in volleyball, basketball, track, softball and swimming through eighth grade.
Valerie’s siblings, Karen and Steve attended Monache, and parents, Haskell and Liz, were constant supporters of MHS Athletics. In 1982-83, Valerie competed on the Frosh-Soph Volleyball Team, Varsity Track Team finishing sixth in the area in the 200, and was a Varsity Wrestling Stat.
For the remainder of her Marauder career, Valerie would compete at the Varsity level for Volleyball, Basketball, and Track (100, 200, LJ, relays). As a sprinter, she set and reset school records in the 100 & 200. She was also a Co-Captain and Valley Qualifier her sophomore and junior years, placing sixth in the Valley in the 200 as a junior.
As a senior, she garnered Co-Captain, Team MVP and First Team EYL for Volleyball, Best Defense and First Team EYL for Basketball and Co-Captain, placed fourth in Valley (200) and improved her 100 & 200 school records for Track. She earned a Full Scholarship for Volleyball to CSU Bakersfield.
While at CSU Bakersfield, Valerie earned All CCAA Honors (First Team (Jr & Sr), Second Team, Honorable Mention) and First Team West Region (3 years). The culmination of her collegiate career was winning a Division II National Championship, named CSUB’s first All-American and was selected to the All-Tournament Teams at the NCAA Elite 8 and Air Force Premier.
After college, Valerie competed at the USA Volleyball Open Championships and coached internationally at the Global Challenge for several years.
Valerie Cowan Townsend began her coaching career in 1990 and since 2000 serves as the Head Coach and Professor of Physical Education at Pomona-Pitzer Colleges in Claremont, CA. In 2015, she married Don Townsend in Hawaii and has a stepson, Drew.