Top 10 Girls’ Athletes of 2016-17: Schaefer was graceful, dominant for Flintridge Prep

Top 10 Girls’ Athletes of 2016-17: Schaefer was graceful, dominant for Flintridge Prep
Flintridge Prep sophomore striker Helen Schaefer helped lead the girls' soccer team on a long and historic run. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)

The top 10 girls' high school athletes of the year were voted on by the Glendale News-Press sports department. These are selections two through 10.

2 Helen Schaefer, Flintridge Prep soccer, sophomore: Maybe no player was simultaneously as graceful and dominant as Schaefer.


The sophomore was voted the All-Area Girls' Soccer Player of the Year in a season in which she finished with 31 goals and 30 assists.

Schaefer earned All-CIF Southern Section Division III first-team and All-Prep League Most Valuable Offensive Player honors following a wonderful season for the Rebels.


Flintridge Prep advanced further than any other area program as the squad posted a 23-5-3 record and 8-1-1 mark in league to claim a Prep League title.

"After last season, the whole summer, every day a few of us would train, just on our own," Schaefer said. "I've seen girls with big heads and it's not pretty. I'm one of my worst critics and I'm never satisfied with how I play.

"I want to strive to get better and better. I just think looking at it like, 'I was so great,' that's not going to help me."

Flintridge Prep advanced to the semifinals for the first time in 15 seasons in the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs before losing to powerful North Torrance.

The Rebels also advanced to the semifinals in the CIF Southern California Regional Division III playoffs but were again ousted by North Torrance.

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy's Kayla Lund turned in a strong individual season and led her Tologs to a second-place finish in the Mission League.
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy's Kayla Lund turned in a strong individual season and led her Tologs to a second-place finish in the Mission League. (Roger Wilson/Staff Photographer)

3 Kayla Lund, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy volleyball, senior: The University of Pittsburgh-bound outside hitter capped a terrific career with the Tologs in the fall.

Lund was selected as the All-Area Girls' Volleyball Player of the Year for a second straight season and totaled an area-best 555 kills, 348 digs, 251 assists, 81 aces and 38 blocks.

"When you're looking for someone to set an example, she's right there," Flintridge Sacred Heart assistant coach Trent Tcheng said. "You don't need rah-rah speeches with Kayla, she understands and motivates."

Lund was also chosen a third team All-American, an American Volleyball Coaches Assn. All-American, an All-CIF Southern Section Division I and Mission League first-teamer.

This past season, Lund's young Tologs finished 23-10 and 5-3 in league to take second.

Sophomore Alex Garas was a powerhouse for the Crescenta Valley girls' water polo team and a strong contributor on the swimming squad.
Sophomore Alex Garas was a powerhouse for the Crescenta Valley girls' water polo team and a strong contributor on the swimming squad. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)

4 Alex Garas, Crescenta Valley, water polo/swimming, sophomore: The consummate goal scorer got plenty accomplished in water polo. Garas tallied 121 goals, 85 steals and 59 assists to propel Crescenta Valley (23-6, 8-0 in Pacific League) to its eighth league championship in a row.

The driver was voted the All-Area Girls' Water Polo Player of the Year, the league's co-player of the year and reeled in All-CIF Southern Section Division II third-team recognition. Crescenta Valley went 23-6, 8-0 in league.

"She's a special type of player who doesn't come around that often and we're very glad she's a big part of the team," Crescenta Valley coach Ricky Mulcahey said. "She's played above and beyond our expectations and she's a great teammate."

In swimming, Garas helped the Falcons win their 10th straight league title. Garas won two league individual titles and two relay crowns.

She finished first in the 100-yard freestyle (55.81 seconds) and the 50 freestyle (25.30).

Garas worked with Miranda Li, Yvette Kim and Gabi Icheva to win the 200 freestyle relay in a league finals record of 1 minute 42.44 seconds. In the 400 freestyle relay, Garas, Icheva, Li and Miya Higuchi won in 3:41.79.

Garas, the All-Area selection in the 50 free, teamed up with Kimmy Park, Yvette Kim and Miranda Li to place seventh (1:42.23) in the 200-yard freestyle relay in the consolation final at the CIF Southern Section Division II finals.

Crescenta Valley sophomore Katelynn Shaheen showed off her talent in winning a CIF Southern Section Division II Diving Championship.
Crescenta Valley sophomore Katelynn Shaheen showed off her talent in winning a CIF Southern Section Division II Diving Championship. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

5 Katelynn Shaheen, Crescenta Valley diving, sophomore: Shaheen enjoyed a sensational season on the pool deck.

It started at the CIF Southern Section Division II finals at the Riverside Aquatics Center. After placing second last season, Shaheen captured her first title on her last dive — the back 1 ½, 2 ½ twist.

Shaheen won the title by scoring 53.2 points on her last dive and became the first Crescenta Valley girls' athlete to win the event since Kasey Reinhardt in 1998. She totaled 478.45 points.

Shaheen came into the championships as the second seed behind Millikan freshman Jenna Sonnenberg, who finished second in the finals.

Shaheen was the first area girls' diver to win a CIF title since Flintridge Prep's Madi Witt won a Division III championship in 2013.

"I'm happy for Katelynn," Crescenta Valley coach Peter Kim said. "You always know going in she's determined and driven.

"She's technically sound and she's so good at blocking things out. She enjoys what she does."

At the CIF State Finals in Clovis, Shaheen finished eighth in the one-meter diving championships as she registered 474.50 points. Shaheen took fifth in the CIF Southern Section with the fourth-best mark turned in by an underclassmen.

Shaheen was one of 28 participants in the competition and advanced past the first round with 266.15 points for sixth place. She moved up to fifth with 354.15 points before placing eighth at the finals.

6 Julia Gonzalez, Flintridge Prep soccer, junior: The forward forms one half of an amazing attacking duo with Helen Schaefer.

After tallying 31 goals and 22 assists, Gonzalez was named an All-Area, All-Prep League and All-CIF Southern Section Division III first-round pick.

Gonzalez and the Rebels advanced to the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division III and CIF Southern California Regional Division III semifinals.

The state playoff run was the first in team history, while the Southern Section postseason march was the furthest for the program in 15 years.

7 Sylvia Vartazarian, Glendale basketball, senior: Turned in an exceptional season, especially when considering she played the entire campaign with an injured foot.

Vartazarian was named an All-Area and All-Pacific League first-team choice, while she was tabbed to the All-CIF Southern Section Division II-A second team.

Vartazarian averaged 16 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game to propel Glendale on a historic run.

The Nitros finished 19-12 and 7-5 in the Pacific League to take fourth place and notch long-awaited victories over rivals Crescenta Valley and Burroughs.

But the real magic for Glendale came in the playoffs, where Vartazarian was a crucial component in driving the Nitros to tying the furthest advancement for a girls' program in school history. In the first round, Glendale prevailed against Whittier and Vartazarian turned in 13 points and nine rebounds, before a second-round win against Notre Dame Academy saw her collect 14 points, 14 rebounds and three steals. In the quarterfinals, Glendale upset No. 2-seed Aliso Niguel, 50-49, on a game-winning free throw from Vartazarian, who had 14 points and three steals. The win propelled the Nitros to the semifinals for the first time in school history, where they would ultimately lose to Leuzinger, but Vartazarian scored 22 points.

8 Brianna McReynolds, Crescenta Valley soccer, sophomore: In an area girls' soccer season rife with splendid goal scoring by the likes of Kira Bochard, Julia Gonzalez and Helen Schaeffer, the ultra-talented McReynolds took her rightful place among the best around.

The first-team All-Pacific League selection scored 31 goals, tying her for the top area mark, while she added a team-high 12 assists to lead the Falcons to a second-place league finish in the Pacific League and the program's usual spot in the playoffs.


Now a two-time first-team All-Area pick, McReynolds was a constant playmaker and that's hardly hyperbole as she amazingly scored a goal in 20 of the Falcons' 22 matches, tallied a point in 21 of 22 games and had 10 multi-goal showings.


9 Hanna Barakat, Flintridge Prep track and field, senior: The senior finished with a flurry with her best day taking place at the Prep League finals on April 28 at Burroughs High.

Barakat won four league titles and capped her career total of 10, having won at least one title over the final three seasons.

Barakat won the 100-meter dash (12.79 seconds), 200 (25.56) and 400 (59.35), while joining up with teammates Arielle Guzman, Julie Le and Sasha Codiga for a victory in the 1,600 relay (4:13.59).

Her fleet feet carried her to the CIF Southern Section finals, where she finished fifth in the 200 (25.75) and 400 (58.08) in Division IV.

Barakat, who likely would've been higher on the list had she stayed in soccer where she was an All-Area defender last season, is an All-Area selection in two events as she owns the area's top times in the 200 (25.19) and 400 (58.08), while she placed first 12 times this season.

10 Molly Hagan, St. Monica Academy volleyball/basketball/lacrosse, senior: One of the school's most successful athletes, Hagan flourished in each sport for the Crusaders.

After helping St. Monica win a CIF Southern Section Division V-A championship in volleyball in 2015, the outside hitter was the lone returner in 2016 and guided the Crusaders to the International League crown en route to being named the league's most valuable player.

In basketball, Hagan, a guard, averaged 14.1 points per contest for the playoff-bound Crusaders. She was selected the International League Most Valuable Player for the second straight season.

Hagan wrapped up the season playing midfield for the first-year lacrosse team.

Honorable Mention: Sasha Codiga, Flintridge Prep cross-country and track; Libby Penn, Flintridge Prep tennis, soccer and softball; Jessica Yzaguirre, Crescenta Valley softball.