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Same old success for Spartans Katy Campbell

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There were a number of girls' underclassmen who emerged onto the La Cañada Flintridge sports scene this season to notch phenomenal seasons.

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, Flintridge Prep and La Cañada High each had a dominant freshman or sophomore who led their respective squads on impressive postseason runs in 2012:

Of course, seniors usually wield the greatest influence in high school athletics. The Spartans had a pair of seniors who led the softball team to a second straight CIF Southern Section Division V championship. In the pool, La Cañada was able to enjoy success, as Katy Campbell won her fourth straight CIF Division crown in the 500-yard freestyle.

Here is the list of La Cañada's top-10 female athletes in 2011-12.

1 Katy Campbell, La Cañada High swimming, senior — It was a year of repetition for Campbell, who won her fourth straight CIF Southern Section division title in the 500, earning her second straight All-Area Athlete of the Year award.

It was a whirlwind senior season for Campbell, as she trained for the 2012U.S. Olympic TeamTrials and still found time to be a steady force for the Spartans down the stretch.

"This year was kind of overwhelming," Campbell said. "It was my senior year and I had a lot going on, but being able to come back to my team made it a little less stressful."

It certainly made life a lot easier for the Spartans, who lost the league title to South Pasadena despite winning seven of 11 events in the finale with the Tigers. Campbell contributed to four of the seven victories and got stronger heading into the Rio Hondo League and CIF Division I Finals.

Campbell won both her individual events — the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle — and helped the 200-freestyle relay team, which was made up of her sister, Samantha, Sarah Olson and Megan Arnold, take first at league finals.

As expected, Campbell put together her finest performance at CIF Finals, as she became the fifth swimmer in Southern Section history to win the 500 freestyle four years in a row. Her mark of 4 minutes 42.83 seconds was the fourth-fastest mark in the nation in 2012.

"I thought I went out really well with La Cañada," said Campbell, who also took third place in the 200 freestyle in CIF (1:48.69). "I have so many memories with my teammates. It was a great way to end my high school career."

It didn't take long for Campbell to leave an impression on first-year La Cañada Coach Kristen Dronberger.

"She's a beast, she does not want to lose ever," she said. "Nobody does, but she swims to win and it's awesome. There's nobody in her league and nobody in CIF that can compete with her, especially in the 500 [freestyle]."

The year wasn't over for Campbell — who is set to begin her collegiate career at UCLA — as she took part in the Olympic Trials in June. She nearly swam her way into the top 30, but placed 31st in the preliminary heat of the 800-meter freestyle (8:49.42).

"I think it's been great preparation for what I will see with UCLA," Campbell said. "It was a year of learning experiences, going to the Olympic Trials, swimming there and learning what those meets are like. Everything has just prepared me for UCLA."

2 Lauren Cox, La Cañada High softball, senior — It was usually safe for the Spartans offense to take a breath after they scored a run with Cox in the circle.

More often than not, it was all Cox needed to deliver a victory, as she recorded 18 shutouts in 26 games. In addition, she had a 23-3 record and 0.62 earned-run average.

After sitting out much of her junior season with an injury, Cox used that as fuel for 2012, and La Cañada left many of its opponents in the dust as a result. The Spartans repeated as CIF Division V champions and won their fourth straight league title with a 26-4-1 record (10-1-1 in league).

"This year was definitely awesome," said Cox, who struck out 321 batters — the most in the Southern Section and third in the state. "I didn't necessarily expect to win [CIF]; obviously I had high hopes, but all the girls stepped up."

Cox, who's headed to the University of San Diego, recorded six no-hitters and allowed just four runs and 12 hits in postseason play. It all led to her being named the All-Area Softball Player of the Year, the Rio Hondo League's Most Valuable Pitcher and earning All-CIF first-team honors.

"When you mix hard work with talent you get special," La Cañada Coach KC Mathews said. "That's what you got with her. There's a lot of girls that are 5-foot-10 and can't throw a ball hard like Lauren does. There aren't girls who throw as hard as Lauren does and are as dedicated to working on their pitches everyday, that's what makes her next to unhittable."

3 Breeana Koemans, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer, senior — Koemans had already written herself into the Tologs history books with a dominant postseason stretch in 2011. She added to that this past season.

The forward answered the call when asked to shoulder a large share of the load offensively in 2012, a year in which Sacred Heart played most of the season without a number of key players due to injuries or other commitments.

The Northeastern University-bound Koemans played 21 games for Sacred Heart and scored a team-high 15 goals and added 12 assists, which earned her All-Area Girls' Soccer Player of the Year, co-most valuable player honors in the ultra-competitive Mission League and an All-CIF Division I first-team accolade.

Koemans played a key part in the postseason success of Sacred Heart the past four years — most notably its run to the Division I title in 2011. She leaves Sacred Heart in second place all time in points (155) behind only Jessica Reyes (195), and matched career highs in games played (95) and started (94).

"Breeana had arguably the greatest four-year high school career of any local high school player — male or female," Flintridge Sacred Heart co-Coach Frank Pace said. "She has won or shared in virtually every individual award and team championship there is in leading us to national prominence."

4 Catherine Horner, La Cañada High softball/volleyball, senior — Horner was key to the success of both the La Cañada softball and volleyball teams. However, she wielded her greatest influence on the diamond.

The University of Tulsa-bound catcher was the Spartans deadliest hitter, anchoring the lineup out of the leadoff spot, and most dominant defensive threat outside of Cox. She posted a team-high .418 batting average (41 for 98) while also producing team bests in runs (39), runs batted in (29), doubles (15) and slugging percentage (.735). She also threw out seven of 12 runners behind the plate and didn't commit an error the past two seasons.

For her accomplishments, Horner hauled in All-CIF Division V Player of the Year honors, along with All-Area and all-league first-team awards.

"I really couldn't have [asked for a better senior year], winning CIF is just the cherry on top of everything," Horner said after she was named the player of the year. "Our team had been working since September and the years past to get to where we did."

Horner, a libero, also took home first-team all-league honors for the Spartans in volleyball. She posted a team-high 347 digs and 51 aces for La Cañada, which advanced to the second round of the CIF Division II-AA playoffs.

5 Kristen Vose, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy swimming, freshman — It was easy for the Tologs to rely on Vose in their trek to a Mission League title this season.

The standout won individual league titles in the 200-individual medley (2:12.56), 100 breaststroke (1:08.26) and teamed with Katie Altmayer, Emily Balog and Meg Ryan for two more league championships in the 200- and 400-freestyle relays in a league-record 1:50.08 and meet-record 3:39.51, respectively.

Vose also showed she could vie for CIF Division I titles for years to come, as she took second in the 100 breaststroke in a personal-best 1:03.53.

6 Andrea Kevakian, Flintridge Prep tennis, freshman — The Rebels weren't without their own freshman phenom.

Kevakian, who was named the Prep League MVP, proved to be nearly unbeatable as Prep's ace, as she finished the season with a 54-3 record (30-0 in league).

Prep figures to be a force to be reckoned with, not only in league but in CIF Division II, for the next three years if Kevakian builds up on her impressive high school debut in which she guided the Rebels into the second round of the playoffs and reached the third round of the CIF individual tournament.

"Andrea showed me a lot in that she played well against some good players," former Flintridge Prep Coach Ron Catano said. "She showed how strong mentally she can be."

7 Courtney Chen, La Cañada High basketball, sophomore — Good things usually happened when Chen had possession of the ball. Thankfully for the Spartans, Chen was always in control of the offense as their starting point guard.

It was a breakout year for the Spartans, who placed second in league and reached the Division III-A quarterfinals with a 16-2 record (7-3 in league). Chen poured in a team-high 15.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.1 steals and 3.6 assists while drawing the brunt of the opposition's defensive pressure.

"The other teams were scouting [Chen] to find how to stop her and even with that pressure she could play her game," said Coach Tamar Hill, who saw Chen garner first-team all-league and second-team All-CIF Division III-A honors. "Everyone knew she was the player to stop and she still got it done."

8 Stephanie Vargas, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy cross-country/track and field, senior — Sacred Heart benefited from Vargas' speed in both cross-country and track and field.

The senior led the Tologs to Mission League success, as she took fourth in the league's cross-country final in 19:47.

Vargas stretched her season all the way to the State Meet, where she finished 27th (19:10) in the elite competition. She earned a spot in state competition after finishing ninth at the Division IV Finals (18:32) and third at CIF prelims (18:07).

On the track, Vargas was runner-up in the league's 400-meter final in 59.41. She also helped the Tologs' 4x400 relay team — which was made up of Drew Washington, Noëlle Niederhaus and Kayla Montgomery — take fourth at league finals (3:57.26) and advance to the Division IV finals.

9 Abby Letts, Flintridge Prep tennis/soccer, junior — Defense was the backbone of the Rebels soccer squad and Letts played a big part.

The midfielder earned the Prep League's co-Defensive Most Valuable Player award, sharing it with Prep goalie Casey Cousineau. The Rebels finished 15-2-2, 9-1 and posted more shutouts (12) than goals allowed (11).

Letts also had an impact offensively with three goals and five assists after making the move from center-back to midfield. The Rebels won their third straight league title and advanced to the CIF Division III playoffs with Letts picking up All-CIF third-team honors.

"Abby was really deserving because she developed a lot in the last year, a lot more confidence and a great presence out there," Prep Coach Esteban Chavez said. "She wins pretty much everything, but also helps us on the counter-attacks."

Prep's tennis squad also benefited from Letts' play in doubles. The pairing of Letts and Young-In Kim helped the Rebels reach the second round of CIF.

10 Katelyn Almeida, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer, senior — Almeida's contributions were never more clear than in 2012 when Sacred Heart needed it most.

The senior, who will take her talents to the University of New Mexico, anchored the Tologs defense once again, while adding a goal and three assists, as Sacred Heart allowed just 19 goals in 21 contests.

Almeida earned All-CIF Division I third-team honors and first-team All-Mission League honors.

"She played as well last year as she did this year, but it was more visible and move obvious," said Pace, whose team went 13-5-3. "There was a light that shined on her this year that wasn't there before. She stepped up and led us."

Honorable mention: Maya Okamoto, Flintridge Prep basketball/softball; Alexa Montgomery, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer; Casey Cousineau, Flintridge Prep soccer/track and field; Sarah Olson, La Cañada High swimming; Katie Altmayer, Flintridge Sacred Heart swimming.

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