ÑA group of high school athletes ended the 2018-19 school year with a wealth of success.
During the spring season, a large number of area squads and individuals from the Burbank, Glendale, La Crescenta and La Cañada areas stepped up with outstanding accomplishments and historic showings.
Along with individual and team success in league competition, locals also captured CIF Southern Section championships, enjoyed deep playoff runs and advanced to state competition. In the process, records were broken and awards were abundant.
Here is a look at some of those accomplishments.
The Falcons led the way among area teams by claiming three CIF Southern Section championships.
Snapping a longstanding title drought, the Crescenta Valley softball team won the Division III title to claim the program’s first crown since 1986.
Behind a dominating pitching performance from sophomore Dee Dee Hernandez in the title contest, the Falcons scored runs early and defeated West Ranch, 3-0, at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine.
With the last title 33 years prior, Dan Berry was the Falcons’ coach. Coaching the team to this year’s championship was Amanda Peek, who played under Berry at Crescenta Valley.
In swimming, both of Crescenta Valley’s boys’ and girls’ teams brought home Division III championships.
At the finals at Riverside Aquatic Complex, the Falcons boys finished with 233 points, edging out Ventura (228), and the girls finished first with 271 ½, ahead of runner-up Sunny Hills (254).
A group of Falcons’ divers had a fine showing at the CIF Swimming and Diving Championships in Division III. UCLA-bound Katelynn Shaheen took second with 525.40 points, followed by Zara Joy Ayazi (third, 511.80) and Alexandra Warshaw (sixth, 450.70).
The Falcons’ baseball team also enjoyed an impressive playoff run after tying for second place in the Pacific League. The Phil Torres-coached squad defeated Rio Mesa (4-1), Thousand Oaks (4-3) and Quartz Hill (3-0) to advance to the Division II semifinals.
Unfortunately for Crescenta Valley, it came a run away from playing for a championship, losing to Norco (4-3) in the semifinals.
Enjoying individual success was junior track and field athlete Dylan Wilbur.
In the Pacific League finals, Wilbur won a second straight league crown in the 800 meters, clocking a personal-best 1 minute, 54.73 seconds before winning the 1,600 in 4:21.94.
Wilbur went on to win the CIF Southern Section Division I boys' 1,600 (4:12.31). In the 101th annual CIF State Track and Field Championships at Buchanan High in Clovis, Wilbur became the Falcons’ first male athlete ever to score in the 1,600 state final since the distance was switched from the mile in 1980, finishing eighth in 4:14.56.
History was made by the Rebels boys’ tennis team that enjoyed a monumental playoff run.
In its first-ever title CIF Southern Section championship match, No. 3 Flintridge Prep defeated Maranatha, 10-8, backed by a strong singles performance, to capture the title in Division IV at the Claremont Club.
Under second-year coach Roger Hollomand, Flintridge Prep (12-5; third in Liberty League) reached the championship match with wins against California Math and Science Academy, Jurupa Valley, Segerstrom and No. 2 Bishop Montgomery. Maranatha (22-3) blanked the Rebels,18-0, in a nonleague match on March 14, without a number of Rebels starters.
The Rebels became the first area team to win a boys’ tennis title since Hoover High captured a Division I championship in 2002.
With Hollomand's experienced players injected into the lineup for the final, Flintridge Prep was able to record seven wins in singles and three in doubles.
Also enjoying a fine season showing was the Flintridge Prep boys’ volleyball team.
Behind Prep League Most Valuable Player AJ Nicassio, a senior, and coached by veteran Sean Beattie, the Rebels captured their seventh straight league title.
Flintridge Prep then embarked on a fine playoff run in Division IV, getting past Godinez, Laguna Blanca and Cerritos Valley Christian to advance to the semifinals, where it fell to Windward.
The Rebels girls’ and boys’ swimming teams also enjoyed success in the Prep League. The boys clinched their sixth straight Prep League title and finished with 369 points, besting Buckley (309), and the girls claimed their second consecutive title after clinching their first championship last season in over a decade as they led with 332 points to finish ahead of Pasadena Poly (256).
One of the most compelling story lines during the spring involved the La Cañada baseball team.
The Spartans (22-8) won the Rio Hondo League championship and then proceeded to embark on the most successful playoff run in program history.
Led by league player of the year Ryan Graves and league pitcher of the year Connor Buchanan, the Matt Whisenant-coached Spartans earned victories against Windward (14-0), Warren (2-1) in nine innings, Ocean View (2-1) in 11 innings and Oak Hills (13-2) to earn a spot in the program’s first CIF Southern Section championship.
In the Division III title game at Dodger Stadium, La Cañada lost to No. 4 Great Oak (7-0).
Also enjoying team success was the Spartans boys’ tennis team, which surprised many by advancing to the Division I quarterfinals, losing to Sage Hill, 13-5.
Ryan Morgan won the singles title at the Rio Hondo League finals for the second straight season and Ben Lee and Jack Manion teamed up for their first doubles title. Manion and Lee advanced to the round of 32 at the CIF Individual Tournament.
In softball, La Cañada enjoyed a fine effort in the Rio Hondo League, capturing a fifth straight league crown.
Enjoying a suburb effort during the spring was the Spartans girls’ and boys’ swimming teams. Behind Danny Srykin, the boys’ squad captured the Rio Hindo League championship. The Spartans scored 486 points to win the championship for the second consecutive season over second-place San Marino (439).
With Alexandra Syrkin leading the way, the girls’ squad also nailed down a league crown. The Spartans tallied 459 points, while the San Marino had 442.
Both Danny and Alexandra won a pair of individual league titles
In the CIF Southern Section Division II finals, Danny Syrkin broke his own record in the 100-yard butterfly in 47.25 seconds to retain his title and added a crown in the 50 freestyle with a 20.38 to help the La Canada boys' team capture the Division II championship.
The Spartans recorded 336 points to top runner-up Damien (235).
In state competition at the CIF Swimming and Diving Championships, Danny Srykin finished second in the 100 butterfly (46.63) and third in the 50 freestyle (20.32).
Also in state competition, diver Grace Lee placed eighth.
In track and field, Rio Hondo League boys’ champion David Mikenna, won the Division III boys' pole vault, clearing 15-feet. He advanced to the Masters Meet.
A pair of superb individual efforts highlighted the spring for the Bulldogs.
Sophomore JJ Nakeo stormed to a fine showing in the Pacific League, winning an individual championship. Backed by seven birdies, including three over the final three holes, Nakeo carded a sizzling seven-under-par 65 to place first at Hansen Dam Golf Course in Pacoima.
In track and field, it was another Burbank sophomore who made some noise.
Jayla Flowers captured a pair of girls’ league crowns at the Pacific League finals. She had a mark of 16 feet, 9 1/4 inches in the long jump and turned in a 36-2 effort in the triple jump.
Flowers continued her success in a series of meets, advancing to the 101th annual CIF State Track and Field Championships at Buchanan High in Clovis. Flowers became the first athlete in area history to make the state podium in the girls’ triple jump since the event was added to the championship schedule in 1982, improving her own school record of 39-6 on her final attempt to place fifth.
Making an impressive run in the CIF Southern Section Individual Tournament was Golden Knights boys’ tennis player Ian Freer .
Freer, a senior who finished runner-up in singles in the Mission League, stormed to a championship at the Seal Beach Tennis Center.
The Golden Knights senior posted a 6-3, 6-2 win against Kyle Pham of Corona del Mar to take home the plaque.
Freer became the first area athlete to capture the event since Glendale High’s Dave Reed won back-to-back crowns in 1960 and 1961.
Freer helped the St. Francis boys’ tennis team advance to the CIF Southern Division II quarterfinals, narrowly losing to Cypress, 10-8.
St. Francis’ Matthew Molina once again showed his prowess in track and field.
At the Mission League finals, Molina won the 110-meter hurdles in 14.87 seconds and the high jump in 6 feet, 5 inches.
In the CIF Southern Section Division III finals, Molina repeated as champion in the high jump with a 6-6 winning mark. Molina chose not to compete in the Masters Meet.
FLINTRIDGE SACRED HEART ACADEMY
With Sunshine League Player of the Year Amanda Ramirez leading the way, the Tologs enjoyed league and playoff success.
Sacred Heart won a Sunshine League championship and advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division V quarterfinals, losing to Redondo Union, 6-0. The Tologs won their first league crown since 1988.
It was another spring spearheaded by the success of the Indians’ boys’ volleyball team.
For the 10th straight season, Burroughs captured a Pacific League championship.
Led by league player of the year Sam Tipton and under the direction of veteran coach Joel Brinton, the Indians dropped just one match in league, ending with a 13-1 record.
The Indians defeated Sherman Oaks Notre in three sets to open the CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs before falling to Mission Viejo in three sets in the second round.
A Burroughs boys’ golfer was able to enjoy individual success after helping his team enjoy an outstanding season.
Freshman Lincoln Melcher, who finished second in the Pacific League, experienced fine results in Southern California tournaments. Melcher, who has verbally committed to UCLA, finished his season at the CIF/Southern California Golf Assn. Southern California Boys’ Championship, finishing tied for 25th with a two-over-par 74 at Brookside Golf Course No. 1 in Pasadena.
The Indians boys’ golf team stayed in contention for a league title until the final regular-season match, eventually placing second behind Arcadia. In the CIF Southern Section Western Team Divisional at Mountain Meadows Golf Course in Pomona, Burroughs had a respectable fourth-place finish.
In girls’ swimming, Indians’ Maya Wilson, who won the 100-yard butterfly in 55.58 seconds at the Pacific League finals.
Leading the way for the Nitros squads during the spring was the girls’ lacrosse team.
Glendale earned a title in the Pacific League and advanced to the Los Angeles Lacrosse Foundation Division I semifinal, suffering a loss at the hands of No. 1 Redondo Union in the Division I semifinals.
In their first season competing in the Prep League, the Pioneers boys’ and girls’ track and field teams proved they were up for the challenge.
The boys won a league championship, scoring 99 points to best Pasadena Poly (98). The girls’ squad placed second with 98 behind champion Mayfield (179).
Providence also had a group of track and field athletes advance to the CIF Southern Section Division IV finals.