CIF team success, individual accolades highlight year

Throughout the past year, the local community experienced its share of important, interesting and significant sports stories. Some of the stories enlightened us, some informed us and others just entertained us.

Although many of the stories deserve recognition, a select few stood out among the others.

Chosen by the Leader, here is a list of the top 10 sports stories of 2013.

1 Burbank football team rolls to CIF-SS semifinals: The Bulldogs were able to accomplish something that no other team in the program has been able do for more than 80 years.

Led by an accomplished running back and an efficient quarterback, Burbank advanced to the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division semifinals in November for the first time since 1927.

Burbank enjoyed a successful season under coach Hector Valencia, as the Bulldogs went 10-3 — 5-2 in the Pacific League — and notched two victories in the playoffs. Burbank saw its season end with a 28-21 loss to La Serna.

The Bulldogs opened the postseason with a 49-14 win against Mayfair and then earned a 42-0 victory against Santa Fe in the quarterfinals.

Burbank was paced by junior running back James Williams. The Pacific League Offensive Player of the Year, Williams finished the season with a school-record 22 rushing touchdowns in 164 carries. His 1,469 yards (nine yards a carry) were good enough for second on the all-time school list. Williams also had 22 catches for 482 yards (21.9 yards a catch) and five touchdowns and had 2,307 all-purpose yards and scored 176 points (third all-time in program history).

The team also received a fine effort from junior quarterback Ryan Meredith. He set a school record for touchdown passes in a season with 29 and had just two interceptions. He also completed 128 of 226 passes for 2,320 yards to break another season school record. In addition, he had 73 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

2 Marcus LoVett Jr. leaves Providence boys’ basketball team: The talented athlete was one of the most highly touted players in the nation and he proved that with an outstanding freshman season for the Pioneers in 2012.

However, the sharp-shooting guard never finished out his sophomore season with Providence, leaving the team and the school during the 2012-13 campaign. It was never specified why LoVett ultimately left the school.

As a freshman, LoVett put up monster numbers, broke several Pioneers school records, paced Providence to its first-ever CIF Southern Section championship game, led the state in scoring and earned national recognition.

As well as being named the Southern Section Division V-A Player of the Year, he was also the Liberty League Player of the Year. He averaged 31.7 points a game, which was best in the nation among freshmen according to In addition, he poured in 1,035 points — breaking a school record — and put up 35.8 points a game in the playoffs.

In addition, he was an All-State honoree as well as being named the Burbank Leader Male Athlete of the Year.

However, LoVett missed some games last season after being sidelined due to a reaction to an insect bite. He returned briefly, only to leave the program completely. With his departure from the squad, the Pioneers struggled. Providence placed fourth in the Liberty League and ended the season 10-17.

3 Bell-Jeff softball team wins CIF championship: It was redemption for the Guards in 2013, who won the Division VI crown after losing in the Division VII title game the previous two seasons.

After winning their fourth straight Santa Cruz League championship, the success carried over into the playoffs. The Guards capped their season June 1 by defeating Mary Star of the Sea, 8-4, in the CIF Southern Section Division VI championship at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine and capturing the program’s first title.

It was the first championship at the school in four years across all sports. It was also only the third crown in school history (the previous two coming in girls' basketball).

Leading the way was senior shortstop Monique Landini, who was named the Division VI Player of the Year,

Landini batted .410 (41 for 100) for the Guards, drove in 25 runs, scored 31 runs and had six doubles, seven triples, four home runs and a .730 slugging percentage.

The senior, who was the Santa Cruz League Player of the Year, carried her league success over into the playoffs. In the Division VI championship game, Landini belted two home runs to pace the Guards to victory.

4 Bell-Jeff football team struggles, forced to cancel season: A tough and trying campaign came to an end for the Guards when they had to put an end to their season in mid-October.

After being plagued by low numbers and injuries that severely depleted the Guards in all of their games, Bell-Jeff's final three opponents were informed Oct. 16 that the team would forfeit its final three contests. The news ended a tumultuous season for the Guards, who finished 0-7 with four forfeit losses.

Under first-year coach Lance Fauria, Bell-Jeff canceled its first three games of the season. The Guards finally opened their season Sept. 19, suffering a 44-6 nonleague loss to Chadwick in a game that was ended early after Guards injuries depleted their numbers further.

Bell-Jeff then followed with a 28-0 nonleague defeat at the hands of Campbell Hall. Bell-Jeff then canceled its Sept. 5 nonleague game against Santa Clarita Christian and then lost a week later in its Santa Fe League opener against St. Monica, 36-0, at Memorial Field.

In all three of the games, the Guards suffered injuries that dwindled an already slim squad. In the loss to the Mariners, the Guards were depleted to just 10 players at times. All three games were played with a running clock in the second half.

5 Burbank softball team wins first league title in 26 years: Led by a talented pitcher, the Bulldogs won their first-ever championship in the Pacific League after last capturing a Foothill League crown in 1987.

Burbank finished the Pacific League campaign with a perfect 14-0 record, with all the wins in the circle coming from All-CIF, All-Area Player of the Year and league player of the year honoree Caitlyn Brooks, who had a wildly successful sophomore season.

In the circle, Brooks was 25-3 with a 0.78 earned-run average with 309 strikeouts and just 25 walks. At the plate, she batted .526 with 40 hits, 35 runs batted in, seven doubles, 12 home runs and 42 runs scored.

In the Division III playoffs, No. 2 Burbank won its opener against El Rancho, 7-2, before losing in the second round to Sunny Hills, 8-7, in eight innings.

6 Mark Covert ends 45-year running streak: On July 24, the Burbank High graduate’s all-time American streak of consecutive days of having completed a mile, according to the United States Running Streak Assn., ended at 16,436 days, or exactly 45 years. A streak which began shortly after Covert's graduation on July 22, 1968, had finally come to an end.

During that time, Covert racked up 149,660 miles, which averaged out to 9.1 miles per day or roughly 6.4 trips around the earth or a two-thirds trek to the moon. During his journey, nine presidents were in office, beginning with Lyndon B. Johnson, signer of the Civil Rights Act, and ending with Barack Obama.

A mid-foot collapse that would require surgery slowed Covert to a hobble over the last six months of his streak and ultimately led to an eventual pause.

7 Providence girls’ basketball team wins league and advances to CIF semifinals: Under coach Andrew Bencze, the Pioneers had another successful season.

Along with winning their fourth straight Liberty League title, the No. 2-seeded Pioneers did well in the Division V-AA playoffs again, defeating Downey Calvary Chapel (48-20), Linfield Christian (69-44) and Bishop Union (62-43) to reach the semifinals for the second straight season. However, Providence wasn't able to advance to the program's first championship game after losing to Village Christian, 46-45.

In the CIF State Basketball Championships, Providence won its first-round game against Tri-County Christian (42-29) before falling to No. 2 Sierra Canyon, 78-30.

The team was paced by senior Bea Benedicto and sophomore Katia Dabbaghian, who both earned All-CIF Southern Section honors. While Benedicto was a first-team choice in Division V-AA, Dabbaghian made the second team. It was the second straight season the pair garnered All-CIF accolades.

Benedicto did most of her damage in the paint, as she averaged a team-high 9.9 points a game to go along with 5.6 rebounds. Dabbaghian was perhaps the Pioneers' best all-around player. Along with averaging 7.3 points and 4.7 rebounds, she also tallied 3.7 steals, 3.2 assists and nearly a block a game.

8 Burroughs boys’ soccer wins league and advances to CIF-SS quarterfinals: It was the boys' soccer team that took center stage during the winter season.

The Indians surged to their first Pacific League championship in four years under coach Mike Kodama. Kodama finished his second season back with Burroughs after leading the program for 22 years and stepping down after the 2008-09 season.

Burroughs won its opening match of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs, defeating Anaheim, 4-3, at home before downing host Redlands East Valley, 2-1, in the second round. Unfortunately for the Indians, their season ended in the quarterfinals with a 4-3 loss in overtime at third-seeded Palmdale.

The Indians had five players who were honored with All-CIF awards. Earning Division III first-team accolades were senior midfielders Brian Arzate and Manny Celio. Making the second team was senior forward Jorman Herrera, while junior forwards Michael Conrad and Brandon Gerlach were third-team selections.

Arzate was also voted the Pacific League Player of the Year.

9 Burbank girls’ tennis squad enjoys team, individual success: The Bulldogs not only won a share of their first-ever Pacific League championship, but junior singles player Lilit Vardanyan also enjoyed a fruitful campaign.

Under coach Loi Phan, Burbank made noise in league by earning a 10-8 upset of Arcadia, which was then ranked No. 2 in Division II. Although the Bulldogs lost to the Apaches in the teams’ second meeting, Burbank was able to grab a share of its first title since 2002, when it was a member of the Foothill League.

In the playoffs, Burbank defeated La Palma Kennedy, 13-5, before falling in a heartbreaker to St. Margaret’s on games, 71-70.

Vardanyan enjoyed her share of success, ending the season with a 56-2 record. In addition, she captured the Pacific League singles championship.

In the CIF Southern Section Individual Tournament at Whittier Narrows Tennis Center, Vardanyan advanced to the quarterfinals, falling 6-1, 6-1 to top-seed Annika Ringblom from Peninsula, who won the Bay League championship.

10 Golfer Emily Tubert enjoys another successful year: The Burroughs High graduate did well playing for the University of Arkansas, as well as competing in prestigious tournaments.

Following her collegiate campaign, Tubert qualified for the U.S. Women's Open at the Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., in June. Tubert recorded a two-day total of 152 after shooting a 74 on her first day and a 78 on the second day. Unfortunately, Tubert didn't make the cut for the weekend portion of the tournament.

During her junior season for the Razorbacks, Tubert earned National Golf Coaches Assn. All-American honors. It was her third All-American honor. She was also a Rolex All-American at Burroughs.

She paced the Razorbacks for the third consecutive season, averaging 73.41 strokes per round in 34 rounds. She picked up two individual wins, bringing her career total to five.

Tubert's score versus par ranked the junior 37th in the nation and 10th in the region. Her adjusted score ranked 32nd in the country and 11th in the region. In addition, she had six top-10 finishes, leading the Razorbacks to eight top-10 places in 13 events. Arkansas finished ranked eighth in the country after tying for 13th at the 2013 NCAA Championship on May 24.

In addition, Tubert played in the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship in August in South Carolina, in which she made it to the round of 32 after advancing to the second round of match play.

Copyright © 2019, Burbank Leader
EDITION: California | U.S. & World