Running hard

Mike Sciacca

Throughout the years, Laguna Beach High has boasted some talented

track and field athletes, all of whom, at one time or another, have come

up with some outstanding individual efforts.


In team competition, though, the school, with an enrollment of 870 for

the 2001-02 academic year, has found the going tough as it competes

against other school’s with large enrollment numbers.

“We’re a small school and it’s hard to get the numbers out for the


team,” said Dave Brobeck, who has coached the varsity track and field

program for the past five years. He also heads the cross country program.

“At most big schools, you get more than 100 students who come out for the

team. We’re lucky if we get 80.”

Still, Brobeck has been blessed with terrific individual talent this


For the first time in his five years, he had four team members qualify

for last weekend’s CIF Southern Section prelims: senior Anil Adam, the


Pacific Coast League champion in the 100 meters; senior Ryan Simpson in

the 800 and 1600 meters, junior Brendan Bowler in the 1600 meters and

freshman Addison Doud, who qualified in the 300-meter low hurdles.

A fifth, junior Marc Todd, finished second in league in the triple

jump. He traveled with Simpson, Bowler and Doud to Veterans Stadium in

Long Beach last Saturday in an attempt to hit the qualifying standard in

the triple jump. Adams did not make the trip.

“I have learned how to shift my perspective from winning as a team, to


finding joy in our individual performances,” Brobeck said.

His CIF qualifiers matched up very well.

Simpson finished second in the PCL’s 800 and 1600 meters, a difficult

task considering that the league was stocked with talent in the distance


Brobeck has coached Simpson, who is pushing 6-foot-4, for four years,

both in track and field and cross country. He says the senior’s drive in

the weight room, combined with “high mileage” in the off-season months,

has resulted in his dramatic improvement.

“He is perhaps the most mature 18 year old that I have ever coached,”

said Brobeck, who added that Simpson has been admitted to the University

of Southern California for the Spring of 2003 and hopes to walk on with

the Trojans program.

Bowler was Brobeck’s top cross country runner this past season and the

junior matched Simpson, step for step, on the track. He finished less

than a half-second behind Simpson in the league’s 1600-meter final.

“Brendan has been taking an astronomy course at a local college this

semester and had to hold himself accountable to running many of the daily

workouts in solitude,” Brobeck explained. “Often times he would be in the

darkness at the school track, entirely alone, hitting his 400 interval

splits as his wrist watch beeped every 62 seconds.”

With Simpson set to graduate in June, Bowler will be one of the

Artists’ senior leaders next school year. Beyond that, the future is in

the hands of Doud, who will only be a sophomore.

Brobeck calls her “The Franchise.”

“This girl is just lights out,” he exclaimed.

Doud did indeed do it all her freshman year, running the 200-meter

sprint, 300-meter low hurdles, the anchor leg on the 400-meter relay and

the discus.

She qualified for CIF in the low hurdles -- beating a pack of

18-year-old league competitors along the way. She just missed qualifying

in the discus, and made it to the finals heat in the 200 meters.

With a 4.3 grade-point average, Doud lettered in track, tennis, water

polo and softball during her freshman year.

“I have never seen an athlete quite like her before -- and may never

see again,” Brobeck said.

“Before she’s done at Laguna Beach High, it wouldn’t surprise me in

the least if she takes several school records with her.”

With the 2002 track and field season now complete at Laguna Beach

High, Brobeck looks back with fondness on the individual efforts of his

team members.

“As a coach I try to judge my athletes more by their character than

natural ability,” he concluded. “I am blessed in this case that Ryan,

Brendan and Addison are overflowing with both attributes. Dedication is

the common thread linking these athletes together.”