A new move took the Laguna Beach High athletic program to new heights during the 2006-07 school year.
Gone were the days of competing in the six-team Pacific Coast League. What followed was a down-sized move to the newly-formed, four-member Orange Coast League. Breakers athletic teams dominated their new digs by winning league championships in nine sports: football, girls' tennis, girls' and boys' volleyball, boys' cross-country, boys' and girls' water polo, boys' basketball, and boys' track and field.
Below are some of the year's highlights, as reported to the Coastline Pilot:
September-December, 2006In football, Laguna won its first league title in 19 years. In addition, the Breakers hosted their first playoff game since 1987. They lost a first-round game to Valencia of Placentia.
"Undisputed, undefeated, outright Orange Coast League champions. No one can ever take that away from our boys," Laguna Coach Jimmy Nolan said after the Breakers clinched the league title with a win at Costa Mesa on Nov. 9. "The boys never quit. Never. All 10 games they worked hard."
Laguna's girls' golf program came up with a second-place finish at the Orange Coast League championships at El Prado Golf Club in Chino Hills. Breakers Coach Barbara Williams said the placement was the best in school history.
Senior Sasha Speare did something that no other Laguna girls' golfer had done before: win an individual league championship.
"I'm just so happy for the team and for Sasha," Williams said. "Sasha basically went up against the entire Estancia team in the final. What she accomplished is unreal. She single-handedly beat an entire team. She's pretty awesome."
Laguna's girls' tennis team went undefeated in Orange Coast League play and advanced to the second round of the playoffs, where the defending Division I champion Breakers were eliminated by Troy.
In the pool, the boys' water polo team, a top-five fixture in the CIF Southern Section Division II poll throughout the season, went undefeated in league play but lost a first-round playoff game to San Clemente. Senior Peter Phelps, a utility player, was named to the 2006 All-Southern California Water Polo Coaches' Assn. Boys' Division II team.
Laguna's boys' and girls' cross-country programs had another successful run.
In girls' action, the Breakers finished second in CIF Division IV and 12th in the Division IV State meet in Fresno. Senior Alex Crawley earned All-CIF honors.
For the boys, Laguna placed second at the CIF Division IV race and reached the podium by claiming a second-place finish at the CIF Division IV State meet. Jeremy Eaton and Yann Panassie each garnered All-CIF status.
Coach Dave Brobeck said that Eaton's time was the fastest by a Laguna runner at the park and highest individual placement. The program also recorded its fastest time (1 hour 23 minutes) in its history at Woodward Park.
"This was an outstanding performance for us," Brobeck said. "It was our best team race at this level to date."
One of the magical seasons of 2006 belonged to the Breakers girls' volleyball team, which turned in a season to remember.
Laguna compiled a 29-6 record, captured four of six tournaments it entered, won Orange Coast League, CIF Southern Section Division II-AA and Southern California Regional Division II titles and played in a state title game for just the second time in school history.
Junior outside hitter Dana Hutchinson was named co-MVP on a Division II team that included senior middle blocker Zoe Garrett and sophomore Alex Palmer on the first team and senior setter Mychaela Miller on the second team.
"I couldn't have asked for more from this team," Coach Lance Stewart said. "The girls grew as people and really came together as a team. They worked hard throughout the year. It was a glorious season."
January-June, 2007Laguna boys' basketball enjoyed one of the most successful seasons in school history. The Breakers reeled off a school-record 23 wins during the regular season, won the school's first league title in nine years and its No. 5 seeding in the CIF playoffs was the program's highest since Laguna was seeded No. 1 entering the 1999 playoffs.
The Breakers were just the eighth team in school history to win a league title.
Senior guard Cheyne Martin, who averaged 28.3 points per game — the second-best single-season average in school history — was named to the Southern California Interscholastic Basketball Coaches' Assn. Division IIIA team.
"I just have a great feeling about his group of seniors," Breakers Coach Bret Fleming said. "I said in their eighth-grade year, before they were to begin high school, that they'd be the best basketball class to walk into this high school. That held true."
Laguna's girls' water polo team marched all the way to the CIF Division II final at Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach on Feb. 26. In a match that went to the wire, the top-seeded Breakers were edged by No. 2 Agoura, 11-10.
"They just pushed in one more shot than we did," Laguna assistant coach Ethan Damato said. "Up until that last second of the game, our girls thought we would win. They played hard the entire way and that's a testament to the character of this team and their season."
Five days after playing for the CIF Southern Section Division II championship, Laguna nearly put an end to Division I champion Foothill's 26-match win streak but fell to the Knights, 7-6, in the final of the inaugural CIF Masters Tournament.
Seniors Jessica McKee and Breanna Duplisea both made the first-team All-CIF, junior Erin Reid and sophomore Annika Dries were second team picks and goalie Celia Huling was a third team selection.
Junior Bret McGaughey brought prestige to the Laguna Beach boys' golf program by winning the Orange Coast League individual championship May 1, winning the league final at El Prado Golf Course in Chino Hills by two strokes. He, along with teammates Skylar Perkins and Michael Cannon, advanced from the prelims into the finals round.
The boys' volleyball team, which coasted to the Orange Coast League title, reached the quarterfinal round of the CIF Division II playoffs before falling in four games to host Dos Pueblos. Senior outside hitter Blair Bigelow and junior setter Clay Knapp were named to the 2007 Amateur Athletic Foundation/Southern Section Boys' Volleyball Coaches' Assn. Division II team.
Members of the Laguna Beach girls' swim team came up with big finishes at both the CIF Division II finals and the CIF Masters meet in May.
At the Division II finals at Belmont Plaza Pool, sophomores Annika Dries, Taylor Dodson, Natasha Schulmann and Chelsea Wild finished in sixth place in a school-record time of 1:41.99 in the 200-free relay.
Wild and Dries each also placed in two individual events: Wild swam to seventh-place finishes in both the 200- and 500-free and Dries placed eighth in the 100 free.
At the Masters meet, also held at Belmont Plaza Pool, Wild finished in 13th place in the 200 free and was 11th in the 500-free, where she turned in a school-record time of 4:59.05.
New school records also were set at the Masters Meet by the 200-free and 400-free relay teams. The 200-free relay team of Dries, Dodson, Schulmann and Wild, swam a 1:40.96, good for 11th-place. The 400-free relay team finished 14th with a time of 3:40.41.
Wild also established a school record in the 100 during the 400-free relay, Coach Chad Beeler said.
"We're really pleased with how the girls did," Beeler said of he and co-coaches Ethan Damato and Chad Carvin. "The girls set 14 school records this year."
In track and field, Laguna won the boys' Orange Coast League title. At the boys' finals, senior E.J. Gomez was champion in both the 200 and 500 meters, senior Nick Newell was a triple champion in the long jump, triple jump and high jump, and the Breakers' 4 X 400 relay team won its race.
At the girls' finals, senior Brittany Clark easily captured titles in the 100 and 200 meters, senior Alex Crawley took both the 1,600 and 3,200 and the 4 X 100 team won its race.
Crawley went on to claim an individual CIF title by winning the Division IV girls' 3,200 race at the CIF Track and Field Championship at Cerritos College in Norwalk.
Clark set a school record in the 200 meters. In April, she won an individual title in the girls' 100 meters at the Orange County Championships.