Misty the clear choice for No. 1

Displaying the diversity that exists on the Newport-Mesa sports scene, the top 10 sports stories of the decade, as chosen by the Daily Pilot sports staff, represent 10 different sports.

Individuals, events and programs, from the professional ranks, college, high school and the youth realm are also represented.

1 Misty May-Treanor: Misty May-Treanor: The Newport Harbor High product has not only established herself as the preeminent figure in her sport, but has also become a cultural icon and international celebrity known to millions who have never even seen her jump serve.

It is her work on the beach volleyball court, however, that has produced the bulk of her fame.

The all-time wins leader and money winner on the Assn. of Volleyball Professionals women’s tour, May-Treanor and partner Kerri Walsh have claimed gold medals at the last two summer Olympic Games in Beijing (2008) and Athens (2004).

Paired with Holly McPeak, she finished fifth at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Her place in the AVP record books is as noteworthy as men’s legend Karch Kiraly and her unique talents have, at various times earned her offensive, defensive and overall player of the year recognition in a game that, sometimes cruelly, can expose a players’ weaknesses.

May-Treanor, however, seems to have none of those, though now 32, she may be on the downward slide of her career that was interrupted by a torn Achilles tendon in 2008.

In the unlikely event that her competitive days are numbered, May-Treanor’s success to date places her at the top of the pantheon of Newport-Mesa athletes.

2 Aaron Peirsol: Aaron Peirsol: Seven Olympic medals, including five gold, are just a portion of the myriad accomplishments this Newport Harbor High alumnus has produced.

Dozens of world records have fallen at his arrival at the touch pad and his Olympic haul includes gold in the 100-meter backstroke in 2008 and 2004, gold in the 100 back in 2004, as well as gold medals in both of those years in the 400 medley relay.

His collection of titles at the world champions includes 200 backstroke wins in 2009, 2005, 2003 and 2001, as well as 100 back crowns in 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2009.

His national titles are virtually too numerous to mention, but the 26-year-old is also universally revered for his laid-back, California cool.

He is widely considered the “King of the Backstroke” and, along with May-Treanor, is on any short list of the most accomplished athletes ever to compete at Newport-Mesa schools.

3 Toshiba Classic: Toshiba Classic: Arguably the signature event on the Newport-Mesa sports calendar each year, the tournament brings the legends of golf to Newport Beach Country Club each spring as part of the Champions Tour circuit.

As good as the action has been on the course, the tournament may have gained more renown for its annual charitable contributions, which routinely top $1 million.

Some highlights this past decade include:

 Jose Maria Canizares defeated Dr. Gil Morgan in a nine-hole playoff in 2001.

 Hale Irwin became the first two-time winner in the event’s history in 2002.

 Mark Johnson, known affectionately as “Beer Man,” as he drove a beer truck for 18 years before joining the Champions Tour, earned his first Champions Tour victory at the 2005 event. In so doing, he sealed his status as a champion for the working man.

 Jay Haas set a tournament record by carding a 19-under-par 194, including 20 birdies in 54 holes, to claim the title in 2007.

 Haas missed his chance to be the event’s first repeat champion when he lost a seven-hole playoff to Bernhard Langer in 2008.

4 Newport Harbor football: Newport Harbor football: The Sailors made three trips to the CIF Southern Section division title game the first six seasons of the decade, including the program’s third section crown in 2005 in Division VI.

A shift to the section’s premier division (Pac-5) and the ultra-competitive Sunset League followed, but Coach Jeff Brinkley’s Tars earned two playoff berths and a share of one league title to close out the decade with an 85-33-2 record, a winning percentage of .717.

Among the stars who made it all click were Newport-Mesa Dream Team Players of the Year Cecil Whiteside (2009), Ryan Rippon (2005), Trevor Theriot (2004), Spencer Link (2003), Morgan Craig (2001) and Chris Manderino (2000).

Whiteside was also twice recognized as Newport-Mesa Defensive Player of the Year, an honor that also went to Sailors Parker Norton (2009), Mike Calabrese (2006), Thomas Martin (2004), Cory Ray (2001) and Alan Saenz (2000).

The Tars’ Dartangan Johnson was a two-time Newport-Mesa Offensive Player of the Year (2001 and 2002). The same honor was bestowed upon Sailors Cedric Whitaker (2009), JB Green (2008), Tom Jackson (2005) and Kasey Peters (2004).

Brinkley posted win No. 200 in his 24th season at the helm last fall and the decade included eight postseason appearances.

5 Corona del Mar High girls’ running: Corona del Mar High girls’ running: With Coach Bill Sumner working his magic, the Sea Kings claimed 10 CIF Southern Section titles in cross country (five) and track and field (five), in addition to six state crowns in cross country.

CdM won Division IV section and state cross country titles in 2000, then topped the Division III field for section and state crowns in 2005, 2006 and 2008. The Sea Kings won a section cross country title in 2007 and a state championship in 2009.

CdM won Division III section titles in track and field in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Leading the pack at various times for CdM were: Liz Morse, Julie Allen, Annie St. Geme, Sarah Cummings, Shelby Buckley and Melanie Powers.

6 UC Irvine men’s volleyball: UC Irvine men’s volleyball: Coach John Speraw’s Anteaters won national championships in 2007 and 2009 and reached the final four in 2006.

The 2007 squad brought fruition to Speraw’s five-year plan he had initiated when taking over the Anteaters helm.

That year, senior All-Americans Jayson Jablonsky, Matt Webber, David Smith and Brian Thornton helped the team go 29-5 and top Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne in the title match at Ohio State.

The ’Eaters went 27-5 last season, topping USC in a five-game NCAA final at BYU. The 2009 squad, including All-Americans Ryan Ammerman, Carson Clark, Kevin Wynne and Jordan DuFault, also won the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation crown, as did the team in 2006.

Additional All-Americans included Jimmy Pelzel (2003), Brent Asuka (2006), and Jon Steller (2008), the latter two contributing to both of the national championship squads.

7 Vanguard women’s basketball: Vanguard women’s basketball: The Lions routinely ascended to the No. 1 national ranking under the guidance of Coach Russ Davis.

But in seven straight trips to at least the NAIA Tournament quarterfinals after making its first Final Foul in 2003, Vanguard finally claimed its first national crown in 2008.

The Lions won at least 31 games in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009, but it was the 28-5 squad led by senior Melissa Cook that earned the big red banner in 2008 in the annual tournament in Jackson, Tenn.

Lisa Faulkner, Kelly Schmidt and Jessica Richter all earned NAIA Player of the Year accolades for the Costa Mesa school which posted a 211-29 record from the 2002-03 season through the 2008-09 campaign, a winning percentage of .879.

8 UCI baseball: UCI baseball: Just three years after reviving the program that had been dormant for nine seasons, the Anteaters appeared in an NCAA Regional in 2004.

After another postseason appearance in 2006, then-third-year coach Dave Serrano guided the 2007 club to the College World Series, where it eliminated Cal State Fullerton and Arizona State in extra innings on its way to a third-place finish.

UCI, led by Coach Mike Gillespie, was three outs away from another trip to Omaha in 2008, before host LSU rallied to win a best-of-three super regional.

The ’Eaters went 22-2 in Big West Conference play to run away with the program’s first conference title in 2009, but were eliminated by Virginia in the first regional held at Anteater Ballpark.

Pitchers Scott Gorgen, Danny Bibona, Brett Smith, Blair Erickson and Eric Pettis, as well as position players Ben Orloff, Taylor Holiday, Cody Cipriano, Ollie Linton and Matt Anderson were among the foremost standouts.

9 Back Bay girls’ water polo: Back Bay girls’ water polo: The steam coming off the surface of pools at Corona del Mar High and Newport Harbor during the winter is not all due to the weather. Because, in fact, the quality of play produced by both programs in the last 10 seasons has simply been sizzling.

The Sea Kings, competing in several divisions, have won five CIF Southern Section titles, produced three runner-up finishes and advanced to the semifinals in the other two seasons.

Newport Harbor won Division I section crowns in 2004, 2006 and 2008, the last of those coming by virtue of a victory over CdM in the title match. The Sailors also have one runner-up showing and bowed out in the semifinals four additional times.

CdM’s section championships were in consecutive years, from 2002 to 2006.

Among some of the stars that have helped sustain such excellence are CIF Player of the Year honorees Camille Hewko (CdM), Tumua Anae (CdM), Jordan Anae (CdM), Brittany Fullen (CdM), twice, Christina Hewko (CdM), twice, and Newport Harbor’s Jessica Ball.

The honor roll also includes Newport-Mesa Dream Team Players of the Year Kate Baldoni (CdM), twice, and Newport Harbor standouts Mimi Bury and Sarah Roberts.

Hard to find a more consistently productive pool of talent anywhere in the country.

10 Daily Pilot Cup: Daily Pilot Cup: What’s multicolored and running all over? An aerial view of the youth soccer tournament created by Kirk McIntosh, which had its 10th anniversary last spring and has now become an annual Newport-Mesa staple.

Close to 2,500 kids, representing 31 Newport-Mesa public and private schools, donned their own unique color of T-shirts in 2009 to cover the fields of Costa Mesa High and the Farm Complex like a colorful, amorphous quilt.

In its 10th year, the event inspired by the former Lions Cup involved 193 teams.

With McIntosh and many other volunteers fueling the engine, it has come a long way from the inaugural effort, in which fewer than 70 teams competed.


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