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Logan Brooks came a long way for Laguna Beach High

Laguna Beach High School distance runner Logan Brooks was named the Sunset Conference Wave League Male Athlete of the Year.
Laguna Beach High School distance runner Logan Brooks was named the Sunset Conference Wave League Male Athlete of the Year.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

When Logan Brooks looks back on his family’s decision to move to Southern California, he is glad that they did so because it showed him more of the world and exposed him to different perspectives.

Distance runners like Brooks travel miles at a time on foot, and over the last two years, few went farther than Brooks and the Laguna Beach High cross-country team.

After transferring from Santa Rosa Beach (Fla.) South Walton for his junior year, Brooks helped lead the Breakers to the CIF Southern Section Division 4 crown and the Division IV state championship, placing seventh in the race.

That same year, he was an All-American as a member of the Arcadia Invitational-winning mile relay team.

He came back with his second consecutive all-state performance, finishing third in the Division IV final to bookend his senior season.

Laguna Beach's Logan Brooks, right, won the varsity boys' race in the Sunset Conference cross-country finals on Nov. 2.
Laguna Beach High School cross-country runner Logan Brooks, right, won the varsity boys’ combined race in the Sunset Conference cross-country finals at Central Park in Huntington Beach on Nov. 2. Laguna Beach’s Mateo Bianchi, left came in second place.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Brooks’ individual accolades are not the only noted repeat performance. For the second year in a row, the Sunset Conference Wave League Male Athlete of the Year honor, given to Brooks this year, has gone to a member of the Laguna Beach cross-country program.

Last year, the award went to Ryan Smithers, who is still competing in college at Yale.

Beyond their involvement in athletics, an unfortunate shared experience bonded the two of them. Both Brooks and Smithers suffered the loss of a father in high school.

“Having Logan as a teammate, looking past the sport and [on] a personal level, he’s a great guy,” Smithers said of Brooks. “He definitely helped me through that hard period last year because we could relate to each other, not only on an athletic level but on a personal level.”

Smithers also admired the drive that Brooks showed in the team’s workouts.

“He just has the ability to push himself to a certain point that not a lot of other people can do,” Smithers said. “I think that’s something that we respect each other for because we both put a lot into what we do.”

Athletes across all sports are up for consideration for the Sunset Conference Athlete of the Year awards.

Some of the larger spectator sports like basketball and football become the talk of schools. All the recognition that some cross-country athletes ever needed comes from within their respective programs, Brooks said.

Laguna Beach distance runner Logan Brooks was named the Sunset Conference Wave League Male Athlete of the Year.
Laguna Beach distance runner Logan Brooks will attend UC Irvine.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

“You don’t get a lot of attention from the rest of the kids at your school, so that is kind of what creates a lot of that close team chemistry you see on the cross-country team because really only your teammates understand you,” Brooks added. “Everybody else is looking at you, and they don’t know how you could possibly go run 60 miles a week. You’re like crazy to most people, so you really get close to the people that understand you.”

As he prepares for the next step — Brooks has signed with UC Irvine for men’s cross-country and track and field — he is interested in majoring in political science or economics.

Brooks, who said he likes psychology, demonstrated mental strength to bounce back after his father died, and now he knows that obstacles are meant to be overcome.

For someone who has been through such trials so young in life, the change in lifestyle due to the coronavirus pandemic was the least of his worries.

“I lost my dad, you know, so that was a huge shock to me then,” Brooks said. “Now, stuff like this coronavirus is not even surprising me at all because I know that anything can and will happen. You just keep your head up and you keep moving forward, and eventually, you’re going to get to where you’re going, one way or another.”

Brooks enjoys playing guitar and said he is proud to have been part of the band that has been the Laguna Beach distance runners.

Brooks added that he appreciates Breakers head coach Scott Wittkop and the coaching staff, saying that they do a good job of supporting their athletes and making sure they get the credit they deserve.

Laguna Beach's Logan Brooks was a two-time all-state performer in cross-country.
Laguna Beach’s Logan Brooks was a two-time all-state performer in cross-country with top-10 finishes in the Division IV final during his junior and senior seasons.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

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