Athletes of the Year: Laguna's dynamic duo

During a nine-month stretch when Laguna Beach High athletics attained unparalleled success in different avenues of competition, Haley Putnam and Drake Martinez have been selected to carry the banner for the 2012-13 school year.

Putnam was named the female recipient, and Martinez the male counterpart, of the school's Athlete of the Year honor. The two, both seniors who will graduate in two weeks, were honored, as well as several other Breakers, during the school's annual All Sports Booster Club banquet Tuesday at Tivoli Terrace in Laguna Beach.

In an assembled group that oozed with talent, from the playing fields and courts to the swimming pool, the award caught Putnam off guard.

"To tell you the truth, I had no idea that my name would be called," she said. "There truly were so many talented athletes in the room that night, and I never expected this. It's shocking, and I'm so honored to be given such a high honor."

Laguna Beach Female Athlete of the Year

Haley Putnam

Before she entered Laguna Beach High, Putnam recalled joining her future Laguna Beach softball teammates, and now fellow seniors, Kennedi Gherardini, Cory Kent and Katie Anderson, in handing out fliers to drum up interest in students to come out for the softball team.

The softball program had been put on hiatus before Putnam and her friends, still in the eighth grade, entered Laguna.

"There wasn't a softball team at Laguna and we were just hoping to get some girls to come out for the team," Putnam said. "It's hard to believe that that already was four years ago."

Since Putnam and her teammates arrived, the softball program reached the CIF Southern Section playoffs on three occasions and last month recorded the first CIF playoff win in school history.

"Haley Putnam has been the backbone of our softball program, Laguna Beach Athletic Director Mike Churchill said. "She has been the rallying point that our girls have migrated to during all of the hard and good times. We will greatly miss her."

During her four-year varsity softball career, Putnam worked as a starting pitcher. She was a team captain all four years, the teams' Most Valuable Player three years, the booster club's MVP three years (2009-2012), is an Orange County scholar athlete, and is an All-Orange Coast League and All-CIF Southern Section player.

Putnam was the Breakers' team leader this year with a .392 batting average, and led in hits (31), runs batted in (25), doubles (six), triples (four) and home runs (six).

She had an ERA of 2.69 and struck out 56.

"Haley's the all-around player every coach dreams about. She is a great leader, competitor and overall fantastic person," Laguna Beach first-year softball coach Victoria Batistelli said. "She served her team with more than her athletic ability, with a generous spirit of loyalty, striving to make her teammates better both on and off the field.

"She's extremely competitive, and her passion for the game and overall genuine and disciplined nature makes her accomplishment of obtaining female athlete of the year at Laguna Beach High School incredibly well deserved. I am incredibly proud of what Haley has accomplished this year on the field."

In August, Putnam will head to the University of Colorado at Boulder where she said she will study business.

"It's been an amazing four years here," she said. "But, it's been a lot of hard work, between academics and softball. I was very, very blessed to have been part of building such a great family and group of friends through softball. It's a great group of girls and I couldn't be more proud of what the team has done."

Laguna Beach Male Athlete of the Year

Drake Martinez

There hasn't been much that Drake Martinez has not been able to accomplish during his athletic career at Laguna Beach High.

His prowess was first on display this school year last fall when he weaved, wrecked and worked his way to a record-setting season and career in the 78th year of Laguna Beach football. In the spring, he put his speed on display at Guyer Field during the track and field season.

A two-way player on the football field, Martinez went on to be named the Breakers' MVP for the second straight year. He was named MVP of the Orange Coast League and was named All-CIF Southern Section Southern Division. One of four team captains, he established 10 program records during the course of the 2012 season, a record year for Laguna football that set a program standard for victories (11) in a single season.

An 11-1-1 campaign ended in a Southern Division semifinal appearance.

Martinez played varsity football for four years. He was All-OCL, All-Orange County and All-CIF for two years (2011-12), was named Cal Prep All-State in 2012, and is a two-time Laguna varsity football MVP.

He leaves the school as its all-time rushing and scoring leader.

"Drake Martinez has captured just about every offensive and defensive record in Laguna Beach football," said Churchill who coached Martinez the past two years. "He has achieved excellence through hard work and perseverance. Those traits have rubbed off on our team and been the motor that has brought Laguna Beach High to the semifinals the last two years. His name will never be completely erased from the record book."

On the perimeter of Guyer Field, the track, Martinez sped his way to more success. He is the 2013 Orange Coast League individual championship in the boys' 200-meter run (22.53) and ran a leg on the boys' 4x100 relay team that set a new program record time (43.35) for the event last month.

He also qualified for the CIF Southern Section Track and Field finals last month but did not compete.

The 2013 season was his first competing in track and field.

"Drake is a great kid and a lot of fun to have on the team," Laguna boys' track and field coach Scott Wittkop said. "He made the kids around him better."

Martinez, who will attend and play football at the University of Nebraska, will play his final prep game on June 28 when he suits up for the South for the 54th annual Brea Lions Club Orange County North-South Prep All-Star Football Game at Orange Coast College.

Coach of the Year

Don Davis

Davis, the head coach for both the Laguna Beach girls' and boys' tennis programs, has guided both programs to Orange Coast League championships the past two years. Both teams ranked in the top 10 in CIF Southern Section, played tough, out-of-league competition, and this year he guided a boys' team hit by injury issues, to a co-league title and a quarterfinal round appearance in the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs.

Last fall, his girls' team reached the CIF Southern Section Division 2 semifinals and qualified for the inaugural, 16-team CIF State Southern California Regional tournament.

Athlete of Character

Female recipient: Chloe Mansour (girls' tennis).

Male recipient: Joe Redfearn (baseball).

Highest Grade Point Average

Female recipient: Lexi Del Toro (girls' water polo/swimming, 4.75).

Male recipient: Jared Boetes (boys' tennis, 4.8).

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