Sports Year In Review: Some thrilling finishes

The 2013 prep sports year comes to an end in the coming week. Local high schools Edison, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Marina, Ocean View and Brethren Christian, delivered several memorable team and individual performances during the past year.

Below, the key prep sports highlights are noted. First up: athletic achievements from January to June.


•Marina senior Colin Navickas (160 pounds) earned a sixth-place in the 160-pound weight division at the CIF State Wrestling Championships at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield. Navickas, ranked seventh in state in his division, had previously won his weight-class title at the CIF Southern Section Eastern Division Individuals and had a second-place finish a week later at the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet to qualify for the state meet.

Fountain Valley senior Steele Escobedo (145 pounds) also won a weight division title at the CIF Southern Section Eastern Division Individuals. Earlier in the season, Escobedo became the first Fountain Valley wrestler in more than 30 years to win a weight-class title at the Fountain Valley Five Counties Invitational.

Marina, Fountain Valley and Los Alamitos shared the Sunset League wrestling title.

Navickas became the first three-time CIF Southern Section individual champion in Marina history, Vikings Coach Chris Rasmussen said. In May, Navickas received Academic All-American honors from the National High School Coaches Assn.

"He is, by far, the hardest working student-athlete that I have ever coached," Rasmussen said of Navickas. "He deserves all of the accomplishments that he will earn through wrestling and his academics."

•The girls' water polo season culminated with one local team, Ocean View, making its way to the CIF Southern Section Division 7 championship game. The Seahawks had their title bid denied by Hemet, which scored a 6-2 victory.

"It's always rough to come this far, and your goal is to win, and not achieve that goal," Ocean View Coach Melissa Fernandez said. "But putting this in perspective, I can't help but think where we came from, and the achievements this team has accomplished."

Ocean View, which went undefeated in winning the Golden West League championship, finished the year 23-9. Saturday marked the first time a Seahawks team had played in a division final. They also reached the semifinal round of the playoffs for the first time in program history.

Edison (Sunset League No. 3) and Huntington Beach (Sunset League at-large) also reached the CIF Southern Section playoffs and both dropped first round Division 1 games in the Santa Barbara area. The Chargers fell to San Marcos while the Oilers fell to top-ranked Santa Barbara.

•Fountain Valley and Edison finished second and third, respectively, in the Sunset League boys' soccer race. The Barons were eliminated in a first-round Division 1 game and the Chargers, who knocked off fifth-ranked Long Beach Millikan in their opener, reached the second round.

•Edison (Sunset League No. 2), Huntington Beach (Sunset League No. 3), and Ocean View (Golden West League No. 2), all advanced to the CIF Southern Section girls' soccer playoffs. Both Edison (Division 1) and Ocean View (Division 6) reached the second round of the postseason.

•Three schools, Fountain Valley, Ocean View and Brethren Christian, won league championships during the boys' basketball season. While Ocean View and BC repeated as champs in the Golden West and Academy leagues, respectively, Fountain Valley claimed the Sunset League title for the first time in 18 years.

Fountain Valley was eliminated in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1AA playoffs where it fell to defending 2AA champion Inglewood. Ocean View advanced to the semifinals in Division 3A where they were edged, 89-87, by top-ranked Bellflower St. John Bosco. BC also made its way to the semis in Division 5AA where it had an 18-game win streak snapped by Sherman Oaks Buckley.

Ocean View also gained an invite to the CIF State Division 3 playoffs and dropped a first-round Southern California Regionals game at Tustin on March 6.

Edison (tied second place, Sunset League) and Huntington Beach (at-large, Sunset League) also received playoff berths and competed in Division 1A.

•On the girls' hoops scene, the Sunset League trio of runner-up Edison, third-place Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley (at-large), plus third-place Ocean View of the Golden West League, earned postseason playoff berths. All four teams reached the second round of their respective divisions where each was eliminated.

•For the first time, Edison and Huntington formed girls' sand volleyball teams. The teams competed in the Interscholastic Beach Volleyball League which was formed through the Southern Pacific Volleyball Committee and Amateur Athletic Union. The Oilers won the Orange division where the Chargers finished in third place. Both teams advanced to the playoffs.

•In softball, Marina claimed its first Sunset League title in three years and joined Edison, Huntington Beach and Ocean View in the CIF Southern Section playoffs. Marina and Edison (Division 1) and Ocean View (Division 4) were eliminated from title contention following second-round losses. Huntington dropped a first-round game in Division 1.

Marina junior pitcher Tera Blanco, the MVP of the Sunset League, and Edison senior outfielder Karley Wester, were named to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 Softball Team. Ocean View senior pitching ace, Brittany Hitchcock, the MVP of the Golden West League, was named to the Division 4 team.

•At the CIF Southern Section Swimming and Diving Championships in May at the Riverside Aquatics Complex in Riverside, the Edison girls finished 14th and Fountain Valley was 27th, in the girls' Division 1 standings. In the boys' Division 1 standings, Edison placed 16th, Huntington Beach 31st, Marina 38th, and Fountain Valley 43rd.

Edison's Thomas Smith won the consolation final title in the boys' 200-yard individual medley, winning the event in 1:51.03.

In the Division 4 final, the Ocean View girls finished sixth and the Ocean View boys were seventh in their respective team standings. The Seahawks' girls' 200 freestyle relay team of Brynne McNabb, Alyssa Welfringer, Elena Isogawa and Maya Lamperts, won the consolation title in 1:50.86.

At the Golden West League Swimming and Diving Championships in early-May, host Ocean View won league titles in both the boys' and girls' varsity divisions.

•In track and field, Jeff Thies of Edison High and Susannah Oleson of Huntington Beach both advanced to the CIF State Championships at Clovis Buchanan High in late-May. Thies, a senior, ran 9 minutes, 5.31 seconds in the boys' 3,200 meters final to earn a third-place finish. Oleson, a junior, finished in seventh place in the girls' high jump at 5-feet, 6 inches.

Marina junior Matt Dispenza (high jump), Edison sophomore A.J. Beynon (high jump) and Edison senior Chandler Thorpe (pole vault) also earned spots at the State meet but didn't advance to the finals.

Thies previously had won the boys' 3,200 at the CIF Masters Meet on May 24 at Cerritos College in Norwalk.

•Both Fountain Valley and Marina advanced from the Sunset League to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 boys' tennis playoffs.

•Marina won the Sunset League boys' golf title for the first time in 20 years and, along with Edison, competed at the CIF Southern Section Team Southern Divisional. Edison tied for fourth place and Marina finished seventh at the event.

From the Sunset League, league MVP Cameron Kaneko, Ramiz Jamal and Jacob Winn of Marina, Kevin Steinfeld of Edison, Andre Vu of Fountain Valley, and Conner Hurst of Huntington Beach, advanced to the CIF Southern Section Southern Individual Regional. Kaneko, Jamal and Vu then advanced to the CIF Southern Section Individual Finals. Vu went on to qualify for the CIF/SCGA Regional Qualifier and capped his high school career with a fourth-place tie finish at the CIF Boys' Golf State Championship at Quail Lodge in Carmel.

•There was excitement at the conclusion of the prep baseball season when the Marina Vikings went all the way to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship game at Dodger Stadium. The Vikings, the No. 2 team from the Sunset League, played third-ranked Harvard-Westlake wire-to-wire but fell, 1-0, to the Wolverines.

"We knew the game would be a close one," Marina Coach Bob Marshall said. "Our players battled until the end. I thought we really had this game. We hung right there with them the entire game. We had our opportunities but we could not get it done."

Marina's trip to the final capped a postseason run by local teams that saw Fountain Valley, which won its first Sunset League title in 11 years, reach the second round, and Huntington Beach won a wild-card game, then knocked off No. 1-ranked Mater Dei, before having its season ended in the second round.

Marina senior first baseman Jake Bauers was taken in the seventh round of the Major League Baseball first-year player draft on June 7 by the San Diego Padres.

•The end of the 2012-13 ended with a bang: CIF Southern Section and CIF Southern California Regional Division 1 championships for the Huntington Beach boys' volleyball team.

Oilers Coach Craig Pazanti entertained thoughts before the season began, that his team could have a special year.

"I've been telling the kids all year that I thought they were the best team," Pazanti said.

He was right, and the Oilers were No. 1 — twice.

Huntington, the No. 4-seed in the tournament, captured its first CIF Southern Section Division 1 title in boys' volleyball in 19 years by twice rallying from a one-set deficit to knock off Los Angeles Loyola in a five-set thriller, 26-28, 25-23, 19-25, 25-22, 15-10, on May 18. It was the program's first title since the school won back-to-back crowns in 1993-94 under Rocky Ciarelli.

One week after winning the CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship, Huntington returned to Santiago Canyon College in Orange and won its first CIF regional title by beating the same opponent, Los Angeles Loyola, it had defeated May 18. As was the case in that first meeting, the Oilers squeezed past the Cubs in five sets.

The Oilers went out on the ultimate high, ending the season on a 24-match win streak, won Sunset League, Southern Section and SoCal Regional championships, and finished 34-2.

"Honestly, I can't describe this feeling," senior opposite and co-captain Zach Gates said. "I think it was all about us being confident. We played with confidence all the way through the playoffs."

Huntington Beach senior setter Matt Butler was named the Player of the Year in Division 1. Senior middle blocker Andrew TenBrink and sophomore outside hitter TJ DeFalco were the other two members of the Oilers' CIF and Southern California Regional Division 1 championship team to make the Division 1 team.

•Next week: Part 2 (September-December).

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