The Top 10 Sports Stories of the Decade:

Trevor Bell did his share, while Anita Siraki started the millennium with a run, and then another and another, for the ages.

Water polo, whether girls’ or boys’, grabbed headlines along with CIF memories, and every level from Little League to the pros had its time in the spotlight.

Sadly, years came and went with the lasting memories being that of tragedy.

In all, it was a decade full of memorable moments across the spectrum of different sports and emotion.

Here is a look back at the News-Press’ top sports stories of the decade.

2000

Anita Siraki shines on the track: The 2000 track and field season was mostly about Hoover High standout girls’ track and field athlete Anita Siraki. She once again captured a pair of Pacific League titles in the 1,600- and 3,200 meter races, but her biggest accomplishments came in May and June on grander stages.

Siraki made it back-to-back CIF Southern Section Division I titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 by winning both events on May 20.

On May 26, she was again a double-winner in the distance events at the CIF Masters Meet, which earned her a trip to the state meet on June 3. Siraki won the 3,200 in a personal-best time of 10 minutes 18.5 seconds. The state title was the first for a Hoover High athlete since 1962.

On June 16, Siraki traveled to Raleigh, N.C., to compete in the Foot Locker Outdoor Track and Field Championships. She took part in the two-mile race, winning in 10:18.03.

2001

Area team captures Little League World series championship: Fourteen girls and three coaches traveled to Granada Hills in late July to compete in their first game as the Glendale Little League Senior Softball All-Star team. Within a month, they returned from Jeffersontown, Ky., as World Series champions.

The 15- and 16-year-olds, representing Crescenta Valley, Glendale and Hoover highs, among others, capped off their journey with a 4-0 victory against Gladstone, Mich., on Aug. 18 in the championship game.

They became the first local squad since the 1990 Glendale 11- and 12-year-old Major Softball All-Star team to capture a Little League World Series championship.

2002

Community mourns separate deaths: The La Crescenta community was dealt a pair of severe blows with the deaths of two former area athletes.

On May 30, the 19-year-old James Jenkins — a 2001 Crescenta Valley High graduate who had just finished his freshman year at San Jose State University — was found dead after an apparent fall while hiking with his father, Dr. Horace Jenkins, in June Lake near Mammoth.

After a search of the surrounding area was conducted by the Mono County Search and Rescue Team, Jenkins’ body was finally located at the bottom of Rush Creek Falls after suffering an accidental fall of approximately 120 feet.

Jenkins, a two-time News-Press Male Athlete of the Year, captured four Division II individual swimming titles and was a member of three team championships, in addition to earning Pacific League Most Valuable Player honors and All-CIF accolades his junior and senior years.

He also graduated as the sixth-leading scorer in Crescenta Valley basketball program history with 1,548 points.

Former Falcon football standout Pat Kennelly was found dead at age 29 in Kapulua, Hawaii, on Dec. 15.

Kennelly — the 1989 Pacific League Defensive Player of the Year — apparently was swept off a 25-foot cliff and drowned in turbulent surf, according to the Maui Police Department.

2003

An unforgettable summer for a local teenager: At 18, former Glendale High boys’ tennis player Robert Yim basked in the limelight during a five-week run. On July 29, Yim made his Assn. of Tennis Professionals debut at the 77th annual Mercedes-Benz Cup, losing an opening-round contest to Wayne Ferreira, the world’s No. 20-ranked player, 6-4, 6-4.

On Aug. 10, the two-time Pacific League champion capped an impressive seven-match run by defeating Tarzana resident Jamil Al-Agba, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4, to win the United States Tennis Assn. Super National Hardcourt Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich. That earned him a wild-card entry in the U.S. Open Men’s Tennis Championship.

On Aug. 20, Yim passed up an opportunity to play at UCLA. He opted to become a professional.

That came to fruition Aug. 25, when Yim — then ranked No. 802 in the world — faced the world’s No. 93 player, Todd Martin, in an opening-round match of the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadow, N.Y.

Martin picked up a 6-1, 7-6 (9-7), 6-2 victory against Yim, who earned $12,500.

2004

Blecksmith dies while defending country: Former Flintridge Prep quarterback James Patrick Blecksmith, also known as J.P., proved he could be a leader on the gridiron. He also showed he was more than capable leading off of it as well.

Blecksmith proved to be a hero to his family and friends, fellow officers, the community and the nation. He enrolled in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from the Naval Academy in 2003, and immediately dedicated himself to serving the United States.

Blecksmith was killed on Nov. 11 — Veteran’s Day — as his platoon, in conjunction with Iraqi forces, fought to take control of Fallouja. The 2nd lieutenant with the Marine Corps and platoon commander was 24.

2005

Falcon gets Angel wings: For many years, there had been talk about Trevor Bell someday becoming a Major League Baseball player.

He excelled at Crescenta Valley High, picking up a plethora of postseason awards while playing multiple positions.

Bell, a star in the area since his days in Little League, had his dream fulfilled on June 7. Bell was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim with the 37th pick overall in the supplemental round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

To no surprise, Bell was selected the All-Area Player of the Year and was chosen the James H. Jenkins Male Athlete of the Year in 2005. The affable Bell officially became a professional baseball player when he signed a contract July 23 with the Angels.

2006

Sanchez has season he won’t forget: Former Glendale Community College standout Freddy Sanchez had a season for the ages in 2006.

Sanchez made his first All-Star Game appearance in Pittsburgh. Of greater significance, Sanchez, an infielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, won the National League batting championship.

The versatile infielder became the first Pirates player to win a batting crown since Bill Madlock in 1983. Sanchez finished the season batting .344 and became a staple in Pittsburgh. He started the season as a platoon player around the infield. Then he made the most of his opportunities, finishing his breakout season with 200 hits. He also led the league with 53 doubles.

2007

Historic milestone for a Glendale High girls’ team: Thinking about making a deep postseason run is one thing, but doing it is completely different. The members of the Glendale High girls’ water polo team can attest to that.

The water polo squad went as far as any girls’ water polo team had ever advanced, farther than any Glendale High girls’ sports team had ever gone.

After what some deemed an underachieving regular season, the Nitros picked up several upset victories throughout the CIF Southern Section Division IV playoffs. Glendale advanced to the semifinals before sustaining a 12-6 loss to Arroyo Grande.

Starting with an upset of a Burbank squad that had been undefeated in the Pacific League regular season in the league tournament, Glendale then picked up postseason victories against Louisville, La Salle and Rio Mesa before falling to Arroyo Grande at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo.

All-CIF standouts Lily Broussard, Casey Sripramong, Vanuhi Ovasapyan, Sara Wolff and Shaggy Abolian led the way on a playoff run that likely won’t soon be forgotten.

2008

Crescenta Valley High boys’ water polo wins CIF title: Before the 2008 season started, the Falcons were a huge favorite to capture the Pacific League title. It also wasn’t out of the question that they could finally win the program’s first CIF championship.

Not only did they win the league championship, they were the ones last standing on the pool deck celebrating a Division VI championship in Irvine.

On Nov. 22 at William J. Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine, Crescenta Valley knocked off top-seeded Rio Mesa, 10-9, to win the elusive CIF crown.

Behind excellent seasons from a cast of standouts, including Alan Dearman, Nelson White, Chris Veselich, Matt Peters, Danny Mock, Rane Colvin and Division VI co-Player of the Year Tristan Winterhalter, the Falcons finished with 26 wins under the direction of Coach Jan Sakonju.

2009

Bell makes major league debut: Since being drafted by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2005, the former Crescenta Valley High star worked his way up through the minor leagues with stops in Rancho Cucamonga, Arkansas and Salt Lake City among other locales.

His stops in the last two were brief in the summer of 2009, though.

Bell, a pitcher and a former All-Area Player of the Year, made his big league debut Aug. 12 against the Tampa Bay Rays. In front of 37,859, Bell had a no-decision in the Angels’ 5-3 come-from-behind victory. He allowed four runs on nine hits, while striking out four batters and walking but one over 5 1/3 innings.

Bell remained on the Angels roster through the end of the regular season, making two more starts before moving to the bullpen, where he made four relief appearances. His first career win in the majors came on the road Aug. 18.

Bell went 5 1/3 innings against the Cleveland Indians to pick up a 5-4 victory.

He finished 1-2 with a 9.74 earned-run average.


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