Chosen by the Glendale News-Press sports staff, here are the top 10 sports stories of 2019.
1 Top-ranked Crescenta Valley football dominates to capture CIF championship: Ushering in a new era, Crescenta Valley wasted little time serving notice.
Hudson Gossard took over as head coach for Paul Schilling and assembled quite a cast of experienced talent, guiding the Falcons to a CIF Southern Section Division X championship.
Crescenta Valley went 14-0, 6-0 in the Pacific League. It won its first league championship since 2016 and looked to win the program’s third CIF championship and first since 2014.
As the top seed, visiting Crescenta Valley got the job done with a 19-16 road win against Simi Valley in the title game.
In his first start since suffering a knee injury late in the regular season, Falcons quarterback Chase Center completed 13 of 21 passes for 121 yards and ran the ball 12 times for 52 yards and a touchdown against Simi Valley.
Crescenta Valley running back Sebastian DeLeon, who was named the league player of the year, finished with 100 yards rushing in seven carries. Running backs Maximus Grant and James Cho each scored a rushing touchdown for the Falcons.
Crescenta Valley posted playoff victories against Peninsula, 20-11, followed by a 45-20 quarterfinal victory versus Eisenhower and a 28-10 semifinal triumph against Katella.
The football team became the school’s fourth CIF title-winning squad in 2019.
2 Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer crowned Southern California champion: It appeared at first that Flintridge Sacred Heart would be rebuilding its program for the most part after losing several key players to graduation.
After a slow start to the season, things turned around quickly for the Tologs, coach Mark Snashall and assistant Savannah Viola.
Flintridge Sacred Heart went on an amazing playoff run, which included advancing to the CIF Southern Section Division III final. Flintridge Sacred Heart suffered a 1-0 loss to No. 1 Oak Hills in the championship match.
The defeat didn’t damper Flintridge Sacred Heart spirit, as it then took part in the CIF Southern California Regional Division III playoffs in March.
Second-seeded Flintridge Sacred Heart topped New West Charter, 7-0, and Grossmont, 3-2, to make it to the championship contest before posting a 3-0 win against Culver City to win the program’s second Southern California title and first since 2010.
The Tologs were paced by Madison Leroy and Jillian Willis. Leroy, a midfielder, had 25 goals and nine assists for 59 points and Willis, a forward, collected 22 goals and 14 assists for 58 points. The duo picked up All-CIF accolades.
3 Crescenta Valley softball shines on the diamond: With all of the pieces in place, Crescenta Valley emphatically put at end to its 33-year CIF Southern Section title drought.
Under coach Amanda Peek, top-seeded Crescenta Valley won the CIF Southern Section Division III championship with a 3-0 win against West Ranch in Irvine.
Crescenta Valley, which won its third straight Pacific League title, defeated Brea Olinda, 2-0, Glendora, 8-0, San Juan Hills, 3-1, and Diamond Ranch, 3-2, on its way to the championship. The Falcons went 27-5-1.
In the championship contest, sophomore pitcher Dee Dee Hernandez struck out 11 to earn the win. The left-hander allowed just one base runner — a walk in the fifth — which kept her from registering a perfect game.
Hernandez was named the division’s player of the year after going 23-5 with a 1.01 earned-run average and 164 strikeouts in 158 innings and picked up all-state recognition. Teammate Alyssa Hernandez earned an All-CIF nod after batting .412.
4 Glendale Community College women’s cross-country rules state: Entering the season, the Vaqueros sought to achieve three goals. That included winning Western State Conference, Southern California and California Community College Athletic State Championships.
Backed by its depth and experience, Glendale checked each box under coach Eddie Lopez.
On the biggest stage, Glendale found itself atop the podium after winning the state title at Fresno’s Woodward Park in November.
Glendale won the program’s ninth state championship, besting Saddleback, 66-113, on the 5-kilometer course. It marked the third time in the last five seasons that the Vaqueros won a state crown. Glendale, which has won 15 straight conference championships, equaled Mount San Antonio for second among women’s programs in state history, trailing Orange Coast (16).
Glendale’s Jamie Levin was the top finisher at state for Glendale, as she took eighth in 18 minutes, 53.7 seconds to pick up All-America honors. Phoebe Forsyth and Yajaira Calderon also earned All-America accolades, as they placed 10th (18:53.9) and 11th (18:57.8), respectively. Bianca Biel took 15th (19:13.4) and Lydia Forsyth was 26th (19:44.3).
5 Ian Freer displays dominance on tennis court at CIF Individual Tournament: After helping the St. Francis High tennis team advance to the CIF Southern Section Division II quarterfinals, Freer embarked on an impressive individual surge.
A senior, Freer finished runner-up in the Mission League singles finals before making an impressive run in the CIF Southern Section Individual Tournament.
Freer marched to a CIF championship at the Seal Beach Tennis Center, where he registered a 6-3, 6-2 win against Kyle Pham of Corona del Mar to take home the plaque.
Freer became the first area athlete to capture the event since Glendale High’s Dave Reed won back-to-back titles in 1960 and 1961.
6 Flintridge Prep boys’ tennis wins first CIF crown: A monumental playoff run culminated in history being made by the Rebels.
In its first-ever CIF Southern Section championship title match, No. 3 Flintridge Prep defeated No. 1 Maranatha, 10-8, to win the CIF Southern Section Division IV title at the Claremont Club.
Under second-year coach Roger Hollomand, Flintridge Prep reached the championship match with victories against California Math and Science Academy, 13-5, Jurupa Valley, 15-3, Segerstrom, 9-4, and No. 2 Bishop Montgomery, 9-9(74-62). Maranatha (22-3) blanked the Rebels,18-0, in a nonleague match on March 14, without a number of Rebels starters.
The Rebels won seven sets in singles and three in doubles to become the first area team to win a boys’ tennis title since Hoover High captured a Division I championship in 2002.
7 Crescenta Valley boys’ and girls’ swimming teams double their pleasure: Both of Crescenta Valley’s boys’ and girls’ teams brought home CIF Southern Section Division III championships in May.
At the finals at Riverside Aquatic Complex, the Falcons boys finished with 233 points, edging out Ventura (228), and the girls took first with 271 ½, ahead of Sunny Hills (254).
William Blake of Crescenta Valley won a pair of CIF titles. He finished first in the 200-yard freestyle in 1 minute, 38.11 seconds and the 100 freestyle (45.08). Teammate Andre Yarcan won the 100 butterfly in 49.52.
For the girls, the quartet of Jungmin Yoon, Amanda Peterson, Gabriela Icheva and Kimmy Park won the 200 medley relay in 1:47.05. In addition, Icheva took the 500 freestyle in 4:56.07.
A group of Falcons’ divers had an impressive showing at the CIF Swimming and Diving Championships in Division III. Katelynn Shaheen took second with 525.40 points, followed by Zara Joy Ayazi (third, 511.80) and Alexandra Warshaw (sixth, 450.70).
8 Flintridge Prep boys’ cross-country burns up course to win CIF championship: It turned out to be quite a remarkable season for Flintridge Prep. Perhaps even a bit surprising.
Flintridge Prep upended Division V defending champion St. Margaret’s for the championship. It was Flintridge Prep’s first crown since 2015 and eighth overall in program history.
At the race in Riverside in November, Flintridge Prep topped St. Margaret’s, 100-116, paced by Prep League champion Hudson Billock.
Billock clocked 15 minutes, 50.4 seconds on the three-mile course for a ninth-place effort. He was followed by teammates Bennett Oakes (11th; 15:51.8), Nolan Costin (18th; 16:12.1), Andrew Odom (31st; 16:26.5) and Daniel Kotlyar (40th; 16:32.7).
At the CIF State Championships in Fresno, Flintridge Prep took fifth. Earlier in the season, Flintridge Prep won its 10th straight league title and 22nd in the last 23 seasons.
9 Hoover folds varsity football program for at least two seasons: After forfeiting its final four games of the 2018 season, Hoover found itself scrambling to see if it could field a football team in 2019.
Just past the midway point in the 2018 campaign, Hoover had a contingent of players suspended for their roles in an on-campus brawl. It resulted in the rest of the campaign being halted.
In May, Hoover chose not to field a varsity team until 2021, at the earliest. The Glendale Unified School District cited a lack of interest and low numbers within the program for the decision.
According to a press release from the Glendale Unified School District: “In order to give these new recruits time to build their strength and skill level, Hoover will field a Freshman/Sophomore team this fall. Hoover plans to grow into Junior Varsity in fall 2020 and have a competitive Varsity program by fall 2021.”
Teams who were set to face Hoover in 2019 had to quickly fill their respective schedules. Some area squads competed against teams from Riverside and Orange counties.
10 Dylan Wilbur enjoys success on track, course en route to state appearances: Whether it was competing in a track and field or cross-country meet, Wilbur turned in outstanding results.
Wilbur first enjoyed a magnificent run in track and field in the spring. In the Pacific League finals, Wilbur, a junior, won a second consecutive league title in the 800 meters, clocking a personal-best 1 minute, 54.73 seconds. He went on to capture the 1,600 in 4:21.94.
Wilbur then won the CIF Southern Section Division I boys’ 1,600 title in 4:12.31. In the 101th annual CIF State Track and Field Championships at Buchanan High in Clovis, Wilbur became the Falcons’ first male athlete ever to score in the 1,600 state final since the distance was switched from the mile in 1980, placing eighth in 4:14.56.
As a senior in cross-country this past fall, Wilbur helped the Falcons win their third straight league title, followed by a second-place finish in the CIF Southern Section Division I finals in Riverside. Wilbur took took seventh in 15:03.4 and helped Crescenta Valley reach the CIF State Championships in Fresno. In the state meet, Wilbur took 23rd in 15:29 and the Falcons finished ninth overall in state.
Wilbur was tabbed the News-Press Boys’ Athlete of the Year.