A Tornado with plenty of punch

The top-10 male high school athletes of the year were voted on by the Glendale News-Press sports department. These are selections 2-10. See Thursday's edition for the Male Athlete of the Year.

2 Hakop Kaplanyan, Hoover water polo and swimming, sophomore — The question surrounding Kaplanyan was what couldn't he do? He proved to be a magician in the pool for the Tornadoes. He scored a state-record 229 goals, eclipsing the previous record of 226 in Hoover's final playoff match.

Kaplanyan, a utility player and the All-Area Boys' Water Polo Player of the Year, guided the Tornadoes to a third-place finish in the Pacific League behind Crescenta Valley and Glendale. Hoover then advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division VI quarterfinals for the first time in the program's history.

"Hakop made a huge contribution to our team offensively and defensively and, especially this year, he had to take the leadership role as one of the two captains," Hoover Coach Ara Oganesyan said. "It was a lot of fun having him on the pool deck and guiding the players and helping them out and at the same time being a ferocious player during our games.

"He's someone who really tries to do as much as possible to win every game."

Kaplanyan led the Tornadoes with 77 steals and was named to the All-CIF team for the first time in his burgeoning career. He found himself on the All-Pacific League first team for the second consecutive season.

In the postseason, he averaged seven goals per match. He had a match-best 11 goals in Hoover's 23-21 victory against Pacifica in the second round.

Kaplanyan broke the CIF record — set by Bell Gardens' Alexander Hernandez, who tallied 226 in 2006 — in the second quarter of Hoover's 18-10 loss to top-seeded Webb, which would go on to win the CIF title.

3 Young Tae Seo, Crescenta Valley swimming, freshman — Making a historic splash and a name for himself during the spring, Seo was selected the All-Area Boys' Swimmer of the Year after already garnering a reputation as a top-notch club swimmer.

"He's definitely one of the most talented freshmen that we had and to have that much of an impact at such a young age is very amazing," Crescenta Valley Coach Jan Sakonju said. "To do as well as he did at CIF, again as a ninth-grader, really shows his potential as a competitive high school swimmer."

Seo saved his best for last, turning in impressive performances at the CIF Southern Section Division II Championships and Masters Meet at Belmont Plaza pool in Long Beach. Seo, who played a large part in the Falcons winning their 18th straight Pacific League championship, won the 200-yard individual medley at the division finals in 1 minute 50.14 seconds. He then clocked 4:27.38 to take second in the 500 freestyle, in addition to helping Crescenta Valley's 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams take second and fifth, respectively. Crescenta Valley finished second in the division behind Oaks Christian.

At the Masters Meet, Seo continued to brim with confidence. He won the 200 individual medley in 1:50.71 and then captured the 500 in 4:32.91.

In Pacific League competition, Seo won league crowns in the 200 freestyle (1:41.94) and the 500 freestyle (4:32.17) and helped the Falcons win the 400 freestyle relay.

4 Justin Posthuma, St. Francis football, basketball and track and field, senior — A three-sport athlete, Posthuma made plenty of headlines while playing quarterback. Playing with an injured left hand during the last four games of the season, Posthuma didn't let the pain deter him from leading St. Francis to second place in the competitive Mission League and a trip to the postseason.

"Justin, I think, really surprised a lot of people because he didn't get a chance to play as a junior," said veteran St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds, whose team finished 9-3 and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the CIF Southern Section Western Division playoffs. "To come out and throw for over 2,000 yards and run for close to 1,000 yards, that's an unbelievable season for anybody.

"That's not easy to do and he not only did it, but he had three outstanding games with one arm."

Despite the injury, Posthuma completed 55% of his passes for 2,115 yards and 19 touchdowns. On the ground, Posthuma shook off the hits. He rushed for 787 yards on 109 carries and 14 touchdowns. Posthuma was picked as the Mission League's co-Offensive Player of the Year and earned a spot on the All-Area first team.

5 Kenyatta Smith, Flintridge Prep basketball and volleyball, junior — Proved to be an intimidating force inside the paint in basketball and at the net in volleyball for the Rebels and was an All-CIF selection in both. With Smith on board, the Rebels won the Prep League championship outright in basketball and a share of the league title in volleyball.

Playing center, the 6-foot-7 Smith averaged 18 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots per game to help deliver the Rebels a third league title in a row. He was named the league's most valuable player and secured All-Area first-team accolades.

"He really blossomed this year at being a force inside and also defensively for us, whether it's blocking or altering shots and then, obviously, with rebounds," Flintridge Prep Coach Garrett Ohara said. "His presence on both ends of the floor was hard for other teams to match up with."

Once the basketball season concluded, Smith had little time to get prepared for volleyball. Like basketball, Smith would go on to earn all-league and All-Area first-team honors, as he concluded the season with 221 kills and 101 blocks.

6 Edmund Chow, Flintridge Prep basketball and volleyball, senior — Like Smith, Chow once again proved he could be a staple in the lineup for both squads.

A senior leader on the hardwood, Chow averaged eight points per game and made significant contributions in numerous ways for the Rebels basketball team. He posted averages of four assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game en route to notching all-league recognition.

In volleyball, the Rebels gained a share of the league championship for the first time since 2003. The Rebels (16-8 and 6-2 in league) shared the title with Pasadena Poly and Chadwick before advancing to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs.

Chow, an outside hitter, notched a team-high 221 digs and added 211 kills and 287 receptions. Chow, an All-Area and all-league first-team member, also earned All-CIF Division V honors after making the transition from libero.

"A 5-9 player isn't typically gonna be an All-CIF outside hitter," Flintridge Prep volleyball Coach Sean Beattie said. "To come out and just play as hard and with as much success as he did at a new position, I thought was just amazing."

7 Coltrane Powdrill, Crescenta Valley basketball, senior — The forward was named the All-Area Boys' Basketball Player of the Year for the second straight season. With Powdrill leading the charge, Crescenta Valley placed second in the Pacific League behind Pasadena.

The league's co-player of the year averaged a team-best 17 points per game to go along with averages of eight rebounds and two blocks.

Powdrill earned a selection to the All-CIF Southern Section Division I-AA first team. He collected 13 points and 10 rebounds in Crescenta Valley's 63-37 playoff victory against San Gorgonio, marking the first time since 2002 that the Falcons won a postseason contest.

8 Chris Veselich, Crescenta Valley water polo and swimming, senior — Veselich once again proved to be a pillar of strength for both Falcons teams.

In water polo, Veselich proved to be a defensive force at hole/set. He finished with 37 goals, 23 steals and 12 assists and was named to the All-Area and All-Pacific League first teams. Veselich, who helped the Falcons win a league championship and advance to the CIF Southern Section Division VI semifinals, also received All-CIF recognition.

During the spring, Veselich and the Falcon swim team finished second in the CIF Southern Section Division II finals at Belmont Plaza pool in Long Beach. Crescenta Valley placed fourth in 3 minutes 11.85 seconds in the 400-freestyle relay behind Veselich, Josh Chi, Harrison Thai and Seo.

At the prestigious Masters Meet in Long Beach, Veselich grouped with Harrison Thai, Seo and Andrew De Jong and had the second-best overall mark in the 200-yard medley relay in 1 minute 36.59 seconds.

Earlier, Veselich won a league crown in the 50 freestyle in 22.67 and took second in the 100 freestyle in 49.32.

9 Harrison Thai, Crescenta Valley swimming, freshman — Thai burst on to the local scene and clearly made a name for himself when there was plenty on the line.

He also more than held his own in helping the Falcons to no worse than a share of their 18th league championship in a row. Thai won titles in the 100 breaststroke and 100 backstroke, breaking the record by .84 seconds in the former. He also worked with Seo, Josh Kim and Chris Veselich to capture the 200-medley relay in 1:39.00.

At the CIF Southern Section Division II finals at Belmont Plaza pool in Long Beach, Thai came within .19 seconds of winning a championship in the 100-yard breaststroke, as he clocked 58.29. Thai also finished third in the 100 backstroke and earned valuable relay points to help the Falcons finish second overall behind powerhouse Oaks Christian.

To cap off the season, Thai finished fourth in the 100 backstroke and 15th in the 100 breaststroke at the CIF Masters Meet and also teamed with Seo, Veselich and Andrew De Jong to notch the second-best overall mark in the 200-yard medley relay.

10 Elliott Surrey, Crescenta Valley baseball, sophomore — Surrey proved to be Crescenta Valley's top pitcher and played a key role in helping the Falcons reach the postseason and take second in the Pacific League. Surrey, an All-Area first-team member, enjoyed a fantastic season, which culminated in him going 6-2 with a steady 1.02 earned-run average.

Surrey struck out 55 and walked just six in 41 innings. The first-team All-Pacific League pick batted .423 with 14 extra-base hits and 21 runs batted in. He also scored 19 runs and secured All-CIF accolades.

Others receiving votes: David Chirikian, St. Francis football and track and field; Rane Colvin, Crescenta Valley water polo; Travis Talianko, St. Francis football and basketball.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World