Sanchez' Series heroics tops list

1 Freddy Sanchez helps Giants win World Series: For the first time since 1997, when Gregg Zaun helped the Florida Marlins win it all, Glendale was represented by a local player in the Fall Classic, and represented well.

For even casual fans tuning into San Francisco's five-game win over the Texas Rangers for its first title since 1954, Sanchez was hard to miss. The former Glendale Community College standout, who also attended Burbank High, started every game of the series at second base and had some timely hits and quality at-bats out of the No. 2 batting slot.

"This is unbelievable. It's indescribable," Sanchez told ESPN after going one for four in the title-clinching 3-1 win at Texas on Nov. 1. "Every night we had a different hero. ...Our pitching, they did it all year and they did it this whole postseason."

When the Giants traded for Sanchez more than halfway through the 2009 season, it was understood he was expected to set the table offensively and solidify the defense up the middle.

With a series batting average of .270 with three runs batted in, five runs and four extra-base hits and consistent error-free fielding against one of the top offenses in baseball, Sanchez lived up to his end of the deal when it mattered most.

He was particularly instrumental in getting the Giants off to a fast start with a record-breaking hitting performance in an 11-7 Game One win.

His four-for-five World Series debut began with doubles in his first three plate appearances — a Major League Baseball first — and he drove in three runs to help the Giants take a big early lead and knock Rangers ace Cliff Lee from the game.

"I didn't know it was a record," Sanchez said in a postgame television interview. "It didn't cross my mind.

"I'm just glad I was able to help the team today and get some runs across and help the team most of all."

2 Flintridge Sacred Heart soccer wins CIF Regional title: Already having turned in the best season in team history, in terms of a second-place unbeaten Mission League finish and the longest-ever CIF Southern Section Division II playoff run, the Tologs weren't content to stop there.

"I think we might have felt we had underachieved if we hadn't won that state championship," Tologs co-Coach Frank Pace said. "Imagine saying that our fear would be underachieving, but we were undefeated in league and came in second, so there was that feeling of unfinished business.

"To be able to finish the year with a win and have that win mean a state championship, how do you get any better than that?"

Led by the likes of standout offensive weapons Katie Johnson and Breeana Koemans and a stellar defense keyed by All-Area Player of the Year Natalie Zeenni, Sacred Heart sliced through the first two rounds of the CIF Southern California Division III Regional playoffs to set up a championship showdown with San Diego Section power Francis Parker on at Warren High in Downey.

The Tologs fell behind early, 1-0, but as they had so many times before, were able to rally with goals by Koemans and Jill Jacobs and closed out the match with a gritty defensive effort in the second half for a 2-1 win that likely felt as rewarding as any in the team's 22-1-4 campaign.

"Getting scored on in the first couple minutes, it was like, 'Aw dang,'" said Koemans, who scored a 17th-minute goal off her own steal that put the Tologs ahead for good. "To tie it up felt really good and to get the lead, I kind of felt like we had this.

"I felt like this team we were playing [hasn't had to] come from behind, so I think us being ahead for the second half gave us more momentum."

3 Chivitchian and Magakian get 'TUF': After years of toiling at their craft, up-and-coming mixed martial artists Sako Chivitchian and Sevak Magakian saw their exposure rise exponentially with one fortunate turn.

The two were added to the cast of 12th season of the popular Spike TV reality television series 'The Ultimate Fighter,' on which contestants share a house and compete with one another for a shot to win a contract with the sport's preeminent promotion, the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

"It was like a dream come true," Chivitchian said of the opportunity, while Magakian said of getting the news of joining the 28-member cast, "I've been watching all the seasons, it's like a dream. I've been watching thinking I could be there."

The chances at being selected for the show are steep enough, but Magakian and Chivitchian, who are friends and train together at Team Hayastan in Hollywood, Glendale's Main Event Gym, SK Golden Boys in Van Nuys and Glendale Fighting Club, making the same cast was somewhat of an unprecedented occurrence.

Magakian's run was hampered and ultimately shortened by a rib injury, but Chivitchian was able to score a preliminary match on the show's live finale at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas that represented his UFC debut.

He was defeated, however, by Kyle Watson in a unanimous decision.

"It's gonna make me a better fighter," Chivitchian said of the overall experience. "That's the excitement I have in me is knowing I've made it this far, but I have so much more to improve.

"It's gonna motivate me. There's no quit in me."

4 Tammy Panich wins state golf title: A standout golfer at Glendale High, Panich returned to the Jewel City for the crowning achievement of her golf career thus far.

After transferring from Cal State Northridge this season, Panich quickly became the face of the Vaqueros' young program and became the first athlete in its history to advance to the California Community College Athletic Assn. Women's Golf State Championships.

In a thrilling round played on Nov. 16 at Los Serranos Country Club, Panich defeated Sacramento City College's Kayla Riede in a card-off, becoming the first Vaquero — man or women — to win a state title in golf.

"It was a successful year and it turned out better than I could've expected," Panich said. "I struggled at Northridge, but Coach [Greg] Osborne said he was confident I could win state.

"It took a lot of hard work, but I also know that I got better because of that."

Panich, who shot a 74 in the final round and finished with a two-round score of 150, had a chance to win the title outright with a birdie on the par-five 18th hole, but had to settle for par when her putt lipped out.

Fortunately for Panich, the card-off came down to an even-par 36 on the back nine, compared to a 38 from Riede, and the title was hers.

"I didn't know that it would come down to a card-off," Osborne said. "Tammy made us proud and that's huge.

"Coming into the final round, she told me she was nervous. She overcame the nerves and some missed putts, she overcame everything to become a state champion."

5 Vanes Martirosyan christens Yankee Stadium live on HBO: Before it's all said and done, the Glendale super welterweight figures to have bigger, more momentous fights than his businesslike 10-round unanimous decision win over Joe Greene on June 5 at Stadium Slugfest at Yankee Stadium.

But none are likely to ever have the same historical distinction of that successful defense of his North American Boxing Federation and North American Boxing Organization titles, which unfolded as part of the first boxing event to be staged at the new version of the hallowed sports venue that opened in 2009.

"I was just staying calm trying to block everything out, but it was beautiful," Martirosyan said of being featured in the co-main event at "Stadium Slugfest," which was broadcast live on HBO. "It was a great event. I was so happy to be a part of it."

Martirosyan overcame a partisan crowd — Greene hails from nearby Jamaica, Queens — and a badly swollen left eye from an old cut that reopened in the fifth round to win cleanly on every judge's card and run his unbeaten record to 28-0.

6 Young Tae Seo makes big waves: Hyped as the next big thing in area boys' swimming upon his arrival at Crescenta Valley High, the decorated youth club swimmer didn't disappoint.

From the beginning of the season, Seo dominated his competition, whether it was leading the Falcons to the Pacific League title, a runner-up finish in the CIF Davison I finals, or a season-ending appearance at the CIF Masters Meet.

In all, Seo claimed five individual titles, winning the 200- and 500-yard freestyle titles at the league finals May 6, the 200-indivdual medley at the CIF finals at Belmont Plaza pool in Long Beach on May 15 and finally the 200 IM and 500 freestyle Masters crowns at the same venue on May 18.

He was named All-Area Boys' Swimmer of the Year for his efforts.

7 Rosa Del Toro runs to state title: Entering the race as the fourth-seeded runner and coming off a freshman campaign in which she did not advance past the Southern California championships, Del Toro was somewhat of a dark-horse entry in the 1,500-meters race at the California Community College Athletic Assn. Track and Field State Championships at Antelope Valley College on May 22.

But strategy and execution merged together brilliantly for Del Toro, who took the lead early, battled strong winds throughout and captured the state crown in 4 minutes 43.88 seconds after pulling away down the final stretch.

Also achieving All-American status, Del Toro's huge performance also spearheaded a best-ever fifth-place finish for the Vaqueros women's team.

8 Dietrich Riley goes live with big announcement: Since exploding on the scene as a freshman, there was little doubt that St. Francis' all-purpose standout would someday play Division I collegiate football.

But right up until the last minute, Riley kept everyone guessing as to just where he would land.

The three-time All-Area Player of the Year finally announced the result of his lengthy and much ballyhooed recruiting process on EPSNU's live coverage of National Signing Day on Feb. 3, proudly choosing UCLA over a host of other suitors, including the Bruins' chief rival, USC.

During his brief on-air interview, Riley talked of helping the Bruins return to Pac-10 Conference and national prominence.

9 Andrea Kropp returns to the top: One of the area's top competitors during her freshman and sophomore campaigns at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, Kropp took a year off from high school swimming as a junior before rejoining the Tologs for her senior year.

It was certainly a memorable one. Kropp led the Tologs back to the top of the Mission League and also won two individual league titles. She then returned to the CIF Southern Section Division I finals May 14 at Belmont Plaza pool in Long Beach, the site of many of her past triumphs, and secured the 100-breaststroke title, the fourth overall CIF crown of her illustrious career.

She was later named All-Area Girls' Swimmer of the Year, as well as News-Press Female Athlete of the Year.

10 Revered coaches Vujovich, Warnock pass away: The area lost two widely respected and accomplished educators and football coaches in Roy Vujovich and Gordon Warnock.

Vujovich spent nearly 20 years teaching and coaching at Glendale High and Hoover, as well as Glendale college, and developed many of the most successful football players to come out of the area from 1952-1974. He died of natural causes at his home in North Hills on Oct. 23 at the age of 83.

Warnock, who spent the better part of 40 years as a teacher and coach at Crescenta Valley, was still an assistant for the Falcons when he passed away in his sleep on Sept. 22 at his home in La Crescenta at the age of 79.

Warnock coached the Falcons to their only CIF title in 1973.

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