Ups and downs for Tornadoes

This is the fourth of eight editions in which the News-Press looks back at the area's 2010-11 seasons, school by school, before looking ahead at the year to come.

While Hoover didn't win any Pacific League championships during the 2010-11 campaign, some teams made huge strides en route to qualifying for the playoffs. Those teams reaching the playoffs included the boys' water polo team, led by standout Hakop Kaplanyan, along with the baseball and boys' tennis programs.

The girls' tennis team fell just short of qualifying for the playoffs. In football, Hoover fell to cross-town rival Glendale in "The Battle for the Victory Bell" and Coach Chris Long resigned in the spring. The winter season proved to be a long one for the Tornadoes, as none of the five teams made postseason appearances.

In boys' tennis, a singles player reached the league championship match and perhaps set the stage for a promising future.

Here is a recap of some of the Tornadoes' athletic highlights and events that unfolded during the past year:

Sept. 10, 2010 — The football team begins its season with a 35-27 nonleague road loss against Sierra Vista. Senior quarterback AJ Pule completes 22 of 39 for 385 yards and two touchdowns.

Sept. 22, 2010 — The Tornado girls' volleyball team rallies from a 2-0 deficit to pick up a 24-26, 21-25, 25-23, 25-17, 15-10 nonleague win against visiting Alverno.

"The first two games were pretty much our warm-up, we have to get into the game," Tornadoes junior middle blocker Elizabeth Dardov said. "We weren't very discouraged.

"We knew that we could do it, because we knew we were the better team."

Dardov leads the Tornadoes with 12 kills, including two in the early going of the pivotal fifth game, to go along with four aces and Meagan Knight adds 11 more kills and three aces.

Sept. 24, 2010 — The football team picks up its lone win of the season, as Pule tosses five touchdown passes and rushes for two scores to power the visiting Tornadoes to a 45-38 nonleague victory against Mountain View at South El Monte High.

"I've been getting every play down and I've been thinking about having a big performance," said Pule, who completes 20 of 33 passes for 354 yards, including four touchdown passes to receiver Dymond McRae, who has seven catches for 131 yards. "I was really focused on doing whatever I could to help our team get that first win."

Sept. 30, 2010 — Hoover's football team kicks off Pacific League play with a 57-13 loss against visiting Burroughs at Glendale High's Moyse Field. Pule completes 18 of 34 passes for 244 yards.

"Anytime you shoot yourself in the foot with [five] turnovers, you are going to have some trouble," Hoover Coach Chris Long said. "We have got to play perfect football. We need to wake up and do a better job of protecting the ball."

Oct. 5, 2010 — Hoover's boys' water polo team begins Pacific League play with a 14-8 road win against Arcadia. Hakop Kaplanyan finishes with a match-high seven goals on eight shots and posts five steals and two assists.

Oct. 12, 2010 — The Hoover High girls' tennis team completes the two-match Pacific League season sweep of archrival Glendale, 10-8, at Glendale. In the first meeting on Sept. 16 at Hoover, the Tornadoes posted an 11-7 win. In the final meeting between the two squads, Hoover turns to singles player Christine Adzhemyan for a crucial 6-4 win and the doubles team of Zar Chavdarian and Lilit Manukyan notches a 6-3 victory.

The girls' volleyball team comes through with a 19-25, 25-11, 25-16, 31-29 Pacific League victory against Glendale.

"I'm not sure how we [kept our nerves under control]," said Knight, who gets six of her 12 kills in the fourth game. "We just kept on telling each other to calm down, calm down and take it easy. Lots of deep breaths, that was it. There was really nothing to it."

Hoover goes 4-12, 3-11 in league for sixth place.

Oct. 28, 2010 — The girls' tennis team completes its strange season with 9-9 (81-79) home win against Burbank in a Pacific League home match that takes more than four hours to complete.

However, Hoover is eliminated from playoff contention as it loses a tiebreaker in the two head-to-head matchups with Burbank, which grabs the final playoff spot from the league. In the first meeting Oct. 13 at Burbank, Hoover suffered a 10-8 loss, thus losing the tiebreaker based on sets won between the two teams in both meetings.

Hoover finishes 6-8, 5-7 in league for fifth place.

"I knew going in that it would be exactly like this," Hoover Coach Julie Hoppe said. "I knew it would come down to the wire, either at 10-8 or 9-9."

Nov. 4, 2010 — At the Pacific League cross-country finals at Crescenta Valley Park, Hoover's girls' team takes fifth with 155 points. Frances Ramas leads the Tornadoes with a 22nd-place mark of 21 minutes 53.88 seconds.

In the boys' portion of the meet, Hoover finishes fifth with 156 points. Rafael Manzo clocks 18:01.32 to place 27th for the Tornadoes.

Nov. 9, 2010 — Kaplanyan comes through with a match-high 15 goals to lead Hoover's boys' water polo team to a 16-12 win against Cathedral City in a CIF Southern Section Division V wild-card match at Burbank High.

"I was kind of [surprised]," Kaplanyan said regarding Cathedral City's choice of guarding him one on one throughout most of the first half. "They thought they could handle me, but I guess I proved them wrong."

Hoover goalie Ron Glandian added 10 saves and four steals, while Arvin Abrahamin had five steals.

Nov. 10, 2010 — Hoover's boys' water polo campaign comes to a close, as it falls to Pasadena Poly, 14-8, in a CIF Southern Section Division V first-round road match.

Hoover finishes 16-16 and 4-3 in league for third place. Davit Davtyan leads the Tornadoes with three goals.

"We're not a traditional powerhouse, so going into a game, there's no respect given, all the respect has to be earned," Hoover Coach Ara Oganesyan said. "These guys have to spend the next year getting stronger, getting faster and getting smarter."

Nov. 12, 2010 — After topping Glendale to win "The Battle for the Victory Bell" in 2009, Hoover falls short of winning the contest for the second straight season, as Glendale rolls to a 54-19 victory at Moyse Field.

"They kept pounding us and pounding us and we couldn't get a stop," said Long, whose team finishes 1-9, 0-7 in league for eighth place. "Our run defense has struggled all year."

Despite its miscues, Hoover, which has not won two consecutive games against the Nitros since 1983-84, stays close until midway through the third quarter. Pule scores on a four-yard touchdown run that cuts Glendale's lead to 26-19. Pule is 10 of 21 for 117 yards and throws a 20-yard touchdown pass to Luke Taboyoyong. Devaughn Williams has a three-yard touchdown run for the Tornadoes in the second quarter.

Dec. 17, 2010 — Argin Haghoubian's two first-half goals propel the host Tornadoes to a 2-1 Pacific League home victory against Arcadia.

"In the first half, we had the tempo, we knew what we were doing. In the second half, we got a little desperate, gave up a goal and we lost our heads a little," Hoover Coach Kevin Cadenas said. "But I'm happy with the win.

"[It's going to be] whoever scores, whoever is aggressive and has the chances, and thank God, it was us."

Dec. 21, 2010 — The girls' basketball team rallies from a 16-point deficit in the first half to pick up a 55-52 win against Venice in a consolation game of the Burroughs Tournament.

Junior point guard Kariz Alberto scores a team-high 26 points to give the Tornadoes their first win — and only win — of the season.

"I think it was just our intensity," Alberto said. "We were able to work together and we were playing defense, so I think that was what made us get back into the game."

Hoover finishes 1-20 and 0-14 in the Pacific League for eighth place.

Jan. 18 — The girls' soccer team battles to a scoreless home tie against rival Glendale.

"We played well in the first half and then they played well in the second half," Hoover Coach Donal Kennedy said. "I thought it was a pretty decent game."

Hoover winds up 4-11-2, 1-10-2 in league for seventh place.

Feb. 2 — The school's girls' water polo team concludes the regular season with a 13-0 Pacific League defeat against cross-town rival Glendale. Hoover finishes 0-9, 0-6 in league for seventh place.

Feb. 10 — Hoover's boys' basketball team finishes its season with a 59-46 Pacific league defeat against cross-town rival Glendale.

"We just decided we had to come out for our last game and push it out, no regrets," said Hoover's Aden Ziraki, who scores 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of free throws to cut the Nitros' lead to 49-46 with 2:20 left. "Honestly, I thought we were coming home with a victory."

The boys' soccer team concludes its campaign with a 1-1 Pacific League home tie against Glendale. Argian Haghoubian scores for Hoover, which places 6-19, 2-12 in league for seventh place.

March 3 — The boys' tennis team picks up an 11-7 Pacific League victory against Crescenta Valley. The Tornadoes get sweeps from Oleg Simonyan (6-2, 6-2, 6-2) and Ejmin Mehranian (7-5, 6-4, 6-3).

March 17 — In a Pacific League-opening dual meet against visiting Pasadena, Alex Mikhailpoor shines the brightest for the Hoover boys' track and field team. Mikhailpoor wins two individual events and then anchors a relay win to give the Tornadoes a 68-50 victory against Pasadena.

In the girls' portion of the meet, Hoover falls, 70 2/3-42 1/3, though distance runner Ramas wins a pair of races.

Mikhailpoor steps up to win the 100- and 200-meter races in 11.2 seconds and 23.5, respectively. Then he completes his day by teaming with Jeremy Zadoorian, Sasha Mikhailpoor and Cory Trevino to win the 4x400 relay in 3 minutes 41.9 seconds.

"I'm most proud that I could anchor on the relay," Mikhailpoor said. "Cory did well on his lap by getting past the runner and that just set everything up the rest of the way.

"I had a good start in the 100 and I was able to keep my full speed in the 200. This is my last home meet and I wanted to do well and help the team win."

Ramas captures the 1,600 in 6:14.5 and the 3,200 (13:36) to lead Hoover.

April 14 — Though Hoover doesn't field a boys' golf team, it still has a bright spot in Alan Cho. Cho cards a two-over-par 73 to finish tied for third in a Pacific League match at De Bell Golf Club in Burbank. Cho finishes with three birdies and one eagle.

"I think the confidence in my game went up and I'll feel even more comfortable," said Cho, a senior. "I hit my driver pretty well and my iron shots were OK.

"It's a much shorter course, so I just had to be able to play it safe and play my own game and have good course management."

The softball teams notches a 4-3 Pacific League road win against cross-town rival Glendale. Pitcher Kaitlyn Williams makes her first appearance in the circle since Little League and scatters three hits en route to picking up the victory.

"She's a tremendous athlete, had the desire to pitch and I wanted to shake things up a little bit," Hoover Coach Rich Henning said. "All in all, I'm very pleased with the game she pitched and, of course, the result."

April 15 — Hoover baseball pitcher Cameron Doran throws 125 pitches and strikes out 11 in the process to help the Tornadoes earn a 5-3 Pacific League road win against cross-town rival Glendale.

"I had a lot of problems with the mound early and it's higher than I'm used to," said Doran, who surrenders three hits. "I had some problems finding the strike zone early on.

"Then, I started to get ahead in the count with my fastball and I was then able to also use all four of my pitches effectively to keep them off-balance."

Hoover Coach Joe Cotti praises Doran for his performance.

"He pitched probably his best game of the year," Cotti said. "He never stopped battling and the mound was like a cliff to him early in the game.

"He had a hard time finding his spots early, but he didn't make any excuses. He came back and regrouped nicely."

April 16 — The Tornado softball team walks 18 times en route to a 21-7 nonleague home victory against Providence.

"I'm proud of my girls for not swinging at bad pitches," Tornado Coach Rich Henning said. "I'm proud of my girls for staying disciplined. That's hard to do."

Hoover sends 13 batters to the plate in the first inning and eight walk on four, five or six pitches. Kamaria Buckley and Briana Manzanero score three runs apiece and Natalie Barcena scores twice, as do Teresa Martinez, Williams, Lulu Multini and Melissa Garcia.

April 22 — Some late-inning heroics from Anthony Cuccinelo deliver the Tornadoes a 4-3 Pacific League home win against Burbank. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, Cuccinelo comes through with a bases-clearing double to get the Tornadoes past the Bulldogs.

"He had a rough day at the plate, but he hung in there and had the biggest hit of the game," Cotti said. "Top to bottom, the boys played fantastic. They didn't quit."

April 26 — In the 12th installment of the Bronze Bowl, given to the school with the most total points at the Hoover-Glendale track and field meet, Glendale picks up a 173-95 Pacific League dual meet victory at Glendale.

Glendale's girls' team earns a 81-55 win and the boys' team wins, 92-40.

In the girls' portion of the meet, Hoover gets three first-place wins from Ramas. Ramas first wins the 1,600-meter race in 5:47.7 and then takes the 800 (2:38.9) before finishing up by taking the 3,200 (13:02).

Paige Hollis takes the 110 hurdles (16.9) and the 400 (1:02.5) for the Tornadoes, who receive two wins from Allison Zalin in the shot put (32-1) and high jump (4-9).

"I'm very impressed with the way the girls performed," Hoover Coach Jack Sallakian said. "They did well above what I expected coming into the meet and they just kept pushing."

In the boys' portion of the meet, Zadoorian leads the way by winning three events. Zadoorian opens by taking the 1,600 in 4:42.9 and then wins the high jump (5-6) before he captures the 3,200 (10:58).

"It was pretty cool winning the 3,200, though I cramped up a little," Zadoorian said. "In the high jump, I just seemed to get my first step going and that helped.

"I've been running the 1,600 all year. I figured I could stay in first by running my best race. We would have liked to have beaten them, but we'll try to beat them next year. We just have to keep on pushing in order for us to take it."

Hoover also receives a first-place performance from Alex Mikhailpoor in the 400 (50.5).

April 27 — Hoover's boys' and girls' swimming teams close out the regular season with a Pacific League home meet against cross-town rival Glendale. Hoover falls short, 111-38, in the girls' competition, while the Tornadoes lose, 114-45, in the boys' portion of the met.

The girls' team doesn't win any events, but the boys get a first-place finish from Jason Barbar in the 500-yard freestyle in 5:22.

May 4 — Boys' singles tennis player Oleg Simonyan advances to the final of the Pacific League tournament before falling to top-seeded Garrett Auproux of Burroughs, 6-2, 6-0, at Pasadena High.

"I was happy to make the finals, but the finals was really hard because I was so tired and it's so hot," Simonyan said. "I tried my best."

Simonyan reaches the final round with a 6-3, 6-3 semifinal victory against Arcadia's Andrew You.

May 9 — Hoover football Coach Long resigns following three seasons after failing to obtain the credentials necessary to remain as an on-campus teacher and football coach.

"They told me I needed to resign," Long said. "I wanted to stay on as a coach even though I lost my teaching job. I was hoping to stay on as a substitute [teacher] or walk-on."

Long, who finishes 3-27 at Hoover, is replaced a week later by former assistant Andrew Policky.

May 10 — The Hoover boys' tennis team qualifies for the playoffs for the first time since 2003, but falls, 11-7, in a CIF Southern Section Division II wild-card road match against Anaheim Canyon.

"It's a good way to end our season by playing in a competitive match," Hoover Coach Julie Hoppe said. "It's our first trip to the playoffs in a long time and we have some good young players here now.

"It took a little while to get here since I took over the program [in 2007]. It does take time to build a program, but I feel good about the mindset at Hoover."

The Tornadoes, who finish 8-9, 5-7 in league for fifth place, win five singles sets, but manage just two doubles victories. Hoover receives two wins apiece in singles from Oleg Simonyan (6-1, 6-1) and Emile Ohanyan (6-2, 6-4).

May 13 — The Hoover baseball team clinches a playoff berth for the first time since 2008 with a 6-1 Pacific League home win against cross-town rival Glendale.

"It was in our hands," said Cotti, whose team benefits from a pair of forfeit victories against Burroughs, which canceled its varsity season April 19 following allegations that an assistant coach served alcohol to Indians athletes. "We had to play well, play together and get the job done."

Cuccinelo hits a solo home run for the Tornadoes, who get two hits apiece from Kevin Mendoza and Will Davis.

May 18 — Hoover's baseball team concludes its season with a 2-1 road loss against Bellflower in a CIF Southern Section Division II wild-card contest.

But Buccaneers starter Sebastian Frutos was a touch better than the Hoover senior captain Doran, whose only two lapses — single runs allowed in each of the first two innings — proved to be the difference in a 2-1 loss.

"In the beginning, I was having problems finding the zone and working from behind in counts to hitters," Doran said. "[After the first two innings] I was able to bear down and find the strike zone and found a rhythm."

Doran finishes with a six-hit complete game and drives in the Tornadoes' only run with a sacrifice fly.

Hoover finishes 9-17, 7-7 in the Pacific League for fourth place.

May 20 — Simonyan's superb season ends in the second round of the CIF Individual Tournament, as he suffers 6-0, 6-0 loss to Chadwick's Maximilian Hawkins at Whittier Narrows Tennis Center in South El Monte.

"It's a good experience for this being my first time," said Simonyan, who receives a first-round bye. "There are a lot of top players in this tournament and they are very strong.

"My goal is to practice hard and come back here next year."

Simonyan finishes his season 39-15 and helps the Tornadoes advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2003.

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