Year in Review: Sports Highlights

FALL

The fall athletic season began with controversy but ended on a positive note for the La Cañada High School varsity football program. Former Los Angeles Loyola running back Drake Beasley transferred to LCHS during the summer but was ruled ineligible to play by the CIF Southern Section, but second-year head coach Ryan Zerbel didn’t allow that to become a distraction as he guided the Spartans to a 6-4 season, including stunning 28-13 victory over rival San Marino in the final week of the regular season, snapping a five-game losing streak over the Titans.


“I’m very proud of this team,” Zerbel said after defeating San Marino. “They accomplished a lot. We finished with a winning record and beat the streak with San Marino. We finally beat a team we weren’t supposed to beat. As a coach, it’s disappointing because I think we played our best game. It’s rewarding and disappointing because we were finally hitting that stride at the right time. I think we were peaking at the right time, and we could have carried that momentum into the playoffs.”
The St. Francis varsity football team also had a solid season behind standout quarterback Michael Bonds. The senior helped the Golden Knights (9-2 overall record) finish second in the highly-competitive Angelus League, earning them a No. 4 seed in the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs. St. Francis, guided by longtime head coach Jim Bonds, had high hopes, but the team was upset in by Palos Verdes, 38-37, in the first round.
One team that was able to carry momentum going into the postseason was Flintridge Prep, which dropped down to eight-man football. First-year head coach Russell White guided the Rebels to a 7-4 record and a CIF-SS Division 1 semifinal appearance.
The La Cañada High School boys’ water polo squad also had great success this season, winning the Rio Hondo League championship and making a good postseason run as the No. 2 seed. Josh Rodriguez’s Spartans were denied a CIF-SS Division 5 championship bid by Burbank, which edged La Cañada, 9-7, in a semifinal match.
The Flintridge Prep varsity boys’ water polo squad closed out the regular season with victories over Los Angeles Brentwood and Palos Verdes Chadwick to clinch a share of the Prep League championship. The Rebels, who have won three consecutive league crowns, went on to win a CIF-SS Division 4 playoff match.
The most successful Prep athletics program was cross-country, which captured several plaques competing in November.
The girls had an unforgettable season, winning the Prep League, CIF Southern Section and State Division 5 championships.
Five Rebels finished among the top 25 and tallied an impressive 51 points in state, which was more than enough to defeat Francis Parker of San Diego, which finished with 170 points. The 119-point difference was the highest margin of victory in all of the CIF State championship races.
“It was a killer day for us,” said Flintridge Prep co-coach Jill Henry. “We have a special group of kids. Not to bring down the achievement. Winning three in a row is awesome and we’re still pinching ourselves, but they came and worked hard every single day. These kids focused on getting faster together, and it shows in the spread. We finished in a straight line, and they really have been trying to win as a team. That’s the great thing about this group.”
Junior Evan Pattinelli helped the Flintridge Prep boys win the league championship and place third in the CIF-SS Division 5 title race. Pattinelli won the individual CIF-SS Division 5 crown and placed second in state to help the Rebels win the state runners-up plaque.
La Cañada Flintridge resident McKenna Smith ran for Mayfield Senior of Pasadena in the CIF-SS Division 4 finals and placed fourth.
The La Cañada cross-country programs continued to show improvement as the girls took home the league crown and the boys finished second. Adena DiPaolo captured the individual Rio Hondo League championship with a time of 19:26.
The Flintridge Sacred Heart volleyball team was one of top programs in the area with a 24-10 record. Ernest Banaag guided the Tologs to a second-place finish in the competitive Mission League went on to defeat San Marcos in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs before falling to Lakewood.

WINTER

The La Cañada High School athletics department had a winter to remember with every team clinching a Rio Hondo League championship and a CIF Southern Section postseason berth.
The varsity boys’ soccer team was closest to capturing a CIF title, a feat the Spartans have not accomplished since 1996. First-year head coach Bruno Costa guided La Cañada (14-6-6 overall record) to its first Rio Hondo League crown since 1986. The Spartans defeated La Salle of Pasadena and Claremont in the first two rounds of the Division 6 playoffs before upsetting top-seeded Nogales of La Puente in the quarterfinals.
The Prep boys’ soccer squad also found success in the regular season, winning a Prep League title with a 5-1 record. A.J. Yates guided the Rebels to a 10-2-1 record. The season was ended in the first round of the playoffs with a 1-0 loss to visiting Azusa.
The LCHS varsity girls’ water polo team had another stellar season with a perfect 8-0 record in Rio Hondo League play. First-year head coach Nicki Davidson guided the Spartans a CIF-SS quarterfinals appearance for a second consecutive season.
Another first-year coach at La Cañada had a successful year. Kevin Neumeier guided the varsity girls’ soccer team to an unprecedented 5-1-2 record in Rio Hondo League play, giving the Spartans their first Rio Hondo League championship since 2014.
The Flintridge Prep varsity girls’ soccer team also came close to playing for a CIF-SS title. The Rebels captured the Prep League championship with an 8-1-1 record and entered the Division 3 semifinal against Torrance South with an eight-match winning streak, in which Prep outscored opponents 46-0. No. 2-seeded Torrance South scored early and often, defeating the host Rebels, 5-2.
The loss snapped an eight-match win streak for Flintridge Prep (25-5-3 overall record). The Rebels outscored their opponents, 46-0, the past six weeks for an average of nearly six goals per match. Prep scored twice but was unable to keep up with the Spartans in a 5-2 loss.
As is expected with a team coached by Tom Hofman, the La Cañada varsity boys’ basketball team had another stellar season with an overall record of 26-5. The Spartans won their fourth consecutive Rio Hondo League championship with a perfect 10-0 record and was given the No. 4 seed in the CIF-SS Division 1A playoffs. Hofman guided LC to a second-round win over San Clemente before his team fell to Los Angeles Loyola in quarterfinals. Seniors Sean Estes and Justin Kouyoumdjian became the winningest players in the program’s history.
The LCHS varsity girls’ squad was also bumped by CIF-SS and competed in Division 1A. Second-year head coach Sara Beattie guided the Spartans (23-6 overall) to a Rio Hondo League crown with a perfect 10-0 record. La Cañada defeated Redlands East Valley in the first round of the postseason before falling to J.W. North.
The Flintridge Prep (24-3 overall) varsity girls’ basketball team had a stellar regular season but fell short in the playoffs, falling to visiting Pasadena La Salle in the quarterfinals.
“The girls should be proud of their season,” said Kevin Kiyomura, who coaches Flintridge Prep along with Jayme Kiyomura-Chan. “They accomplished some early goals they set, playing at a much higher division as well. We said the quarterfinals would probably be a good run for us in 3A.”
La Cañada wrestling coach Justin Luthey accomplished his goal of bringing back the Rio Hondo League crown to La Cañada by defeating four-time defending champion San Marino. Andrew Aghadjanians, Ben Donoho, Johnny Vasily, Corey Cameron, Willian Henderson and Colman Trulik won individual Rio Hondo League titles in their respective weight classes.
Sisters Sophie and Cheyenne Garcia competed in the CIF-SS Girls Individual Championship. Sophie won a match but lost twice, and Cheyenne also had a win in the tournament.

SPRING

La Cañada High School carried over its winning ways into the spring season with track and field and swimming athletes medaling in CIF Southern Section finals.
Junior standout Claire Murray was the lone Spartan to make the trip to Norwalk Cerritos College for the CIF-SS Division 3 finals after winning the preliminary race. She went on to claim the championship in the 100-meter hurdles with a winning time of 14.71, which was the sixth best in the Southern Section.
“I was really confident going into the race,” said Murray, who is the first Spartan to win the girls’ 110 hurdles event in school history. “I knew I had some good competition, but I really told myself that I wanted to win this, and I just kept telling myself that in the blocks. I just felt confident.”
Murray is the first LCHS athlete to win a hurdles event since Chris Day won the boys’ 110-meter event in 1980. She qualified for the Masters Meet but didn’t finish the race after clipping a hurdle.
Murray wasn’t the only La Cañada Flintridge resident at the CIF-SS Track and Field championships. McKenna Smith, who is Mayfield Senior’s top runner, qualified in the 3,200-meter race after finishing third in the Prep League finals, where she also placed second in the 800- and 1,600-meter events. Smith traveled to Cerritos College and posted a time of 11:20.27 in the Division 4 3,200 event, giving the local runner a silver medal.
Also competing in Division 4 was Flintridge Prep’s Evan Pattinelli, who won the CIF-SS Division 5 cross-country title in the fall. The Rebel claimed another CIF-SS crown by finishing first in the 3200-meter run, and teammate Warren Hosseinion added a bronze medal in the shot put event.
Matthew Molina of St. Francis qualified for the Division 3 high jump and brought home a silver medal after clearing 6-06.00.
Several local swimmers also brought home CIF-SS medals, including La Cañada freshman Danny Syrkin. The young swimmer broke out in the Rio Hondo League finals with three wins and a second-place finish, and he went on to place third in the 100-yard butterfly at the CIF-SS Division 2 finals.
Competing in Division 3, the Flintridge Prep boys medaled in three events. Andy Langen finished third in the 50 free and Brett Bell won bronze in the 100 back. The two Rebels teamed up with Nate Morrissey and Winston Chen to place second in the 400 free relay.
The La Cañada baseball team was close to playing for a CIF-SS championship. First-year head coach Matt Whisenant turned the program around and guided the Spartans (23-6 overall record) to their first Rio Hondo League title since 2013. La Cañada won two Division 5 playoff games to play its first quarterfinal in 28 years. The Spartans’ memorable season came to an end against North Hollywood Campbell Hall, 2-1.
“I’m just really proud to be able to come back and try to help this program and change it,” said Whisenant, who graduated from LCHS in 1989 and went on to play baseball professionally. “To be a part of it is fun and makes it even more special because this is where I grew up. It’s the same field I used to throw on. To see people come together and fill the stands and get some positive buzz about the program is very gratifying. I couldn’t ask for more from these kids. They accepted the challenge, and they’ve done a tremendous job of setting the standard for the future.”
The LCHS softball program also had a successful regular season, adding another Rio Hondo League championship with a perfect 12-0 record. The Spartans (17-5 overall) had high hopes going into the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs, but El Monte Arroyo defeated La Cañada in a first-round game.
The Flintridge Sacred Heart softball squad finished the season with an impressive 16-8 record but was unable to clinch a CIF-SS Division 6 playoff berth. The Tologs compete in the competitive Mission League, which includes teams competing in Divisions 3, 4 and 5.
La Cañada’s boys’ tennis squad had a solid regular season, defeating every Rio Hondo League opponent except San Marino. The Spartans, guided by Will Moravec, stood toe-to-toe with the Titans in their second match but fell just short in an 11-7 loss. La Cañada clinched a CIF-SS Division 1 playoff berth but fell to Los Alamitos, 10-8, in the first round.
The LCHS varsity girls’ lacrosse squad also had a solid season with seven victories. The Spartans defeated Beverly Hills, Costa Mesa Segerstrom, Long Beach Poly, Simi Valley and Westridge this season.
First-year head coach Khoren David Simonyan guided the LCHS varsity boys’ volleyball team to a 3-5 record in Rio Hondo League play, which was good for third place. The Spartans fell to Quartz Hill in first-round playoff match.
The Flintridge Prep varsity boys’ volleyball team (21-7 overall) captured its fifth straight Prep League championship. The Rebels, who were bumped up to Division 3, were ousted from the playoffs by Oxnard in a first-round match.

 

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