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Breakers brought home titles

From start to finish, the 2009-2010 school year contained plenty of accolades for the Laguna Beach High athletic program.

Whether it was fall in Fresno, or late-spring in Irvine, Laguna Beach teams and athletes turned in outstanding performances that led, on several occasions, to honors and championships.

Below are some of the key athletic highlights from the school year that were reported in the Coastline Pilot:

Fall

Senior Maddie Jaeger won three matches with ease to take the Orange Coast League singles title in girls' tennis and advanced to the CIF Individuals tournament. Also advancing were two Breakers doubles teams, Claire Jaeger and Bianca Sganga, won the OCL doubles title, and Alison Azera and McKenna Nokes. Jaeger and Sganga won the title by default over Azera and Nokes because Nokes was running in the league cross country finals and wasn't able to get back in time for the doubles championships. The Breakers, as a team, also won the regular season league championship.

The boys' water polo team again took the Orange Coast League championship and advanced to the semifinal round of the Division III playoffs were the Breakers fell to eventual champion Montebello, 10-5.

In girls' golf, senior Grace Komoroczy and junior Christianne Kinder were named first-team All-Orange Coast League, while senior Jenni Coury and sophomore Taylor Weiss earned second-team status. Komoroczy finished second in the league individually, and the Breakers also finished second to Estancia in the team standings. Komoroczy advanced to the CIF Southern Section Girls' Individual Championships.

In a showdown to determine the Orange Coast League champion on the football field, Laguna Beach pounced on Costa Mesa, 49-34, on Senior Night at Guyer Field. The victory gave the Breakers their first league title since 2006. The 2009 Breakers set several records during a season that ended in a first-round playoff loss to Beckman: rushing yards, game (Alec Jaffe, 361, Oct. 23 vs. Calvary Chapel); touchdown passes, game (Austin Paxson, five, Sept. 11 vs. Corona del Mar); touchdown passes, season (Austin Paxson, 24); touchdown passes, career (Austin Paxson, 33); catches, game (Chris Paul, 15, Oct. 1 vs. Garden Grove); touchdown catches, game (Chris Paul, four, Sept. 11 vs. CdM); touchdown catches, season (Chris Paul, 18); touchdown catches, career (Chris Paul, 26). Paul went on to be named league MVP and Jaffe the Offensive MVP.

"I was really happy with how the offense played and I was glad to see the defense come together at the end of the year and win league," Coach Jonathan Todd said. "I'm excited for next year. We'll miss our seniors a lot but the future looks bright."

In girls' volleyball, Laguna reached the CIF Division I-A semifinals where it lost to Dos Pueblos. During the course of the season, the Breakers picked up quality wins over Corona del Mar, Huntington Beach and El Dorado, won another Orange Coast League title and advanced to at least the semifinals of CIF for the sixth straight year.

The Laguna Beach boys' cross-country team, led by a dominating senior class, ran all the way to the finish line in Fresno. The Breakers not only won the CIF Southern Section Division IV title, but a week later, went on to capture the Division IV state title at Woodward Park. It was the program's third state championship and first since 2004. Laguna Beach junior Matt Neev finished second individually at state, followed by seniors Blake Hofmeister (fifth), Andrew Shapero (11th) and Tommy Newton-Neal (16th).

"The dominant feeling of this state championship was relief," Coach Dave Brobeck said. "It was probably the hardest state championship because we were favored. In '89 and 2004, we weren't expected to be there. This go-round, it just felt really good, a great punctuation mark to finish a nearly perfect season."

Girls' volleyball player Paulette Grand Pre, football players Chris Paul, Austin Paxson and Ethan Quirarteand boys' water polo players Nolan McConnell, David Brunner, Spencer Dodson, Robbie Quellmalz and Robert Chew, all earned All-CIF honors for the fall sports season.

Winter

In an Orange Coast League girls' basketball game Jan. 25, Emily Writer scored 53 points in the Breakers' 71-64 loss to Costa Mesa, to set a new score single-game scoring record. That total broke her own school record which she set in 2009 when she scored 51 against the Mustangs.

By beating Godinez, 1-0, on Feb. 4, the girls' soccer team clinched third place in the Orange Coast League and secured a Division III playoff berth in the process. By doing so, it marked the first time in its history that the program had made the playoffs in back-to-back years.

The Orange Coast League boys' basketball title has been up for grabs four times since the league was formed at the start of the 2006-07 school year and in each instance, Laguna has done the taking. By defeating host Godinez, 48-38, on Feb. 10, the Breakers, who returned only one significant starter from the previous year, sewed up their fourth-straight league crown "It's a great feeling (to win league again)," Coach Bret Fleming said. "This one was a little unexpected, but it's a credit to the kids. They kept working and kept fighting." Senior guard Adam Selevan was named league MVP.

Hoping to repeat as CIF champion in girls' water polo, top-seed Laguna fell just short of that goal in a 6-5 loss to No. 2 Palos Verdes in the Division II title game in Irvine. It was the fourth title game appearance for the program in six years. Senior utility player Lexie Ross was named league MVP. Ross, juniors Jessie Holechek, Jessica Shusko and Etianne Manetta, and sophomore Yoshi Andersen, made the All-CIF Division II team. Ethan Damato was named co-coach of the year in the division.

Spring

For the first time since 2007, Laguna fielded a softball team. Coach Mike Hunter's 18-player roster included 10 freshman, and the Breakers played a junior varsity Orange Coast League schedule. "I like start-ups," Hunter said. "I fix programs that are broken. It's great to see the progression of the girls, how far they can come along. I love the challenge." The Breakers went on to a 13-5 season that included a 6-0 league mark.

The boys' tennis team won the OCL championship, then beat South Hills, Paloma Valley and Whitney in the Division IV playoffs, before falling in the semifinals to top-seed Viewpoint. In an all-Orange Coast League singles final, Benito Romeo defeated teammate Hutton Mckena to win the title. The doubles final also was an all-Laguna affair, with Mike Rubel and Teague Hamilton defeating Alex Gromet and Cameron Cornell.

"Our boys dealt with quite a bit of adversity this year and they kept on answering the call," Coach Aaron Talarico said. "At the end, we fell just two matches short of the ring."

Laguna won the Orange Coast League boys' golf championship and three members of its team, seniors Charles Hewlett and Mike Cannon, and junior Andrew Palmer, moved on to CIF Individuals after the league finals at Sky Links Golf Course in Long Beach. Hewlett tied for second individually at league finals and Cannon and Palmer tied for third. ""I'm super proud of the guys," Coach Scott Finn said. "It's a really nice accomplishment."

The 2010 season may have ended in a first-round playoff loss at Palm Desert, but the Laguna baseball team had plenty in which to be proud. By winning 16 games, the Breakers set a new school record for wins in a single-season." "I think we had a great year and the kids should be very proud of what they accomplished," Coach Jeff Sears said. "They played very hard and overcame a few issues to have a good season. They set a school record for wins and won a playoff game for the school for just the second time. They have a lot to be proud of." Junior pitcher/shortstop Chris Paul was named to the All-CIF Division 4 team.

Laguna's swimming program capped a successful season by qualifying 15 swimmers for the CIF Southern Section-Toyota Division III Swimming and Diving Championships in May. Six of those athletes advanced from prelims to compete at the division final in their respective events. Five relay teams also advanced to the final. Both Laguna teams placed 15th, overall, in the division.

The Breakers from the boys' team who qualified for CIF prelims were Tommy Renner (200 IM, alternate); Sean Mulville (100 free); Robert Chew (100 butterfly); Nolan McConnell (100 backstroke); Erik Henrikson (100 free); Spencer Dodson (200 and 500 free); Nile Koegel (50 free) and Samer Alkateb (200 and 500 free). Dodson, Koegel and Mulville all advanced to the finals in their individual events. The 200 medley relay team of Mulville, Dodson, Chew and Henrikson finished in 11th with a time of 1:45, which set a school record. The 200 free relay team of McConnell, Koegel, Henrikson and Alkateb finished in 10th (1:32.27) and the 400 free relay team of McConnell, Dodson, Koegel and Mulville swam a 3:21.99 to win the consolation heat (ninth place overall).

The Laguna girls making it to prelims were Yoshi Andersen (200 IM, 100 free); Melena Masson (200, 500 free); Taylor Capobianco (100, 500 free); Jessie Holechek (100 backstroke, 500 free); Paige Watroba (200 IM); Sydney Saxe (200 free) and Lexi Del Toro (100 and 200 free). Andersen, Masson and Capobianco advanced to Saturday's finals in their individual events. Masson swam a 28.69 in the 500 free to finish in seventh place and swam a personal best in the event, as well as in the 200 free (2:02.98, 12th place). Andersen also had a personal best in the 200 IM (2:19.42, 10th place) and was 14th (56.49) in the 100 free. Capobianco placed 11th in the 500 free (5:35.62).

The girls' 200 free relay team of Andersen, Holechek, Masson and Capobiano swam a 1:46.74 to finish 11th overall. The same foursome went 3:51.77 in the 400 free relay to earn an eighth-place standing.

"The kids on the team are like a part of my family and I am honored to be a part of it," Coach Kari Johnson said. "I am very proud of the personal and team achievements they have made this year. I will be there for them every step of the way and I can't wait to see them improve again next season."

The school's track and field athletes turned in yet another memorable year, as both the boys' and girls' teams won league championships.

At the Orange Coast League championships in May, winning individual league titles for the girls were sophomore Natasha Strickland(1,600, 3,200 meters), sophomore Lauren Montgomery (100-meter hurdles), junior Samantha Gardner (shot put) and junior Christianne Kinder (high jump). Additionally, the Breakers' 4 by 100 meter relay team of senior Alex Degarmo, senior Christina Gardilcic, senior Sabina Seyster and senior Jessie Good Man, also won league.

Breakers who qualified for CIF were Degarmo and sophomore Marisa Merchant (200 meters), Good Man (400 meters), Strickland and senior McKenna Nokes (1,600 meters), Strickland, Nokes and junior Carly Savage (3,200 meters), Montgomery (100, 300-meter hurdles), Kinder (high jump), Seyster and senior Kate Winn in the long jump, Seyster and junior Christa French (triple jump), Garner (shot put), the 4 by 100 meter relay team of Gardilcic, Degarmo, Good Man, Seyster, (Merchant and French were alternates), and the 4 by 400 meter relay team of Good Man, Merchant, senior Alex Kempler and Tori Toma (Montgomery alternate).

At the CIF Track and Field Championships May 22, Strickland ran into the Laguna Beach record book by running an 11:06 in the girls' Division IV 3,200 meter run, good for fourth-place in Division IV. Her time bettered by seven seconds the previous school-record time of 11:13, also held by Strickland. It was the fastest 3,200 run for the program in the last 25 years, Coach Steve Lalim said.

In winning the boys' OCL title, Sean Pigden (800 meters), Matt Neev (1,600 and 3,200) and Brett Linkletter (long jump), claimed individual titles. Breakers moving on to the CIF prelims meet were Linkletter, Pigden (100 meters), Neev (1,800, 3,200 meters), Tommy Newton-Neal (1,800, 3,200 meters), junior Aaron Swartz (1,800 meters), Blake Hofmeister (3,200 meters), senior Alex Masukawa (long jump), freshman Ricky Delatorre (shot put) and the 4 by 400 meter relay team of sophomore Tyler Nichols, junior Norte Penney, Linkletter and Pigden. Linkletter was the only Breaker to qualify for CIF in all four of his events (400 meter dash, long jump, triple jump, 1,600 meter relay).

Newton, Neev, Pigden and Linkletter moved on to the CIF Division IV finals where Newton and Neev finished second and fourth, respectively, in the 1600 meters, Pigden was eighth in the 800 meter run and Linkletter was eighth (20-6) in the long jump.

The school year ended with the Laguna boys' volleyball team adding not one, but two, titles to the program's illustrious history. When the Breakers swept defending champion Westlake on May 22 to win the CIF Division II championship in late-May, they gave the school its first Southern Section title in the sport in 27 years. A week later, they repeated as CIF Southern California Regional Division 3 champion with a sweep of Santa Fe Christian of Solana Beach. Senior opposite Travis Woloson was named CIF Player of the Year and Lance Stewart Coach of the Year in the division, and seniors Scottie Chapel and Reed Thompson and juniors Robbie McKnight and Troy Donenfeld, made All-CIF. Woloson and Chapel also shared the MVP award in the Orange Coast League.

"This has just been a tremendous year for our program and I'm just so happy for the kids," Stewart said. "They worked their tails off and sacrificed for each other, and they reaped the benefits of that hard work. The season had its tough moments, but a lot of great ones. What these kids can take with them is that they did something that no other Laguna Beach volleyball team has done, albeit that the regional tournament has only been held the last two years. They join a select group of Laguna volleyball teams that have won a CIF championship."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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