Editor's note: The Coastline Pilot looks back on the past year in Laguna Beach High athletics. Listed below are some of the main highlights reported on by or to the Independent.
The Laguna Beach High girls' water polo team completed another undefeated run through Orange Coast League competition and entered the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs with a No. 3 ranking. The Breakers scored postseason wins over Beckman and Santa Barbara to reach the semifinals. There, they fell against Newport Harbor for the fourth time in the season, this time by a 7-6 score.
Seniors Yoshi Andersen and Melena Masson were named to the All-CIF Southern Section Division 1 first team.
In girls' soccer, Laguna turned in a record season. Coach Bill Rolfing's Breakers put together a 14-game unbeaten streak midway through the season and didn't lose a Orange Coast League match in winning its first league championship. Laguna had its season end in a first-round loss to Santa Monica in the Division 4 playoffs.
Senior midfielder Marina Paul was selected to the All-CIF Division 4 team. The team's leading scorer, Paul, also was named the OCL MVP.
In boys' soccer, Laguna entered the CIF Division 4 playoffs as a wild-card entry. The Breakers won a wild-card road game at El Segundo and then played third-ranked Crescenta Valley to overtime in a first-round road game before falling, 3-2. Laguna ended the year 9-7-3. Senior forward Joe Rousseau and junior forward Reece Barton made the All-Orange Coast League first team.
Laguna's boys' basketball team won the Orange Coast League title for the sixth straight year and reached the CIF Southern Section Division 4-AA playoffs. The Breakers ended the year 16-11 after dropping a first-round game to JSerra. Juniors Cole Kesler and Jake Dalke shared the MVP award for the All-Orange Coast League.
In girls' basketball, Laguna nearly broke into the win column on several occasions, but ended the season 0-18.
The boys' and girls' swimming teams nearly rose to the top of Division 3 at the CIF Southern Section Swimming and Diving Championships at Riverside Community College in May. The boys' team finished runner-up to the division title, and the girls' team placed third.
"I am very proud of what our teams accomplished this year," Laguna Coach Kari Johnson said. "We had the best combined finish at CIF in our school's history. Every member of our team did an excellent job. We all did our best and it paid off."
The boys' team won CIF event titles on two fronts. The Breakers' 200-meter medley relay team of freshman Erik Juliusson, junior Caleb Scott and seniors Billy Wild and Erik Henrikson won in a school-record time of 1 minute, 37.82 seconds. Wild also won the 100 butterfly in 51.66 to set a school record, which he previously held.
Laguna previously had claimed Orange Coast League in the boys' and girls' competition. It was the fifth consecutive league crown for the girls, and fourth for the boys.
The baseball team was under new direction in 2012 as first-year coach Mike Bair took over the program. The Breakers posted an 18-9 season that included a second-place finish in the Orange Coast League. They also won a game in the CIF Division 4 playoffs before they were eliminated in the second round by second-seeded La Salle of Pasadena.
Seven Breakers made the all-league team, including sophomore Grant Wilhelm, who was named Pitcher of the Year.
On the softball diamond, Laguna turned in a season that included several firsts. First-year coach Alan Ludloff's young squad finished in third place in the Orange Coast League and made the CIF Division 5 playoffs. The Breakers went 15-8, the 15 wins setting a program single-season record. They also played the first home playoff game in program history. Their season ended in a wild-card game loss to Silverado of Victorville. Ludloff said the team also set 12 school records during the season.
Junior pitcher Haley Putnam was named to the All-CIF Division 5 team and became just the third Breaker to receive Southern Section honors.
In boys' volleyball, Scott Panaro's first season as coach featured an undefeated (10-0) Orange Coast League season and a trip to the quarterfinal round of the CIF Division 2 playoffs. The Breakers increased their winning streak in league games to 86 and league matches to 38.
"It is awesome to win league in my first year," said Panaro, whose No. 3-seeded Breakers defeated Malibu and Santiago of Corona in postseason play before being eliminated by West Ranch.
Senior setter Jack Winn was named MVP of the OCL and also earned a coveted spot on the All-CIF Division 2 team.
In boys' tennis, Coach Don Davis saw his initial season capped by an undefeated (8-0) Orange Coast League run. At the league's postseason tournament, it was an all-Laguna singles final where No. 1-player Teague Hamilton turned back No. 2-player Morgan Lebby in the title match. Second-seeded Laguna reached the quarterfinal round of the Division 4 playoffs, where they fell to La Quinta of Westminster.
On the golf course, Breakers senior Tim Peterson competed at CIF Southern Section Individual Regional Tournament where he shot a 77 and missed advancing by just three shots. He was the lone Breaker to qualify for the tournament.
Laguna track and field athletes turned in outstanding performances in 2012. The boys' team won the Orange Coast League title and the girls' team finished runner-up. Senior Natasha Strickland capped a banner four-year varsity career at the league finals by winning the girls' 1,600 and 3,200 meters. Strickland won both events at league finals in each of her four years.
Three Breakers — Strickland (girls' 1,600 meters), Spencer Anderson (boys' 110 hurdles) and Ricky Delatorre (shot put) — reached the CIF Southern Section Division 4 Track and Field finals at Mt. San Antonio College in May. Strickland finished in eighth place, Anderson was ninth and Delatorre placed sixth.
Laguna moved up a division in boys' water polo for the 2012 season, and the Breakers advanced all the way to the Final Four in Division 2.
The No. 3-seeded Breakers, a two-time defending Southern Section champion, reached the Division 2 semifinals where they were edged by No. 2 Santa Barbara. During the season, the Breakers again went undefeated in Orange Coast League play
Senior Riley Thomas was tabbed MVP of the OCL. Riley and all-league pick Camron Hauer also were named to the All-CIF Division 2 first team. All-league pick Caleb Scott was second-team All-CIF and all-league picks Duncan Lynde and Maxx McCarter (goalie) were named third team All-CIF,
"I was really proud of our guys, and what they did this year. "It was a big challenge," Laguna Coach Ethan Damato said of the season, and making the move from Division 3 to Division 2.
The Laguna Beach girls' golf team advanced three athletes, Jackie McMahon, Mary Kate Quellmalz and Leslie Dwight, to the Orange Coast League finals in October. McMahon, Laguna's team captain, finished in third place and secured a spot at CIF Southern Section Individuals. The junior shot a 39 on the back nine holes at Mesa Linda Golf Course in Costa Mesa.
The Breakers ended their year 5-8 overall, and 5-4 in league.
The Laguna girls' volleyball team went through yet another undefeated march through Orange Coast League competition and the No. 4-seeded Breakers advanced to the CIF Division 1-A quarterfinals where they were eliminated by Capistrano Valley. Laguna, which defeated Louisville in a first-round playoff game, reached the CIF quarterfinals for the 37th time in the 41-year history of the girls' volleyball playoffs.
Sophomore outside hitter Alyse Ford was named the OCL MVP and also to the All-CIF Division 1-A team.
In girls' tennis, Laguna again won the OCL crown and won three postseason matches to advance to the semifinal round of the CIF Division 2 playoffs, and was invited to play in the inaugural, 16-team CIF State Southern California Regional tournament.
Six Breakers, singles players Brooke Michaels and Bailey Jaeger, and the doubles teams of Chloe Mansour/Dominique Willette and Katelyn Bo/Sarah Nederlander, competed at the CIF Individuals.
At the end of the Orange Coast League season in November, Michaels captured the league singles title and Mansour/Willette the doubles title. The league singles and doubles finals were all-Laguna affairs.
The Laguna Beach boys' and girls' cross-country teams emerged with top-five finishes in the Division 4 preliminaries in November and each earned a spot at the CIF Southern Section Championships at Mt. San Antonio College. The Laguna boys were one of 16 teams to advance to the Division 4 final from prelims. The Laguna girls' team, which won the Orange Coast League title, took fourth in its heat and reserved a spot in the Division 4 final.
At the CIF Southern Section Championships Division 4 finals the following week, both Laguna teams fell just shy of advancing to the CIF State Championships in Fresno. The boys' team was just 10 points short and the girls' team only nine points away from earning a trip to State.
Both Jack Crawford (34th) and Grant Barton (38th) had top-40 finishes in the boys' Division 4 race. Eliza Romero (29th) and Pearl Shoemaker (40th) finished in the top 40 in the girls' Division 4 race.
"We had a lot of good individual performances but just as a whole we have to pull it together," Laguna Beach girls' coach Steve Lalim said. "Usually our strength is in our numbers and our tight pack, but we just couldn't pull it off."
A season that began for the football Breakers on the final day of August, took them all the way to the fourth weekend of November and into the record books once again.
Laguna ran up big scores and big wins during the 2012 season. The lone blemish during the second-ranked Breakers' first 12 games was a tie game against University in nonleague play back in September. They were 11-0-1 before their season came to a halt in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division semifinals in late November at Garden Grove.
Senior Drake Martinez was named MVP of the Orange Coast League. Senior Blake Hester (Defensive Player of the Year), senior Spencer Anderson (Lineman of the Year) and senior Robbie McInerny (Special Teams Player of the Year) nabbed the other top league awards. Seniors Larry Stewart, Robert Clemons III, Adam Farsheed, Steven Harrison and Joe Casey were named to the all-league team.
A few weeks after the season ended, so did Head Coach Mike Churchill's reign as head coach of the program. He resigned after two seasons. His replacement is Corey Brown, a varsity assistant who also was head coach of the Laguna frosh/soph team.
Under Churchill's two-year reign as head coach, Laguna rose to become a league champion and CIF Southern Section contender. His first team, the 2011 squad, went 10-3 and reached the semifinal round of the Southern Division playoffs. His final team, the 2012 group, won an outright Orange Coast League championship, again made it to the Southern Division semifinals, and finished 11-1-1.
Among the numerous individual and team program records the Breakers set over the past two years, this year's team won the most games (11) in a single season in school history.
"I think my two years as head coach here is special in this respect: nobody, two years ago, would have told you that football was important at Laguna Beach High," Churchill said. "The kids on this team the past few years have made it special. The community was re-energized by their success, and alumni would call or e-mail me, telling me how great it was that Laguna football was relevant. That, to me, was the most rewarding."
In the week following Churchill's announcement, longtime Laguna girls' volleyball coach Lance Stewart stepped down from his post.
Stewart coached the Laguna girls' volleyball program for 12 seasons (1989-90, 2003-2012). During that time, his teams won 10 league championships including eight straight between 2005 and this year. Eleven of those teams earned a final CIF Southern Section ranking of No. 4 or higher. His 2006 and 2007 teams won back-to-back CIF Southern Section Division II-AA titles, and the 2006 squad captured the CIF State Regional Division III title.
"It's been enjoyable. I wouldn't have done it if it wasn't," Stewart said. "I'm going to miss the kids, most of all. It's been a great ride."
Twitter: @MikeSciaccaCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun