From beginning to end, the 2012-13 prep school year was laced with major athletic accomplishments.
The sports calendar started in late-August and culminated in the first week of the current month. The following are some of the key highlights reported to the Independent during the school year.
The fall sports season started off strong but reached its crescendo just before winter break.
One of the first teams to capture a fall postseason championship was the Huntington Beach field hockey team. In its sixth straight trip to the final of the Tournament of Champions, Huntington capped its season by defeating North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake, 1-0, in a 10-minute, sudden-death overtime period.
Huntington, champion of the Sunset League and 22-1 overall, won the Tournament of Champions, which caps the field hockey season, six years ago but finished in the runner-up spot the past four years.
"It's been a long time coming," said Huntington Coach Cathy Van Doornum. "It's a big senior group on this team, and it was kind of disappointing for them, after losing last year's final. To win the title has been a goal of theirs since last year. They were determined to win it, and the girls weren't to be denied."
Huntington Beach, Edison, and Ocean View all advanced to the CIF Southern Section boys' water polo playoffs. The Oilers and Chargers both played Division 1 wild-card games. The Chargers advanced after outlasting Long Beach Poly, 15-14, but had their season end in the first round following a 21-10 loss to defending Division 1 champion Mater Dei. The Seahawks reached the quarterfinals of the Division 7 playoffs. There, they were eliminated, 9-7, by Cypress.
Ocean View's girls' volleyball team, which won its first two playoff games, advanced to the quarterfinals of the Division 4AA playoffs. The Seahawks, the No. 2 team from the Golden West League, were eliminated in three games by top-seeded Saddleback Valley Christian. In other girls' volleyball playoff action, Huntington Beach (Sunset League No. 2), rallied from two games down to defeat Peninsula in an opening round match of the Division 1-AA tournament but fell in the second round to No. 4-seed Mater Dei.
In November, the Marina girls' cross country team brought home a ninth-place finish from the Division 1 competition at the CIF State Championships at Woodward Park in Fresno. Individually, Marina senior Kylie Nishisaka had a top-10 finish (seventh place) with a time of 17 minutes, 50 seconds.
In the state Division 1 boys' competition, Edison senior Jeff Thies placed ninth in 15:27.
Marina had advanced to the state meet after placing sixth at the CIF Southern Section Division 1 finals at Mt. San Antonio College. Nishisaka took sixth individually (16:30) to pace the Vikings. Edison's girls' team finished ninth at the Division 1 finals but did not advance to state. Both Seward, who took ninth place in the girls' race, and Thies, the only Charger in the boys' Division 1 race and who finished eighth, advanced individually to the state meet.
As the fall season wound down, so too, did the prep football season. But, it was a big finish.
Edison took the Southern Section season to its fullest. The Chargers, in their first year competing in the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division, took the division title by defeating Villa Park, 28-10, at Angel Stadium on the final day of November.
Top-seeded Edison, ranked No. 1 throughout most of the season in the division, won its 10th consecutive game to improve to 13-1 overall.
It was the first Southern Section title in 27 years for the Edison program since it shared the 1985 Big Five crown with Long Beach Poly. It was the school's first outright title since 1980, and fifth, overall.
"I'm just so happy for these kids that they are CIF champions," Edison Coach Dave White said . "They worked hard for this. We were challenged early but we've been a fourth-quarter team all year. I'm just so proud of these guys and our coaches, and happy for our fans."
Two days after claiming the title, Edison was awarded a berth in the CIF Division II State South Regional Championship game. The Chargers had their sensational season end on Dec. 8 in a 27-10 loss at Orange Coast College to Gardena Serra. A week later, the Cavaliers defeated North Region champion Oakdale to win the state Division II title.
In addition to Edison, Huntington Beach and Brethren Christian reached the football postseason. The Oilers won a first-round game at Capistrano Valley to reach the quarterfinals of the Southwest Division playoffs where they were eliminated by defending champion Tustin. The Warriors were eliminated in the first round of the East Valley Division playoffs at Big Bear.
Marina senior Colin Navickas (160 pounds) earned sixth place in the 160-pound weight division at the CIF State Wrestling Championships at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield. Navickas, ranked seventh in state in his division, had previously won his weight-class title at the CIF Southern Section Eastern Division Individuals. He finished in second place a week later at the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet to qualify for the state meet.
Fountain Valley senior Steele Escobedo (145 pounds) also won a weight division title at the CIF Southern Section Eastern Division Individuals. Earlier in the season, Escobedo became the first Fountain Valley wrestler in more than 30 years to win a weight class title at the Fountain Valley Five Counties Invitational.
Marina, Fountain Valley and Los Alamitos shared the Sunset League title.
Navickas became the first three-time CIF Southern Section individual champion in Marina history, Vikings Coach Chris Rasmussen said. In May, Navickas received Academic All-American honors from the National High School Coaches Assn.
"He is, by far, the hardest working student-athlete that I have ever coached," Rasmussen said of Navikas. "He deserves all of the accomplishments that he will earn through wrestling and his academics."
The girls' water polo season culminated with one local team, Ocean View, making its way to the CIF Southern Section Division 7 championship game. The Seahawks had their title bid denied by Hemet which scored a 6-2 victory.
"It's always rough to come this far, and your goal is to win, and not achieve that goal," Ocean View Coach Melissa Fernandez said. "But putting this in perspective, I can't help but think where we came from, and the achievements this team has accomplished."
Ocean View, which went undefeated in winning the Golden West League championship, finished the year 23-9. The title-game appearance marked the first time a Seahawks team had played in a division final. They also reached the semifinal round of the playoffs for the first time in program history.
Edison (Sunset League No. 3) and Huntington Beach (Sunset League at-large) also reached the CIF Southern Section playoffs and both dropped first-round Division 1 games in the Santa Barbara area. The Chargers fell to San Marcos while the Oilers fell to top-ranked Santa Barbara.
Fountain Valley and Edison finished second and third, respectively, in the Sunset League boys' soccer race. The Barons were eliminated in a first-round Division 1 game and the Chargers, who knocked off fifth-ranked Long Beach Millian in their opener, reached the second round.
Edison (Sunset League No. 2), Huntington Beach (Sunset League No. 3), and Ocean View (Golden West League No. 2), all advanced to the CIF Southern Section girls' soccer playoffs. Both Edison (Division 1) and Ocean View (Division 6) reached the second round of the postseason.
Three schools, Fountain Valley, Ocean View and Brethren Christian, won league championships during the boys' basketball season. While Ocean View and BC repeated as champs in the Golden West and Academy leagues, respectively, Fountain Valley claimed the Sunset League title for the first time in 18 years.
Fountain Valley was eliminated in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1AA playoffs where it fell to defending 2AA champion Inglewood. Ocean View advanced to the semifinals in Division 3A where it was edged, 89-87, by top-ranked Bellflower St. John Bosco. BC also made its way to the semis in Division 5AA where it had an 18-game win streak snapped by Sherman Oaks Buckley.
Ocean View also gained an invite to the CIF State Division 3 playoffs and dropped a first-round Southern California Regionals game at Tustin on March 6.
Edison (tied second-place, Sunset League) and Huntington Beach (at-large, Sunset League) also received playoff berths and competed in Division 1A.
On the girls' hoops scene, the Sunset League trio of runner-up Edison, third-place Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley (at-large), plus third-place Ocean View of the Golden West League, earned playoff berths. All four teams reached the second round of their respective divisions where each was eliminated.
For the first time, Edison and Huntington formed girls' sand volleyball teams. The teams competed in the Interscholastic Beach Volleyball League which was formed through the Southern Pacific Volleyball Committee and Amateur Athletic Union. The Oilers won the Orange division where the Chargers finished in third place. Both teams advanced to the playoffs.
In softball, Marina claimed its first Sunset League title in three years and joined Edison, Huntington Beach and Ocean View in the CIF Southern Section playoffs. Marina and Edison (Division 1) and Ocean View (Division 4) were eliminated from title contention following second-round losses. Huntington dropped a first-round game in Division 1.
Marina junior pitcher Tera Blanco, the MVP of the Sunset League, and Edison senior outfielder Karley Wester, were named to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 Softball Team. Ocean View senior pitching ace, Brittany Hitchcock, the MVP of the Golden West League, was named to the Division 4 team.
At the CIF Southern Section Swimming and Diving Championships in May at the Riverside Aquatics Complex in Riverside, the Edison girls finished 14th and Fountain Valley was 27th, in the girls' Division 1 standings. In the boys' Division 1 standings, Edison placed 16th, Huntington Beach 31st, Marina 38th, and Fountain Valley 43rd.
Edison's Thomas Smith won the consolation final title in the boys' 200-yard individual medley, winning the event in 1:51.03.
In the Division 4 final, the Ocean View girls finished sixth and the Ocean View boys were seventh in their respective team standings. The Seahawks' girls' 200 freestyle relay team of Brynne McNabb, Alyssa Welfringer, Elena Isogawa and Maya Lamperts, won the consolation title in 1:50.86.
At the Golden West League Swimming and Diving Championships in early May, host Ocean View won league titles in both the boys' and girls' varsity divisions.
The track and field season saw several local athletes turn in top-notch performances. Jeff Thies of Edison High and Susannah Oleson of Huntington Beach both advanced to the CIF State Track and Field Championships at Clovis Buchanan High.
Thies, a senior, ran 9 minutes, 5.31 seconds in the boys' 3,200 meters final at the CIF State Track and Field Championships at Clovis Buchanan High. The time earned him a third-place overall finish. Oleson, a junior, finished in seventh place in the girls' high jump at 5-feet, 6 inches.
Marina junior Matt Dispenza (high jump), Edison sophomore A.J. Beynon (high jump) and Edison senior Chandler Thorpe (pole vault) also earned spots at the state meet but didn't advance to the finals.
Thies previously had finished in first place in the boys' 3,200 at the CIF Masters Meet on May 24 at Cerritos College in Norwalk.
Both Fountain Valley and Marina advanced from the Sunset League to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 boys' tennis playoffs.
Marina won the Sunset League boys' golf title for the first time in 20 years and, along with Edison, competed at the CIF Southern Section Team Southern Divisional. Edison tied for fourth place and Marina finished seventh at the event.
From the Sunset League, league MVP Cameron Kaneko, Ramiz Jamal and Jacob Winn of Marina, Kevin Steinfeld of Edison, Andre Vu of Fountain Valley, and Conner Hurst of Huntington Beach, advanced to the CIF Southern Section Southern Individual Regional. Kaneko, Jamal and Vu then advanced to the CIF Southern Section Individual Finals. Vu went on to qualify for the CIF/SCGA Regional Qualifier and capped his high school career with a four-way tie for 19th place at the CIF Boys' Golf State Championship at Quail Lodge in Carmel.
The prep baseball season ended with the Marina Vikings making their way to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship game at Dodger Stadium. The Vikings, the No. 2 team from the Sunset League, played third-ranked Harvard-Westlake wire-to-wire but ended up with a 1-0 loss.
"We knew the game would be a close one," Marina Coach Bob Marshall said. "Our players battled until the end. I thought we really had this game. We hung right there with them the entire game. We had our opportunities but we could not get it done."
Marina's trip to the final capped a postseason run by local teams that saw Fountain Valley, which won its first Sunset League title in 11 years, reach the second round, and Huntington Beach won a wild-card game, then knocked off No. 1-ranked Mater Dei, before having its season end in the second round.
Huntington Beach boys' volleyball coach Craig Pazanti knew that his deep, talented team could have a special year. The Oilers had just that.
"I've been telling the kids all year that I thought they were the best team," Pazanti said.
He was right, and the Oilers were No. 1 — twice.
Huntington, the No. 4 seed in the tournament, captured its first CIF Southern Section Division 1 title in boys' volleyball in 19 years by twice rallying from a one-set deficit to knock off Los Angeles Loyola in a five-set thriller, 26-28, 25-23, 19-25, 25-22, 15-10, on May 18. It was the program's first title since the school won back-to-back crowns in 1993-94 under Rocky Ciarelli.
One week after winning the CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship, Huntington returned to Santiago Canyon College in Orange and won its first CIF regional title by beating the same opponent, Loyola, it had defeated May 18. As was the case in that first meeting, the Oilers squeezed past the Cubs in five sets.
The Oilers went out on the ultimate high, ending the season on a 24-match winning streak, won Sunset League, Southern Section and SoCal Regional championships, and finished 34-2.
"Honestly, I can't describe this feeling," senior opposite and co-captain Zach Gates said. "I think it was all about us being confident. We played with confidence all the way through the playoffs."
Huntington Beach senior setter Matt Butler was named the Player of the Year in Division 1. Senior middle blocker Andrew TenBrink and sophomore outside hitter TJ DeFalco were the other two members of the Oilers' CIF and Southern California Regional Division 1 championship team to make the Division 1 team.