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Looking Forward, Looking Back
August, 2013 - Issue #106
courtesy of Shutterstock
When one looks back on the 2012-13 high school sports season in the SCV, there are many things that stand out. There were the breakthrough athletes who made their first impression on the valley. There were the champions - expected and not expected. There were the records that fell, the streaks that ended and continued. There were also the goodbyes to the kids who ended stellar careers. And there's one team from Saugus High that keeps making statement after statement. Here's a capsule of the season that was.

Best in state... again:
The Saugus girls cross country team won its seventh-straight CIF state championship in a season when the Centurions boys finished second in the state. The Centurion girls finished as follows in the November 24 state race in Fresno: Samantha Ortega (second), Heidi Hoslet (21st), Abigail Frankian (23rd), Katie Huntington (35th) and Olivia Altieri (49th).
Southern Section Division titles: There weren't too many championship events for the SCV this past school year. Saugus cross country girls won their sixth divisional title in seven years, while Saugus' boys finished second.

The new team to the party was a young Trinity Classical Academy boys basketball team, which lost in the Division VI title game to Rio Hondo Prep. But the Knights are a favorite to reach the championship game in 2014.

Football's big out here:
The Foothill League race came down to three teams - Valencia, the preseason favorite Hart and the big offense of Canyon. In the end, it was Valencia that won a championship and made its fourth Northern Division semifinal in five years thanks in large part to the arm of senior quarterback Sean Murphy, who passed for 3,936 yards and a school record 38 touchdowns.

Basketball gets big:
The valley had one of the most exciting basketball seasons in recent memory as the gyms were packed across the SCV. West Ranch's boys were led by the combination of 6-foot-7-inch Ako Kaluna and skywalker Kevin Harris, who led the Wildcats to a second straight league crown.

On the girls' side, Canyon and Valencia split the title. It was the Cowboys' fourth straight league championship.

Breakthroughs:
Saugus sophomore runner Samantha Ortega came out of nowhere to establish herself as a potential high school superstar with her cross country and track and field performances in 2012-13. Ortega finished second overall at the CIF State Division II Cross Country Championship and then won the 3,200 meter Foothill League title in track and field.

Another athlete was a shooting star - come and gone. Leon Jacobs came to Golden Valley High School after transferring from Bishop Montgomery in Torrance for his senior season and was a three-sport star - bruising football running back, above-the-rim basketball forward and track and field lightning sprinter.

Speaking of Golden Valley and track and field, Azaria Hill burst onto the scene and had a remarkable freshman year, winning four Foothill League titles.

Surprise:
Canyon baseball hadn't even gone to the CIF-Southern Section playoffs since 2007 and hadn't won a Foothill League title since 2002 - but led by the Foothill's Player of the Year - gutsy pitcher/shortstop Max Weinstein, the Cowboys became one of the feel-good stories of the year by sharing the league title with West Ranch.

Streaks:
Two significant streaks came to an end in 2013. The Valencia boys volleyball team's state-record 112-match Foothill League winning streak came to a close when Saugus defeated the Vikings 3-1 on March 1.

Hart baseball made every CIF-Southern Section playoffs since 1986 until this season when the Indians finished 12-14 overall.

However, two other streaks continue. Hart boys swim now owns 18 straight Foothill League championships, while Valencia boys tennis has won 71 straight Foothill League matches and eight straight league championships.

Record breakers:
The inevitable happened in 2012 when Canyon High senior wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky broke the state receiving yardage and receptions record, which were previously held by Taft High turned USC turned NFL wide receiver Steve Smith. Wolitarsky, who will be playing football for the University of Minnesota this fall, ended his career with California prep records of 281 receptions and 5,147 yards.

Saugus sophomore swimmer Abbey Weitzeil broke the CIF-SS Division I record for the 100-freestyle (48.61 seconds) and her 50-yard freestyle time (22.25) was the second-fastest time in state history. Both times were recorded at the May CIF-SS Division I finals.

Farewells:
The SCV has grown accustomed to Hart golfer Jamie Corr, Wolitarsky, Kaluna and Harris; Canyon basketball's Alia McCoy and Jaya Schultz; Valencia basketball's Kalia Summerlin; West Ranch softball's Kylie Sorenseon; Golden Valley tennis star Rebecca Ho and many others who made significant contributions over the years.
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