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Audrey Drake stood near the looping hills behind College of the Canyons one promising day five years ago.

She walked up to her son Greg and jokingly encouraged him, "Your sister got first place. You get it now."

Greg's sister Aly had just won the Rio Norte Junior High cross country race - giving her the coveted title, "Fastest Girl in School."
The valley's best player - he's gone. The valley's best playmaker - he's gone. The Foothill League's Most Valuable Player - he's gone, too. Even the league's longest-serving coach is gone. That begs the question - what's left? Actually, better days.
The last five years have likely been the most eventful in Santa Clarita Valley's prep sports history. It's hard to argue with the fact that there have been three state and two national champions. Each of the six Foothill League high schools can stake its claim to a unique accomplishment - whether it is individual or as a team.
Some of the people responsible for these achievements have moved on from high school and have started anew. These are their stories.
Steve Day had to apologize. The sounds in the background were overriding his voice as he spoke about his son Mike. So in a polite manner, in between the rumble of wheels on dirt and wind whooshing by, he said, "I'm sorry."
Prior to this decade, it was a two-team show in Santa Clarita Valley high school football, with Hart and Canyon battling for valley supremacy. In the '90s, Hart put a stranglehold on the rest of the valley.

But this decade has been unique.Three different schools have won Foothill League titles - Hart, Canyon and Valencia.
David Franklin, senior
West Ranch High School

Last year, West Ranch surprised everyone with a 19-9 record, going 6-4 in the Foothill in the process and taking fourth overall. Guard David Franklin was a big reason. The 6-foot senior is one of the Wildcats' most consistent scorers. Leave him along on the perimeter and he'll drop the three-pointer.
If track and field weren't so cruel, this would be a happier article. I would be able to tell you that two or perhaps all three of the Santa Clarita Valley runners vying for a spot of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team are on their way to Beijing.
The Throwers
After Daniel Swarbrick's first two turns at the shot put during last month's CIF-Southern Section Division I track and field finals, the weight of the metal ball he was there to throw must have seemed light - at least by comparison.
After fouling in both attempts, the pressure on the Saugus junior to register a legal throw was much, much heavier.
As soon as I hung up the phone, my mind began to wrestle with a dilemma: What should I wear?

In light of world events, the question seemed somewhat silly. But the debate over what to wear, it turns out, was a debate over which my personal security hung.
In the realm of Santa Clarita Valley boys volleyball, the Valencia Vikings are the definition of a dynasty. They have won eight consecutive Foothill League championships, compiling 73 straight league wins in the process.

And they are only getting better.
Q: I can't stop slicing the ball. What can I do to avoid this?

A:
Slicing the ball can be caused by a variety of body motions and by several different transgressions occurring in your hands and arms. Mostly, it is the result of beginning the downswing while turning the upper body towards the ball before you begin to rotate your hips.

Tournament Players Club Valencia
Valencia 288-1995 www.tpcatvalencia.com

The course: TPC Valencia reflects the vision and distinction associated with the TPC Network of courses. Designed by PGA Tour Design Services under consultation from two-time Major Champion Mark O'Meara, the TPC Valencia offers 18 holes of challenging, breathtaking play.
Nicole Johnson's most exciting moment on a softball field occurred in Colorado three years ago. She was playing in the championship game for her summer travel team, the Krushers, against a team that had beaten them the day before.
If thoughts were like voices, the sound reverberating from CYCL headquarters Wednesday and Friday evenings would be deafening. The clamor would be unbearable.
Some have called the period between 2001 and 2006 the golden age of girls high school basketball in the Santa Clarita Valley. They might be right. Night after night, fans witnessed a parade of college-bound talent.
My car rolls to a stop just beyond Highway 14 at about 6:20 on an impossibly cold Newhall morning. San Fernando Road dead ends here, but my journey is just beginning.
It happens every season. Somewhere, on some field, an athlete does something spectacular. It could occur on a single play - the diving grab at the back on the end zone as time expires or the walk-off home run with two outs.
Annie Kellogg is building something special at Valencia High School, but it's not what you think.

You could argue that she's building a girls tennis dynasty. History would certainly back you up. The Vikings have captured six consecutive Foothill League team championships.

And her team's success has extended beyond the Santa Clarita Valley. The Valencia girls tennis team appeared in back-to-back CIF-Southern Section Division III finals in 2005 and 2006 - a remarkable feat for a public school in the arena of high school tennis.
The seeds of Katie Dunn's success may be bearing fruit now that she's a senior, but they were sown two years ago, during the last mile of a race in the summer before her sophomore year.
At about the 750-meter mark of an 800-meter race, it began to look as if it wasn't going to happen for 2004 Canyon High graduate Alysia Johnson. That's where Johnson found herself suddenly behind a surging Hazel Clark, the defending 800-meter Olympic Champion and two-time world title-holder, at the 2007 U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Finals in Indianapolis on June 24. Johnson could have simply accepted second place. No one would have faulted her. Just a college junior at Cal-Berkeley, Johnson is years removed from her professional peak, after all.
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