Sports Year in Review

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The 2015 year in sports saw championships for Village Christian, the Special Olympics take over Los Angeles for a week and the end of Brian Gadsby’s career as a Falcon.

YIR January
The train kept on rolling for the 2014 CIF champion Falcons varsity football team, as it was recognized at Supervisor Mike Antonovich’s office at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting. The players each were given a certificate from the County of Los Angeles with the Falcons’ logo and the players’ name across the middle. “It was a pretty cool atmosphere,” said Coach Paul Schilling. “I didn’t think much about it until we got there and saw the TV cameras and all the people. After going through the security check and seeing we had reserved seats, we felt very special.”

Arin Ovanessian scored a career-high 35 points in a win at Glendale for the Crescenta Valley High basketball team. The Falcons improved to 3-3 in league, and Glendale, perhaps a surprise team, dropped to 4-2. Ovanessian collected five rebounds as well, but most impressive was his offensive output. He scored 22 points in the second half, and for the game he converted all 17 of his free throw attempts. “I practice them so much,” he said of his foul shots. “Everyday. As many free throws as I can.”

Led by new head coach Rich Mulcahey, the Falcon girls’ water polo team went 24-3, 8-0 in the Pacific League. They lost in the CIF quarterfinals. Junior Audrey Taylor had a great season for the Falcons. She helped them win their sixth straight league championship by finishing with a career-high 98 goals, 42 steals and 34 assists. Taylor was selected as an all-league and All-CIF Division IV first-team member.

The 2014-15 basketball season was the last one for Brian Beauchemin. The head coach of Glendale College’s basketball team for 35 years called it a career after the season, just eight wins shy of 600. Beauchemin, 70, cited the need to spend more time with his family and to do something other than coach. He had hip surgery the previous fall. The Vaqueros made the playoffs 21 times during Beauchemin’s tenure. He notched his 500th win in February 2008.

The CVHS boys’ basketball team tried to stay with Oak Park as long as possible in its first round playoff game, but the Eagles used their size to wear down the smaller Falcons and won 66-46. The Falcons won 19 games on the season, and were 10-4 in the Pacific League. They were led by seniors Kyle Currie and Jimmy Smiley, and juniors Tadeh Tarverdians and Arin Ovanessian. “We fought through adversity with our teammates, and learned lessons,” Smiley said. “It’s not about the wins and losses. It’s about being together and forming bonds. That’s what we’re going to take away. It’s tough to think about how I’m never going to step on our gym floor to ever practice again, being in the locker room, having fun, messing around.”

Another year, another flag football championship for the Rosemont Spartans. Quarterback Chase Center threw for a touchdown and ran for another in the season finale against Wilson Middle School, a 13-2 Spartan victory. With the win, Rosemont finished its season 5-1, and won the district championship outright. If Wilson had won, the teams would have been co-champs. “It feels good. It feels really good,” said first-year Head Coach Ryan Dahlstrom. “It’s a testament to the other coaches and the guys we have.”

Despite holding a home ground advantage, the Crescenta Valley High School girls’ soccer team was unable to prevail over the 27th state-ranked La Mirada Matadores in the second round of the Division 4 CIF playoffs, losing 3-0. La Mirada was riding a 14-game winning streak and netted an incredible 96 goals while compiling a 22-2 season record. “They’re the number two seed in the division and they’re good, they play confident, they’re very fast and I think we played with a lot of heart,” CV Coach Tyrasha Peterson said.

Falcons’ boys’ soccer co-captain Justin Wright signed a letter of intent with UC Davis. He felt he would be a good fit for the Mustangs’ possession-oriented style of play. “I don’t know how to describe the emotion, but I’m so thankful for the opportunity to play there and thankful for the coaches for what they’ve done for me and for everything that Coach [Grant] Clark has done and just my whole journey in soccer itself,” Wright said.

YIR Feb March
The Village Christian boys’ basketball team was on their way to another CIF championship. The Crusaders won the Division 4A title in 2014, and in 2015 they captured the Division 1AA when they defeated Temecula Great Oak at the Honda Center in the spring. The Crusaders went 28-6 and were led by Bennie Boatwright, who committed to USC. Village advanced two games into the state playoffs before losing to Centennial.

It was an historic day at the field of Rosemont Middle School on March 12. The Lady Falcons’ lacrosse team played its very first home game in school history against the Westridge Tigers. The Falcons looked inept early on, but rallied for an 8-7 victory. “This is a huge day for CV lacrosse,” Head Coach Boz Crowther said. “We’ve been working for it for five years. We didn’t think it was going to happen.” Samara Yarnes scored the go-ahead goal in the game. “We’re a brand new team, so it’s really big that we won because almost everyone on the team is new to playing,” said the sophomore midfielder.

The new softball coach for the Falcons was a familiar face. Amanda Peek, who played both softball and baseball as a student for CV from 2000 to 2004, returned to her alma mater to take over for John Pehar. Peek played for Cal State State Northridge in college. She teamed up with new assistant coach Christy Menafee, and the Falcons went 16-11 in their inaugural year as CV coaches.

YIR March-April
It was a new scene for Falcon softball senior Hailey Cookson, a shortstop, in her senior year. Not only was she playing without her big sister Hannah, who occupied centerfield from 2011 to 2014, but she was also in the pitching circle for the first time as a Falcon. “It’s a different scene,” she said. “It’s a different setting. I’m comfortable there. I like both, but [in the circle] I’m calm … I think I would like pitching in college, if I got better and pitched faster,” she said. Cookson currently plays for Arizona State Southwest University.

Burbank’s Caitlyn Brooks was the Pacific League’s Most Valuable Player and first-team All-CIF. The Notre Dame recruit went 18-5 with a 0.66 ERA with 264 strikeouts and 18 walks in 164.3 innings. At the plate, she hit .451 with six homers, 26 RBIs, five doubles and three triples. Glendale outfielder Sammy Fabian was also impressive. She hit .615 with one homer, 16 RBIs, 32 runs scored, six doubles and four triples.

The career of the great Gadsby was winding down in April. Brian Gadsby, the two-sport star at Crescenta Valley, was in the middle of another great season on the mound as the Falcon baseball team would eventually make a deep run in the playoffs. As a senior, Gadsby posted a 12-4 record with a 0.57 ERA over 109 innings pitched. He also struck out 104 batters, to just 13 walks. Gadsby was UCLA-bound in the fall.

The Crescenta Valley softball team ended its season on a sour note, losing to Redondo Union 9-2 in the first round of the CIF Division III playoffs. The girls went 16-11 overall, 9-5 in the Pacific League, good for third place. They were led by power hitting centerfielder Melanie Abzun and slick fielding Hailey Cookson, who has been the best hitter statistically on the team the last two years.

While the softball team fell shorter than it would have liked, the CV baseball team made another stellar run in the CIF Division II playoffs. In 2014, the team made it to the quarterfinals. In 2015, they did one game better, advancing to the semifinals, just one game shy of the championship round. The Falcons went 25-6 and were led by pitcher Brian Gadsby, who now throws for UCLA. The team also featured senior pitcher Jimmy Smiley and sophomore catcher Kewin Ledesma.

The Rosemont Middle School soccer teams were champions for the 2015 season. On May 14, both the boys and girls Spartans defeated the teams from Wilson Middle School in the season finale. The boys won 3-1, giving them an undefeated record of 6-0. The girls won 1-0. Their record closed at 5-0-1. They tied Wilson in their previous matchup in April. The head coach of the boys’ soccer team this season was Iain Blackwood. Robert Parada coached the girls.

St. Francis High School announced that Todd Wolfson was the new head basketball coach for the Golden Knights. Wolfson comes to St. Francis High School from Chaminade College Preparatory School in West Hills. While serving as Chaminade’s head varsity basketball coach from 2008-15, Coach Wolfson’s teams won one CIF Division III state championship, played in another state semifinal, and annually competed for a CIF title.

Gymnist Jennie Jensen was one of the newly selected members of the Crescenta Valley Athletic Hall of Fame. In 1986, Jensen dominated CIF athletics. She placed first in floor exercise, balance beam and uneven bars, and was second in vault. Those finishes earned her the title of All-Around Champion. She was named Most Valuable Gymnast for CV’s team and in the Pacific League. Jensen chose to compete for USA instead of Crescenta Valley her junior year.  She earned fourth place in the USA’s Western Region. For her senior year, she returned to the Falcons’ team and won CIF championships in the floor exercise, balance beam and vault.

YIR June
A fund was set up for Jason Hogan, a former CVHS football and track athlete who graduated in 2001. Hogan was working security at a restaurant in Spokane, Washington on June 26. Hogan broke his C3, C4 and C5 vertebrae, and severely bruised his spinal cord when, according to witnesses, he escorted a patron outside who had caused a fight inside the restaurant. Once Hogan turned to go back inside, the man ran and attacked him. Hogan was able to put his arms around the man’s waist, but when both men fell to the ground, Hogan’s head started bleeding profusely. He was temporarily paralyzed. Hogan is a former combat veteran of SEAL Team 3. As of early December, his recovery fund on passed $56,000.

Crescenta Valley High School softball players Melanie Abzun and Hailey Cookson were named to the All-Pacific League first team, as voted on by the league’s coaches. Abzun, a centerfielder, batted.623 with 10 home runs, 13 doubles and 48 runs batted in. In the field, Abzun made three errors in 43 total chances and had 11 assists. Cookson played shortstop and pitcher, behind starter Adela Alatraca. Cookson batted .478 with 19 RBIs and 21 runs scored. Alatraca and catcher Sydney Wells were named to the all-second team. Junior third baseman Kendall Ebert was an honorable mention. Wells has since signed to play for George Mason University in 2016-17.

After winning their division championship at the previous week’s Masters Meet, pole-vaulters Gareth and Barrett Weiss from Flintridge Prep Academy faced strong opposition at Buchanan. Starting at 14-2, neither made the opening height on their first attempt, but accomplished it on their second try. But in their attempts to make the qualifying height of 14-8, Gareth failed all three of his attempts; Barrett accomplished the height on his second try. Though he did not make it onto the field, Gareth could be found with his coach in the stands cheering on his brother.

YIR July5
The summer basketball league for all Crescenta Valley High School teams ended as the program looked to take a break before school started up in August. The varsity team finished 16-9 this summer. It went 3-2 in a tournament at UC San Diego in late June before splitting two games in a Sierra Canyon tournament. The junior varsity team went 8-3. It had a busy and tiring last day on June 30 at Burbank High School when it defeated Marshall at 5:30 p.m. before taking on the varsity squad from Glendale immediately after. It was close, but Glendale’s Alex Ramos hit a three-pointer with 12 seconds left to lift the Nitros to a 48-46 victory.

The La Crescenta CSA Blue 12U All Stars baseball team took first place at the Pico Rivera 12U All Star Weekend Tournament. To get to the championship game, the CSA Blue 12U team first beat Montebello Blue 12U 4-3 then went on to conquer the Los Angeles 12U All Stars 6-5.

Los Angeles had a memorable week hosting the Special Olympics World Games this summer, and the city of Glendale, which was a Host Town, was proud to play a large role. Athletes from the Dominican Republic, Bonaire and Armenia ran the last leg of the Special Olympics torch run that ended on July 22 at the Americana at Brand. Law enforcement and volunteers, including those from Montrose Church, were on hand to either run with the athletes or cheer them on. Over 6,500 athletes from 165 countries descended upon L.A. for the Games. “This is awesome! I am so honored to run alongside officers from around the world committed to raising awareness for Special Olympics,” said John Norris, a Special Olympics athlete who jogged with the flame to the front of the stage. “Joining them as a guardian of the flame is a dream come true.”

The city of Glendale razed historic Stengel Field, located at Verdugo Park, and reopened it in the fall after demolition debris had been cleared. The entire infrastructure, including stands and the clubhouse, were demolished. The field, which is the home for the Glendale College and Crescenta Valley High baseball teams, now has three sets of aluminum bleachers around the foul lines. Former CV player Bryan Longpre is leading a funding campaign called Save Stengel to build it back up to what it used to be, and possibly even more. Longpre and his board of directors will have some input as to how the new model may look. Ultimately, because the field is owned by the city, it will have the final say on the structure. “We want a stadium that the community can be proud of,” Longpre said. “We want to rebuild a historical landmark. It’s a shame what happened and a shame to see it as just another rec league park because it means a lot more to people in the community.”

The Falcon football team returned to school with hopes of repeating as CIF Southeast Division champions. Practice took place on the newly renovated field at CVHS, which holds practices and games for the football and soccer programs. The synthetic field was 10 years old, and needed to be replaced.

The Crescenta Valley High School faculty took on the girls’ varsity volleyball team Aug. 26 in the big gym. The girls defeated the faculty, winning four games to one. The faculty, going with a “Top Gun” theme, received double the points in the last few games, which may have led to its lone win. The varsity was led by the serving skills of senior Paige Baker. The faculty staff included Grant “Maverick” Clark, Linda “Viper” Junge, and Peter “Merlin” Kim.

YIR September
As football season kicked off, the Crescenta Valley High School cheer team opened its season with a new coach, Christine Bircher. Bircher is a CV graduate who went on to cheer at Arizona State University, and she recently opened The Vault Dance Studio in Pasadena. This year, every cheer coach at CV is a former student who participated in pep squad. They are Bircher, Megan Allen, Jiani Soto, Lexi Hemaiden and Andrew Carbajal.

Sloane Elmassian and her horse Colin were in the La Cañada Flintridge Autumn Classic Show in September, a four-day event where she competed in a 1.10-meter event (a jump measuring 3’6”). She took first place, third place, and division champion. Then she moved up into the 1.20M (4’0”) and took fourth and fifth place, and a prize of $70. Elmassian, a junior who attends Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, has been riding since she was 3. She has participated in events in Europe as well as Mini Grand Prixs locally.

It was the most befuddling loss of the season. The Falcon football team played outstanding defense, holding the Burbank Bulldogs to seven points. The only problem is, they only scored three points. The winning score came in the fourth quarter when Burbank’s Powell Noah ran 56 yards down the right sideline. It was the second loss of the season for CV, which went undefeated the previous season on the way to a CIF championship.

The new coach of the Rosemont Middle School girls’ basketball team liked what he saw in his team’s first game Sept. 24. The Lady Spartans hosted the Toll Titans, and thanks to a smothering defense, Rosemont ran away with a 35-4 victory. It was just how Bon Sam drew it up. “I like their intensity. I like their drive … their willingness to learn,” said Sam, who took over for Chris Bouchard this year after Bouchard led the girls to several championships in the four-team GUSD league.

YIR October2
It was a special day for Mike Hull, the former NFL player who returned to his alma mater Crescenta Valley High School for the homecoming game against Muir. In honor of the Super Bowl’s 50th anniversary, the NFL awarded a golden football to every high school who graduated anyone who participated in the big game, and Hull spoke to the Falcon student body during the day, and attended the game at night. Hull was a fullback and running back in his career. He was part of the first graduating class at CVHS, and went on to play at Glendale College and USC. He played in Super Bowl VII for the Washington Redskins, who lost to the Miami Dolphins.

Both teams for Rosemont Middle School basketball were back on top of the Glendale district league after the Spartan boys and girls posted 6-0 records this season. The boys defeated Wilson 47-32 on Oct. 28 in the last game of the season, while the girls won their tilt 28-20. The boys this year were once again coached by Brent Ballard. For the season, Tyler Carlson averaged team-high 15 points per game. On the girls’ side, Denise Dayag led the team this year with 10.3 points per game. She also shot well from the free throw line, converting 21 of 27 attempts.

The Village Christian girls’ volleyball team was on its way to winning the Division 2AA championship this season, when they swept Chadwick of Palos Verdes Peninsula 3-0 (25-19, 27-25, 25-16) at Cerritos College. Mehgan Lacey had a team-high 19 kills to go along with 14 digs. Senior Kyra Banko finished with 15 kills, 13 digs, three blocks and three aces, while Selby Schnobrich had 44 assists with three blocks and two aces for VCS, which went 31-7 on the year.

The CV football team swept the Glendale area schools for the third straight year, beating Glendale 59-7 and the Hoover 49-0. At the homecoming game, the Falcons got by Muir 40-27, which was the first time CV beat Muir two years in a row since the late 1970s. In the Muir game, Tyler Hill was a force to be reckoned with, rushing for 182 yards and three touchdowns.

YIR November
The Falcon varsity football team put up a valiant effort all season despite injuries to key players. The team beat Arcadia in the season finale 28-27, led by freshman Cole Doyle, who threw the game-winning touchdown to Will Rees. CV finished 7-3 on year, 5-2 in the Pacific League. They went on the road to Cathedral High School in the first round of the CIF Southeastern Division playoffs, and lost 58-19. The Falcons lost senior Bostin Lakin in the second half of that game, and were also without quarterback Evan Nelson, who shared time with Tyler Hill this season. Colin Caver was also out for most of the year.

The CV boys’ water polo team almost made it a banner year, but fell in the Division IV CIF championship game Nov. 14 in Irvine to Righetti High School 11-2. It was Righetti’s second consecutive championship. The Falcons, who last won a CIF title in 2008, finished one game shy of the final last season. Vasil Halchev and Reagen Hesse scored the two goals for CV, which finished 26-7 and won the Pacific League title for the second year in a row.

La Cañada High’s Katie Scoville took home the CIF Division IV individual championship at the cross-country finals. She ran in 17 minutes, 53.6 seconds to win on the 2.93-mile course. It was the Spartans’ first individual championship since 1998. The Flintridge Prep girls’ team was dominant yet again in Division V. It won its third straight section title with a 24-123 win over Pacifica Christian. The Flintridge boys’ team won its second straight Division V title, and Jack Van Scoter repeated as the Division’s individual champion.

Greg Goorjian returned to the CV alumni basketball game for the first time since 1995, scoring 14 points in a 77-68 alumni win over the varsity team. Goorjian led the CIF in scoring with 43.4 points per game in his senior year in 1978, and that was without a three-point line. The alumni were once again coached by John Goffredo, a former coach of the program. The alumni backcourt featured Goorjian and Goffredo’s son Jimmy (2003). Those players are the top two leading scorers in CV basketball history.

Crescenta Valley boys’ water polo goalkeeper Logan Goddard was selected as the Pacific League’s player of the year, as selected by the league’s seven head coaches. Goddard, a senior, made 238 saves for the Falcons, who won the league title and made it all the way to the CIF Division IV championship game.

A school-record eight Village Christian seniors signed National Letters of Intent to continue their athletic careers in college. Volleyball players Kyra Banko, Alexis Hamilton, Meghan Lacey, Avery O’Neal, Ally Reyes and Selby Schnobrich, as well as baseball players David Barta and Gordon Ingebritson, made their college decisions official in front of the Kendall Pavilion at VCS surround by friends and family.

One month after losing in the UFC 193 title fight, Glendale native Ronda Rousey opened up to ESPN The Magazine about injuries she sustained against Holly Holm. “It might be three to six months before I can eat an apple, let alone take an impact,” Rousey said. Rousey was upset by Holm in November, ending Rousey’s run as an reigning women’s bantamweight champion. Holm knocked out Rousey with a head-kick in the second round. Pundits have called the upset one of the most shocking in the history of the sport.

Photos by Jason BALLARD, Leonard COUTIN, Brandon HENSLEY and Dan HOLM

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