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The Age of Excellence: Y2K in the SCV

SCV sports: the decade in review

Posted: December 19, 2009 10:33 p.m.
Updated: December 20, 2009 4:30 a.m.

On Nov. 18, 2000, the city of Santa Clarita honored its local Olympians who competed in Sydney. Ervin, far left, stood alongside Valencia residents Adam Setliff, center back row, and Mark Crear, far right, and Canyon graduate Crystl Bustos. Crear won a bronze medal in the 110-meter high hurdles, Setliff competed in the discus and Bustos won gold...

 

Sports in the Santa Clarita Valley was on an upswing coming into the new millennium.

Hart baseball claimed the valley’s first-ever CIF title in 1999.

Hart and Valencia football met in the first-ever all-Santa Clarita Valley CIF football title game, with the Indians winning.

And the valley was just getting started.

The year 2000 will be remembered in Santa Clarita Valley sports for a couple of things — Hart football remained dominant and Canyon’s cross country teams began to assert themselves as state powers and the retirements of two SCV institutions, College of the Canyons men’s basketball coach Lee Smelser and Saugus baseball coach Doug Worley.

It will also be remembered as the year that people around the world became familiar with the Santa Clarita Valley as Hart graduate Anthony Ervin swam to two Olympic medals in Sydney and Crystl Bustos set the foundation for the greatest Olympic softball career ever.


Jan. 24 — In the midst of its best start ever, The Master’s College’s men’s basketball team falls 87-86 to Life University of Georgia, which is ranked No. 2 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division I. The No. 6 Mustangs have a 16-game winning streak snapped, falling two games short of tying the school’s record of 18 games.

Jan. 25 — Thanks to a unanimous vote by the Council of Conference Presidents, The Master’s College is accepted as the 11th member of the Golden State Athletic Conference. The school officially joins the conference on Aug. 1 but serves a one-year probationary period and is not eligible for conference championships until the 2001-02 school year. Athletic director and men’s basketball head coach Bill Oates says the move eases scheduling and was prompted by an increasing lack of fellow independent schools.

Feb. 2 — Valencia running back Manuel White and fullback Ray Cassaday sign letters of intent to play football at UCLA, along with Hart linebacker Sean Norton. Other notable athlete signings include Canyon offensive lineman Scott Arnold, who signs with Boise State, and Valencia pitcher Jeff Green, who signs with the University of San Francisco.

Feb. 4 — The Valencia girls basketball team edges perennial power Hart 56-53 to clinch a share of the program’s first Foothill League championship.

Feb. 17 — After 31 years at College of the Canyons and 39 total years of coaching basketball, Lee Smelser announces he will step down as the Cougars’ men’s basketball coach following the season. In 2005, Smelser was a member of the first class of the COC Athletic Hall of Fame.

Also, in just his fourth year, The Master’s College baseball head coach Monte Brooks earns his 100th career victory as the Mustangs beat the University of British Columbia 8-4.

Additionally, the Valencia girls basketball team earns its first-ever postseason victory, a 66-61 victory over Santa Monica in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division IAA playoffs.

March 1 — Smelser’s coaching career ends with an 82-73 loss to Glendale College in the second round of the Southern California Regional playoffs. Smelser finishes with a career record of 405-456 at College of the Canyons, including four conference championships.

March 9 — The College of the Canyons women’s basketball team ends its season with an 89-70 loss to top-seeded Shasta College in the Elite Eight of the California State Championships. Despite the loss, the Cougars finish as Western State Conference South Division champions with a 26-7 record. Sophomore guard Sha’Tasha Allen struggles in the loss to Shasta College, but she leaves as the school’s all-time scoring leader with 1,242 points and later stars at Cal State Northridge.

March 22 — The Master’s College power forward Joclin Julmist becomes the first three-time selection on the NAIA Division I All-America team in school history. He is also the only player in NAIA history to finish in the top five in the country in rebounding in each of his four years, and he leaves the school as its all-time leader in steals with 295 and its third-leading rebounder with 1,565.

March 23 — 1999 Hart High School graduate and University of California, Berkeley swimmer Anthony Ervin sets a world record in the 50-meter freestyle with a time of 21.21 seconds at the NCAA Championships.

March 31 — The Valencia boys track and field team earns an 87-48 victory over Canyon, the first win against the Cowboys in program history.

April 20 — The Canyon girls track team wins its 36th straight dual meet, a 78 1/2-58 1/2 triumph over Hart, and claims its fifth straight Foothill League championship in the process.

April 25 — The College of the Canyons softball team beats Santa Monica College 6-2 to complete the school’s first undefeated Western State Conference season. The Cougars finish 37-5 overall and win the school’s second straight WSC South Division championship.

April 27 — The Hart boys track team beats Valencia 74-62 to finish 10-0 and win the Foothill League championship.

April 28 — Hart turns a close Foothill League baseball game against Burbank into a 14-2 rout thanks to a school-record five home runs in the top of the seventh inning. Future NFL quarterback Matt Moore hits the first, followed by shots from Matt Friedrichsen, future Clemson Tiger and two-season Canyon head baseball coach Brandon Montemayor, Chris Burrows and Ryan Haag, who went on to play at both Cal State Northridge and Fresno State. Haag was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 2004 Major League Baseball Draft.

May 5 — Saugus senior swimmer Devin Hyfield scores a big upset at the Foothill League championships by winning the league championship in the 100-meter backstroke with a league-record time of 55.52 seconds.

May 7 — COC’s dream softball season comes to a smoldering end when the Cougars drop their second straight playoff game, a 4-0 decision against Pasadena City College in the loser’s bracket of the Southern California Regionals.

May 10 — Valencia is awarded the Foothill League boys golf championship after Hart is found to have an ineligible player due to a grade point average below 2.0.

May 11 — Saugus baseball head coach Doug Worley retires after 25 years on the job. Worley is the last coach that started when the school opened in 1975.

May 13 — The Master’s College’s baseball team racks up a season-high 21 hits and beats Biola 18-7 in the final game of a three-game series to win the NAIA Region II championship.

May 15 — College of the Canyons men’s golf blows away the field by nearly 20 strokes to win its second California state golf title. The Cougars are led by Travis Matye, who is the medalist with a 36-hole score of 146.

May 26 — Hart baseball fails to defend its CIF-Southern Section Division II title with a 5-4 loss in the quarterfinals to Centennial in 11 innings. The Foothill League champion Indians finish 23-6, but their season never fully gets on track due to injuries, including an injury to future Tampa Bay Ray James Shields in the first part of the season. Back then, he was known as Jamie Shields.

June 14 — The Signal names Hart’s Eric Pritchett the All-Santa Clarita Valley Male Swimmer of the Year after qualifying for the CIF Division II finals in both the 200-meter and 500-meter freestyle events. Pritchett later went on to swim at Cal State Northridge.

Sept. 16 — Ervin wins a silver medal at the Summer Olympics as part of the 4x100-meter free relay team, which finishes with a time of 3:13.86.

Sept. 21 — The Hart football team has its 25-game winning streak snapped with a 23-13 loss to Westlake. Quarterback Matt Moore is sacked 11 times and the offense is held to 166 total yards.

Sept. 22 — Hart graduate Anthony Ervin wins a gold medal at the Summer Olympics when he ties teammate Gary Hall Jr. with a world-record time of 21.98 seconds in the 50-meter freestyle.

Sept. 26 — Canyon graduate Crystl Bustos helps lead the U.S. Olympic softball team to a gold medal by defeating Japan 2-1 in extra innings in the championship game.

Sept. 30 — The Western State Conference’s top-ranked offense beats the conference’s top defense as COC football stays undefeated by upsetting Hancock College 21-14.

Oct. 16 — Hart graduate Todd Zeile hits a three-run double to help lead the New York Mets past the St. Louis Cardinals 7-0 in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series. The Mets eliminated the Cardinals in that game and went to the World Series, where they lost to the Yankees four games to one.

Oct. 27 — Hart quarterback Kyle Matter breaks the school’s career touchdown passes record by throwing for three scores in a 35-8 victory over Burroughs. Matter still owns the record to this day — 81 touchdown passes.

Oct. 30 — A year after finishing 0-10 in the Western State Conference, the COC women’s golf team shoots a two-day total of 671 to win the conference championship.

Nov. 2 — The Canyon cross country program has a banner day as all six teams (boys and girls varsity, junior varsity and freshman) win Foothill League championships. Cowboy runners Nick Zoetewey and Brenda Stevens win the individual league titles.

Nov. 5 — Temoc Mercado, 25, sets a Santa Clarita Marathon record by winning the sixth marathon with a time of 2 hours, 37 minutes, 34 seconds.

Nov. 9 — Hart’s defense picks off Saugus on its first four drives, and every turnover leads to a touchdown as the Indians clobber the Centurions 37-6 to finish Foothill League play undefeated and win its 16th league championship.

Nov. 18 — Canyon wins the CIF-Southern Section Division II boys cross country title, led by Luke Llamas, Zoetewey and Jameson Mora, who earn All-CIF honors after finishing in the top five individually. The girls finished third behind Stevens’ sixth-place overall time of 18:31. It is the highest finish for a girls team, to that point, in Santa Clarita Valley history.

Nov. 21 — The Master’s College men’s soccer team falls to top-ranked Bethel College of Indiana 3-1 in the title game of the National Christian College Athletic Association Tournament. The Mustangs finish 18-5, which is tied for the second-best record in school history. TMC would close the decade with an NAIA championship game appearance.

Nov. 24 — COC quarterback Travis Winn is selected as the Western State Conference Offensive Player of the Year by the coaches, and defensive lineman Isaac Sopoaga was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. Sopoaga set the national community college record that season with 31 sacks. He went on to play for the University of Hawaii and now plays for the San Francisco 49ers.

Also, a year after falling in the CIF-Southern Section Division III championship game, the Valencia football team loses to Mira Costa 20-14 in the second round of the CIF-SS Division III playoffs.

Nov. 25 — The Canyon boys finish second in the state at the CIF State Division II cross country meet, led by Zoetewey’s 10th-place time of 15 minutes, 44 seconds. The Canyon girls finish fourth overall, led by Stevens’ time of 18:59, good for 23rd overall.

Dec. 2 — Nine sacks allowed and six turnovers doom the COC football team in a 24-20 loss to Allan Hancock in the Western State Conference Bowl.

Dec. 7 — Valencia defensive lineman Kaelen Jakes verbally commits to the University of Texas following a senior season that included 12 sacks and 31 tackles. Jakes was a member of the 2006 Texas national championship team that defeated USC 41-38 at the Rose Bowl in what some people consider the greatest college football game ever played.

Dec. 8 — Hart wins its third consecutive CIF-Southern Section Division III championship and fourth in six years thanks to a complete 34-11 victory over Mira Costa. Matter finishes 27-of-31 for 353 yards and two touchdowns, and running back Mickey Mercado racks up 149 total yards.

Dec. 28 — The Master’s College’s women’s basketball team upsets top-ranked and defending NAIA champion Oklahoma City University behind 25 points and 10 rebounds from Erin Buescher, who played for the San Antonio Silver Stars in the WNBA.

 

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