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The Age of Excellence: 2001, A sports odyssey

Posted: December 20, 2009 10:57 p.m.
Updated: December 21, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Canyon's Alysia Johnson waves after qualifying for the state meet in the 400 at the CIF Masters Meet on May 25 at Cerritos College.

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The year 2001 continued to bring new milestones for Santa Clarita Valley sports.

College of the Canyons women’s golf earned the school’s first state championship in women’s sports.

Hart continued its dominance of all things football, winning an impressive fourth straight CIF title and pushing its undefeated league streak past the 50-game mark.

Santa Clarita Valley baseball kept growing its reputation as a fertile ground for future pros.

Canyon’s Chris Seddon, Hart’s Mike Miller, John Curtis and Billy Susdorf, and a few Valencia Vikings, namely Kyle Wilson and Jimmy Rohan, all were key players in the Foothill League in 2001.

All would become professional baseball players.

The Master’s College’s Erin Buescher became the first women’s professional basketball player to come from an SCV school when she was drafted 23rd overall by the Minnesota Lynx.

And, of course, there was cross country.

Canyon’s runners, led by Luke Llamas, helped the school garner a national reputation by winning a state championship and having several impressive showings at national meets.

Jan 8 — Ali Pavoni paces Hart girls soccer to create a three-way tie at the top of the Foothill League by scoring the game’s only goal in a 1-0 win over Valencia. Pavoni went on to win Foothill League MVP with 20 goals, and 49 points and finished a four-year career at Pepperdine in 2006 as the Waves’ No. 6 all-time leading scorer with 61 points (23 goals, 15 assists).

However, Valencia went on to earn its first Foothill League title in girls’ soccer, ending a seven-year run by Hart.

Saugus’ Jocelyn Hein led her team with 13 goals, earned her third of four All-CIF selections and went on to play for four years at USC.

Feb. 13 — In his first year as Canyon boys basketball head coach, Chad Phillips completes a turnaround by finishing with a Foothill League championship. The Cowboys (16-10, 7-3) were led by Chad Eichten, Matt Nelsen, Jeremy Haggerty and Brian Waite. Eichten went on to play at Chapman University, Haggerty went on to play for TMC, Nelsen played at Cal Poly Pomona and Waite went on to play at Cal State Northridge. All four were elected to Canyon’s Hall of Fame in 2009.

March 2 — Anthony Ervin, a 1999 Hart High grad and Olympic gold medalist, breaks the Pac-10 record at Cal for the 50-meter freestyle.

March 15 — In a sign of just how tough Foothill League baseball was, Canyon’s Seddon, a future pro, picks up his third loss of the season, an 8-3 loss to Hart. Seddon played for the Tacoma Rainiers in 2009, a Triple-A affiliate of the Mariners. In the loss to Hart, he gives up hits to Miller, Curtis and Susdorf, who were all drafted by professional baseball teams. In 2004, Susdorf was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the sixth round and Miller was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 25th round. Curtis went on to play at Cal State Fullerton, where he was a member of the Titans team that won a College World Series in 2004. He was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 14th round in 2007. The Vikings were led by Kyle Wilson, who was drafted in the 25th round in 2005, and Jimmy Rohan, who signed with the Dodgers as an undrafted free agent in 2002. Susdorf is currently an assistant coach at Valencia.

April 5 — Buescher, The Master’s College’s National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics first-team All-American guard and National Christian College Athletic Association Player of the Year, attends a WNBA pre-draft camp held at Moody Bible Institute. Buescher went on to play nine seasons in the WNBA and recently retired after amassing 900 career points and 500 rebounds in 150 regular-season and nine playoff games.

April 9 — Hart baseball is ranked No. 1 in the CIF polls. The Indians (25-2, 14-1) would go on to clinch the Foothill League title and start 19-0 before Canyon handed them their only loss of the regular season. The Indians fell to Irvine in the second round of the CIF-SS Division II playoffs on May 27.

April 11 — The College of the Canyons baseball team carries on after suffering a tragic loss. Two days earlier, the team’s co-captain, Nolan LeMar, was struck and killed by a drunk driver in a head-on collision. LeMar was 19, and a Hart graduate who played on the school’s 1999 CIF-SS Division II championship baseball team.

May 12 — Canyon freshman Alisha Thompson takes part in the CIF-Southern Section Division II track and field prelims in the 100-meter high hurdles, the 300-meter hurdles and the high jump. She also participates in the 4x400 relay. At the time, Thompson already owned Foothill League records in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.9 seconds, and the 300 hurdles with a time of 46.8 seconds. She also set her school’s record earlier in the year with 14.7 seconds.

At the CIF-SS Division II swimming finals, Hart boys swimmer Mike Linn earns an All-America standing in the 50-meter freestyle with his second-place finish time of 20.93. Linn also finished second and earned the same consideration for the 100-meter freestyle and 200-meter freestyle. Hart boys’ 200-meter medley team also received All-America consideration for its third-place finish.

May 19 — Canyon has two first-place finishers at the CIF-Southern Section Division II Track and Field championships. Llamas takes first in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 9 minutes, 17 seconds. Freshman Alysia Johnson took home first in the 800 meters with a time of 2:12.9. Alisha Thompson was second in the 100 hurdles and fourth in the 300 hurdles.

May 24 — Valencia softball comes up one run short against Esperanza, losing 1-0 in the third round of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs. Vikings pitcher Tori Rocco leads her team from the circle, eventually finishing her career as the Vikings’ all-time wins leader with 49. Her teammates, Jaisa Creps and Ashley Herrera, both go on to play for UCLA.

May 27 — The Valencia boys volleyball team (29-4) ends its farthest run ever to date in the Division I Championship game against Long Beach Jordan, losing in four games. The Vikings are led by Tony Ker, who would go on to play at UCLA and win the NCAA Division I national championship there in 2006.

June 5 — The Tampa Bay Devil Rays draft Chris Seddon with the 139th pick of the 2001 MLB draft.

June 12 — Valencia softball catcher Lauren Watson and Rocco are named to the All-CIF Division I first team. Watson went on to play at Brigham Young University. Rocco was also named MVP of the Foothill League. Herrera was named to the second team, as was J.B. Holden, a junior catcher from Saugus.

June 13 — Valencia boys volleyball players Chris Haigh, a senior outside hitter, and Brian Edwards, a junior setter, are named to the All-CIF-Southern Section Division I first team. David Lauf was named to the third team.

June 28 — Hart junior Brian Edick shoots a 2-over 72, finishing second for the American Junior Golf Association title in Edmond, Okla. Edick also finished second at the CIF state championship.

Aug. 18 — Hart junior Chris Valaika is named the most outstanding second baseman in the World Youth Championships in Veracruz, Mexico. Valaika was playing for the 2001 USA Baseball Youth National Team at the time, which went undefeated in the summer tournament. Valaika would go on to be drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the third round of the 2006 MLB amateur draft.       

Sept. 1 — Valencia grad Manuel White makes his debut as a redshirt freshman on UCLA’s football team in the season opener against Alabama. Although White finishes the game with no yards, he would go on to rush for more than 1,500 yards as a Bruin before being drafted in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins. In 2008, White became a firefighter at Station 31 in Pasadena, after graduating from the Pasadena Fire Academy.

Sept. 8 — In his return to Canyon’s sidelines, Santa Clarita Valley football coaching legend Harry Welch drops the season opener 30-20 to Jurupa Valley in front of a capacity crowd at Canyon High.

Sept. 23 — Canyon boys’ cross country finishes third in the Race of Champions at the Great American Cross Country Festival. It is a race that invites the top 25 programs from all over the country, and Canyon finishes with 202 points, behind first-place Kingwood from Texas (162) and La Salle High from Cincinnati.

Sept. 28 — Leah Shelton, Valencia’s first female football player, kicks a game-winning field goal to give the Vikings a 17-14 win over Skyline High. Shelton went on to play soccer at the University of Pacific.

Oct. 20 — Hart football improves its Foothill League win streak to 50 games by beating Valencia 26-0. The loss was the first time the Vikings had been shut out in school history. The Viking would get another shot however, as the two schools would eventually meet to decide the CIF-SS Division III championship.

Canyon quarterback Nate Longshore, who would go on to play at Cal, leads the Cowboys in a 45-35 shootout win over Burbank.
Oct. 21 — Canyon boys cross country sets a course record at Mt. San Antonio College. Llamas leads the way for the Cowboys, who beat Thousands Oaks’ previous course record by two seconds with a team time of 77 minutes, 7 seconds. Llamas finishes second individually with a time of 14:55. His teammate Jameson Mora finishes four seconds behind for fourth overall in the race.

Oct. 31 — Saugus’ Julie Bolt helps her team clinch a share of the Foothill League girls volleyball title with a four-game win over Hart. Bolt would go on to play college volleyball at TMC. Bolt was later named Foothill League Player of the Year for helping her team to an appearance in the CIF quarterfinals.

Jennifer Parkes also helps lead the Hart girls golf team to a perfect 25-0 record in the Foothill League, running the team’s three-year winning streak to 75-0.

Nov. 9 — Hart football lays claim to its 11th straight Foothill League title with a 35-28 come-from-behind win over Saugus. Indians quarterback Matt Moore finds wide receiver Keith Howell on a post pattern with less than a minute remaining to earn the win.

Nov. 13 — COC women’s golf advances to the 2001 state championship with a first-place finish at La Purisma Golf Course in Lompoc for the Southern California Regional Championship. COC’s Susan Latch leads her team with a score of 121.

Nov. 14 — Saugus tennis player Yasaman Sakhakorn finishes the regular season 29-1 and takes home All-SCV Player of the Year honors as well as the Foothill League singles title. Hart’s Adam Davidson takes the honor for boys after finishing his regular season undefeated. Davidson would go on to play tennis professionally.

Nov. 20 — COC women’s golf wins the school’s first-ever state championship in a women’s sport at the Del Rio Golf Course in Modesto. The Cougars finish 52-0 on the year, which is the first undefeated season for men’s or women’s golf at the school.

TMC's men’s soccer team (20-3) sets a school record by winning 20 games in a season and wins the NCCAA title with 2-0 win over Mid-Continent College of Kentucky.  

Nov, 25 — Canyon cross country finishes its storybook season by taking the California State Division I Championship in Fresno. The Cowboys are ranked first in the state of California and second in the nation. The end-of-season rankings would put Canyon behind Kingwood, which had a slightly better showing than the Cowboys at the Race of Champions earlier in the year. Llamas, Canyon’s 2000 Male Athlete of the Year, finishes second despite a spill on the course with a time of 15 minutes, 44 seconds.

Nov. 30 — Stout defense and running back Charles Burnley helped Valencia beat Palmdale 13-0 to set up another all-local CIF championship game.

Dec. 1 – The College of the Canyons football team beats Saddleback College 35-32 at Cougar Stadium to win the 14th annual Western State Conference Bowl.

Hart football rolls over Mira Costa 35-6 to set up a rematch of the 1999 title game in the CIF championship.

Dec. 7 — Hart keeps its streak of victories over Valencia alive by winning the CIF-Southern Section Division III title 42-13 over the Vikings. It is also the Indians’ fourth straight CIF title. Hart quarterback Matt Moore completes 14-of-18 passes for 277 and four touchdowns and rushes for 115 yards and another score, as the UCLA-bound senior stars in front of more than 9,000 people at Cougar Stadium.

Dec. 15 — Hart’s Matt Moore is named the Foothill League Football Player of the Year, and his teammate Chris Frome is named Lineman of the Year. Moore currently starts at quarterback for the Carolina Panthers and Frome played briefly for the Chicago Bears in training camp.

Dec. 19 — College of the Canyons women’s head basketball coach Greg Herrick wins his 400th career game as a basketball coach, a run that includes several years at the high school level. The victory is a 74-59 win over Moorpark. Herrick won his 400th game at COC on Dec. 12, 2009.


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