What a year for local high school sports. Area teams not only won league and section titles, but regional and state championships as well. Individual athletes excelled, too – claiming crowns, setting records and dominating opponents – while a longtime coach stepped away from football.
Here are the Town Crier’s top 10 sports stories of 2010.
10. A small-team sensation. With only nine players, the Los Altos High girls water polo team went undefeated in winning the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division and reached the Central Coast Section semifinals. The Eagles (19-7 overall) “did a lot of swimming at the beginning of the year and that improved our endurance,” team captain and top scorer KK Sandlin said. “It’s really helped us.”
9. Last call. Retiring after 24 years as Mountain View High football coach and 35 years in coaching, Dan Navarro said, “It’s a good time to move on.” Navarro coached his last game Nov. 19 – the Spartans’ first CCS playoff game since 2006. Mountain View lost at top-seeded Wilcox to finish the season 8-3.
8. Making a splash. St. Francis High swimmer Maddy Schaefer set league, section and national marks as a junior last spring. At the West Catholic Athletic League finals, the Los Altos resident broke the meet records she set the year before in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races and anchored the Lancers’ record-setting 200 free relay team. She later set new meet standards in the 50 and 100 free races at the CCS finals, with her time in the former (22.24 seconds) a national record.
7. Dominating the division. The Los Altos High football team didn’t lose a game in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League El Camino Division (6-0) and made its first CCS playoff appearance in four seasons. “This has definitely been a great year,” said coach Bill Waggoner, whose team finished 8-1-1 overall after an opening-round loss at Sequoia. “We talked about going undefeated in league. … It’s something they can be proud of because it doesn’t happen very often.”
6. Soccer sweep. It was a win-win for St. Francis High soccer, as the boys and girls teams secured section titles in March. Mike Salvemini guided the boys to their first CCS crown in 17 years, and his son Nick scored the decisive goal in the 3-2 victory over Willow Glen. The St. Francis girls won their third CCS championship in eight years, blanking Woodside 2-0 behind goals from Lindsay Brownell and Claudia Haeussler, and a stellar performance by freshman goalie Jacquelyn Walker.
5. Running strong. Both Mountain View High cross-country teams advanced to last month’s state meet, with senior Parker Schuh leading the boys and junior Allison Sturges the girls. Schuh finished second in the state Division II race (15:12), earning redemption for what he considered a subpar second-place effort at the CCS meet. Sturges won Division II at CCS (personal-best 18:48) and placed 26th at state. Her team finished ninth at state, while the boys came in 14th.
4. A fantastic finish. A buzzer-beating shot by Patrick Crowley lifted the St. Francis High boys basketball team to a 48-47 win over Woodcreek in the Northern California Division II final last March. After snaring an offensive rebound, the 6-foot-5 senior used a pump fake to get his jumper over Woodcreek’s 6-11 center Mike Kurtz. The 7-foot shot hit nothing but net as time expired. “It’s one of those things you dream about,” Crowley said, “and I’m still having a hard time realizing it did happen.”
3. Perfect pitch. Seniors Kevin Goulette and Victoria Hayward pitched perfect games for Mountain View High’s baseball and softball teams, respectively, last spring. Goulette struck out 12 batters in his domination of Lynbrook and needed only 71 pitches to achieve perfection. Hayward’s effort against Wilcox is believed to be the first perfect game in school history – and she scored the winning run as well.
2. Queens of the court. Experience trumped size in the state Division V girls basketball final, as Pinewood School routed St. Anthony of Long Beach 62-44. “It helped that we had been there the year before,” said Panthers coach Doc Scheppler, who returned most of the players from a team that lost in the state final the previous March. “The girls played very poised.” Pinewood’s pressure defense gave the young Saints fits (20 turnovers) and helped contain their three 6-footers (11 total points). Three returnees paced the Panthers: Miranda Seto (17 points), Hailie Eackles (16) and Jenna McLoughlin (13).
1. A spike in performance. Unfazed by a first-set loss, the St. Francis High girls volleyball team won the next three to capture the Division II state championship earlier this month at the San Jose State Event Center. The top-seeded Lancers (35-5) never trailed Troy of Fullerton after the first game and won a record ninth state crown for their school. “I’ve watched this team over the course of the season come back from some amazing sets where they were down,” second-year coach Leahi Hall Leon said, “and I knew they could do it.” Junior setter Taylor Formico (52 assists, 17 digs and six kills) was named state tournament MVP. Two of her St. Francis teammates – senior outside hitter Savannah Paffen (16 kills) and junior middle blocker Taylor Deaton (14 kills, eight block assists) – were selected to the all-tourney team. Senior middle blocker Caroline Walters and sophomore right-side hitter Chloe Lott added 11 kills each, while senior libero Lacy Coquillard notched 26 digs in the final.