Another year has come and gone.
How did it go by so fast?
Before the music fades and dancing ceases, now is as good a time as any to reflect on the great sports moments in Acorn country . . . at least those we can squeeze like lightly smoked sardines into a top-10 tin can.
Narrowing this list down is excruciating business. We don’t want to leave anyone out, so before we roll out the red carpet, we must tip our cap to those who just missed the cut.
Westlake High’s boys’ volleyball team sent head coach Doug Magorien out with a fitting gift in his last season at the helm: a Marmonte League title. Magorien led the Warriors to a CIF-Southern Section title in 2009.
Westlake’s girls’ volleyball team, led by head coach Ernest Rittenhouse, and the Warrior girls’ soccer squad, with head coach Frank Marino at the helm, won Marmonte titles.
Jimmie Sherfy, the pride of Newbury Park, made his Major League Baseball debut this year. He didn’t give up a single run in 11 regular season appearances with the Arizona Diamondbacks, picking up two wins, one save, nine strikeouts and two walks in 10 2/3 innings. He appeared in two postseason games in the National League Division Series against the Dodgers.
Riley Battin, a senior forward for Oak Park’s boys’ basketball team, became Ventura County’s all-time points leader a few weeks ago. Riley will play at the University of Utah next year.
Calabasas’ wrestling team captured its first Marmonte title since 2001. Marius Male, a foreign exchange student from Norway, became the first wrestler in school history to qualify for the state meet.
The Oaks Christian boys’ water polo team, powered by star Jake Ehrhardt, battled Mater Dei to a 13-9 loss in the CIF-SS Division 1 championship finale.
Viewpoint swimmers Mick Leonard, Jake Jepson, Vincent Finello and his twin brother, Thomas Finello, seized first place in the boys’ 200-yard medley relay at the CIF-SS Division 3 meet in a school record 1:35.48.
And Connie Flanderka, who started the Westlake girls’ tennis team when the school opened its doors, stepped down after leading the Warriors for 39 years. She led the Westlake girls to 601 victories and CIF championships in 1974, 1984, 1990 and 1991 during her glorious reign as head coach.
On with the show:
We will never see anyone like Tara Davis again.
Davis completed her dominant track and field prep career at Agoura with three gold medals in the long jump (a state record 22 feet, 1 inch), 100-meter hurdles (12.83 seconds) and triple jump (42-11.75) at the state meet. Long Beach Poly barely edged Davis for the team title, 31-30. She also took second place in state in 2016 by herself.
The Charger is now a freshman at the University of Georgia.
LIONS ROAR ONCE AGAIN
The star quarterback skipped town. A superstar receiver bolted for allegedly greener pastures.
None of it mattered.
Oaks Christian’s football team, with a defense revitalized by defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, one of the best players in the U.S., defeated Valencia 20-19 for the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 title. The Lions, who started playing varsity football in 2001, have won eight section championships.
SHOCK THE WORLD
Thousand Oaks’ girls’ basketball team didn’t win league.
The Lancers, who were 5-5 in the Marmonte and under .500 overall, needed a coin flip just to qualify for the postseason, but then something amazing happened.
Thousand Oaks went on one of the most remarkable and unlikely playoff runs we’ve ever seen, culminating with a 62-52 win against Glendora for the CIF-SS Division 3AA championship at the Honda Center. March madness exceeded the hype, thanks to the Lancers.
A CROWN FOR THE KINGSMEN
Cal Lutheran’s baseball team captured the first NCAA Division III title in school history by toppling Washington & Jefferson in a best-of-three series in Appleton, Wis. Cal Lutheran was a World Series runner-up in 1992 and 1996.
“This national championship is for all those guys that came before us and all those guys that bled the purple and gold,” head coach Marty Slimak said.
Claire Liu is on top of the tennis world. The 17-year-old Conejo Valley native won the Wimbledon junior singles crown with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 win against Ann Li. Liu, a Century Academy High senior, is the first American girl to win Wimbledon since Chanda Rubin in 1992.
SUPER BOWL SOIREE
Kevin Graf, an Agoura grad, reached Super Bowl 51 as an offensive lineman with the Atlanta Falcons.
The New England Patriots erased a 25-point deficit to defeat the Falcons 34-28 in overtime in the big game.
Viewpoint’s girls’ soccer team captured the CIF-SS Division 5 title without a single Division I college player on the roster, although star forward Sophia Stills could go toe-to-toe with any fullback. The Patriots defeated Crean Lutheran 2-0 for the championship plaque.
get in THE CUP
Oaks Christian’s boys’ golf squad won the first CIF title in program history.
The Lions captured CIF-Southern Section Northern Team Divisional and Marmonte League crowns in a memorable spring on the links.
Locals won enough individual CIF-SS track and field titles to fill the USS Iowa, but there are too many to name in this space.
On the team side, Westlake girls won the Division 2 crown, a first in program history.
Oaks Christian’s boys and girls took home Division 4 trophies.
SPECIAL SEASON FOR COYOTES
Calabasas’ boys’ volleyball team enjoyed its best season ever.
The Coyotes reached the CIF-SS Division 2 finale, falling to Notre Dame in four sets. Calabasas won a single-season school record 28 matches.