More State Schools of the Year

Members of the San Diego Torrey Pines boys lacrosse team (left), which was unbeaten vs. California schools, walk out toward the field carrying the U.S. flag. At right is victorious CIF Open Division state champion girls volleyball coach Bret Almazan-Cezar of San Jose Archbishop Mitty. Photos: TPLAX.com & Twitter.com.


Torrey Pines adds top honors for boys sports to impressive athletics resume from recent years while for the girls Archbishop Mitty’s dominance in two sports (basketball and volleyball) once again makes it too tough for any other school in California to match. Other schools earning overall state sports excellence honors for 2017-18 include St. Francis of Mountain View (D2), Corona del Mar of Newport Beach (D3), Foothill Tech of Ventura (D4) and University of San Francisco (D5). Go inside for writeups of those schools and for every other school that is appearing on our Top 10 ticker at the top of our home page.

For announcement of overall State School of the Year, CLICK HERE.

For honorable mention State Schools of the Year, CLICK HERE.

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Congratulations to the following schools for collecting a statewide all-sports honor for the 2017-18 school year:
(Please note that for our criteria we are going to favor schools that have been in our state rankings for football, boys basketball, girls basketball, baseball & softball plus schools that have won CIF state titles or have placed high in CIF state meets)

Boys Sports Only:
Torrey Pines (San Diego)

A regular contender for the last few years for State School of the Year, including top finishes overall for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years, the Falcons have been judged first for boys sports this time but third overall behind Mater Dei of Santa Ana and Buchanan of Clovis.

Springtime was again important for Torrey Pines as the boys golf team won the CIF state title and the baseball team won the CIF San Diego Section Open Division crown and ended 29-6 with a final No. 3 state ranking. Caiden Fioroni carded a round of 69 to spark the golf team triumph, but was closely followed by teammates Andy Xu (71) and Jackson Rivera (71). Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year Joe Magrisi was the catalyst for the baseball team with a 12-0 pitching record, a 54-plus scoreless inning streak and eight homers.

Also in the spring Torrey Pines had one of the nation’s best in boys lacrosse. The Falcons were unbeaten against California teams and lost their only match to Darien of Connecticut and beat a lot of East Coast squads. Other boys teams at Torrey Pines that were outstanding were in basketball (28-4 final record and top seed for SD Section Open Division), soccer (won CIF D2 SoCal championship) and boys tennis (SoCal regional playoffs).

The girls teams weren’t looked at obviously to determine the boys only honor, but they were for overall accomplishments. The Falcons made it to the CIF SoCal Open Division final in girls volleyball where they lost to Mater Dei of Santa Ana. They also were in the semifinals of SoCal D1 in girls tennis and went 22-2 in girls lacrosse.

Girls Sports Only:
Archbishop Mitty (San Jose)

Make it five selections for this statewide category in the last six years for the Monarchs, which in our opinion always need to be called the nation’s all-time best school for girls sports.

Yes, we think claiming a national championship in girls basketball is bogus because the team didn’t win the CIF Open Division state title, but regardless the team was clearly one of the best in the nation. Led by Gatorade State Player of the Year Haley Jones, Mitty went 29-1 with its only loss coming in triple-overtime in the NorCal Open final to a Pinewood of Los Altos Hills squad that the Monarchs beat earlier in the season. They also won the Nike TOC title in Arizona over a national field and Jones will be one of the nation’s top recruits next season.

The girls basketball No. 2 final state ranking (and the mythical national title) combined with the girls volleyball team to once again make the Monarchs hard to beat on the California girls side with two teams of that stature. Head coach Bret Almazan-Cezar’s squad went into the CIF Open Division state final as defending champion but underdogs to Mater Dei of Santa Ana since the match was held in Orange County and Mater Dei had an earlier win. Mitty repeated despite those factors and ended up with two first team all-staters in Kamrin Caoili and Nicole Liddle. It was Liddle who had 17 kills in the state final.

But those two sports weren’t the only Mitty girls teams to shine. The girls soccer team went to the NorCal D1 final, the softball team went to the CCS Open Division final and there were two All-Americans in diving.

Members of the CIF Division 2 state champion boys cross country team from St. Francis of Mountain View gather with state title trophy. Photo: sfathletics.com

Division II State School of Year:
St. Francis (Mountain View)

While the Mitty girls were once again doing their thing, we have a different school from the West Catholic Athletic League ranked higher with boys and girls combined. And St. Francis of Mountain View also has some history winning these honors. The Lancers were the overall State School of the Year for 1982-83 but we didn’t have divisions in those years. They also were the D2 State School of the Year three times in a row beginning in 1999-2000 and continuing for 2000-2001 and 2001-02.

St. Francis got its year going in the fall by winning CIF state titles in boys cross country and football. In boys cross country, Shyam Kumar’s third-place showing helped St. Francis win the CIF D2 state title at Woodward Park in Fresno. That was followed up two weeks later when head coach Greg Calcagno’s football team topped Brethren Christian of Simi for the CIF D2A state crown.

There were several other high-placing teams in the state from St. Francis as well. The boys golf team was fourth at the state tournament, the girls swimming team was third at the CIF D2 state meet, the girls tennis team was second in Northern California while the boys water polo team was first in the CIF NorCal D2 playoffs.

In the spring, the Lancers enjoyed the diamond. They rode the pitching of junior standout Jordan Schuring to win their first CCS Open Division title and also won the CCS Division II crown in baseball.

Division III:
Corona del Mar (Newport Beach)

This division has tended to have been dominated in recent years by Cathedral Catholic of San Diego and Campolindo of Moraga. For 2017-18, however, Corona del Mar returns to the top. The Sea Kings were D3 School of the Year twice in the 2000s and were the overall State School of the Year for 1988-89.

Leading the year for CdM would be winning titles in the highest division in the CIF Southern California playoffs in girls tennis and boys volleyball. We haven’t gone through the state, but probably the Sea Kings would be State Team of the Year in both sports. Head coach Jamie Gresh’s girls ended a 22-0 season with a 4-3 win over Arcadia in the CIF SoCal D1 final. Danielle Willson was later named as the Orange County Player of the Year. In boys vball, head coach Steve Conti and leading player Kevin “The Skywalker” Cobrine led Corona del Mar to the CIF SoCal D1 title. The Sea Kings also won the CIF Southern Section D1 crown and in recent years it hasn’t always been easy for a team to win both.

Corona del Mar also went 20-7 in baseball with a high D2 final state ranking, went 11-2 in football with an appearance in the CIFSS D4 semifinals, finished 10th in its division at the CIF girls cross country finals, ranked as one of the state’s best in girls volleyball and reached the CIF SoCal D2 semifinals in girls water polo.

Division IV:
Foothill Tech (Ventura)

This is a first-ever statewide all-sports honor for this school, which has been more known for academics since it opened in 2000 as a magnet school.

Four years ago, a big step in the athletic department was starting a cross country program and bringing in legendary head coach Ken Reeves to run it. He previously won 14 CIF state titles when he was at Nordhoff of Ojai. In 2016, the Dragons swept the boys and girls state titles in Division IV in cross country and last fall they were first in D4 in the girls and third in the boys.

Adding to the cross country haul was success in other sports. On the hardwood, Foothill Tech’s girls went 25-7, made it to the CIFSS D4AA championship and to the CIF SoCal D4 semifinals. The boys basketball team went 20-9 and was in the CIFSS D5AA semifinals. The Dragons also were in the CIF SoCal D4 semifinals in girls volleyball.

Division V:
University (San Francisco)

Competitive equity seeding has pushed up the Red Devils (enrollment just above 400) into higher divisions in some CIF regional playoffs, but they remain D5 for school of the year consideration and this time they are the winners.

Athletic director James Ketcham described 2017-18 as “the best in the history of University High School.” That’s a strong statement because we’ve picked University in this category before.

Like Foothill Tech in D4, doing the 1-2 in cross country in the fall got the Red Devils out to a strong start. In their case, they were D5 state champs for the boys and runner-up for the girls.

University also reached the NorCal D3 championship in boys soccer (losing to a school of 2,000 students) and went to the NorCal semifinals in D3 boys basketball (loss was to eventual state champ Pleasant Valley of Chico) and in D5 girls basketball (loss was to eventual NorCal champ Lowell of San Francisco).

In addition to that, University won CIF North Coast Section titles in girls volleyball (D5), boys tennis (D2) and girls track (Class A meet).

(Note: If we were doing a top 10 ranking for schools of year, Mater Dei would be first, Buchanan of Clovis second, Torrey Pines third and St. Francis fourth. Writeups of Mater Dei, Torrey Pines and St. Francis already have been done. Writeups for No. 6 Mitty and No. 9 Corona del Mar also have been provided earlier. Here below would be Buchanan plus the rest of the schools from No. 5 to No. 10.)

Anthony Montalvo earned his second individual CIF state title in helping Buchanan of Clovis win its third straight state team title at this year’s state finals in Bakersfield. Photo: @BuchananEmpire / Twitter.com.

2. Buchanan (Clovis)

For the second straight year, the Bears were great but just couldn’t quite match the overall accomplishments of the overall winner. Last year it was Cathedral Catholic of San Diego while this year it was Mater Dei.

According to athletic director James Gambrell, Buchanan teams placed either first or second in 70 percent of the Division I competitions within the CIF Central Section. That’s a lot of depth, but there also were teams from Buchanan that were at the top or near the top of the state.

Wrestling produced the biggest headlines as the Bears won their third straight CIF state overall team title. They had two individual champions — Anthony Montalvo at 184 pounds (his second title in a row) and Maximo Renteria at 113.

Buchanan also finished second in the CIF Division I girls cross country state finals. Meagan Lowe paced that squad and capped her season by also finishing second in that race.

Two other Bears’ team were third in CIF NorCal D1 regional playoffs. The first came in the fall in boys water polo. The second came in the spring in boys volleyball.

Also counting toward Buchanan’s haul of eight section titles were teams in boys cross country, girls soccer, girls track and badminton.

5. Santa Margarita (Rancho SM)

In the final year of retiring athletic director Richard Schaaf, the Eagles won two CIF state titles and were among the best in the state in several other sports.

The first CIF state crown came in December as Ms. Volleyball State Player of the Year Devon Chang led Santa Margarita to the CIF Division I state title. The second came in May as strength in the relays enabled the Eagles to roll to the CIF D1 state title in girls swimming. Three swimmers were both the 400 free relay and 200 free relay — Anicka Delgado, Mackenzie Degn and Samantha Shelton — which in addition to winning races also set state records. Santa Margarita topped the D1 field in that meet with 266.5 point and won by more than 100 points over second-place Monte Vista of Danville.

The school’s next best finish was in boys water polo as it was runner-up in the CIF SoCal D2 playoffs. The Eagles also made noise in girls soccer, boys basketball and football.

7. De La Salle (Concord)

The Spartans didn’t have any No. 1 finishes in the state this year and didn’t win any CIF state titles, but were near the top in several sports.

In the spring, head coach David Jeans’ heavy-hitting lineup of baseball players produced a third straight section title, a 28-4 final record and No. 2 final state ranking. The Spartans also were fifth at the CIF boys golf state tourney and won the NorCal crown.

In the fall, De La Salle played in its 13th straight CIF state football final, but lost to Mater Dei of Santa Ana. The team still went 11-2 and was No. 3 in the final state rankings. The Spartans also were 11th in boys cross country (D2), 15th in wrestling (no divisions in those team standings) and were in the NorCal D1 soccer quarterfinals.

8. Great Oak (Temecula)

With the way the Wolf Pack can win CIF titles or place high in the four sports of boys cross country, girls cross country, boys track and girls track, we expect them to add enough success in other sports someday to be the School of the Year. That didn’t happen for 2017-18 but we have to mention them as among the best in the state once again for winning two CIF state team titles. This year, that again happened in D1 boys and girls cross country. Great Oak also added a second-place finish in final team standings at the CIF state track meet.

10. Campolindo (Moraga)

A CIF D3 state title in girls cross country was the highlight of another solid and borderline spectacular year for the Cougars. Head coach Chuck Woolridge’s girls won their title with the highest individual placing coming from Jenna Miles, who was 12th. Campo also was fifth in D3 boys cross country, won a section title and played in a NorCal CIF football bowl game, reached the NorCal semifinals in D1 boys water polo, reached the semifinals in NorCal D2 boys basketball, enjoyed the exploits of all-state Haley Van Dyke (60-point game) in girls hoops and wound up fifth in the state in boys golf.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports


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