As the new year arrives on our doorstep in three days, the year of our lord two thousand and sixteen — with its wildly intemperate campaign oratory, its fake news and hacked websites — will, with a bit of luck and time, quickly fade into vague and distant memories.
But here in Cambria, real news was the 2016 emphasis, as Coast Union’s talented student athletes turned in memorable performances. Indeed, today, and as the years pass, the sporting accomplishments of 2016 will serve as a continuing source of pride for parents, players, coaches and the community.
Not only did the seven varsity Broncos — five juniors and two sophomores — dominate the Coast Valley League (10-0), they won a thrilling CIF Division 5A home playoff game against the AGBU Spartans, 45-42.
Moreover, knowing he had academically bright student athletes, coach Tim May submitted his players’ grades (the Broncos’ collective grade-point average was 3.86) to the CIF Southern Section Ford Academic Awards committee.
As a result, Coast Union’s team was named “Academic Champion” in the 5A CIF Division.
“We should give honor and praise to the parents,” May said. Effective parental involvement “is the number one indicator for academic success. And the fact that a banner will be hung for years to come” will bring a sense of pride to the school for years to come, May explained.
The Lady Broncos ended up in second place in the Coast Valley League with an 8-2 record and were humbled by Calvary Murrieta in their CIF 5A first-round playoff game. But that could not diminish the great season by several players.
Senior Reagan Kniffen was named Coast Union MVP and made the All-Coast Valley League first team. Senior Rima Panchel made the All-CVL first team, and senior Ashley Martinez earned All-CVL second-team honors. Sophomore Meg Stern received honorable mention from the CVL and was named “most improved” by Coast Union coach Bobby Youngs.
Youngs gave junior Emily McAvoy the Coach’s Award, and the team received the Coast Valley League Sportsmanship Award.
The Broncos didn’t have a stellar season, but they did launch their season by topping two teams that are among their traditionally toughest opponents — Mission Prep, with a 7-2 victory, and Templeton, which they beat 2-1. They came close to besting Atascadero before falling 1-0 and tied Morro Bay 1-1.
Coach Luis Plasencia named his senior goalie Roberto Quintero as MVP; midfielder sophomore Danny Pena received the Coach’s Award; and senior Gerardo Garcia was named Defensive MVP.
Like the boys soccer team, the Lady Broncos are not part of the CVL, so their schedule includes matches against schools in tougher leagues.
The girls were led by their junior goalie Cynthia Cadena, who received the MVP award from coach Jack Mettier. The Coach’s Award went to Ailyn Casas; Karina Mendoza won the MVP for Defense award, while Martha Gomez Mora earned the MVP for Offense award from Mettier.
The seniors could look back with pride on a 37-0 record in CVL play during four sparkling undefeated. The 2016 Lady Broncos went 10-0 in league play, led by senior lefty hurler Ellie Magnuson, who earned Coast Union’s MVP as well as the Most Valuable Player award in the CVL.
Magnuson was also honored by the CIF: she was named to the All-CIF Southern Section Division 7 first team, the only Coast Union player to make that list. She was also named to the Tribune’s All-County First Team in softball, a rare honor for a Coast Union player.
Softball coach Rocky Fordyce named sophomore Ani Corbet Defensive Player of the Year, and senior Maddie May earned the Offensive Player of the Year award. Senior Reagan Kniffen received the Coach’s Award and was also named to the All-CVL first team. Corbet and May were also named to the All-CVL first team.
Senior Ashley Martinez earned the Kim Kinney Award (given to the player who most inspires teammates) from Fordyce and, along with sophomore Alyssa Drew, was named to the All-CVL second team. The team won its first playoff game against Orangewood Academy but was defeated by Faith Baptist, 13-1 in its second playoff game.
Senior slugger Lane Sutherland was the overwhelming choice for MVP of the Coast Union baseball team; he was also MVP of the CVL and a member of the Tribune All-County second team. Sutherland had a team-leading.455 batting average; he also led the team with 23 runs scored, 30 hits, a .507 on-base percentage and a .606 slugging percentage. He also swiped 16 bases and used his rocket arm to nail several runners attempting to steal.
The baseball team, under the leadership of coach Brian Machado, hasn’t lost a CVL game since 2012 and has a 43-3 record over the past five years. Machado’s ace pitcher, sophomore Chase Volz, was the only Bronco named to the All-CIF South Section Division 7 second team.
Volz made the All-CVL first team after compiling a 6-3 record with an ERA of 1.12 while striking out 47 batters in 56 innings. Sophomores Edgar Nunez and Riley Kennedy also made the All-CVL first team; sophomore Will Stephenson and junior Jack MacKinnon earned All-CVL second team honors; junior Auggie Johnson was given honorable mention. Machado gave Volz the Coach’s Award; Nunez received the Most Improved award.
The Broncos won their first CIF Division 7 playoff game, topping Santa Clarita Valley, 12-0, but lost a heartbreaker to Santa Clarita Christian, 7-5.
The most outstanding boys tennis player to come along in many years was Alexis Mireles, who compiled a singles record of 66-10 in his junior and senior years. He was offered opportunities in the CIF postseason playoffs during both his junior and senior years at Coast Union. Coach Tom Coxwell named Mireles team MVP; Omar Alarcon won the Coach’s Award, and Eric Hollingsead received the Most Improved award.
The 2016 girls tennis team made “huge leaps in both skill and strategy improvements,” Coxwell reported. The team’s top seed, senior Michelle Campos, won the MVP award from Coxwell. Jazmine Kelleher earned the Coach’s Award; Lindy Ortiz was given the High Point Award; Annika Marthaler was named Most Consistent, and Savannah Lyon was Most Improved.
Coach Thom Holt’s Broncos struggled mightily in their first five games in 2016. In fairness, Holt was working with players who were not familiar with football, and with players that came out when the season was already underway.
That said, one of the biggest thrills for the Broncos — and their fans — was the game against Valley Christian Academy at Coast Union on Oct.14. At the end of the game, when the Broncos had secured a 25-14 win (their first win of the season), dozens of fans streamed out of the stands onto the field and celebrated with the team.
Coast Valley League awards for offense went to senior Warren Smith (first team); freshman Emany Plasencia (second team); and sophomore Riley Kennedy (second team). freshman Spencer Magnuson was given honorable mention status.
CVL awards for defense: Smith (first team); and Kennedy (first team). Eddie Camacho, a junior, earned honorable mention.
Members of the Coast Union cross country squad wore “DG” initials on their uniforms, in honor of their teammate Dante Garcia, who died tragically in a swimming accident July 29 at Nacimiento Lake.
“Dante was an exceptional athlete … an ideal teammate,” said cross country coach Ayen Johnson. “He had a tremendous work ethic and drive and was selfless.”
The coaches — Johnson and Jim Hurley — named Paul Butterfield as the MVP. Other awards: Cesar Hernandez was Most Improved; Karina Mendoza and David May each earned the Coach’s Award.
Senior Gigi Stoothoff continued her excellence as a high school volleyball star in 2016, earning MVP from the CVL, and MVP of the Coast Union Lady Broncos. She also made the Tribune All-County second team in volleyball. Coach Pam Kenyon said Stoothoff is “a tremendously good player, a great leader, an excellent setter and a very hard hitter.”
Also winning CVL awards were senior Ahtzir Mora and sophomore Ailyn Casas (All-CVL first team). Sophomore Karis Lawson made All-CVL second team, and sophomore Haley Zinn was noted with an honorable Mention award. Kenyon was named CVL Coach of the Year.
What a year it was for the real Cambria news — and what a joy it was to report Bronco student athletes’ achievements.