As the year comes to a close, we take a look back at 2016 and some of our favorite memories of the last 12 months.
16: Olympics Announcement
It’s a long ways off, but a real thrill this year was the announcement that if Los Angeles gets the 2024 Olympics, Long Beach will host six sports, making LB an Olympic city for the third time. The shoreline would host an Olympic park that would include facilities for water polo, handball, BMX biking, open water swimming, the triathlon, and sailing. It would be the biggest Olympic presence yet.
15: Wilson’s Ali Morallos Finishes On Top
With few goals left to achieve this season, the three-time Moore League individual champion Ali Morallos wanted to set the Wilson school scoring average record. The senior fished with a 36.2 nine-hole average which ties her with Brianna Do who set the record in 2007.
“Over the last four years I’ve learned so much from the choices I’ve made on and off the course,” Morallos said. “This season I wanted that scoring average record because that’s how consistent you have to be (in college) and I want to be ready to help my team next year.”
Morallos is committed to attend the University of Illinois because she wanted to play somewhere with inclement weather to learn, “how to play with three layers of clothes on,” she said.
14: LBSU Track and Field Finds Four
The Long Beach men’s track and field team won its fourth consecutive Big West title accumulating 176 points in front of the home crowd at the newly renovated Jack Rose Track. Senior Willie Alexander scored a school record, 42 points and placed first in the triple jump, to help bring home the title. For his efforts he was named Athlete of the Meet and capped off an incredible LBSU career winning Men’s Field Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive season. Head coach Andy Sythe has won five Big West championships in six seasons.
13: Jordan Boys’ Soccer Reaches CIF Final
On their way back to the CIF-SS championship for the first time since 1995, the Panthers found redemption against Rancho Verde in the semifinal in front of a huge home crowd. Jordan defeated Rancho Verde, 2-1, by playing the style that kept them in the Moore League title hunt all season. Senior star Nick Vasquez earned a 10th minute penalty that junior Gerardo Rodriguez converted to give Jordan the early lead. An own goal from Rancho Verde proved to be the difference.
"It's validation for how hard this team works and all of the things we have to overcome," Larios said. "I think we've grown up a lot since last year and that showed tonight."
Jordan lost a heartbreaker in overtime to Sunny Hills in the CIF Final.
12: LBCC Football Back on Top
The Long Beach City College football team fell just short of the state playoffs, finishing fifth in RPI, but won its second straight National-Central Division title. The Vikings defeated Bakersfield in the 2016 Western State Bowl to finish 9-2. LBCC’s most impressive win came at home against No. 1 Riverside in overtime. Down 31-24 in the fourth quarter, quarterback Jake Maier marched the Vikings down the field for the game-tying touchdown. Another touchdown pass in OT sealed the win for the Vikings. Maier was named National-Central Offensive Player of the Year, throwing for 3,689 yards and 38 touchdowns.
11: Century Club Celebration
The 28th annual Long Beach Century Club Middle School All-City awards banquet was the biggest yet, with over 750 attendees. Rogers won the Division 1 overall sports award with boys and girls results for the second consecutive season. Newcomb took home the Division 2 title, its first since 2009. Hughes (Division 1) and Tincher (Division 2) took home the title for best girls’ program. Hughes won its seventh consecutive Division 1 All-City girls’ basketball championship. Rogers and Lindsey (Division 2) won the overall championship for best boys’ program. It was Lindey’s first overall program award, led by an All-City championship in boys’ soccer.
10: Ariana Washington Wins More Hardware
A year after she was sidelined with injury, Long Beach Poly alum Ariana Washington made history at the NCAA championship. Only one freshman had ever won the national title in the 100, and none had ever done it in the 200—she won both, becoming the second ever double winner in NCAA history. She ran a 10.96 in the 100 and a 22.21 in the 200, earning her way onto the US Olympic Team, as well.
9: LBCC Volleyball Makes History
The biggest news story of the year was the announcement that three-time Olympic gold medalist Misty May-Treanor had been hired as the new director of volleyball at Long Beach City College. But May-Treanor didn’t let the headlines end there, as she took LBCC to within a win of their first conference title in 16 years, and to the postseason for the first time in more than a decade. The Vikings went from 7-17 to 18-4 under May-Treanor and her staff in their first season.
8: Saints Wins Basketball CIF Title
A magical year for St. Anthony began in March, when the Saints girls’ basketball team claimed the CIF-SS Division 4A championship over Cantwell Sacred Heart, 56-40.
“It’s a pretty amazing feeling,” said Saints head coach James Anderson, who coached the school’s first two champions in 2010 and 2011. “This is a small school, championships aren’t expected. We’ve built this program from the ground up.”
7: Moore League Volleyball is Back
The Moore League girls’ volleyball scene is officially back in full force, after Lakewood and Poly proved they’re among two of the best teams in California. The Lancers made a deep run in the CIF-SS and CIF State playoffs, while the Jackrabbits made it into the CIF State Open Division Tournament, where they ultimately fell to the nation’s top player, Texas signee Lexi Sun. Both teams return a ton of talent for what should be an entertaining 2017.
6: Wavy Waterfront
It was a busy year for waterfront sports in Downtown Long Beach, as the Toyota Grand Prix, Dew Tour, and World Series of Beach Volleyball were all hosted off of Shoreline Drive. Simon Pagenaud won the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in one of the fastest and cleanest races in its 42-year history. Alfonso Ribeiro won the 40th and final Pro/Celebrity race. The Dew Tour skate competition, located in the parking lot just outside the Long Beach Convention Center, played host to 18 of the world’s best skateboarders. Ryan Sheckler, one of the most well known skaters of the bunch, brought home the individual title. After winning bronze at the 2016 Olympic games in Rio, the duo of Keri Walsh-Jennings and April Ross won the gold medal at the WSOBV Long Beach Grand Slam in front of 6,000 fans at Alamitos Beach.
5: Brazilian Blowout
It wasn’t the nonstop Long Beach party that Beijing and London were, but the city left its mark on the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Most notably, Long Beach Wilson product Tony Azevedo appeared in his fifth Olympics for the US men’s water polo team, a new record. Azevedo was once again the best player on the team, something that’s been true for him since his first appearance, back in 2000 when he was just a teenager.
4: Saints Volleyball Wins CIF
Stop number two for the St. Anthony tour of dominance in 2016 was Cerritos College, where the Saints claimed their first CIF volleyball championship since 1988. St. Anthony was better than Riverside Notre Dame in all facets of the game, winning 20-25, 26-24, 25-20, 25-23.
“This is proof that if you really want something and you work as hard as you can for it, you can achieve anything,” said Saints coach Alicia Lemau’u.
3: Wilson Boys’ Golf Wins CIF
Sophomore Tyler Schafer’s hole out for eagle in the Moore League Individual Tournament was just the tip of the iceberg for the Bruins. Wilson (20-3) won the CIF Southern Section Southern Division team championship in May with a score of 347 (13-under) at Mile Square Golf Course in Fountain Valley. Hunter Epson, Andrew Fernandes and Andre Calubid paced the Bruins with matching rounds of 3-under-par 69. Two weeks later at the CIF State Finals at the San Gabriel Country Club, Wilson took third as a team at the state finals with a team score of 371, trailing only Torrey Pines (358) and Westlake (360). Schafer earned an all-state medal finishing in fourth place with a one-under par round of 70. The Bruins finished 20-3 overall and 10-0 in the Moore League for their 38th league title. Wilson hasn't lost a league match since 2004, which is 136 consecutive victories.
2: Dirtbags Return To NCAA Regionals
The Dirtbags (38-22) showed off their patented sticktoitivness in their return to the NCAA Regional round for the first time since 2014 after their most winningest season under sixth-year head coach Troy Buckley. Despite pushing the host Miami Hurricanes to the brink in two games at the Coral Gables Regional, the Dirtbags had their season ended with two losses to No. 3 overall seed. Phenomenal pitching continued to be the strong hold for LBSU as Chris Mathewson, Darren McCaughan and Tanner Brown all came through with quality starts. In these three games the starters were 2-0, working 21.1 innings with a 1.69 ERA, allowing 11 hits and six walks with 16 strikeouts.
McCaughan was named Big West Pitcher of the Year after a breakout sophomore season, and shortstop Garrett Hampson was Big West Defensive Player of the Year in his final season with the Dirtbags.
1: St. Anthony Football Wins CIF
The Saints (13-3) had their most successful season in school history. After finishing the regular season as undefeated Santa Fe League champions, St. Anthony edged Gahr in an epic 24-21 first round CIF-SS playoff win thanks to a last minute field goal. After dominating their next two postseason opponents, the Saints went to Aquinas High and pulled out a 33-32 win in the Division 10 championship game to win the schools first title since 1948.
“It’s awesome that these guys think the way they think,” St. Anthony coach Mario Morales said. “They set their goals high and they did it. These kids are unbelievable.”
St. Anthony also won their CIF Southern California Regional game at Veterans Memorial Stadium, but fell in overtime of the State 4-A championship game on a controversial 2-point conversion.