The Long Beach City College athletic program earned a No. 12 ranking in California for the 2016-17 athletic year in which the Vikings won five conference championships, an individual state championship and had 21 players sign to continue their careers at an NCAA Division I school.
Each year, the California Community College Athletic Association ranks its programs using their state playoff finishes, and the Vikings used two state championship runner-ups (men’s water polo and women’s sand volleyball) and a state semifinalist (men’s volleyball) to earn its highest finish in the standings since the 2008-09 year.
“I’m very happy with our outcomes this year,” athletic director Randy Totorp said.
Perhaps the most important — and certainly the highest-profile — event of the season came well before the first game of the year. In June 2015, Totorp hired Misty May-Treanor to take over the women’s volleyball team and the women’s sand volleyball program, which would be in its initial year at LBCC.
“You hire the best person in the sport to start your brand new program,” Totorp said. “That’s just one of those things that’s going to go down forever.”
The three-time gold medalist and Long Beach State alumni didn’t disappoint in her first year as a head coach, leading the indoor team to a second-place conference finish, second-round playoff appearance and No. 12 ranking in the state after having been 10 games under .500 last season.
In its inaugural season, the beach team was third in its conference and earned a runner-up finish at the state meet, and the tandem of sophomores Sarah Miller and Paige Panter won the individual state championship, dropping just one set over their five-match run to the title.
While May-Treanor began laying the groundwork to bring the women’s volleyball programs to prominence, the Vikings continued to reap the benefits of hiring Brett Peabody to lead the football program five years ago.
Peabody’s team won their second consecutive co-conference championship, finishing the season 9-2, including a 38-31 win over then-top ranked Riverside on Nov. 5 and a 47-41 win over Bakersfield in the Western State Bowl, the team’s third straight year with a bowl victory.
Seventeen players signed to play football at four-year colleges, including 10 at the Division I level and six to power-five conference schools.
“(Peabody) is transferring athletes out after one year,” Totorp said. “So if you’re a young student-athlete looking to make it in football at the NCAA level, we have become one of the more prominent, viable options.”
Totorp, who took over as AD before the 2015-16 year, said his department balances its focus between success on and off the field, in addition to transferring players to four-year schools.
That mindset is why, despite a 7-19 record in 2016-17, Totorp didn’t view the Vikings’ men’s basketball season as too much of a disappointment. Despite being in a rebuilding year, guard Breamon Richard and forward Matt Arrivas committed to Long Beach State and San Francisco State, respectively.
For the second year in a row, the baseball team won a conference championship and had an MLB draft pick sign to begin their professional career. The Tampa Bay Rays drafted outfielder Vincent Byrd II, who had committed to Cal State Bakersfield, in the 14th round of this month’s draft.
Men’s water polo went 22-7 overall and, for the second year in a row, undefeated in conference play. The Vikings fell one game short of repeating as state champions, losing the title game 15-8 to rival Golden West, who handed LBCC five of their seven losses.
Women’s water polo and men’s volleyball also went undefeated in conference to win back-to-back conference crowns. The women’s water polo team’s season ended with a loss to Riverside in the Southern California championship game, while El Camino swept the Vikings’ men’s volleyball squad in the state semifinals.
All but three programs (men’s basketball and men’s and women’s soccer) reached the playoffs in 2016-17.
“I’m happy with our continued improvement,” Totorp said. “We continue to transfer student athletes at a very good rate and to some big colleges. We had a number of teams advance through the CCCAA playoffs and we participate in a lot of youth and community outreach.”
“I’m seeing us deliver on all three of those, so I’m very happy with the direction of the program,” he added.