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CHS 2016 sports programs marked by highs and lows

Far and away the biggest sports story from 2016 has to be cross country’s dual State CIF victories, combined with an individual state title for senior Owen Bishop.

The cross-country program had been getting stronger for the past few years, but really came together under the tutelage of Coach Bill Reeves, who is in his second year.

To say this was an amazing accomplishment would be putting it mildly—last year, the Pack got dual fourth-place finishes, one spot from a podium appearance. But this year, the girls dominated with just 59 seconds between the fastest and slowest scoring runners. The boys, on the other hand, just squeaked by second-place Loyola, helped largely by Bishop’s victory. “First place is the fewest points I can score for the team,” Bishop said following the meet.

Claremont’s dominance was apparent all year, sweeping the Palomares League meets and the CIF prelims and culminating in a CIF Southern Section Division II victory for the girls, a first for the program. Senior Annie Boos led the way all season and was the top finisher for the Pack at both the CIF Southern Section meet and the state meet.

Football had a rather unspectacular 3-7 record in 2016, and would not have ranked as a top story except for the sudden termination of Coach Jose “Coco” Jarin on December 12.

Coach Jarin was in his second year and had made great efforts to improve the team, including taking on a tougher schedule this year to make his players stronger.

The school has not released a statement about the firing, aside from the letter that was sent to parents announcing the action. However, there has been some controversy involving the football boosters. Mr. Jarin was told that a group of parents and some kids were not happy, but also said his meeting with Principal Brett O’Connor was “vague.”

Girls volleyball has had its share of turmoil with five coaches in five years, one of whom quit on the eve of the CIF tournament. Not to be deterred this year,  under the guidance of Coach Dan Reighter the girls claimed a Palomares League title and made it all the way to the semifinals of the Southern Section CIF Tournament. That accomplishment qualified them for the CIF State Girls Volleyball Championships, where they made it to the second round.

Girls golf had its finest season ever, sending all six varsity players to the Palomares League Finals. They ended the season tied for third, which is an accomplishment in the very competitive Palomares League. With just three varsity players graduating and three returning, Coach Octavio Hernandez is optimistic the Pack will be strong again next year.

The success of the Pack’s distance runners, of course, spilled over to victories in track and field. Boos broke her own school record in the 1600-meter race during the CIF Southern Section Division II finals at Cerritos College. Her third-place finish at 4:54:65 also guaranteed her a berth in the CIF Masters event at Cerritos College. Also qualifying for masters was Ryan Renken, who placed second in the 3200-meter race at 9:15:37.

For the first time since 2013, CHS track and field competed in the state championships, sending three athletes to the elite competition.

Sophomore Cameron Kading brought home a first-place trophy in the Paralympic 100-meter sprint, which was a very proud moment for his coach, Veronica Amarasekara. It was the first time that the state meet has included Paralympic events, so it was particularly rewarding to get a first place.

Annie Boos ran her second and third fastest times during the 1600-meter event, good for seventh place. Ryan Renken got 13th place in a very fast 3200-meter race. Both Renken and Boos will have one more shot at the state meet in 2017.

In addition to the distance runners, multi-sport phenom Duy Tran Sampson won both the 100-meter and the 200-meter race in the Palomares League finals, cementing his berth in the CIF tournament.

It was the end of an era for boys tennis when Andrew Leahy graduated from CHS last year. Along with his brother Alan, the Leahys had dominated the local tennis scene for the better part of a decade.

The Pack had a strong year, finishing 8-2 with both losses to number-one Diamond Bar. Andrew Leahy lost to his top rival Neil Tengbumroong from Diamond Bar 7-6, 6-2 in the championship game of the Palomares League finals. He earned the runner up title and a berth to the individual CIF championships at the University of Redlands. 

Soccer has been a strong program, with both the boys and girls winning CIF titles in the past few years, the girls in 2012 and the boys in 2011.

Girls soccer had a good year, placing second in league, but lost on penalty kicks in the second round of the CIF tournament to San Luis Obispo. The boys tied for the league title with Diamond Bar as a result of both teams winning on the other’s turf, and were also eliminated in the second round of the CIF tournament.

Boys water polo were CIF champions two years ago and were defending league champions going into the 2016 season. However, this year Ayala proved to be too much for the Pack and they had to settle for second place. The boys went to the second round of the CIF tournament where they lost to Oaks Christian.

Bottom line, it was a pretty good year for Claremont High School with a lot to look forward to in 2017.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com