Congratulations are in order this week, as several local athletes throughout the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys--from the professionals right down to the high schoolers--achieved major milestones or received league honors.
Let's start with the Glendale Fighting Club's mixed martial arts superstar Ronda Rousey, who made history last month when she became the first female fighter to sign with the UFC. This past Saturday, the league officially announced that Rousey's octagon debut will take place on Feb. 23 in Anaheim against Liz Carmouche at UFC 157.
According to Josh Gross, MMA columnist for ESPN.com, the UFC had delayed adding women to its ranks because of concerns over the depth of the talent pool. "Rousey's rising stardom," writes Gross, "had a significant impact on the way [UFC President Dana] White viewed the potential for female fighters in the UFC."
John Huh proved that Rousey isn't Glendale's only rising star. The 22-year-old golfer and Crescenta Valley High School alum was named the PGA Tour's Rookie of the Year on Tuesday. Huh won one event and participated in two more this year, the British Open and PGA Tour Championship, becoming the youngest player to qualify for the latter event since Sergio Garcia in 2001.
The Caltech women's basketball team has reason to celebrate too, as the Beavers snapped a 55-game losing streak on Wednesday dating back to Feb. 18, 2010 by defeating Bethesda Christian, 65-54. Two years is a long time to go without winning a game, but the Caltech women still had a long way to go to catch the men, who ended a 310-game conference losing streak spanning 26 years in 2011.
Bell-Jeff basketball might be a high school team, but the young squad shined a professional arena. The Guards defeated San Gabriel Academy, 64-51, at the Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, stepping onto the same floor as decades worth of NBA greats.
Finally, we'd like to recognize just a few of the local stars who received end-of-the-year league honors this week:
Breeana Koemans (Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy) was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America High School All America Team.
Joshua Muema-Washington (Muir) was named the Pacific League's Player of the Year for quarterbacking the Mustangs to a league championship after an 0-3 start.
Arman Momdzhyan (Glendale High School) was named the Pacific League's Most Valuable Player for his 136 goals for the Nitros' water polo team.
Four Flintridge Prep water polo players were recognized by the Prep League--Brian Kihn and Ethan Vandeventer (first team) and Diego Delgado and Carlo Sivilotti (second team)--for their contributions to the Rebels' unexpected CIF Southern Section Division V playoff run.
Two La Canada High School volleyball players--Micaela Anderson and Kendall Walbrecht--were named the Rio Hondo League's co-Most Valuable Players.