1 Glendale High boys’ water polo — After finishing runner-up in the CIF Southern Section Division V championship tournament in 2012, the Nitros more than made up for the bitter loss by capturing the division championship a season later. It came with the Nitros spending virtually the entire season as the top-ranked team in the division, winning a third straight undefeated league championship before capturing the program’s first CIF crown and the school’s first since 1989.
Under the direction of fifth-year coach Forest Holbrook, the power of goal scorer Arman Momdzhyan and a physical defense, the Nitros appeared to be on the same page when the season began. Glendale would go on to finish 22-6, 8-0 in league.
Glendale turned back all challengers in the postseason. The top-seeded Nitros capped their championship journey with a 13-11 win against second-seeded Los Altos at the William J. Woollett Jr. Aquatic Center in Irvine. Suddenly, the heartache had vanished and the Nitros could celebrate with their fans on the pool deck.
“It was just a very special team,” said Holbrook, who resigned in the spring to become an assistant principal at Crescenta Valley. “All those months ago since winning it and very little excitement has left.
“There’s a banner in front of the school and a lot of pride in the community. There’s a huge bond created from winning a championship and it’s something none of us will ever forget.”
Momdzhyan was named the All-Area Boys’ Water Polo Player of the Year and All-CIF Division V Player of the Year after finishing with an area-best 169 goals. Also contributing for the Nitros were Artak Arzumanyan, Manuk Piloyan and Harut Bankikyan, all of whom earned All-Area and All-CIF accolades.
2 St. Francis High football — It turned out to be a memorable season for the Golden Knights. St. Francis finished third in the rugged Mission League behind state powerhouses Gardena Serra and Chaminade. St. Francis went 10-3, 3-2 in league before reaching the CIF Southern Section Western Division semifinals. It marked the first time since 2005 that the Golden Knights had reached the semifinals.
Plenty went right for St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds and his players. Playing a daunting schedule, they began the season 8-0 before losing to Serra and Chaminade. However, the Golden Knights rebounded in the postseason, knocking off league champions Culver City on the road and fourth-seeded Camarillo at home before falling to Serra.
Senior quarterback Ty Gangi flourished throughout the season en route to being named the All-Area Football Player of the Year and receiving all-league and All-CIF recognition. In his only season as a varsity starter, Gangi passed for 2,882 yards and 25 touchdowns. He rushed for 421 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Also contributing fine seasons were running back Joe Mudie (1,350 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns), wide receiver Dylan Crawford (993 yards receiving), tight end John Carroll (694 receiving yards), offensive linemen Trevor Provencio and Joe Loubier and linebackers Ricky Urzua and Michael Weber.
Bonds won his 100th game since taking over the program in 2000.
3 Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy swimming — Expectations continued to soar for the Tologs leading into the season. Flintridge Sacred Heart didn’t disappoint, winning the Mission League championship for the third season in a row and it’s core of talented athletes picking up a handful of individual league titles. The Tologs would go on to finish sixth in the CIF Southern Section Division I final under coach Steve Bergen.
Kirsten Vose, the All-Area Female Swimmer of the Year for the second straight season, led the attack for Flintridge Sacred Heart.
The Tologs won all 12 races at the league finals. Vose won league championships in the 200-yard individual medley, the 100 freestyle in a meet record 50.63 seconds and helped the Tologs take the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay events.
At the Division I finals, Vose teamed up with Katie Altmayer, Kate Herrill and Christina Campbell to win the 200 medley relay in 1 minute 44.38 seconds. The quartet placed second in the 200 freestyle relay (1:34.78). Vose took second in the 200 individual medley (2:00.85) and fifth in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.51).
In addition, the Tologs had a pair of automatic All-American relays — Vose, Altmayer, Campbell and Herrill — in the 200 medley (1:44.38) and 200 free (1:34.78). Vose would go on to secure automatic All-American status in the 100 free (50.63), 200 free (1:49.14), 100 breast (1:02.30) and 200 IM (2:00.85).
4 Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy volleyball — Entering the season, Flintridge Sacred Heart Coach Ernest Banaag had an inkling the Tologs had the capability of showing marked improvement. Banaag proved to be correct after the Tologs split the Mission League championship with rival Harvard-Westlake before advancing to the CIF Southern Section Division I-A playoffs. The Tologs went 26-5, 9-1 in league and advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 2007 before losing in four games to defending champion La Salle.
Flintridge Sacred Heart also turned back Harvard-Westlake for the first time in 15 matches and won league for the first time since 2006.
Flintridge Sacred Heart featured a fantastic blend of talent that included Sophia Coffey, Emily Develle, Kayla Lund and Katie Conley. Coffey finished with 911 assists, 221 digs, 62 kills and 41 aces to be named the All-Area Girls’ Volleyball Player of the Year. Conley had 226 kills, Develle collected 509 digs and Lund had 348 kills. Conley, Lund and Develle earned All-Area first-team recognition. Banaag was named the All-Area Girls’ Volleyball Coach of the Year.
5 St. Francis basketball — After reaching the quarterfinals the previous season, the Golden Knights went a lot farther in 2014. St. Francis had a historic season, culminating in it reaching the CIF Southern Section Division III-A championship game before marching to the second round of the state tournament. St. Francis participated in the state playoffs for the first time in the program’s history.
Under co-coaches Ray O’Brien and Jeff Stephens, the Golden Knights finished 20-13, 4-8 in league to tie for fifth place. They defeated Chaminade, which would go on to win a state championship, in a league game. St. Francis earned the second seed in the division playoffs, rallying to topple neighborhood rival La Cañada before falling in the final minute to fourth-seeded Oak Park in the championship game.
St. Francis had plenty of standout players, including Kyle Leufroy, Michael Allen and Evan Crawford. Leufroy and Crawford earned all-league and All-CIF honors. Leufroy averaged 20.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and four assists per game and was named the All-Area Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year.
O’Brien and Stephens were named the All-Area Boys’ Basketball Coaches of the Year.
6 Crescenta Valley baseball — With a relatively young team in place, the Falcons, under coach Phil Torres, marched to their third Pacific League championship in a row. The Falcons finished 21-8-1, 12-1-1 in league before reaching the CIF Southern Section Division II quarterfinals.
Crescenta Valley won its first postseason game since 2009 and reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 2007.
The Falcons had plenty of players who enjoyed excellent seasons. Among them was junior pitcher Brian Gadsby, as the All-Area Baseball Player of the Year finished 9-2 with two saves and an amazing 0.82 earned run average and 0.79 walks/hits per inning pitched. In 93 2/3 innings, the right-hander struck out 104 and walked 21.
Michael Russo provided a lot of pop in the Falcons’ lineup, batting .383 average (36 for 94) with 20 runs, five home runs and two triples. He drove in 20 runs and registered seven doubles, seven stolen bases and 14 walks for a .468 on-base percentage.
7 Crescenta Valley girls’ water polo — The Falcons didn’t repeat as CIF Southern Section Division V champions. However, Crescenta Valley went 24-7, 8-0 in the Pacific League before advancing to the semifinals behind a strong core of players that included Elissa Arnold, Ashley Taylor, Audrey Taylor, Lynley Fernandez, Ani Aghakanian and Natalie Krebsbach. All of them picked up All-CIF honors.
Arnold, who will attend the University of Michigan in the fall, was tabbed as the All-Area Girls’ Water Polo Player of the Year. She finished with 92 goals and was named the league’s player of the year.
Crescenta Valley Coach Brent Danna stepped down following two successful seasons.
8 Crescenta Valley boys’ swimming — Crescenta Valley won the Pacific League championship and finished seventh in the CIF Southern Section Division II final. Edward Yi paced the Falcons in the league finals, winning championships in the 200-yard freestyle in 1 minute 43.71 seconds and the 100 butterfly in 51.72.
Other key athletes for the Falcons included Hyun Sung Kim, Eric Park, Ryan Moguel and Eddie Gallegugh.
9 Crescenta Valley boys’ cross-country — The Falcons enjoyed a breakthrough season. Crescenta Valley wrapped up a season that included the program’s first state meet appearance since 2007 by finishing 11th overall with 290 points.
The Falcons had taken fifth at the CIF-Southern Section Division I meet before placing 11th in state action. Gabe Collison led the Falcons in his final race, clocking 15 minutes 44 seconds to place 21st.
The Falcons took second in the Pacific League and finished 11th in the Mount San Antonio College Division I and II Sweepstakes.
10 Flintridge Prep boys’ cross-country — The Rebels had quite a season, which included winning their first CIF Southern Section Division V championship since 2004 and the program’s first individual state meet crown. In addition, Flintridge Prep won its 21st Prep League crown in the past 22 seasons.
Alan Yoho paved the way while earning the All-Area Cross-Country Male Athlete of the Year. Yoho finished first in the Division V final in 15 minutes 10 seconds and teammate Jack Van Scoter was second (15:19). In the state meet, Yoho finished first in 15:11.
Follow Charles Rich on Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich .