Palisadians Get Ready to Run
Saint John’s CEO Marcel Loh Is the Official Starter for Saturday’s Morning’s Race
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Palisadians will get up early, lace up their running shoes and dress up in red, white and blue on Saturday morning for the 38th annual Palisades-Will Rogers 5/10K Run, which starts and ends at the entrance to the Palisades Recreation Center.
One of the community’s oldest annual events, the race kicks off a patriotic day which continues with the Fourth of July Parade down Sunset Boulevard in the afternoon and a fireworks show at Palisades High in the evening.
Chosen as the official starters to fire the gun for this year’s race are Providence Saint John’s Health Center Chief Executive Marcel Loh and his wife Jane.
Saint John’s Health Center is once again the title sponsor of the event and all proceeds benefit Optimist Club youth charities. Huntington residents show up in droves to run or cheer their neighbors on. The 5/10K run begins at 8:15 a.m. sharp and the half-mile Kids’ Fun Run follows at 9:15.
As part of its effort to continually improve the experience for all participants, the race committee has improved the 5K course, eliminating the congestion that can occur at the intersection of Sunset and Drummond Street and adding 427 feet to the route, making it an official 5K (3.1 miles).
The start and finish lines and mile splits for miles 1, 2, and 3, will be in the same locations as in previous years, but the separation of 5K and 10K runners will now occur on northbound Toyopa (5K keeping to the left, 10K keeping right), just prior to making the right turn onto Drummond. Red traffic cones will be placed where required to maintain the separation of the 5/10K races.
Three years ago, the 10K course was re-measured and approximately 500 feet were added to make it an officially certified course by USA Track & Field.
Registered runners can pick up their race packets today and tomorrow from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Bentons The Sport Shop (1038 Swarthmore Avenue).
Last year’s race drew 2,429 registered runners. Among them was Palisadian Andrew Bland, a former track standout at Loyola High who now runs cross country at UC Berkeley. He won the 5K for the second time in 15:48, finishing 15 seconds ahead of 2000 winner Jeff Tomlinson from Santa Monica. Renee Delphin-Rodriguez, also from Santa Monica, won the women’s 5K in 19:57. Tony Okello of Los Angeles won the men’s 10K in 31:19 and Melinda DiNapoli of Saratoga clocked 40:30 to place first in the women’s 10K.
Race winners will be invited to ride in the parade in the afternoon. Numerous athletes have participated in the race over the years, including Olympic gold medalists Mark Spitz (swimming) and Carl Lewis (track and field), five-time boxing world champion Sugar Ray Leonard, kickboxing champion Baxter Humby and current Honorary Mayor Jake Steinfeld.
Curt Toppel Leads USA to Bronze in Beach Volleyball
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
It must have felt like old times for Curt Toppel last weekend.
After retiring from professional indoor volleyball two years ago, the Palisadian proved he can also perform at a high level on the sand, pairing with fellow American Mark Burik to earn the bronze medal Sunday at the Punta Cana Beach Volleyball Tournament in the Dominican Republic.
Cuba’s Karell Piña and Daisel Quesada defeated Canada’s Garrett May and Daniel Dearing in the gold medal match to cap the second stop on the 2015 NORCECA Circuit. In the semifinals, Piña and Quesada lost the opening set to Toppel and Burik before rallying to win, 16-21, 21-15, 15-7.
Toppel and Burik rebounded to win the third-place match, against Honduras’ Mercuri Miller and Wilfredo Vega.
Since embarking on his new career in marketing and product development, the 6’ 9” Toppel has continued to play beach volleyball as a hobby and after winning several FIBVA events he qualified to represent the United States on the NORCECA circuit.
Now 34, Toppel was a standout at Loyola High and went on to become a three-time All-American at Stanford. He led the country as a freshman in kills per game and was third as a sophomore and fifth as a junior. Despite playing only three seasons for the Cardinal, he made five of the school’s career top 10 charts.
In 2001 he played on the USA’s World University Games squad that won a gold medal in Beijing, China and in the summer of 2002 he trained with the U.S. National Team.
Toppel, who grew up in Marquez Knolls and went to St. Matthew’s, played indoors in Puerto Rico, Spain, Germany, Italy, Korea, Greece and Qatar. His Loyola teammates included Palisadians John Selgrath, John Beckwith and Jordan Wadsworth.
Jon Moscot Likely Out for Season
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jon Moscot is expected to miss the rest of the Major League Baseball season after dislocating his left shoulder while tagging Detroit Tigers outfielder Anthony Gose in the first inning in only his third MLB start June 15.
Moscot was having a promising rookie season with a 1-1 record and 4.63 earned run average.
“Surgery was a success!,” Moscot tweeted June 19. “Let’s do this Rehab. I’m ready to get back to normal.”
Moscot was an All-Western League and All-City selection at Palisades High.
Badminton Bunch Still Going Strong
Some sports truly become lifelong pursuits and for the last 15 years that has been the case for an enthusiastic group of senior badminton players who meet in the large gym at the Palisades Recreation Center every Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to noon for a few friendly games, camaraderie and laughs.
The club’s leader is former P.E. teacher Barbara Vatcher, who sets up the teams, trying to balance abilities to make the sides competitive. Her son Jim was a baseball player at Palisades High and played three seasons in the major leagues.
The local “Badminton Bunch” has been going strong since 2001.
Pali High Golfer Ray Yang Qualifies for Junior Tourney
Palisades High sophomore golfer Ray Yang isn’t resting on his laurels after leading the Dolphins to their third straight City Section title in May.
Yang shot an even par 72 at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage to qualify for the AJGA ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior.
Yang, who resides in Playa del Rey, was 1-under on the front nine and 1-over on the back. Three golfers tied for medalist honors at 4-under par.
At last week’s ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior, Yang carded a three-round total of 242 (82-81-79) to finish 44th in the Boys Division.
Yang eagled the par 5 second hole in the first round and birdied the par 4 15th hole in the first and second rounds.
Devin Hua of Barrigada, Guam won by two strokes with a low score of 210.
Athlete of the Week
Jack won his third consecutive USTA Open singles title last weekend, outlasting Nathan Tam, 1-6, 6-1, 10-5, in the U10 finals of the Beverly Hills Tennis Club Tournament. He previously won the West Coast Junior Open and South Bay Tennis Club tournaments. Jack, who will be going into fifth grade at PS1 in the fall, also plays AYSO soccer in Region 69. He trains at the Palisades Tennis Center and is a member of the PTC’s U10 Waves team that just won Sectionals. To nominate your favorite Palisadian for Athlete of the Week, email firstname.lastname@example.org
PPBA All-Stars Win Riverside Tourney
The Pacific Palisades Baseball Association’s 12U All-Star team is off to a fast start this summer. Comprised entirely of 12-year-olds, the squad won The Natural championship at Big League Dreams in Riverside last weekend to improve to 14-2 since tournament play started at the end of May.
Coached by Joe Collins, Josh Morrow and Dan Johnson, the 12U squad edged Wilson MVP, 7-6, in the final game Sunday. Griffin Milner pitched three innings in relief, getting a strikeout and two groundouts to end the game.
Trailing 6-5, Palisades opened the top of the sixth with singles by Jack Hassett and Charlie Collins. Cooper Morrow grounded into a fielder’s choice to give Palisades runners on first and third with one out. Lane Johnson grounded to second base to score Hassett with the tying run, then Morrow scored the winning run on a single to right by Chris Stimming.
Palisades opened the tournament Friday against Riverside Mayhem and pounded out 12 hits in an 11-4 victory.
On Saturday, Palisades posted 9-3 and 11-3 wins against the Surf City Bolts to advance to the championship game. Ryan Kennedy had three strikeouts in four innings in the first game while Jake Moore had three RBIs in the second game.
Rounding out the 12U All-Stars are Will Lawrence, Joe Grode, Gil Cohen, Matt Closson, Alec Morrison, Cooper Robinson and Connor Colao.
On June 21, Palisades’ 10U All-Stars went 5-0-1 to win the Los Alamitos Invitational, edging East Long Beach, 8-7, in an exciting championship game.
Jack Richman went 7-for-8 at the plate with five RBIs and four walks in the tournament. Julian Milner hit a key RBI single in the final contest.
Palisades was clinging to a one-run lead with one out and a runner on third in the top of the sixth inning when relief pitcher Finn Johnson fielded a bunt and threw to Jake Grossman at first base. Grossman alertly fired to catcher Caden Abraham, who tagged out the East Long Beach runner at home to complete the game-ending double play.
Kerr Pilots Warriors to NBA Title
Palisades High Alumnus Leads Bay Area Franchise to First League Championship in 40 Years
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor & NOAH FRIEDMAN | Intern
When interviewed on the court moments after his team clinched the National Basketball Association championship last Tuesday night, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr paid homage to his mentors first. No one who knows him should be the least bit surprised, for his inate ability to apply what he has learned from others has enabled him to reach the top of his chosen profession.
The Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 105-97, in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to secure their first title in 40 years, making Kerr the league’s first rookie head coach to win the title since Pat Riley did so with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1982.
“I’m thinking of Lute Olson,” said Kerr, giving credit to the coach he played for from 1983-88 at the University of Arizona. “I’m thinking of Phil Jackson, Lenny Wilkens, Gregg Popovich. I’ve been blessed to play for the greatest coaches ever, I’ve learned a ton from them and they’ve all helped me get here.”
Next, Kerr credited his players for a historic season in which Golden State won 67 of 82 regular-season games and went 16-5 in the playoffs.
“If you’re going to win a championship, you have to have guys willing to sacrifice,” he said. “This is about the players. The pressure was on them and they responded. Top to bottom they embraced their roles and because of that they’ll always be remembered.”
Kerr grew up in Pacific Palisades and played baseball and basketball at Palisades High, graduating in 1983. He signed a five-year, $25-million contract with the Warriors last May and became the first rookie head coach in NBA history to win 19 of his first 21 games. The record was extended to 21 wins in 23 games and in April he established a new league mark for wins by a rookie coach with his 63rd in a 123-110 victory at Dallas.
“Winner” is the word that best describes the Palisadian’s career.
Although he didn’t lead Pali High to the City championship under longtime coach Jerry Marvin, Kerr’s competitive spirit shined through, according to James Paleno, who served as an assistant to Marvin one year before Kerr headed to Arizona.
“I tell you what, he’s quite a competitor,” said Paleno, who took over the program from Marvin in 1992. “You get him in a game [and] he’s going to want to win.”
Kerr, now 49, went on to play 15 seasons in the NBA, winning five rings (three with the Chicago Bulls under Jackson and two more with the Spurs under Popovich). He was known for his outside shooting and retired after the 2003 season as the league’s all-time leader in three-point shooting percentage for a season (.524 in 1994–95) and career (.454).
He inherited a Warriors team that had won 51 games the season before and molded it into a champion. Yes, they were loaded with talent, led by “Splash Brothers” Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, but he took them to the next level and seemingly knew all the right buttons to push to motivate his players. With Golden State trailing two games to one in the finals, Kerr went to a smaller lineup and the Warriors swept the next three games to win the series.
“There’s been all this talk about the 3-point shot and can you win shooting it,” Kerr said. “There’s a lot of different styles that can work. You have to base it on your own personnel. But I think what was probably overlooked all year long was that what really wins is the combination of great offense and great defense. We had the No. 1 defense in the league, we had the highest scoring team in the league and we were No. 1 in assists. When you get that combination, you’re going to be good.”
Kerr enjoyed his childhood in the Palisades, where he lived with his parents, Ann and Malcolm, and his three siblings, Andrew, John, and Susan.
“I created a little mischief when I was little,” he admitted. “On the Fourth of July, my friends and I would climb on top of the House of Lee [now the Pearl Dragon] on Sunset and when the OomPaPa band came by, we’d yell down random names—’Hey Bob!’ or ‘Hey John!’ and they’d look up at us. We did other stuff that kids do when they’re 13 or 14 that I no longer can talk about.”
After stints in the Phoenix Suns organization as an executive and a prominent voice on “The NBA on TNT,” Kerr made the transition to coaching, something that had eluded his already high-profile resumé. One season into his tenure he found himself in the middle of a celebration all too familiar to him.
In 2013, the Pali High boys team was on its way to face rival Westchester in the City Section semifinals. Little did the players know that Paleno, who would resign after that season, had invited a guest speaker to deliver an inspiring message before the team boarded the bus.
“It was a surreal experience being in front of a five-time NBA champ, not to mention a former Dolphin,” said Zane Zeder, a three-year varsity player. “He has a vast knowledge of the game and being Michael Jordan’s point guard probably didn’t hurt him either.”
In November 2013, Kerr was a guest speaker at the Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce. He was back in his hometown eight months later as grand marshal in the Fourth of July Parade.
Despite his success, however, Kerr has never forgotten his roots.
“I went to John Wooden basketball camp and played for a legendary high school coach in Los Angeles,” he said after accepting the Golden State job. That “legendary” coach was Marvin, who retired in 1991 after 30 seasons at Palisades.
“The only bad coach Steve had was me,” Marvin joked in an interview with Warriors TV in October. Marvin became an instrumental part of Kerr’s rise to stardom, helping him transition into a full-time starter for his junior and senior seasons.
Kerr went on to play under Olson at Arizona, leading the Wildcats to the Final Four in 1987. His stock rose enough for Phoenix to draft him 50th overall in the 1988 draft. He played for three teams in his first five seasons before joining Chicago in 1993. His defining moment was making the game-winning jumper for the Bulls in Game 6 of the 1997 Finals against Utah.
Kerr’s first coaching title was every bit as satisfying as the five he won as a player.
“We were fortunate in a lot of ways this year,” he said, humble as always. “We were healthy and we had a lot of luck on our side.”
Unity was Key for Pony Baseball Squad
Baseball is supposed to be fun and that’s why Coach Todd Kupfer was pleased with the season his Pacific Palisades Baseball Association Pony Division team had.
The squad of 13 and 14 year olds was comprised of pitchers Conrad Smith, Dominick Masi, Will Coquillard, Jack Hassett and Luca Ciarlo, infielders Russell Cohen, Aidan Clark, Timothy Ellis, Cameron Bendetti and Tucker Kupfer, outfielders Jordan Galef, Riley Scott and Cole Frangipane and catchers Cutler Clifford and Thad Collins.
Playing in the Cheviot Hills Pony Association against teams from Santa Monica and the South Bay, Palisades posted a 4-11-2 regular-season record, then lost to Redondo 5-3 in the first round of the playoffs.
“There were many highlights this season but one that stands out was winning a Friday night home game against a tough opponent in South Bay Manhattan Beach,” Coach Kupfer recalled. “We came from behind to prevail despite a steady rain in the fourth and fifth innings.”
Another highlight was an 18-2 rout of the Dodgers on March 13, also at the Palisades Recreation Center’s Field of Dreams.
“The team had great unity, sense of purpose and camaraderie, but some injuries to the pitching staff limited our success,” Kupfer added. “All of the players contributed to the effort. I have never been part of a team that laughed so much and greatly enjoyed every practice and game as this team did. It was a group of fine young athletes and a testament to good parenting.”
ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Brendan Gardner
In the PPBA Mustang Division championship game, Brendan pitched the last three innings and hit a home run, a double and the walk-off single in the Red Sox’ 13-12 victory. A straight A student entering fifth grade at Corpus Christi School, he batted .637 with four home runs this season and also plays on the PPBA’s U10 All-Star team, which won the Los Alamitos Tournament on Sunday. Brendan was also a member of the Palisades Tennis Center’s USTA U10 Intermediate Flight team, which made it to sectionals. To nominate your favorite Palisadian for Athlete of the Week, email email@example.com.