Dolphins Rule in the Pool
Pali High Boys Win Third Straight City Swim Title and Girls Claim Sixth in a Row at East LA College
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
The winner was no longer in doubt by the time Palisades High’s boys 400 freestyle took the pool for the final event of last Friday’s City Section swim championships at East Los Angeles College.
The Dolphins’ foursome of Kian Brouwer, Zach Senator, Hunter Loncar and Roy Yoo, however, swam as if the title was at stake, adding an exclamation point to perhaps the most impressive performance in City finals history by clocking 3:09.66 to break a 31-year-old meet record.
“We weren’t aware of it but I could hear the crowd,” Yoo said after beating the record of 3:10.87 set by El Camino Real in 1984.
It was the last of four City finals marks Palisades set as the boys racked up 600 points for their third straight title and the girls accumulated 591 points to claim their sixth in a row and ninth in 10 years. With most of the team returning next season the Dolphins’ dynasty could continue.
Palisades’ girls 400 freestyle relay of Leah Timmerman, Gillian Caverly, Dora Seggelke and Mardell Ramirez swam 3:34.97, establishing a new meet record.
“We knew we were close and we all needed to drop one second to do it,” said Ramirez, a senior whose personal-best 52.4 split was the perfect swan song. “I’m happy we won [City] every year and winning my last race is icing on the cake. What I’m most proud of is that I can talk to anyone on this team – we’re all so close.”
Ramirez won the 100 freestyle in 53.17, took second in the 100 backstroke and swam the first leg of the winning 200 medley relay.
Timmerman won the 100 breaststroke in 1:08.29 and Caverly, only a freshman, won the 200 freestyle (1:54.02) and 500 freestyle (5:00.57). Nell El Souri won the 50 freestyle in 25.59.
Palisades’ boys 200 freestyle relay won in 1:28.76, just off the meet record and in one of the most exciting races of the meet Senator (4:38.50) pulled away on the final lap to beat Loncar (4:42.39) in the 500 freestyle.
Yoo, a freshman, won the 100 freestyle (47.58) and 50 freestyle (21.70). Brouwer won the boys 100 butterfly in 50.35 seconds and the 200 freestyle in 1:41.10.
The boys 200 medley relay started the meet in style, clocking 1:37.42 to break the meet record.
“On the platform waiting I looked up and knew I had to go all-out to do it,” said Kian Lotfi, who swam the anchor leg. Kian [Brouwer] had a great leg to take some of the pressure off my shoulders and it was a huge sigh of relief when I looked at the clock.
“This is the fastest we’ve ever been,” Pali High head coach Maggie Nance said. “To be as deep as we are in every event, to set so many records as we did and to send so many people to state… we stepped up to the challenge.”
Junior Michael Cutidioc won the 100 backstroke in 51.94, breaking the City finals record of 52.44 he set last year.
“In my first race [the 200 medley relay] I didn’t feel so great, but for the 100 backstroke I focused on the details,” Cutidioc said. “On that last lap my legs were really on fire and I haven’t felt that in awhile so I knew I was going fast.”
Two days earlier, Dolphins senior Avery Botansky picked up 17 points by finishing second in the girls diving finals with a score of 355.95 and qualifying for the state meet. In the boys competition, Kenny Saab placed third with a point total of 284.50.
“We’ve all been working so hard for this and it’s a great way to end,” said Pali High senior captain Rachel Martin, who clocked her best time in the 100 backstroke. “Everyone was yelling ‘P-House!’ on that last relay. We’re all so supportive of each other and for me, the best thing is seeing my teammates cheer for me when I touch the wall.”
Palisades will compete in the first-ever CIF state swim championships Friday and Saturday in Fresno.
Pali High Softball Players Named to All-League Squad
The Palisades High varsity softball team wasn’t selected for the City Section Division I playoffs, but it is well represented on the All-Western League team.
Making the first team are sophomore pitcher Paulette Ely, freshman utility Calia Hunter and senior utility Monika Swanson.
Making the All-League second team for Palisades were junior outfielder Daisy Jones, sophomore third baseman and captain Jaylene Navarro and freshman catcher/infielder Sasha Vanley.
Catcher/pitcher Kira Wessels of Venice was voted Most Valuable Player and Victoria Rigosa, also of Venice, was named Pitcher of the Year.
Lacrosse Teams Fall in Finals
Pali High’s 71-Game City Winning Streak Ends in 9-4 Loss to Birmingham
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
The season didn’t end quite as expected for the Palisades High boys lacrosse team. The Dolphins entered Saturday’s City Section championship game as heavy favorites, but all that did was make visiting Birmingham more determined to succeed where it previously failed.
Palisades (18-5) had never lost to a City opponent – a 71-game winning streak that looked to be safe after Macchio Rissone scored just 36 seconds into the contest. However, he and the Dolphins’ other top gun Nate Galper were given little space to operate the rest of the game, Patriots goalie Julio Larios made 18 saves and Birmingham shocked Palisades 9-4 at Stadium by the Sea.
“They’ve been the big dogs in the City for years and losing to them [in the finals] last year and again a couple weeks ago taught us that if we want to bear them we have to finish,” Larios said. “We knew that #14 (Galper) is the feeder and #30 (Rissone) is the finisher, so we tried to make him (Galper) pass it whenever he got the ball.”
Alex Magana scored five goals for Birmingham, which let a four-goal lead in the fourth quarter slip away in the teams’ final regular season meeting. On Saturday, the scored was 2-2 before the Patriots scored three quick goals to build a 5-2 halftime lead. It was the first goal of the second half, however, that was the most important to Patriots’ first-year head coach Chris Iorio.
“We’ve been preparing for them for two weeks,” Iorio said. “Scoring first in the second half was huge because that kept the momentum on our side. I wasn’t comfortable until about the last 30 seconds when I called timeout to put all my seniors in.”
When the final horn sounded Palisades players dropped their sticks and stared in disbelief – particularly Rissone, who was held to two goals but hit the post four other times.
“They did play more aggressively,” Rissone said. “I wasn’t really nervous. The last game we sort of took it from them so I knew this would be tougher.”
Andrew Davidson and Zane Daily also scored for the Dolphins.
“Maybe we needed this to get the fire back to start another streak,” Galper said. “We just weren’t on today. Nine times out of 10 we’d beat them, but they came here with chips on their shoulders after what happened the last time and we sort of had a sense of entitlement. It would’ve been nice to win, today just wasn’t our day.”
Palisades Coach Bryan Cuthbert pointed to missed opportunities.
“We hit five or six posts and I was concerned going into the game about how good their goalie was,” Cuthbert said. “I figured we needed about 40 shots and nine goals between Nate and Macchio. We hit about five or six posts and had our chances, we just didn’t convert enough of them. Still, our defense is young and we’ve come a long way since the start of the season. We’ve dealt a lot of misery to other teams. I guess today it was our turn.”
In the earlier girls game, Birmingham took a 7-0 halftime lead en route to defending its title with an 11- victory. Laura Sussman stuffed home a rebound early in the second half for the Dolphins’ only goal and Katie Sabini made 15 saves on 24 shots.
“It’s always exciting to play them,” Sussman said. “Their defense is amazing. Still, I’m proud of our team for getting to the finals. We’ve had so many bumps in the road. I’m proud to be part of this program.”
First-year coach Betsy Economou was proud of her team.
“The halftime score didn’t reflect my team’s effort,” she said. “I’m proud of this team. The girls learned a lot about how I coach and about respecting your teammates. If they want me back, I’ll be back.”
Shane Stoklos Voted Western League MVP in Boys Volleyball
Palisades High senior volleyball players has been chosen Most Valuable Player in the Western League after leading the Dophins to an undefeated league record.
Stoklos, an outside hitter and the Dolphins’ captain, is the son of Pali High graduate and pro beach volleyball Hall of Famer Randy Stoklos.
Joining Stoklos on the All-League first team are junior middle blocker Vecas Lewin and senior middle blocker Dylan Flyer.
Making the All-league second team were Palisades freshman outside hitter Scott Stuart, junior outside hitter Jason Wittbrodt and senior setter Hunter Price.
Moscot’s One-Hitter Propels Pali High Baseball by Sylmar
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Palisades High baseball coach Mike Voelkel abides by one simple rule in the playoffs: never look past your next opponent.
Faced with the decision of who to pitch Saturday afternoon in his team’s City Section Division I wild card game, Voelkel chose to go with his ace Jed Moscot and afterwards he was glad he did.
The UC Davis-bound senior right-hander threw a one-hitter with nine strikeouts and that was just enough for the Dolphins to sneak past Sylmar 2-0 at George Robert Field and advance to a first round matchup against second-seeded Chatsworth.
The Dolphins, who were seeded 15th after finishing second to Hamilton in the Western League, got all they could handle against the 18th-seeded Spartans, who were seeking revenge for last season’s 5-4 loss in the first round.
Moscot hit the leadoff hitter in the first inning and the next batter bunted to get on base. Two pitches into the game, the Spartans had a runner in scoring position with no outs. However, after a force out and a strikeout, the Dolphins escaped the jam by tagging out a runner in a pickle at third.
A pitcher’s duel ensued and neither side threatened again until the top of the fourth when Andrew Ochoa led off with a double to right field for the Spartans’ only hit. However, a strikeout and two flyouts left him stranded at second base. Palisades put two runners on in the bottom of the fourth but couldn’t score.
“There was never any doubt pitching Jed and it was a typical great performance from him,” Voelkel said. “We know Sylmar is a strong team and the way this game went is no big surprise. We’ve done it this way all year. We didn’t get many chances today but what I liked is that we got good swings when we got had runners in scoring position and it’s nice to see that they were rewarded.”
Cameron Schiffer led off the bottom of the fifth with a bloop single, took second on a wild pitch and moved to third on Brendan Ward’s sacrifice bunt. With one out, Roben Sieling singled to score pinch runner Chris Hooks and the Dolphins took a 1-0 lead.
Moscot retired the Spartans in order in the top of the sixth, then helped his own cause in the bottom of the frame with a two-out single that scored Harrison Hart with the all-important insurance run.
“It felt great to get a hit in my last at-bat at Pali,” said Moscot, who was voted Pitcher of the Year in the Western League and recorded a stellar 0.97 earned run average in 57.2 innings pitched.
Moscot walked the first batter in the seventh but got the next three on a fly ball, a strikeout and a ground ball. Schiffer had two of the Dolphins’ seven hits.
Palisades’ reward was a shot at redemption against the Chancellors, who deprived the Dolphins a trip to Dodger Stadium last season with a 3-2 victory in the semifinals at USC – a game that ended on a controversial call.
“Chatsworth is one of the best teams in the City every year and they’ve earned that respect,” Voelkel said. “We understand the challenge we face, but it’s great to have an opportunity like this.”
Palisades loaded the bases with no outs in the second inning and chased starter Danny Hernandez. Reliever Josh Garcia induced a double play but the Dolphins scored a run and added another with two outs to take a 2-0 lead.
Chatsworth answered with five runs in the bottom of the frame and tacked on one run in the fourth and another in the fifth to win 7-2.
Palisades finished 16-14.
Calvary Christian Volleyball Defends Pacific Basin League Championship
Calvary Christian School’s 7th-grade boy’s volleyball team won the Pacific Basin League title last week, defeating Brentwood School in the championship match at Willows.
The Cougars trailed 10-5 in the third and decisive set but relied on strong serving to rally for their second consecutive title. Coached by Chris Baele and Karen Renner, the team consisted of Parker Barnes, Theodore Bradstreet, Stuart Brien, Chase Kelly, Andrew Outcalt, Ben Reasner, Andrew Shiminovsky, Christopher Stimming and Garrett Von Konynenberg.
FC Pali Kicks to Copa Cobana Tournament Title
FC Pali, a local AYSO boys U10 Extra team, went undefeated on its way to winning last weekend’s Copa Cabana Beach Soccer Tournament at Santa Monica State Beach, outscoring its opponents 42-1.
Coached by Eric Winthrop and Joe Walsh, the team beat Del Piccolo 13-0, Saints 14-1, Real United 7-0 and Del Piccolo again 8-0. FC Pali consisted of Barney Lanning, Blake Pecsok, Dylan Walsh, Ethan Jefferson, Evan Stokdyk, Giovanni Ferrero, Joshua Hananel, Max North, Nathan Winthrop and Sammy Sachs.
It was FC Pali’s final tournament of the season, capping a successful run in which the team took home four championships in its last 7 tournaments.
Chase Cobbs Wins 100 Meters at League Finals
Palisades High senior Chase Cobbs burned up the oval in Monday’s Western League track & field championships at Fairfax High. He ran the first leg on the Dolphins’ victorious 4×100 relay, then took first place in the varsity 100-meter dash with a time of 11.18 seconds.
Andres Gomez won the 400 in 2:04.33 and Shane Brouwer was second in the 1,600 and 3,200. Jonathan Amiri won the frosh/soph boys 1,600 and Hunter Parker won the frosh/soph 800.
Marissa Williams swept the girls varsity 800, 1,600 and 3,200 events, Jessica Agege won the 400 in 58.67 seconds and Whitney Yost won the varsity 100 hurdles in 17.13 seconds.
Kendal Lake and Erika Agege were third and fourth in the varsity 100-meter dash, Ashley Yang won the frosh/soph 800, Ariel Pollack won the frosh/soph 1,600, Robinne Taylor won the frosh/soph 100 hurdles and Sophie Rothenberg won the frosh/soph 300 hurdles.
Palisades also swept the boys and girls varsity 4×400 relays. City Section preliminaries are today at Cerritos College.
Pali High Golf Team Wins League Finals
Despite playing in a torrential downpour the Palisades High boys golf team posted an impressive 18-hole total of 386 to win the 7A League golf championship last Thursday at Griffith Park’s Wilson Course.
Ray Yang fired a 3-under par 69 to earn medalist honors, Grant Ebner shot a 78 to finish sixth, Jason Simon and Will Holbrow carded 79s to place seventh and eighth, Ethan Rautbort shot an 81, Michael Lerner shot an 84 and Max Hagar shot an 86 for the Dolphins, who finished first at league finals for the third straight season.
Palisades prevailed by seven strokes over Granada Hills, which dealt the Dolphins their only league defeat. El Camino Real shot 403 to finish third.
“Historically, sub-400 scores put you in the hunt to win,” Pali High Coach James Paleno said. “For us to shoot 386 under those conditions is pretty amazing.”
Palisades was back at Wilson yesterday seeking its third consecutive City Section championship. Look for a full story in next week’s issue.
Pali High Boys Volleyball Sweeps to City Semifinals
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
The first two rounds of the City Section Division I playoffs lacked any real drama and that’s precisely the way the Palisades High boys volleyball team planned it.
After looking sloppy in their regular season finale versus Western League rival University, the second-seeded Dolphins worked on their flaws all week in practice leading up to last Tuesday’s postseason opener and looked like a well-oiled machine against Poly, sweeping the 15th-seeded Parrots, 25-14, 25-16, 25-13.
Dylan Flyer’s uncontested kill ended the match after a four-point serving run by Jason Wittbrodt.
Palisades’ seniors were honored on court before the match and shortly after one of them, Shane Stoklos, got the Dolphins’ first point. The Dolphins surged ahead 14-9 in the first set and won it on a net violation. Palisades jumped out to a 15-4 lead in the second set behind the serving of Hunter Price and won it on Chris Wahlgren’s kill down the line.
Another serving run by Price gave Palisades an early 5-0 lead and Jeff Stuart’s ace made it 14-3 lead in the third set.
Two days later, the Dolphins were back on their home floor against seventh-seeded Van Nuys and once again played at the top of their game, downing the Wolves 25-21, 25-20, 25-15.
Billy Bailey ended the match with a clean ace.
“Van Nuys was tougher [than Poly] but I’m happy about that,” Bailey said. “Serving was a major factor but I think the biggest thing for us is our compatibilty. This is just the start.”
Van Nuys led 14-12 in the first set but the jump-serving of Wittbrodt turned the match in Palisades’ favor. He went on two long serving runs in the second set and his ace gave Palisades a commanding 19-9 lead in the third.
“They could pass, they could block, they could swing… they were tough,” Wittbrodt said. “We do a lot of serving drills in practice and that helps prepare us for the pressure in a real match.”
Palisades hosted third-seeded Granada Hills in the semifinals Tuesday night in a rematch of the teams’ nonleague meeting early in the season when the Dolphins prevailed in five sets.
“Granada Hills is a strong defensive team, above everyone in our league,” Wittbrodt said. “We’re going to have to step up even more.”
Tuesday’s winner plays for the championship at 6 p.m. Saturday at Roybal Learning Center.