There was a lot of success to celebrate in 2019 on the beach cities sports scene.
We will count them down starting with No. 10 where we have a tie because it is hard to leave out a national champion.
Tie 10. Redondo Beach PONY Baseball team wins national championship.
Tie 10. Mira Costa boys’ tennis team repeated as Bay League champions for the first time under Joe Ciasulli and went on to compete in the CIF-Southern Section and CIF-State Southern California Regionals in Ciasulli’s final season. They finished 19-3 and ranked No. 4, and Ciasulli had a winning record every year as head coach.
“We had a great season and as a senior, some of the highlights for me were repeating as Bay League champions, making it to the CIF-SS semifinals open division and being champions of the Bay Area Classic Tennis tournament," said senior Mattew Poh, who is going to play in college.
“Both (of the last two) seasons were very similar but last year was one of firsts,” Ciasulli said. “First team to win the Bay League outright, first team to reach the CIF semifinals, first team with five victories over teams ranked in the top 10 of CIF-SS Division 1, first team with a No. 3 ranking in Southern California at one time during the season, and first team with a No. 4 ranking in the final poll.”
9. Mira Costa girls’ swimmer Alexandra Crisera won two gold medals at CIF Southern Section championships in Division 2 and also competed for Team USA in swimming competitions after being named to the USA National Junior Team for 2018-19. She now swims for Stanford.
8. Two local players were part of the University of Michigan baseball team that played in the College World Series that lost to Vanderbilt. Blake Beers of Manhattan Beach pitched in one of the Wolverines NCAA playoff games. Danny Zimmerman of Redondo Beach and former Redondo Union player was redshirted this season, but was able to watch his teammates play in Omaha.
It was long odds the Michigan team faced as the SEC Conference and teams from warmer regions of the country have dominated in the College World Series, and for a team from the north to make the championship was rare.
7. Redondo Union girls’ volleyball team captured the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 championship against Mater Dei. The team was probably head coach Tom Chaffins most talented ever with 10 players that are committed to play volleyball or sand volleyball in college.
They lost only one match all season when they had their full lineup on the court and that was against Mater Dei in the state tournament. They were led by USA Volleyball U18 team member Kami Miner, who was a junior setter.
6. Mira Costa girls’ beach volleyball team won their third consecutive AAU Interscholastic Beach Volleyball state championship and has a 100-match winning streak. They are also seven-time IBVL Southern Pacific District champions.
Mira Costa did it with a new head coach, Nancy Reynolds, who coached the Mustangs in their inaugural season and returned after Eric Fonoimoana departed with an undefeated coaching record.
The streak is impressive but they have a long way to go to catch the Brandon High School (Florida) wrestling team’s national record 459 wins over 34 years.
5. Zana Muno of Hermosa Beach helped UCLA clinch its second NCAA championship in women’s beach volleyball with a 3-0 win over rival USC, which won the conference title. Muno, senior, and Abby Van Winkle, freshman, of Santa Margarita wrapped up the Bruins win and their first back-to-back championships. Piper Monk-Heidrich of Manhattan Beach, freshman, was also on the team.
4. Louis Richard, who played volleyball at Redondo Union, was a contributor on this year’s Long Beach State NCAA men’s volleyball championship team that has won back-to-back titles beating UCLA last year and Hawaii this year. Richard, senior, played outside hitter/opposite.
3. Manhattan Beach’s Alix Klineman and April Ross were briefly the No. 1 women’s team on the FIVB Tour. The pair ended the season ranked No. 2 in the world and were the No. 1 domestic team on the AVP Tour playing in the finals of all five tournaments they competed in, winning three of them and also winning three FIVB events. Klineman played in her second consecutive Manhattan Beach Open final, but after winning in 2018 they finished as the runner-up.
In 2020, the Olympic Summer Games return and Klineman and Ross look to win gold as they will likely go in as one of the leading contenders and represent the United States in women’s beach volleyball.
2. Stanford golfer Andrea Lee of Hermosa Beach was the recipient of the Mark H. McCormack Medal this year, which recognizes the top player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR). Lee, who was a part of Mira Costa’s CIF-State championship golf team, has left her mark with the Cardinal winning a program-record nine individual events during her time there.
Stanford was fifth in the NCAA Championships this year and she is a 3-time Women’s Golf Coaches Association first team All-American. She announced in November that she is turning professional.
Lee posted on her Instagram account (@andrea_lee) on Nov. 19 her decision to go pro saying, “I am incredibly excited to announce my decision to turn professional and compete on the LPGA in 2020. I cannot wait to pursue my lifelong dream of playing amongst the best in the world.”
1. Former Mira Costa football player Jahlani Tavai, linebacker, is drafted in the second round by the Detroit Lions and the 43rd pick overall. Tavai is not just a high draft pick representing Mira Costa High School but also the University of Hawaii. Being selected in the top 50 of America’s No. 1 professional sport is amazing.
Tavai had five starts in his rookie season that were highlighted by two sacks and an interception.
According to the NCAA in 2019, there were more than 1 million participants in high school football in the United States in 2017-18. Just over 73,000 of those players played NCAA college football and just 2.8% of those million played in Division 1. Less than 2 percent of those college players are drafted into the NFL and even lower odds to be in the top 50.
Also making headlines were our honorable mention teams and individuals. There were many more but these deserve recognition.
Honorable mention: The Mira Costa boys’ beach volleyball team won its fourth consecutive AAU Southern Pacific Boys’ Interscholastic Beach Volleyball League championship after defeating Santa Barbara 2-0 in the finals in Hermosa Beach.
Mira Costa went 7-1 in the regular part of the schedule and 3-0 in the playoffs to finish 10-1 overall on the season. Their only loss came against Loyola in the first week when they were missing several of their top players.
Mira Costa earned one other accolade and that was that Jack Walmer and Ben Coordt also won the IBVL High School Pairs Championship for the second consecutive year and have not lost a match over that time.
Also having outstanding seasons were the Mira Costa girls’ cross-country team which competed at state and finished fifth-Dahlia Frias and Billy Atkinson finished third and fifth overall; Mira Costa girls’ tennis won the Golden State Classic in Northern California and finished ranked No. 3 all season in CIF behind CIF champion Peninsula and State Regional champion University-they lost to both of those teams, but won every other match and finished 21-5 overall and competed in state tourney for first time; Mira Costa boys’ water polo, softball, badminton and girls’ soccer teams also reached the CIF-Southern Section semifinals; the Redondo Union girls’ lacrosse team continues to dominate and reached the Los Angeles County championship once again.