The Tribune all-area football team includes a player of the year, coach of the year, defensive player of the year and 25 of the most deserving players that fill out an all area team. It usually includes a QB, 2RBs, 3WRs, 5 OL, Placekicker, Punter, All-Purpose, 3DL, 3LB, 3DB, Safety. We will sort it all out this week, but I’m always curious what you think?
by Aram Tolegian, staff writer
West Covina High School girls tennis standout Alexis Valenzuela is not what you would consider to be classically trained.
The just-turned 17-year-old didn’t grow up on country club courts. Nor did she have a family who could afford the very best private coaches.
Yet when the top 16 players in the CIF-Southern Section meet today at the Seal Beach Tennis Club to start deciding who’s the No. 1 player in the section, Valenzuela will be among them … for the third consecutive year.
Not bad for a kid who learned the game by starting in a Covina Parks and Recreation tennis camp and honed her skills by playing on local high school courts or at the public park.
Sure, Valenzuela has had her share of private coaching … in Lakewood. But generally, the top players in the Southern Section don’t come from places like West Covina.
“After my parents put me into it, I fell in love with it,” Valenzuela said of tennis. “I do love playing basketball. I did play for the high school, but I just realized that tennis is where I needed to be.”
Valenzuela started playing at age 7 after she first tried baseball and didn’t like it. By the time she was 10, she was ranked in the Southern California top 10 for her age group.
Realizing she was on to something big, Valenzuela’s family got her a private coach and her father Ernie did his own bit of coaching. Once at West Covina, she has been under the tutelage of Bulldogs coach Mike McConville, who is adamant that Valenzuela is the best girls athlete in school history.
It’s an upbringing that has certainly been good enough to get Valenzuela to this point of her career, but it’s not quite to the level of what most of the other top 16 girls enjoyed on their way up.
“They can afford the top coaches, we can’t really afford the top coaches,” Valenzuela said.
West Covina is not known for its tennis. It’s a football school and every other sport comes second. Valenzuela has done her best to change that, however.
She’s won the league title and been named league MVP all four years. Valenzuela didn’t lose a league match in her final three seasons.
“It was my goal since freshman year to try and throw a four-peat as league champ and MVP,” Valenzuela said. “It’s (tennis) not that popular at West Covina because they’ve never been known for tennis. They’ve been known for football and not tennis. It’s a new thing for them.”
Valenzuela has already secured a scholarship to Cal State Fullerton, where she plans to attend nursing school and become a nurse practitioner. There could be a bid at a professional career mixed in if things break right.
For now, though, her focus is on ending her storied high school career with a bang.
That means surviving today’s matches and returning on Thursday when the field of 16 is reduced to four and a battle to be the top player in the Southern Section will begin in earnest.
“I know what to expect,” Valenzuela said. “But each year, there’s different girls. I still don’t know who I am going to play. I can’t be overconfident. I need to play my game, whoever I play.”
By Steve Ramirez, SGVN
When it came to being a football coach, very few in the area did it better than John Strycula.
The local legend won league titles at Charter Oak and Glendora high schools before putting Citrus College of the map in the 1960s and 1970s, including winning four consecutive titles in the Mission Conference, which was always regarded as the top conference in the state.
Strycula, who was inducted into the California Community Colleges Football Coaches Hall of Fame, died this past Friday. He was 86.
“He was top of the line,” said his son, John Strycula, himself a former football coach. “He won where ever he went. He always put great teams on the field. His record spoke for itself.”
Strycula was the first football coach at Charter Oak, and won three league titles for the then Lancers. He moved on to Glendora in the early 1960s and led the Tartans to three league titles.
He then went to Citrus, turning the Owls into one of the top programs in the state during 1970s, winning four consecutive Mission League titles, including back-to-back seasons in the middle of the decade when the Owls went 17-1-2 with a bowl victory.
Strycula was 120-60-7 in 19 seasons at Citrus, leading the Owls to 10 conference championships and three bowl games.
His 1975 and `76 teams are considered by many as the Owls’ best. Citrus went 9-0-1 in winning the Mission Conference and tied College of the Canyons in the Mission Bowl.
The Owls followed it up with an 8-1-1 record in 1975, with another Mission Conference title before routing Santa Barbara City, 24-0, in the Mission Bowl.
Strycula retired following the 1985 season and was inducted in the CCCFCA Hall of Fame this past March.
Services for Strycula will be held this Saturday at 11 a.m. at Beaumont Presbyterian Church, which is located at 702 Euclid Avenue.
CALIFORNIA SHOCKS GLENDORA IN OT: California High School began its boys basketball season with a 52-49 overtime victory against Glendora in the third annual Sierra Vista/Baldwin Park “Winter Tip-Off” Tournament on Tuesday night. The Condors scored two quick baskets to start the overtime period. Robert Amaro scored, then Andrew Barber added a basket off a steal by Ryan Schroll.
SIERRA VISTA/BALDWIN PARK TOURNAMENTPool play
Damien 63, Diamond Ranch 51
Damien were led by sophomore guard Jeremy Hemsley and senior guard Jared Dizon with 19 and 17 points, respectively.
Rowland 54, Garfield 30
Rowland easily handled Garfield and will advance to next face Thousand Oaks on Thursday. Leading the Raiders (3-0) in scoring was Chris Arzadon with 14 points and four rebounds and Joe Dionision contributed with 12 points and four assists. Rowland built up a 29-8 halftime lead and was able to hold Garfield (0-2) scoreless in the second quarter.
Jacky Tu rounded out the scoring for Rowland with seven points and three assists. Dave Perez led the scoring for the Bulldogs with eight points.
Tuesday’s Baldwin Park/Sierra Vista round-robin results
Rowland 54, Garfield 30
California 52, Glendora 49, OT
Troy 76, Covina 53
Keppel 66, Walnut 58
Colony 79, South Hills 61
Thousand Oaks 84, Don Lugo 62
Claremont 79, Baldwin Park 59
THURSDAY’S “LIKELY” QUARTERFINALS
At Baldwin Park
Rowland vs. Thousand Oaks, 6 p.m.
Troy vs. Colony, 7:30 p.m.
At Sierra Vista
Damien vs. Keppel, 6 p.m.
Claremont vs. California, 7:30 p.m.
BOSCO TECH TOURNAMENT
Los Altos 63, Rosemead 39
Los Altos led 14-6 after one quarter of play and never were challenged after that. Los Altos (1-0) were led by sophomore guard Christian Espinoza with a game-high 20 points. Senior guard Sal Lopez and senior forward Danny Ahn chipped in with 10 and eight points, respectively. Rosemead (0-2) was led by Everado Camacho with 13 points.
Schurr 45, Baldwin Park 39: It might only have been an early season game, but the Baldwin Park High and Schurr High girls basketball teams battled like it was the postseason Tuesday night. Schurr, behind a game-high 14 points from junior guard Elizabeth Castillo, defeated the visiting Braves 45-39 in a season-opening nonleague game for both teams.
South Hills 57, Sierra Vista 25
South Hills put the game away in the first half leading by a score of 35-11. Leading the Huskies (2-3) in scoring was Brittany Wang with 16 points and five steals and Sarah Madrigal contributed with 11 points and had six rebounds. Imani Payton chipped in with nine points for South Hills. Sierra Vista (0-5) got their scoring from Evelyn Estrada with six points as Maritz Ortiz, Karina Diaz and Kristen Villamor each added four points for the Dons.
FOLLOW EVERYONE ON THE TRIBUNE’S MAXPREPS WIDGET
SIERRA VISTA/BALDWIN PARK TOURNAMENT
Rowland 70, La Puente 25
Rowland High School will advance in pool play and will take on Garfield of Los Angeles tomorrow at 3 p.m.The Raiders (2-0) were led by senior guard Joe Dionisio who scored a game-high 16 points, six assists, four rebounds and four 4 steals. Senior center DJ Jackson added 12 points, six rebounds (3 offensive, 3 defensive), two assists, while senior forward Saeed Montoya chipped in with eight points and two steals.La Puente (0-1) received 12 points from Matt Ageulo and six points from Daniel Martinez.
BALDWIN PARK/SIERRA VISTA BOYS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
Monday’s round-robin results
Walnut 80, Edgewood 13
Colony 75, Arroyo 43
Claremont 86, Sierra Vista 43
Glendora 76, Garey 30
Damien 89, Azusa 21
Troy 69, Jurupa Hills 54
Tuesday’s round-robin schedule
At Baldwin Park
Walnut vs. Keppel, 3 p.m.
Colony vs. South Hills, 4:30 p.m.
Don Lugo vs. Thousand Oaks, 6 p.m.
Claremont vs. Baldwin Park, 7:30 p.m.
At Sierra Vista
Rowland vs. Garfield, 3 p.m.
Damien vs. Diamond Ranch, 4:30 p.m.
Glendora vs. California, 6 p.m.
Troy vs. Covina, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday’s round-robin schedule
At Baldwin Park
Keppel vs. Edgewood, 3 p.m.
Garfield vs. La Puente, 4:30 p.m.
Diamond Ranch vs. Azusa, 6 p.m.
West Covina vs. Don Lugo, 7:30 p.m.
At Sierra Vista
Garey vs. California, 3 p.m.
South Hills vs. Arroyo, 4:30 p.m.
Baldwin Park vs. Sierra Vista, 6 p.m.
Covina vs. Jurupa Hills, 7:30 p.m.
Santa Fe 54, Rosemead 31
Santa Fe opened the season with a convincing victory over the Panthers. After leading 20-13 at halftime, the Chiefs outscored Rosemead 21-8 in the third quarter to pull away. Junior forward Jonathon Parral had a game-high 15 points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal. Junior center Christian Perez added seven points, eight rebounds (5 offensive, 3 defensive) and four assists, while sophomore guard Elijah McElroy chipped in with seven points and four steals. Rosemead was led by Ethan Chan’s 13 points, while Steve Sian-Migul and Jacob Garcia each scored five points
Santa Fe hosts King High School from Sydney, Australia next Monday.
Bishop Amat 55, St. Lucy’s 26
The Lancers opened their season and cruised to victory over the Regents (0-2).
“For it being the first game, we played a little bit ragged but, that’s to be expected,” said Bishop Amat coach Richard Wiard. Leading the Lancers (1-0) was junior guard Janae Chamois who started her first game after coming off the bench her first two seasons. Chamois finished the game with 15 points and three steals.
Lancers senior forward Mauriana Clayton added 11 points and nine rebounds, while junior guard Paulina Santana chipped in with nine points. St. Lucy’s was led by junior guard Mary Serafin with nine points and junior guard Alyssa Lim with six points. Bishop Amat is back on the court on Wednesday in a nonleague contest as the Lancers travel to Cantwell Sacred Heart of Montebello.