Dolphins Ready for New Season
By Steve Breazeale
The spring prep season at Dana Hills is right around the corner and for some teams, their year has already begun. Some squads have league title aspirations, others are focused on staying competitive, and all of them are coveting the ultimate goal of succeeding in the CIF playoffs.
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The word around the Dana Hills boys golf team this season has been “unusual.” Unusual, as in, three freshmen replace three seniors who graduated. Unusual, as in, a freshman coming in and playing his way into the No. 1 spot. It’s something that has rarely happened during Phil Wilburton’s 23-years as head coach.
“This year is quite unusual…Once in a while you’ll get one really good player come in to fill when guys graduate,” Wilburton said. “(We) have three guys leave and three freshman come in and replace…It’s pretty awesome.”
The three freshmen on the starting roster are Clay Feagler, the team’s current No. 1, Matt Fry and Tanner Podres.
Right now the freshmen are standing out but senior Mitchell O’Leary and juniors Alex Diaz and Dolan Clark are poised to make an impact as well.
The Dolphins will be competing in the competitive South Coast League this season, with their eyes set on Tesoro, who Wilburton pegged as the “clear frontrunner.” But this isn’t Wilburton’s first rodeo. He knows what kind of scores it takes to qualify for the CIF team playoffs, and he believes this team can accomplish that. – Andrea Papagianis contributed to this report
The motto of this year’s Dana Hills baseball team is “bite, scratch and pull hair,” and it reflects the gritty, do-anything style of play that head coach Tom Faris and his coaching staff have instilled in their 2013 squad.
After a down year that saw them finish in fourth place in the South Coast League, this year’s team has been molded to go the extra mile in terms of getting on base. There has been an emphasis on fundamentals like bunting and slapping the ball into the opposite field. It’s not unusual to show up at a Dana Hills practice and see three different bunting stations going on at the same time.
“This group has been seasoned to know how to drag (bunt), push (bunt), hit-and-run, squeeze, get hit (by a pitch) and do everything that’s possible to get to first base,” Faris said.
Senior third baseman CJ Angel echoed his coach’s mantra, adding that the entire team has bought into the philosophy.
“(The style) is gritty, wanting to win…(The effort) is something I’ve never seen in this program in the past couple years,” Angel said.
The Dolphins will have a strong pitching rotation this season, led by senior lefthander Blake Taylor, a University of Hawaii commit. Taylor, whose fastball sits at around 90 mph, is joined by senior righty Grant Dyer at the top of the rotation.
Boys Track and Field
The Dana Hills boys track and field team had a down year in 2012 when compared to their past success. Last year the Dolphins were attempting to win their fourth straight league and county title, but came up short.
This season, head coach Craig Dunn views his team as an underdog and the Dolphins are counting on not just their well-known distance runners, but athletes in other events as well.
“We’ve become a more well-rounded team in the last five to six years where we don’t just rely on our distance (runners) to carry us,” Dunn said.
Senior Elliot Sutherland-Dunning, who played wide receiver for the Dolphins in the fall, will be a key jumper for Dana Hills.
Dunn stressed how the team is well rounded but it’s hard to ignore the Dolphins distance runners, many of whom competed for the cross country team earlier this year. Freshman Jake Ogden broke out in the fall, setting meet freshman records along the way, and will be an integral part of the Dolphins distance running squad. –Brian Park contributed to this report
Girls Track and Field
If the Dolphins girls track and field team can accomplish their offseason goal of capturing a league championship, it will be the program’s eighth consecutive league title.
The Dolphins field events should be strong yet again this season as the pole vault, throws, and jumping events are stacked with returning letterman.
“We have five girls who are returning that are five feet or higher (in the high jump). We’ve got three vaulters that are 10 feet or better,” head coach Ryan Crane said. “Our long jump and triple jumps have been very strong…Our field events have carried us.”
Senior Brenna Barker will be among the key contributors to the Dolphin jumpers and had an MVP-caliber season in 2012, when she broke the school record in the long jump, high jump and triple jump. She also competes in the 100-meter hurdles. Barker recently committed to compete for Columbia University next fall.
“I’m really excited for my final year. We’ve been training really hard here at that track, and as a team, I think we’re going to be better than we were last year,” Barker said. –Brian Park contributed to this report
Head coach Matt Rosa has been stressing to his players the importance of training and strengthening one’s body. That’s why, before every practice, his players take part in 30 to 50 minutes of dry land training. Instead of jumping into the pool and solely using that as a work out platform, the team has been cross-training, using popular workouts in the famous P90X regimen.
“There are no days off, no sets off…You train hard and you come back the next day and train hard again,” Rosa said. “With swimming, if you want to drop time, you’ve got to put in the work,” Rosa said.
Jan Katz is a German transfer student who Rosa says will make an impact once he becomes eligible to compete in about a months’ time. The 6-foot-6-inch Katz excels in the individual medley, according to Rosa.
The Dolphins will compete in the Sea View League this season. –Brian Park contributed to this report
The Dana Hills girls swim team took a hit on graduation day as a handful of strong swimmers left, but head coach Cynthia Carlson is hoping that a group of water polo players and club swimmers will make an impact in 2013.
In an attempt to fill in the gaps left by the seniors, Carlson has been mixing and matching in the offseason, and transfer Cassidy Humphrey has been a versatile swimmer that will see some time on the relay team. Carlson explained how Humphrey has the ability to swim almost any event.
Katrina Kao and Katie Yost, a backstroker, are a few club swimmers poised to have solid years with the Dolphins.
The Dolphins have managed to win one or two league meets the last few seasons, and Carlson is hoping that this year, they will be able to improve on that mark.
“I’m almost certain we can (beat a few teams in league) this season…but ultimately, we won’t know until we hit the pool,” Carlson said. –Brian Park contributed to this report
Tradition and history have played a large part in the Dana Hills boys volleyball team’s past three consecutive league titles that date back to 2010. Tight-knit groups have continuously found ways to win and longtime head coach Oz Simmons sees that same atmosphere surrounding this year’s squad.
The Dolphins lost some seniors to graduation but return standout players at three key positions and their roster is filled with athletes who have made their way up the ranks of the program and recognize that team unity breeds itself in Simmons’ defense and pass oriented system.
“They’re a tight team, they will help each other out…stuff like that makes a team a team and that’s been huge in our last three South Coast League championships,” Simmons said. “We may not have had the best team (in the past), but we were a tight team and that’s a strength this year.”
Senior opposite Christian Hessenauer, senior middle blocker Bryce Yould and senior libero James Koci return to lead the team in 2013.
Hessenauer, a UCLA commit, and Yould, a commit to Long Beach State, are both skilled hitters and will fuel the Dolphins offense as they head into what could be a four-peat league title performance.
After producing an 8-10 overall record, of which two losses were decided by one goal, and narrowly missing out on the CIF-SS playoffs, the Dana Hills girls lacrosse team will undergo a rebuilding period in 2013.
The team lost 11 seniors, including nine starters, and has a batch of incoming underclassmen that have yet to be tested on their varsity roster.
With a lot of his veteran leadership gone, head coach Michael Brooks has looked to three standout seniors to lead the team heading into the new year. Seniors Echo Myers, Krista Paulsen and Mckenna Myers have taken on a leadership role and each one provides solid production at their respective positions.
Paulsen has been the team’s goalie for the past three seasons and leads the team’s defense, which Brooks pegged as a strength.
“(Paulsen’s) intelligence, her enthusiasm, her willingness to lead on the field has just raised her game level,” Brooks said. “She’s improved every single year she’s played this game…a goalie has a lot of say of how your team’s do.”
Mckenna Myers will also help hold down the Dolphins defense while Echo Myers is set to lead the attack on offense.
The Dana Hills boys tennis team has been putting a lot of emphasis on their doubles format over the offseason and will look to improve on a third-place league finish from last year.
Junior Chase Masciorini has put in the work over the offseason to have a breakout year in 2013. He will enter the year as the Dolphins No. 1 singles player.
“(Masciorini) has taken his game to a whole new level. He’s ready to be one of the elite players in Orange County,” head coach Justin Green said.
Junior Dylan Wong, who played on the No. 3 doubles team last season, has worked his way up the ranks and figures to be among the Dolphins top doubles group. Green stressed how the team is not as deep, outside of Masciorini, in the singles format, which makes the rise of Wong’s game even more important if the Dolphins are to succeed in South Coast League doubles play, where they hope to get points.
Freshman Tyler Bloom, who has three older brothers who have played at Dana Hills, has been a standout in the offseason.
“We have a lot to prove because we came in third last year…So we’re probably the underdog coming in but our guys have been working hard and are ready for the challenge,” Green said.
The boys lacrosse team at Dana Hills lost a few of their top goal scorers to graduation but figure to have a solid group of returners on the roster for 2013.
The Dolphins finished with a 9-9 overall record last year, going 2-6 in league play. They finished third in the competitive South Coast League and enter the season under the direction of new head coach Brian Dorry.
Concordia University commit Marc Hughes should be in the mix for the Dolphins this season. The senior midfielder is looking to follow up his 2012 performance, when he scored 18 goals and recorded 12 assists.
Jake Hayward, also a senior midfielder, had an effective 2012 and scored 18 goals and tallied 19 assists.
The Dolphins will remain in the South Coast League and opened play on February 27 against Mission Viejo. Results were not available at press time.
Last season the question mark for the Dana Hills girls softball team was experience, as they carried only two seniors and four juniors on their roster. Now, after a year that saw them finish second in the South Coast League and earn a CIF-SS playoff berth, that question mark has been washed away.
The pitching rotation will be a strength for the Dolphins this season and features multiple players who new head coach Margo Botelho has the confidence to hand the ball to on any given day.
Senior catcher Severina Worthington has had the task of learning each pitcher’s style and will be the battery mate of junior pitcher Olivia Baltazar for a third season.
Worthington has had a busy offseason catching both Baltazar and junior Lyndsey Cassidy.
“It didn’t really take that long (getting in-sync with the pitchers)…it’s kind of difficult because they are all so different but at the same time they all have really good control,” Worthington said.
Botelho described how her lineup is good at putting the ball in play, which is crucial to success in softball. Junior third baseman Samantha Schwartz will be a key contributor in the middle of the Dolphins batting order.