From the undefeated season delivered by the Mater Dei football team last fall to the dominant performances by several Santa Margarita girls’ swimmers this spring, the Trinity League remained in a class by itself during the recently completed academic year.
From start to finish, here are a few of the more noteworthy performances over those nine months.
Mater Dei didn’t waste any time making sure the 2017 season would be extra special, knocking off Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas on Sept. 1 in a matchup of the nation’s top two ranked teams. The Monarchs then won all their Trinity League games by double digits, blew out league rival St. John Bosco in the CIF-SS Division 1 title game and capped the season by hammering Northern California powerhouse De La Salle by 31 points to win their first Division 1 state bowl title.
JSerra teammates Anthony Grover (15:22.9) and Peter Herold (15:29.7) finished first and second in the CIF-SS Division 4 boys’ cross-country finals in Riverside, helping the Lions finish seventh in the team standings. Ian Howard of Santa Margarita had a faster time on the three-mile course while finishing fourth in Division 3 (15:19.4). Grover went on to win the Division 4 state title a week later in Fresno.
Making a splash
The Mater Dei boys’ water polo team captured its seventh CIF-SS title in school history with a 13-9 win against Oaks Christian in the Division 1 title game. The Monarchs weren’t finished, however, winning three more games to take the inaugural CIF State Southern California Regional Division 1 tournament. Unlike most of its championship teams from the past, Mater Dei didn’t rely on any Olympic-caliber players, but rather a balanced group.
Back on top
The Mater Dei boys’ basketball team was also short on star power this season and dropped a Trinity League game for just the second time in 12 years, but that didn’t keep the Monarchs from winning the CIF-SS Open Division title with a 55-53 victory against Sierra Canyon. It was the first section title in four years for Mater Dei, and 23rd in program history.
Repeat the feat
The JSerra girls’ soccer team defended its CIF-SS Division 1 title with a 1-0 win against rival Santa Margarita, which had tied and defeated the Lions during Trinity League play to edge them for the title. Isabella D’Aquila scored the lone goal in the section final, one of 39 she tallied on the season.
The Orange Lutheran boys’ volleyball team swept Saddleback Valley Christian to win the CIF-SS Division 2 championship, then kept rolling, knocking off Classical Academy of Escondido in three games to capture the CIF Southern California Regional Division 2 title.
The Santa Margarita girls’ swim team dominated the CIF-SS Division 1 finals, scoring more than twice as many points as the next-closest team. Anicka Delgado won the 50 freestyle (22.71) and 100 butterfly (53.25), and was on the 200 and 400 free relay teams that set Division 1 meet records.
Santa Margarita flashed its speed in both competitions at the CIF-SS track and field championships. Nikki Merritt won the 100-meter dash in girls’ Division 3 (11.99), edging teammate Tessa Green (12.01). Merritt also won the 100 hurdles (14.35) and 300 hurdles (42.93), and Green won the 200 (24.71). Blake Hennesay won the 100 (10.57) and 300 hurdles (37.55) in the boys’ Division 3 competition.