2016-17 Valencia High Year in Review

By Mason Nesbitt

Last update: Saturday, July 15th, 2017

It’s hard to believe that many Southern California high schools boasted a better collection of female athletes in 2016-17 than Valencia High school.

In girls hoops, you had Kayla Konrad, the CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA Player of the Year and the program’s all-time leading scorer.

In swim, you had Nikol Popov, who won the fourth and fifth individual CIF titles of her decorated career, and Julia Wolf, who won a CIF crown in swim’s fastest race.

In softball, you had two of Division 1’s best players in pitcher Shea O’Leary and catcher Ally Shipman.

As you might imagine, those three programs found success this season, as did a host of other Valencia teams.

Chase Farrell was named Valencia’s Male athlete of the year for 2016-17 by the school. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Girls basketball won its first CIF title, beating rival Canyon High, 50-45, at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

Konrad scored a game-high 23 points, helping seal a storybook ending for her and three other four-year varsity teammates: Jade Jordan, Ashlee Ane and Kenadee Honaker.

All of girls swim’s CIF titles were individual, but Popov, Wolf, Kaila Wong and Sonaly Wintermute teamed up to break two all-time Foothill League relay records and boost the Vikings to a third-place team finish at the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 finals.

Softball’s run ended in the quarters, but it feels safe to say that the Vikings will be back. Shipman and O’Leary were only juniors, after all.

For the boys, football made the deepest, and most impressive run, navigating the Division 2 bracket all the way to the semifinals.

The team was loaded on offense and defense — on the line, in the secondary and in the backfield.

Unfortunately for the Foothill League, few starters graduated. A ninth straight title next year appears likely.

Valencia’s Nikol Popov won the fourth and fifth CIF titles of her career this year. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Boys basketball won a share of its second Foothill title in three years. The Vikings needed a win in the regular-season finale to do it, and they built a big lead on Hart at home before staving off a comeback and allowing Viking fans to jump around on the court.

Boys hoops didn’t win a playoff game, but girls volleyball did. So too did boys tennis, girls soccer, boys soccer and boys lacrosse.

Boys cross country advanced to the CIF-SS Division 1 prelims for the second time ever, and Baseball won its second straight Foothill League title.

Girls volleyball won its 14th title in the last 15 years.

It was another banner year for Valencia High.

Most memorable

Teams

Boys basketball

Needing a win in the regular-season finale to clinch a share of the Foothill League title, Valencia knocked off Hart, spilling Vikings fans onto the floor for a mad celebration.

Girls basketball

The Vikings won the program’s first-ever CIF title in epic fashion, taking down Foothill League rival Canyon, 50-45, at Honda Center in Anaheim.

Football

The Vikings’ domination of the Foothill League continued with an eighth straight title. There’s no shame in a semifinal loss to San Clemente. The Tritons went on to win the Division 1A state title.

Softball

Behind the battery of Shea O’Leary and Ally Shipman, the Vikings claimed a second straight league title and advanced to the D1 quarters again. Look for the Vikes to get over the hump in 2018.

Girls swim

Valencia was flat-out loaded. Nikol Popov, Julia Wolf, Kaila Wong and Sonaly Wintermute led the way to a third-place team finish at the CIF-SS D1 finals.

Male athletes

Dexter Akanno

The floor general for the co-Foothill League champs, Akanno gets better and better. The Vikes will need him for a run at a boys hoops repeat.

Ben Fariss

Fariss was once again the Vikings’ main run producer. Arm soreness limited his impact on the mound, but he still earned the win in Valencia’s Foothill title clinching victory over West Ranch.

Josh Ferguson

The diminutive speedster scored 21 goals and assisted on four others for the Foothill League champion Vikings.

Sam Pica

Pica had a hand in everything for Valencia track and field. He set an all-time Viking record in the 400 meters and was also a league champion in the long jump.

Aaron Thomas

Thomas made a name for himself with a playoff start in 2015, then he backed up the hype in 2016 with 3,136 yards passing and 29 TDs against only nine picks.

Female athletes

Bri Coleman

A player every team had to account for, the high-flying Coleman led girls volleyball with 293 kills. She also had 235 digs and 47 aces.

Shea O’Leary

One of the most dominant arms in CIF-SS Division 1 softball, the junior righty struck out 240 batters in 211 2/3 innings.

Nikol Popov

After taking 2016 off to focus on the Olympic trials, Popov returned to prep swim and earned the fourth and fifth CIF individual crowns of her career.

Ally Shipman

A lot of teams chose not to deal with Shipman. The catcher walked 33 times. She didn’t strike out once all year, and she hit .613 with 15 home runs and 39 RBIs.

Julia Wolf

The 50-yard free is high school swim’s fastest race, and Wolf was Division 1’s best in the event. She earned the crown with a time of 22.97 seconds, edging her competition by just .01.

Playoff teams

Baseball

Valencia swept its two-game series with West Ranch at the end of the regular season to claim its second straight Foothill title. The Vikes lost to Dos Pueblos of Goleta in the D1 playoffs first round.

Boys basketball

The Vikings beat Hart at Valencia in the Foothill League finale to snag a share of the league title. The joy was short lived. Valencia lost, 67-53, to Upland in the first round of the D2AA playoffs.

Girls basketball

Valencia won its fifth straight league crown before becoming the first team in program history to win a CIF title. The Vikings also won two state games, finally falling to Mater Dei of Santa Ana.

Boys cross country

Valencia advanced to the CIF-SS Division 1 prelims for the second time in school history and finished 14th at the CIF-Southern Section D1 finals.

Football

The Vikings won their eighth straight Foothill League title before advancing to the semifinals of the Division 2 playoffs. Valencia lost there, 41-35, to San Clemente.

Boys golf

The Vikings took third as a team in league, then carded a 405 at the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division Team Divisional, good for seventh place.

Girls golf

The Vikings finished second in the Foothill League and then took 13th at the CIF-SS Central Division championship.

Boys lacrosse

In their first postseason appearance, the Vikings beat St. John Bosco of Bellflower, 14-12, in the first round before losing to Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach, 8-3.

Boys soccer

The Vikings won their second straight Foothill League title. They lost 1-0 to Saddleback in the Division 3 quarterfinals.

Girls soccer

Valencia earned the third and final playoff spot out of the Foothill League, advancing to the second round of the Division 2 playoffs where it lost, 3-1, to Newbury Park.

Softball

Valencia repeated as Foothill League champions and advanced to the Division 1 quarterfinals for the second straight year. The Vikes lost again, this time, 1-0, to Orange Lutheran.

Boys tennis

The Foothill League’s second-place team beat Oak Park, 10-8, in the first round of the D2 playoffs before falling to Sage Hill, 12-6, in the second round.

Girls tennis

The Vikings took second in the Foothill League and lost in the first round of the D1 playoffs, 10-8 to Santa Margarita.

Boys volleyball

Valencia tied Saugus for second place in the Foothill League before losing, 3-0, to Santa Barbara in the first round of the Division 1 playoffs.

Girls volleyball

Valencia won its 14th league title in the last 15 years. It then advanced to the second round of the CIF-SS D1 playoffs, losing 3-0 to Edison of Huntington Beach.

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2016-17 Valencia High Year in Review

From left to right, Valencia High's Kayla Konrad, Ashlee Ane and Jade Jordan helped lead Viking girls hoops to its first-ever CIF title. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/For The Signal

It’s hard to believe that many Southern California high schools boasted a better collection of female athletes in 2016-17 than Valencia High school.

In girls hoops, you had Kayla Konrad, the CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA Player of the Year and the program’s all-time leading scorer.

In swim, you had Nikol Popov, who won the fourth and fifth individual CIF titles of her decorated career, and Julia Wolf, who won a CIF crown in swim’s fastest race.

In softball, you had two of Division 1’s best players in pitcher Shea O’Leary and catcher Ally Shipman.

As you might imagine, those three programs found success this season, as did a host of other Valencia teams.

Chase Farrell was named Valencia’s Male athlete of the year for 2016-17 by the school. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Girls basketball won its first CIF title, beating rival Canyon High, 50-45, at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

Konrad scored a game-high 23 points, helping seal a storybook ending for her and three other four-year varsity teammates: Jade Jordan, Ashlee Ane and Kenadee Honaker.

All of girls swim’s CIF titles were individual, but Popov, Wolf, Kaila Wong and Sonaly Wintermute teamed up to break two all-time Foothill League relay records and boost the Vikings to a third-place team finish at the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 finals.

Softball’s run ended in the quarters, but it feels safe to say that the Vikings will be back. Shipman and O’Leary were only juniors, after all.

For the boys, football made the deepest, and most impressive run, navigating the Division 2 bracket all the way to the semifinals.

The team was loaded on offense and defense — on the line, in the secondary and in the backfield.

Unfortunately for the Foothill League, few starters graduated. A ninth straight title next year appears likely.

Valencia’s Nikol Popov won the fourth and fifth CIF titles of her career this year. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Boys basketball won a share of its second Foothill title in three years. The Vikings needed a win in the regular-season finale to do it, and they built a big lead on Hart at home before staving off a comeback and allowing Viking fans to jump around on the court.

Boys hoops didn’t win a playoff game, but girls volleyball did. So too did boys tennis, girls soccer, boys soccer and boys lacrosse.

Boys cross country advanced to the CIF-SS Division 1 prelims for the second time ever, and Baseball won its second straight Foothill League title.

Girls volleyball won its 14th title in the last 15 years.

It was another banner year for Valencia High.

Most memorable

Teams

Boys basketball

Needing a win in the regular-season finale to clinch a share of the Foothill League title, Valencia knocked off Hart, spilling Vikings fans onto the floor for a mad celebration.

Girls basketball

The Vikings won the program’s first-ever CIF title in epic fashion, taking down Foothill League rival Canyon, 50-45, at Honda Center in Anaheim.

Football

The Vikings’ domination of the Foothill League continued with an eighth straight title. There’s no shame in a semifinal loss to San Clemente. The Tritons went on to win the Division 1A state title.

Softball

Behind the battery of Shea O’Leary and Ally Shipman, the Vikings claimed a second straight league title and advanced to the D1 quarters again. Look for the Vikes to get over the hump in 2018.

Girls swim

Valencia was flat-out loaded. Nikol Popov, Julia Wolf, Kaila Wong and Sonaly Wintermute led the way to a third-place team finish at the CIF-SS D1 finals.

Male athletes

Dexter Akanno

The floor general for the co-Foothill League champs, Akanno gets better and better. The Vikes will need him for a run at a boys hoops repeat.

Ben Fariss

Fariss was once again the Vikings’ main run producer. Arm soreness limited his impact on the mound, but he still earned the win in Valencia’s Foothill title clinching victory over West Ranch.

Josh Ferguson

The diminutive speedster scored 21 goals and assisted on four others for the Foothill League champion Vikings.

Sam Pica

Pica had a hand in everything for Valencia track and field. He set an all-time Viking record in the 400 meters and was also a league champion in the long jump.

Aaron Thomas

Thomas made a name for himself with a playoff start in 2015, then he backed up the hype in 2016 with 3,136 yards passing and 29 TDs against only nine picks.

Female athletes

Bri Coleman

A player every team had to account for, the high-flying Coleman led girls volleyball with 293 kills. She also had 235 digs and 47 aces.

Shea O’Leary

One of the most dominant arms in CIF-SS Division 1 softball, the junior righty struck out 240 batters in 211 2/3 innings.

Nikol Popov

After taking 2016 off to focus on the Olympic trials, Popov returned to prep swim and earned the fourth and fifth CIF individual crowns of her career.

Ally Shipman

A lot of teams chose not to deal with Shipman. The catcher walked 33 times. She didn’t strike out once all year, and she hit .613 with 15 home runs and 39 RBIs.

Julia Wolf

The 50-yard free is high school swim’s fastest race, and Wolf was Division 1’s best in the event. She earned the crown with a time of 22.97 seconds, edging her competition by just .01.

Playoff teams

Baseball

Valencia swept its two-game series with West Ranch at the end of the regular season to claim its second straight Foothill title. The Vikes lost to Dos Pueblos of Goleta in the D1 playoffs first round.

Boys basketball

The Vikings beat Hart at Valencia in the Foothill League finale to snag a share of the league title. The joy was short lived. Valencia lost, 67-53, to Upland in the first round of the D2AA playoffs.

Girls basketball

Valencia won its fifth straight league crown before becoming the first team in program history to win a CIF title. The Vikings also won two state games, finally falling to Mater Dei of Santa Ana.

Boys cross country

Valencia advanced to the CIF-SS Division 1 prelims for the second time in school history and finished 14th at the CIF-Southern Section D1 finals.

Football

The Vikings won their eighth straight Foothill League title before advancing to the semifinals of the Division 2 playoffs. Valencia lost there, 41-35, to San Clemente.

Boys golf

The Vikings took third as a team in league, then carded a 405 at the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division Team Divisional, good for seventh place.

Girls golf

The Vikings finished second in the Foothill League and then took 13th at the CIF-SS Central Division championship.

Boys lacrosse

In their first postseason appearance, the Vikings beat St. John Bosco of Bellflower, 14-12, in the first round before losing to Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach, 8-3.

Boys soccer

The Vikings won their second straight Foothill League title. They lost 1-0 to Saddleback in the Division 3 quarterfinals.

Girls soccer

Valencia earned the third and final playoff spot out of the Foothill League, advancing to the second round of the Division 2 playoffs where it lost, 3-1, to Newbury Park.

Softball

Valencia repeated as Foothill League champions and advanced to the Division 1 quarterfinals for the second straight year. The Vikes lost again, this time, 1-0, to Orange Lutheran.

Boys tennis

The Foothill League’s second-place team beat Oak Park, 10-8, in the first round of the D2 playoffs before falling to Sage Hill, 12-6, in the second round.

Girls tennis

The Vikings took second in the Foothill League and lost in the first round of the D1 playoffs, 10-8 to Santa Margarita.

Boys volleyball

Valencia tied Saugus for second place in the Foothill League before losing, 3-0, to Santa Barbara in the first round of the Division 1 playoffs.

Girls volleyball

Valencia won its 14th league title in the last 15 years. It then advanced to the second round of the CIF-SS D1 playoffs, losing 3-0 to Edison of Huntington Beach.

About the author

Mason Nesbitt

Mason Nesbitt

Mason Nesbitt is The Santa Clarita Valley Signal's Sports Editor.

Mason Nesbitt

Mason Nesbitt

Mason Nesbitt is The Santa Clarita Valley Signal's Sports Editor.