2016-17 Signal Sports Awards: Male Athlete of the Year

Saugus' Tanner Olson swims the 200-yard individual medley during the Foothill League swimming prelims at the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center in May. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

The Santa Clarita Valley high schooler who’s been fastest in the pool this season has lately been spending some well-deserved time beside it.

Recent Saugus High graduate Tanner Olson, holder of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 meet record in the 100-yard breaststroke and described by his former club coach as the program’s hardest worker, decided recently to rest, at least for a week or so.

Instead of waking at 6:30 a.m. for 7:15 practices, like normal, Olson has been sleeping till around 9:30 since July 19, limiting himself to dryland exercises and relaxing before leaving to swim for Texas A&M in the fall.

Olson plans to get back to work on Monday.

When he does, he’ll do it bearing the title of The Signal’s 2016-17 Male Athlete of the Year.

“I’m very grateful for being able to be the SCV Male Athlete of the Year,” Olson said. “I hope it inspires other kids to get motivated and work hard toward this title.”

Saugus High’s Tanner Olson is the second straight Centurion to win The Signal’s Male Athlete of the Year award. Dan Watson/For The Signal

Olson entered the spring with a particularly auspicious goal in mind. He longed to break the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 meet record in the 100 breaststroke, a mark that narrowly eluded him as a junior at CIF finals.

“He wanted it so badly he didn’t wait for finals,” Olson’s mother, Teresa, said. “He got it in prelims.”

Olson swam the race in 53.25 seconds at CIF prelims in Riverside in May, surpassing the previous mark set by former Saugus and Mission Viejo standout, John Criste.

Olson then lowered the record to 53.18 during finals, where he won his second straight CIF crown in the event.

The titles, former Canyons Aquatic Club coach Coley Stickels says, correlate with Olson’s work ethic.

Saugus swim’s Tanner Olson. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

“He was probably the most consistent trainer in the entire group over the last year,” Stickels, now a coach at Indiana University, said. “Nobody really worked harder than Tanner, and the results showed.”

For the next few days, though, Olson will likely stick to dryland work – rows and lat pulldowns – and relaxing poolside, soaking up the final days of summer before he leaves for College Station, Texas.

Olson already knows who two of his three roommates will be at Texas A&M – one is from Texas and the other from Brazil. Both are swimmers.

He’s relatively prepared for living on his own, having traveled to faraway meets with Canyons and regularly keeping his room clean at home.

“I said, ‘You can’t be a slob when you have roommates,’” Teresa said.

Inside the Ballot Box


Finalists First Second Third Total
Tanner Olson 10 0 1 11
Aaron Thomas 5 3 1 9
Gabriel Coronado 0 6 1 7
1st place vote=5
2nd place vote=3
3rd place vote=1

Past Male Athletes of the Year

2015-16 — Ryan Tate (Saugus)
2014-15 — Kyle Ensing (Valencia)
2013-14 — Davis Koppenhaver (Hart)
2012-13 — Drew Wolitarsky (Canyon)
2011-12 — Tim White (Hart)
2010-11 — Steven Manfro (Valencia)
2009-10 — Alex Bishop (Valencia)
2008-09 — Desi Rodriguez (Saugus)
2007-08 — Johnny MacArthur (Hart)
2006-07 — J.J. DiLuigi (Canyon)
2005-06 — Teddy Goetz (Valencia)
2004-05 — Ryan Wolfe (Hart)
2003-04 — Orlando Peña (SCCS)

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