2018-19 Golden Valley Year in Review

Golden Valley heads onto the field prior to a scrimmage against Crescenta Valley at Harry Welch Stadium. Cory Rubin/ The Signal

While Golden Valley High School didn’t have any teams reach the playoffs this year, many of its athletes had tremendous individual seasons and put up phenomenal performances.

The boys and girls track and field teams highlighted the year, as the boys squad won the Foothill League with an undefeated 5-0 record, and the girls finished in second place with a 4-1 record.

“From the distance group to all the jumpers to just filling holes and gaps that we needed over the year, it was a determination and steady grind form the summer,” said track and field head coach Jalonick Davis after the boys clinched the league title. “The day after state last year we got to our summer practice right when we got back on Monday, no rest, time to go. They bought in to the different coaching philosophies, and I’m just appreciative to be able to have them and grow with them.”

Golden Valley track and field sent the largest contingent of athletes to the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 Finals, including both boys and girls relay teams for the 4×100 and 4×400.

Two throwers advanced to the CIF State Track and Field Championships, Shyann Franklin and Kienan Donovan. Franklin finished second in California in the girls shot put and Donovan was able to reach the finals in both discus and shot put.

“This is a young group and I believe we’ll be right back there next year at the end battling Saugus and the other teams in the league. The sky is the limit,” Davis said. “I’m very proud of the girls, they matured and they grew. As far as the guys, we felt short just a little bit last year and we’ve been on a mission to alleviate this chip on our shoulder that we had from last season.”

Daniel Rush represented the boys cross-country team, making his way to the CIF-SS Division 2 Finals in the 3-mile race, where he finished in 11th place out of 170 runners.

The senior, who is also a member of the track and field team, reached the CIF State Cross-Country Championships and placed 54th in the 5,000-meter race out of 205 runners.

The girls tennis program was well-represented in the CIF-SS Individual Championships, as junior Justine Dondonay advanced to the semifinals of the tournament. It’s the deepest playoff run a singles player has made from a Foothill League school.

Dondonay was also named a National High School All-American.

“Coming into the season I knew Justine was a top player in Southern California. Seeing her get to the semifinals of this tournament with as many good players as there are here, I’m just absolutely impressed by her,” said tennis head coach Josh Stimac after her semifinal match. “Nothing but respect for her. I’m absolutely proud of what she’s accomplished.”

Female Athlete of the Year (as selected by the school)

Shyann Franklin

Franklin had an exceptional senior campaign, flourishing in shot put and discus while also being a huge contributor to the basketball team. She finished second in the state in shot put with a personal record of 48-3/4, which was the sixth-best mark in the country this year. On the court, she led the Grizzlies averaging a double-double with 14.5 points and 10.8 rebounds.

Male Athlete of the Year (as selected by the school)

Daniel Rush

Rush led the charge for both the cross-country team and the track and field team. In cross-country the senior reached the state competition, running in the 5,000-meter event. In track and field, he placed third in the 3,200-meter race at Foothill League Finals. At the Don Green Invitational, he finished in first place out of 45 runners in the 3,200-meter.

Five most memorable teams

Boys track and field

With Canyon having won the Foothill League championship the past nine seasons in boys track and field, the Grizzlies decided enough was enough. Golden Valley dominated the sport this year, going undefeated in league and sending a league-high eight boys athletes to the CIF-SS Division 2 Finals, and also two relay teams. Both the 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams took home the league title and Kienan Donovan represented the Grizzlies at the CIF State Track and Field Championships in both discus and shot put.

Girls track and field

After going 1-4 the previous two seasons, the girls track and field team turned it around, finishing 4-1 and second in league. The Grizzlies sent five girls athletes to the CIF-SS Division 2 Finals and also two relay teams. Like the boys, the girls 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams won Foothill League titles. Female Athlete of the Year Shyann Franklin finished in second place in shot put at the State Meet.

Girls volleyball

Golden Valley made a drastic leap this season, more than doubling its win total with a record of 21-11-3 after going 9-18-1 the previous year. While the team graduated a handful of seniors, several key players return next season as the Grizzlies aim to make a playoff appearance.

Boys volleyball

Like their counterparts on the girls team, the boys made huge improvements this year from the season prior, going 8-13-1 overall compared to 3-17 in 2018. Winless in league last year, the Grizzlies were able to notch two league wins this season and defeated Dos Pueblos, a playoff team in Division 2.  

Boys soccer

While the Grizzlies’ 5-11-3 overall record may not seem like much, it was a huge upgrade over the past few seasons. In the previous four years, the Grizzlies won a total of two league games total. This year, they matched that same total, going 2-8 in league. Under the direction of first-year head coach Ken Claborn, Golden Valley will continue to make strides in the years to come.

Five most memorable male athletes

Antonio Abrego

Abrego did the majority of his damage in the 800-meter race, earning several top finishes including second place at the Foothill League Finals. The sophomore also took second place at the CIF-SS Division 2 Finals and was an alternate at the CIF-SS Masters Meet. Additionally, Abrego was a contributor on Golden Valley’s relay teams, helping them win the 4×400 league title.

Kienan Donovan

Another track and field sophomore who dominated in his events, Donovan was a force in both the discus and shot put. He won the Foothill League crown in discus with a mark of 168-6 and finished second in shot put. At the CIF-SS Division 2 Finals, he hit a personal record 171-2 in discus, which earned him third place. He advanced to the State Championships in both events.

Johnathan Kaelin

Whether it was in the backfield, out wide or on defense, Kaelin carried the load for the Golden Valley football team this season. The multidimensional junior athlete led the Grizzlies in receptions (35), receiving yards (526), touchdowns (15) and all-purpose yards (975). He carried the ball 43 times for 302 yards, including a 73-yard run. On defense, he was second on the team in tackles with 45.

Derrese Morganfield II

As the football team’s leader on defense, Morganfield II recorded 91 tackles, which was second-most in the Foothill League. The senior linebacker added five tackles for loss, one sack and had an interception returned for a touchdown. He was one of only three players on defense that started all 10 games.

Dylan Yu

Yu served as the No. 1 singles player for Golden Valley, and was the tennis team’s main weapon. His style was well-rounded, and the senior was capable of playing a sound defensive game while also picking the right spots to be aggressive with his powerful groundstrokes. Yu finished in third place at the Foothill League Finals.

Five most memorable female athletes

Justine Dondonay

Dondonay single-handedly raised the level of tennis in the Golden Valley program. She finished in second place at the Foothill League Finals, and made a deep run at the CIF-SS Individual Championships, reaching the semifinals. For her efforts on the court, Dondonay was named a National High School All-American, one of 40 girls to receive the honor across the country.

Tylar Gallien

It was quite the first year of high school for Gallien, who earned two Foothill League titles as a freshman track and field athlete. She took home the league crown in the 200-meter with a time of 25.32 and also won the 400-meter with a time of 57.29. She ran in both races at the CIF-SS Division 2 Finals, coming in sixth place in both while setting a personal record in the 400-meter with a time of 57.18. Furthermore, she was a member of the first-place 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams.

Jordan Nunez

A high IQ volleyball player, Nunez was the leader for the Grizzlies and helped turn the program around this season. She led the team with 52 kills and a .256 hitting percentage and was second in digs with 50 and assists with 55. She also tacked on eight aces.

Jasmine Reblando

Reblando made a huge jump from last season, going from the No. 14 spot to finishing in sixth place this year. She was the only Golden Valley player in the top 10 and tied for runner-up in two league meets.

Sophia Medellin

A do-it-all player, Medellin led the softball team in nearly every offensive category including hits (23), runs (18), RBIs (18), triples (4), home runs (4) and batting average (.657), which was the best average in the league. She also filled in as a pitcher when necessary.

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About the author

Dan Lovi

Dan Lovi

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Dan has covered sports from the high school level to the professional ranks. He is a graduate of Hofstra University in New York and The University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He is a sports writer for The Signal.