Valencia junior wide receiver Jake Santos runs the ball in the first week of Foothill League play at Canyon High School earlier this year. Cory Rubin/The Signal

2018-19 Valencia Year in Review

Honoring the tradition of excellence in athletics, Valencia High School didn’t disappoint in 2018-19, adding multiple Foothill League titles to the trophy case along with some impressive individual and team accomplishments.

The Vikings football team won its 10th straight Foothill League title, breezing through league play by outscoring its opponents 213-56 and 15 Vikings were named to the All-SCV offense, defense and all-purpose teams. The 2018 All-SCV Defensive Player of the Year Ben Seymour was all business this year, racking up 10.5 sacks to lead the Foothill League and even managed to score a pair of touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball.

Girls cross-country runner Hailey Kirsch made Valencia program history winning the Foothill League girls title, leading the 3-mile Central Park race from start to finish in 18 minutes, 3.3 seconds and was named to the All-Foothill League girls cross-country runners list.

“Our program is working really hard and I have seen great improvements this year alone,” Kirsch said after Foothill League finals. “We have done better than ever in Valencia history and I believe that our program is really stepping up and maybe some of these teams should watch out next year.”

Boys runner and track and field star Kai Wingo had multiple first-place finishes throughout the year, culminating in a CIF-Southern Section Division 1 finals, CIF-SS Masters Meet and State Meet title in the 800-meter race. At the State Meet, Wingo broke his own record of 1:52.08, set earlier in the year, finishing in 1:51.71.

“I can finally rest, just watch the sunrise tomorrow after the great season I had,” Wingo said after the 800-meter win at the State Meet. “It’s really nice to have an accomplishment that I can talk about for the rest of my life. Now, whenever they look up last year’s winner it’ll say Kai Wingo. It’s something that you will never forget, it’s something that’s going to be with me forever.”

Boys soccer went undefeated in league and won a share of the Foothill League title, winning the crown for the second time in three years.

The boys tennis team dethroned the four-time champion West Ranch Wildcats this season, going undefeated in league. The Vikings also took the top spot at the Foothill League Finals in both singles and doubles, with Ian Cho winning the singles crown and Stephen Thay and Eduardo Cedeno claiming the doubles title.

Both boys and girls swim team each finished with Foothill League finals titles with the girls capturing both the regular season and finals titles.

First-year girls basketball head coach Kevin Honaker stepped in and led the girls team to an undefeated Foothill League title behind the All-SCV girls basketball Player of the Year, Yasmine Ahllamara, junior Skylar Ingram and sophomore Mailey Ballard, who all averaged double-figure scoring throughout the year.

“It was like checking off one of our boxes,” Ahllamara said after winning the All-Foothill League girls basketball Player of the Year award. “It was one of our goals from the moment we started practicing and got to know each other. We sat down and talked about goals and going 10-0 was one of the big ones. That moment when we actually accomplished it, we were just very excited.”

The boys team followed the girls lead and matched them with an undefeated Foothill League season of its own, the first in Valencia boys program history. Playing numerous Division 1 schools throughout the year, the Vikings were locked and loaded for the CIF-SS Division 2AA playoffs, falling in the semifinals to eventual runner-up Rancho Cucamonga and again in the CIF State Division 2 regional semifinals.

Losing two games in Foothill League play, the Vikings baseball team returned to the mountaintop after a one-year absence, leading the league in runs scored and runs allowed. Returning to the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs, the Vikings fell in the first round to Harvard-Westlake.

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

Amanda Tabanera

A four-year varsity tennis player, Tabanera advanced to the CIF-SS playoffs as a singles player or doubles player every year. This season, Tabanera served as Valencia’s No. 1 singles player, but teamed up with Brenna Whelan in the Foothill League Finals. The duo won league finals and advanced to the CIF-SS Individual Championships. The pair won their first three matches handily and advanced to the round of 16 before falling to a team that reached the finals.

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

Davis Cop

Cop turned heads in both baseball and football this year, serving as Valencia’s starting third baseman and leadoff hitter and starting quarterback. The Foothill League baseball Player of the Year finished second in the league in hits (31) and slugging percentage (.661). He was third in batting average (.376) and tied for the most home runs (5). On the gridiron, he threw for 1,800 yards and 15 touchdowns while rushing 133 yards and four touchdowns on 60 carries.

Five most memorable teams

Boys basketball

The Vikings had a historic season, finishing 26-8 and setting several program records. Their 26 wins were the most in program history, they manufactured an 11-game winning streak, also a record, and they went an undefeated 10-0 in league play for the first time. Valencia went undefeated at home (9-0) and also won two games at the state tournament, which were both firsts. The Vikings graduated several key seniors, but bring back a young and hungry group looking to surpass last year’s momentus season.

Girls basketball

Like their colleagues on the boys team, the Vikings went an undefeated 10-0 in league. They went 17-11 overall and strung together a five-game winning streak to close out the regular season. The Vikings lost in the first round in a hard-fought battle against Alemany in the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs. Valencia only graduated two seniors, bringing back a strong core of players who will look to make a deeper in the postseason next year.

Girls swim

Sweeping both the Foothill League regular season and league finals, the notoriously fast Valencia girls swim team was headlined by the back-to-back All-SCV Girls Swimmer of the Year Izabella Adame, the Foothill League’s 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard butterfly title holder. Winning five Foothill League title’s overall: 200-yard medley relay, the 200-yard freestyle relay, the 100-yard backstroke along with the two titles that Adame won, the Vikings girls 200-yard medley relay team (Jin Young Yi, Julia Unas, Adame, Allison Cho) advanced to the CIF State Meet and had the best finish out of all the Foothill League relay teams, finishing in fifth place.

Baseball

The Vikings finished 18-13 overall and 13-2 in league, capturing their third Foothill League crown in four years. Valencia’s lineup was stacked from top to bottom and featured one of the league’s best pitching rotations. Defense was also a key factor, as the Vikings kept errors and passed balls to a minimum. Valencia faced off against Harvard-Westlake in the first round of the Division 1 playoffs, a rematch from last season’s first-round playoff game that the Vikings won. The Wolverines were able to upend the Vikings this time around.

Football

The football team got off to a shaky start, losing three out of its first five games, though they lost all three games by a combined 10 points. Valencia rebounded in league play to finish the regular season on a five-game winning streak. The Vikings won their 10th consecutive league title and continued their impressive streak, not dropping a league game since the 2011 season. Valencia faced off against Mater Dei in the first round, losing to the eventual Division 1 champions 44-6.

Five most memorable male athletes

Ben Gould

Gould had an incredible senior wrestling campaign that concluded with a third-place finish at the CIF State Championships in the 195-pound bracket. His finish at state is the highest place a Vikings wrestler has ever attained, and to top it off he did it after spraining his ankle early in the tournament. Gould did not suffer a loss until the State Championships. He’ll be continuing his wrestling career at Colorado State University-Pueblo.

Richard Kawakami

The All-SCV boys basketball Player of the Year, Kawakami did it all for his team, helping lead the Vikings to an undefeated league season. The 6-foot-4 point guard averaged 14.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game and also shot 55 percent from the field. Kawakami had the ability to get in the paint with ease using his speed, size and nifty ball handling skills. He could also shoot from distance and was proficient at finding his teammates in the right spots.

Ben Seymour

The leader of Valencia football’s defense, Seymour put up impressive numbers this past season including 10.5 sacks, 27 tackles, three pass deflections, a caused fumble and fumble recovery. The linebacker was relentless when it came to chasing down the opposing team’s quarterback. He also contributed on offense, scoring two touchdowns. Seymour shared the honor of Foothill League football Player of the Year and was named the All-SCV Defensive Player of the Year.

Mitchell Torres

A dual-sport athlete who flourished in both baseball and football, Torres was a major contributor on both teams. He was third on the Vikings in hits (33), RBIs (20) and batting average (.371) and also went 7-2 in nine starts with an ERA of 1.86 on the mound. In football, he had 12 receptions for 219 yards and a touchdown and also logged four tackles for loss, two sacks and an interception on defense.

Kai Wingo

Wingo starred on Valencia’s track and field team, representing the Vikings at the CIF State Track and Field Championships in the 800-meter race. His season was full of first-place finishes including the Maurice Greene Invitational, Arcadia Invitational, Foothill League Finals, CIF-SS Division 1 Finals and the CIF-SS Masters Meet. He concluded the year by finishing in first place at the State Meet, becoming the first Santa Clarita Valley high school athlete to win state since Valencia’s Aly Drake won the girls 800-meter in 2009.

Five most memorable female athletes

Izabella Adame

Gaining speed, literally, in her sophomore year, Adame continued to be a force to be reckoned with this year. Repeating with back-to-back Foothill League titles as part of the 200-yard medley relay team and the 200-yard freestyle relay team, Adame was the fastest girls swimmer in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard butterfly. At the CIF-SS Division 1 swim finals, Adame placed fourth in the 100-yard butterfly and second in the 100-yard breaststroke. Making the trip up to the State Meet for the first time, Adame and the 200-yard medley team placed fifth, while she finished in third place in the 100-yard breaststroke.

Yasmine Ahllamara

One of only two seniors on the girls basketball roster, Ahllamara put up numbers across the board to help the Vikings win an undefeated league title. She averaged 9.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game. She was also the team’s leading 3-point shooter, hitting 46 shots from long range. Ahllamara was a solid defender with quick hands, leading the team with 45 pass deflections.

Hailey Kirsch

Kirsch helmed a cross-country team that reached the CIF-SS Division 1 Finals. Her first-place finish in the 3-mile race at the Foothill League Finals was a first for Valencia, as she finished with a winning time of 18:03.3. She came in 25th place at the CIF-SS Finals out of 174 runners with a time of 17:38.0. Kirsch won the Ojai Invitational, beating out 261 other runners with a time of 19:18.7. She also won the 2.9-mile race at the Bell Jeff Invitational out of 160 runners to start the season.

Katie von Mecklenburg

The senior did it all for the lacrosse team, from scoring to assisting to winning draws. Von Mecklenburg finished second on the team with 44 goals and first on the team with 23 assists. She logged a shooting percentage of .530 and 67 total points. She also had the most ground balls with 81 and won a whopping 191 draws out of 312 attempts. She will continue her lacrosse career at Maryville University in St. Louis.

Delaney Scully

The softball team was loaded with talent, including a handful of underclassmen who showed great aptitude for the game. One of those underclassmen was Scully, who led the Vikings with 31 hits and 29 RBIs. The sophomore batted .352, the second best average on the team and launched four home runs.

Playoff Teams

Boys Basketball

Completing its first-ever undefeated Foothill League campaign, the Valencia boys basketball team led by a talented trio of seniors, Richard Kawakami, Josh Assiff, Jayden Trower and sharpshooting junior Jake Hlywiak, won all but two Foothill League games by double-digits. Reaching the CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA semifinals and the CIF State Division 2 regional semifinals, Valencia took Rancho Cucamonga down to the wire, but ultimately fell in both games ending a magical season.

Girls Basketball

Beginning the season with four losses in the Battle of the Beach Tournament and a forfeit against La Canada, the Vikings girls team turned things around winning 17 out of the next 22 games, including an undefeated Foothill League title. The Vikings advanced to the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs falling to Bishop Alemany in the opening round.

Boys volleyball

Ending the year second in the Foothill League and losing just three league matches, the Vikings did not shy away from tough opposition through the year.  They played elite Division 1 teams like Cathedral Catholic, Westview and El Camino Real. Drawing Oxnard on the road in the CIF-SS Division 2 first round, the Vikings made quick work of the Yellowjackets, beating them in three sets, but fell to Esperanza in the next round.

Boys swim

Winning the Foothill League Finals title, the Valencia boys swim team pushed themselves to new heights with every meet that they competed in. Sending multiple swimmers to the CIF-SS Division 1 Prelims and Finals, the 200-yard freestyle relay team finished in third place. The 400-yard freestyle relay, the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 200-yard medley relay teams all qualified for the CIF State Meet.

Girls swim

Winning the Foothill League regular season and finals title, the girls swim team was battle-tested throughout the year. At league finals, the 200-yard medley relay and the 200-yard freestyle relay teams came away with Foothill League titles. At the CIF-SS Finals, both teams reached the podium with two third-place finishes. At the State Meet, the 200-yard medley relay team had the best finish out of any Foothill League relay team, boys or girls, finishing in fifth place.

Boys tennis

The Vikings went into the playoffs hot after claiming a Foothill League title. Led by sophomore No. 1 singles player Gabriel Chavez, who went 3-0, the Vikings defeated Redondo Union 12-6 in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs. The doubles teams of Stephen Thay and Eduardo Cedeno, Brent Lim and Ellis Bosarge also won all three of their sets. Valencia fell in the second round 13-5 against San Clemente.

Girls tennis

After a second-place finish in league, the Vikings faced off against Camarillo in the first round of the Division 1 playoffs, a team that had only lost one match heading into the postseason. The Vikings came close to handing the Scorpions their second loss, but ultimately fell 11-7. No. 1 singles player Amanda Tabanera won all three of her sets, dropping just one game. The doubles team of Brenna Whelan and Kirsten Kieu won two of their three sets.

Baseball

Winning the Foothill League title for the third time in four years, the Vikings did it with their arms and their bats, leading the league in runs scored (106) and runs allowed (31). Drawing Harvard-Westlake for the second straight year in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs, the Vikings couldn’t repeat their performance from a year ago, falling 7-1.

Softball

Finishing in third place in the final Foothill League standings, the Vikings put together two winning streaks of five games or more throughout the season against high-level competition. In a CIF-SS Division 1 first-round playoff game, the Vikings fell to Pacifica 6-1, the No. 8 ranked team in Division 1 according to MaxPreps.com

Girls golf

Finishing atop the Foothill League standings at 1,104 , the Vikings came in 11th place out of the 24-team field at the CIF-SS Team Championships. Sung Park and Jenny Shin each carded a team-low 11-over.

Boys soccer

Dropping the first game of the year, which was the Vikings only regular season loss, the Vikings regrouped by playing staunch defense and captured a share of the Foothill League crown with Hart. Beating Carpinteria 1-0 in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs, Valencia fell to Valley View 1-0 in the following round.

Girls soccer

The Vikings finished the Foothill League season in fourth place with a 9-9-4 overall record and 3-5-2 league record. Qualifying for the CIF-SS Division 2 playoffs with an at-large bid, the Vikings fell to the Del Rey League’s top finisher, Bishop Amat, 4-1 in the first round.

Girls cross-country

With All-Foothill League girls runner Hailey Kirsch winning Valencia’s first-ever Foothill League finals title, the Valencia girls team finished third in the final Foothill League standings. At CIF-SS Division 1 finals, the girls team finished in 21st place.

Girls lacrosse

Finishing the regular season 11-8 overall, the Vikings girls lacrosse team set the school record in wins. Drawing Thousand Oaks High School in the first round of the Division 2 Invitational Playoffs, Valencia took care of business and won 13-7. Falling to Dos Pueblos in the following round, the girls lacrosse team was the first Valencia High School lacrosse team to win a playoff match.

Football

Winning their 10th consecutive Foothill League title with a league winning streak that stands at 35 games and counting, the Vikings won all five of their league games by 27 points or more. Drawing Mater Dei, the No. 1 ranked team in the country in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs, the Vikings left it all out on the field, falling 44-6.

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