Rio Hondo League


First published in the Dec. 9 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.

Junior Selina Wu and senior Elaine Wu advanced all the way to the semifinals of the CIF Girls’ Individual Tennis Championships in doubles competition. All of the top doubles teams are entered into the competition regardless of their high school’s CIF classification.
Selina and Elaine — who are not directly related — were defeated by the team of Sasha Ozerets and Kei Cato of Aliso Niguel High School of Aliso Viejo in the semifinals.
The Titan tandem was part of San Marino High School’s girls’ tennis team which recently captured the CIF Division 1 championship by defeating Rio Hondo League rival La Cañada, 10-8, in the final.

First published in the Nov. 4 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.

Lightning struck San Marino High School’s varsity football team last Friday night for the second time in a week, and in the future neither bolt will spark many positive memories.
Instead, when summoning up memories of the 2021 season, players, coaches, family members and close friends may recall of one of the most painful yet exhilarating two-game spans in decades as the Titans were nipped at the wire for the second consecutive week.

First published in the Oct. 28 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.

Perhaps nobody who headed west for Friday night’s rivalry football game should have expected a different outcome, considering that the majority of the classic horror movie “Halloween” was filmed in South Pasadena.
San Marino fans probably watched the final minutes of the annual battle for the Crowley Cup through gapes in their fingers as the host Tigers pulled off an ending for the ages, scoring a game-winning touchdown with just over a minute remaining to defeat San Marino, 24-21, and break a 10-game losing streak to the Titans.

First published in the Sept. 30 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.

Howard Chen
Kayla Giddings and Anya Tang
Lucas Levy

The familiar colors of the Rio Hondo League assembled in Lacy Park last Thursday afternoon for the first cross-country meeting of the school year, with host San Marino High School athletes establishing themselves among the the serious contenders.
Despite a thinner roster than other years, San Marino’s varsity girls displayed quality, pushing league stalwarts La Cañada and South Pasadena to the tape for a third-place finish.
Meanwhile, the boys’ varsity squad employed the prowess of three sophomores to finish just one place behind South Pasadena and solidly ahead of the remainder of the competitors.
In high school cross-country races, each school is allowed to send a maximum of seven runners to the starting line. The five fastest times are combined to calculate a team score.

First published in the Sept. 2 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.

Even though San Marino High School varsity boys’ water polo coach Robert Zirovich is marking 20 years in the craft, he freely admits he hasn’t the slightest clue what to expect from the Titans as they enter the 2021 season. Pandemics will do that.
This is Zirovich’s eighth year with the Titans but he has the wide-eyed anticipation of a newborn child after what has been, for all intents and purposes, a two-year gap in the sport.
The Titans’ 2019 season was held in its normal September-to-November time slot, but COVID erased the entire 2020 campaign. The CIF offered an abbreviated schedule this past spring, but few schools were able to find enough players to field teams. The Titans found 10 players willing to suit up and played three games during a 10-day season in mid-March. San Marino lost all three, but Zirovich was thrilled even to get that truncated slate played. In fact, he was so pleased that he doesn’t remember who, if anyone, won the Rio Hondo League or even if a championship was awarded.
“I feel a little ignorant not being able to answer that question,” Zirovich said. “I don’t even know if any other teams in the Rio Hondo League played.”

They looked nothing like the dozen men who moments earlier had finished engaging in 36 minutes of the most fervent, inspired basketball that has been seen in these parts for quite some time.
Instead, the San Marino High School boys’ basketball team was drained — physically and emotionally — after losing a heartbreaking CIF Division 4AA second-round playoff game to Elsinore, 74-72 in overtime, on Saturday night.
The game will long be remembered, chiefly for the effort expended by the outmanned, outsized Titans. But also due to the fact that San Marino held several double-digit leads during the contest and even held a five-point advantage during the four-minute overtime period.

Calling it “the calm before the storm,” San Marino High School head football coach Justin Mesa welcomed his Titans on Monday afternoon for the first official practice of the season.
“I think it went well,” said Mesa. “The kids have a ton of energy and they are excited. I overheard several of the players say that they had a lot of fun. I could see we were a little rusty, but it was great to get back in the huddle. They were energetic and did everything we asked of them.”

Photos courtesy Chaz Davis
Chaz Davis, holding his University of Georgia mortarboard, stands with his parents, Kris and Beth, both of whom graduated from NAU.

Chaz Davis is poised to make football history this Saturday for the second time in his life, though many in San Marino will not consider it nearly as significant as his first achievement.
Davis, a member of San Marino High School’s record-setting 2015 football team, will be on the sidelines when Northern Arizona University kicks off its 2021 football season in Flagstaff when they host the Montana Grizzlies. Not surprisingly, it’s believed to be the first time the Lumberjacks have played a game in the month of February.
Davis, who graduated from San Marino High School in 2016, recently came to NAU as a recruiting and operations assistant, where he has a hand in operations, recruiting and player personnel.
Like many programs, NAU scrapped the 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic in hopes for more favorable conditions this spring. But while workouts are typically slated to begin during the ideal, late-summer, high-altitude atmosphere, a much different climate greeted participants when they began training in December.
“Cold, cold, cold,” Davis, a Southern California native, quipped. “We got something like 40-plus inches of snow in less than a month. In a span of a couple days, we got what is called the ‘Flagstaff Dump’ as the people here refer to it, around 30 inches. A fun fact is that Flagstaff is the second-snowiest city in the United States after Syracuse, New York.”

Photos by Mitch Lehman / TRIBUNE
Titan football coach Justin Mesa addressed the Rotary Club of San Marino in December via Zoom.

Though Gov. Gavin Newsom’s lifting of the state’s stay-at-home order on Monday has provided some optimism, local school officials are not yet clear about the immediate future of prep sports.
While interpretations of its long-term impact will certainly vary, an announcement last week from an arm of the California Interscholastic Federation — the governing body for prep sports in the state — dealt yet another blow to the hopes of high school athletes for conducting any substantial competitions during the 2020-21 school year.
“Today, I must regretfully announce that we are canceling our 2020-21 CIF Southern Section Fall Sports Championships due to the COVID pandemic,” said the statement from the section’s commissioner of athletics, Rob Wigod.