Fall notes: Hellgren, CdM off to fast start


OCVarsity's weekly notebook for the fall sports of boys water polo, girls volleyball, girls tennis, girls golf and boys and girls cross country: 


The weekend provided a bevy of impressive performances as individual runners begin to embrace bigger roles at the start of the new cross country season.

Leif Hellgren made inroads toward solidifying Corona del Mar’s No. 1 slot vacated by recent graduate Parker Nostrand. The junior was one of four county runners to run a sub-16-minute time in winning his Division 3 grade-level race at the Laguna Hills Invite on Saturday.

“Last year when I ran it, I thought about conserving energy thinking people would die out after the first 100 meters. I got third place,” Hellgren said. “This year, I decided to stick with the top guy, and when I saw the chance with enough time to out-kick him, I would do that.”

Other county runners to complete the course in under 16 minutes were JSerra’s Andrew Burkhardt (15:11), Santa Ana’s Jorge Suarez (15:43), and Tesoro’s Carter Christman (15:56).

In the Pat Hadley Invitational at Valencia High, El Dorado’s Lucina Vincent led all girls with a time of 18:09. Kennedy’s Katherine Tech was second among county competitors with an 18:38 to win the girls senior race.

The boys’ side produced a thrilling finish. Valencia’s Steve Arce (17:27.68) beat Pacifica’s Omar Saleh (17:27.72) by a nose in the senior race.

Mariners junior Jacob Smith ran a 15:51 to post the top time at the meet.

In the Rosemead Invitational, San Juan Hills found out that it has emerging talent in its freshman ranks. Daniel White ran a 15:51 to set a freshman meet record.

Yorba Linda’s Ashley Lee placed second in the junior girls race with a 17:36.



It is tournament season across the girls volleyball landscape. With the Dave Mohs Memorial Tournament ending Monday, several county teams will set their attention to Las Vegas this weekend.

The annual Durango Fall Classic begins Friday. There will be nine county teams participating in the 64-team field: Beckman, Edison, El Dorado, Laguna Beach, Los Alamitos, Newport Harbor, San Clemente, Santa Margarita and Villa Park.

Santa Margarita had the best finish among county schools last year (ninth place).

You can keep up with all of the action by visiting Pool play assignments will be posted Thursday.



With some schools beginning league play as early as next Tuesday, this week’s slate of nonleague matches features three top-10 showdowns that could potentially shake up the county landscape.

Top-ranked University travels to take on No. 3 Dana Hills on Tuesdasy afternoon in the week’s marquee matchup. The Trojans opened their season with an 11-7 win over No. 6 Santa Margarita, and now look to knock off the Dolphins for their second victory against a ranked county foe in the preseason.

Santa Margarita’s aggressive nonleague scheduling has resulted in a three-match losing streak, but the Eagles can end that trend later today when they host fifth-ranked Northwood, another Pacific Coast League power.

On Wednesday, No. 2 Corona del Mar hits the road for a meeting with No. 8 JSerra.



An invitation went out to all of the top-ranked girls in the SCPGA’s junior program.

How would you like a chance to tee off in a field full of men in the during the Inland Empire Amateur Championship?

Only two girls took the SCPGA up on its offer - Isabella Seeburger and Emily Lichty, the No. 1 players on the San Clemente and San Juan Hills varsity golf team.

The girls got a bit of a break, playing a course that was about 85 percent shorter than the 6,843 yards the guys had to contend with at Oak Valley Golf Club in Beaumont over Labor Day weekend.

Seeburger said she was nervous at first, but she opened with a 1-over-par 73 and just missed the cut after shooting a 6-over 77 in the second round. Her 150 is the lowest two-day score of her golf career. Lichty carded a 74 and 81 during the tournament and went home after the second round, too.

“I accepted the invitation because I felt that it would be a good experience to play with high level college and amateur players. I looked at it as an opportunity to grow and improve as a player,” Seeburger said in an email. “There was a more internalized serious atmosphere (at the tournament). so it drove me to keep up with them and strive to do my best. At the same time they appreciate good play so it was an enjoyable environment.”



Huntington Beach’s boys water polo team is ranked second this week in Orange County to Mater Dei but there is something the Oilers can claim over the Monarchs.

They played two-time defending CIF-SS Division 1 champion Harvard-Westlake of Studio City to a closer score at the Santa Barbara Invitational.

“(That’s) my opinion and obviously the results show the same exact thing but we matched up against them pretty well,” Huntington Beach first-year coach Sasa Branisavljevic said.

“It was a good game for us. Harvard is a very good team obviously. It’s going to be a big challenge shutting their big guys down: (centers Ben) Hallock and Felix (Brozyna-Vilim).”

Huntington Beach fell in the semifinals to Harvard-Westlake, 11-7, while Mater Dei lost to the Wolverines, 12-3, in the tournament final Saturday at Dos Pueblos of Goleta.

Branisavljevic was especially encouraged by the Oilers’ halftime score against Harvard-Westlake. The Wolverines led, 4-2.

“It’s really a team effort,” he said.

The coach said he was especially pleased with his 2-meter guards at the tournament: Jacob Cavano, Andrew Tucker, Jason Dompke and James Vlachonassios. Center Quinten Osborne also has guarded center so far this season.

Huntington Beach and Harvard-Westlake have rescheduled their nonleague game to Oct. 3 at Harvard-Westlake.

“At this point, (Harvard-Westlake) is a little bit above everybody but that gap can be closed,” Branisavljevic said. “We just need to focus on our training.”


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