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2015 Girls track coach of the year: Nathan Howard, Los Alamitos
At year’s end, he could only count his blessings.
Nathan Howard, the Los Alamitos’ track and field coach for the last 15 years, had entered the season with the expectation of winning the Sunset League. With talented sprinters such as Sara Limp and Ashley Willingham, he had reason to be optimistic.
Little did he know his girls team would not only meet its goals, but surpass them.
For his ability to put his athletes in the best position to succeed, Howard has been selected the Register’s girls track and field coach of the year.
It wasn’t until late in the invitational season that the Griffins realized what they had.
Los Alamitos had been experiencing success in the relays. With the prestigious Arcadia Invite coming up, Howard decided to enter his team into the sprint medley relay - a race split into legs of 200-200-400-800. The quartet of Anijah Green, Limp, Willingham and Katie Izzo ran a nation-leading 3:58.63 in the 1,600-meter event.
“It’s hard to fathom being the nation’s No. 1 out of Los Alamitos High School,” Howard said. “To win Arcadia is what really got the girls excited about the season because they could claim nation No. 1, they could claim Arcadia champions, and they could claim, ‘we are pretty good at this.’”
“It carried over into the second half of the season to where they had that confidence in themselves, and they realized that they are as good individually as they are as a team.”
Following the exciting conclusion to the relay season, Los Alamitos continued to impress. The Griffins won their first Orange County Championship. It was a special moment for Howard.
“Orange County Championships has to be the most satisfying team accomplishment that we’ve had because it signifies where the program has gotten to,” he said. “I took over 15 years ago and took a small program to now being one of the more recognized programs in the county.”
The Griffins also won the Sunset League and set a number of outstanding marks. Los Alamitos’ girls set school records in every track event and had county-leading times in the 100, 200, 400, 3,200 and the 400 and 1,600 relays.