LBHS cross-country team goes to Utah for summer training

Written by Alex Bonnin, LBHS senior

It would be an absurd exaggeration to refer to Grover, Utah, as a “town”. Nestled on the west side of Capitol Reef National Park with nothing around but desert, “nowhere” would be a more suitable label, or perhaps “the middle of nowhere.” Grover has no store, no school, and certainly no digital connection to the outside world. 

Nowhere could the Laguna Beach High School cross country team be more out of place, and nowhere would the fifteen teenage boys have more fun.

Coach Scott Wittkop drove the team via van all across California and Nevada to little Grover, with a few days’ rest in Zion National Park. Finally reaching their destination, they lodged on the family ranch of varsity runner Cal Nielsen. With cows and alfalfa fields surrounding the house, and the vast Utah wilderness stretching into the horizon, the boys ran, ate, slept, played volleyball, ran, hiked, played ping pong and pool, laughed, and ran. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Witttkop

LBHS Cross Country Travel Team training this summer in Utah

L-R: Front. Tanner Burton, Colin Johnson, Jaden Orr, Alex Bonnin, Oliver Russell, Zach Falkowski

Back: Sebastian Fisher, Luc la Montagne, Matt Ghere, Tim Loughlin, Zack Bonnin, Dylan Miller, Massimo Lucidi, JC Farley

With two new coaches on staff and an abundance of talent, the team has high expectations for the season in terms of competition. Runs ranged from five to ten miles every day, and the seven-thousand-foot elevation and frequent rainstorms added extra challenges. The trip’s main goal, however, was to bring the boys closer together as a team, and through bonding experiences like paintball, white water rafting, and “mafia” (a game), results could not have been better.

“Utah was an incredible trip. Breathtaking mountainous scenery, fun hikes, and intense volleyball tournaments all with a team that I could call family,” said senior runner Jack Conor Farley. Through the terrific and the terrible (the running), the team united and looks forward to a champion season.

LBHS class of 1977 will hold its 40th Class Reunion on Sept 23 at Hotel Laguna

On Sep 23, LBHS class of 1977 will celebrate their high school years at their upcoming 40th class reunion. The event takes place from 7 - 9 p.m. at Hotel Laguna located at 425 S Coast Hwy. 

Submitted photo

Jeff Greenough strikes a very seventies pose

“The entire weekend will be filled with memorable events,” organizer Jeff Greenough says. 

The party will start on Fri night at LBHS with a football game. On Sat, the Class of 77 will enjoy a beach party following the reunion later in the evening. On Sun, one last get together will be held at Heisler Park. Of course, reminiscing and catching up on the last 40 years will occur all weekend long. 

Submitted photo

Those were the days…

This event requires RSVP. Tickets cost $50 per person, and checks can be made to Jeff Greenough. Mail to P.O Box 4618, Laguna Beach, CA 92652. 

For more details or questions, visit Facebook at LBHSclassof1977reunion for updates. Text or call Jeff at 949-939-1977 for more information. (Not a number easy to forget – the last four numbers, anyway…for those planning to go to the reunion.)

Boys & Girls Club will hold 4th Annual Night at the Ranch on Sept 22: yes, it’s save-the-date season

The 4th Annual Night at the Ranch will be held on Friday, September 22, at The Ranch in Laguna Beach from 5 – 10 p.m. The night promises to be an unforgettable evening of celebration. The iconic band The English Beat will be playing. 

All proceeds from this event go directly to the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach.

Guests will be treated to a farm-to-table dinner, open bar, exciting live and silent auction items, and of course live music. 

Submitted photo

Last year’s event was magical

Club alumnus, Leif Hanson, had the idea of the Night of the Ranch event five years ago and now it is one of the best events in Laguna. Leif, a resident of Laguna Beach does not have children who attend the Club, nor does he utilize the services or programs offered currently, but he did as a child. He attended what was the Boys Club during his formative years as a young boy and was looking for a way to give back to his Club. He enlisted his good friend and fellow Club Alumnus Steve Blue and together with their amazing committee they have made this event a success. 

“The number of kids who need us has grown so fast that we’re just trying to keep up. Now we need more support than ever so we can be there for all of the kids who need the Club,” says CEO Pam Estes. “Leif, Steve and every supporter of last year’s event came to help at a critical time, and we’re happy to have their generous support again this year.” 

Individual tickets are available for $200 and sponsorship packages start around $500. This event will sell out, so organizers want to make sure that you purchase your tickets to this event before tickets are gone. 

For more information about the event and to purchase admission visit

A clean sweep for Girls Water Polo age group teams: Laguna’s teams are the best in the entire US

Over the past couple of weeks the Laguna Beach girls water polo teams have won three Junior Olympic National Championship gold medals, making them the top 10U, 12U and 14U teams in the entire United States.

The first win was for the 10U girls who beat Huntington Beach 5-3 with Sofia Umeda being named as the Tournament MVP. 

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L-R, 10 U team:Siena Jumani, Kylie Lupescu, Isabella Sarkis, Kaelyn Chism, Coach Albie Beeler, Jordan Katz, Kara Carver, Coach Chad Beeler, Brooke Schneider, Presley Jones, Coach Marc Umeda, Rowan Van Dender, Isabella Renezeder, Tasha Jochim, Sofia Umeda (MVP) & Cailin Mulvany.

Next up was the 12U girls team which also won in a 5-3 game, beating Riverside with Charlotte Riches being named the tournament MVP.  

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L-R, 12U team:Lauren Schneider, Taylor Naughton, Jordan Schneider, Myha Pinto, Ava Knepper, Coach Kelcie Ferreira, Charlotte Riches (MVP), Cleo Washer, Rebecca Storke, Coach Chad Beeler, Sara Block, Eleanor Ramsey, Lauren Short, Avery Montiel, Nina Rogers, Claire Turner & Sadie Riester

Then to end the weekend, the 14U girls took on Commerce, beating them 10-9 with Nicole Struss being named the tournament MVP.

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L-R, 14U team:Tasha Denny, Nicole Struss (MVP), Imani Clemens, Ava Houlahan, Coach Rob Grayeli, Rachael Carver, Genoa Rossi, Coach Rob Carver, Jessie Rose, Lela McCarrol, Coach Chad Beeler, Emma Lineback, Emma Singer & Molly Renner.

“2017 has been a great year for girls water polo in Laguna Beach. Last February the High School team won the prestigious CIF-SS Division 1 Championships, followed two weeks ago by the California High School State Championships and now the age group girls are national champions,” said Club Director Rob Grayeli.

--Report and photos courtesy Steve Riches

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