Culver High Athletics Scores Big This Season
Seven League Titles
June 13, 2019
The 2018-19 school year was a banner season for Culver City High athletics. The 22 student athletic programs combined to win seven league titles, a new record for the school. The previous best was six titles set just last season. The record was capped off with the football program's CIF Division 7 Championship run last November.
"I'm so proud of all the coaches, the players and their hard work and effort," said Culver City High athletic director Tom Salter. "I couldn't be happier about the kind of student athletes we're turning out at Culver City High School."
Of the seven league champions, four girls programs advanced to the CIF Semifinals and one boys team made it to the Semis to compliment the football title. The success of each team has been contagious. The 22 athletic programs are each feeding off of each other's competiveness to fuel their own drive for success.
The success on the playing field has also translated into the classroom according to Salter: "The relationship with the players and coaches builds more confidence for the students when they take to the field or court. I think those students are also very confident in the classroom."
The Centaurs 61-21 victory over San Jacinto High for the CIF football title in set the tone for the rest of season. It was the second football championship for the school and Jahmal Wright's first as head coach. Wright also broke Salter's previous school record of most career wins as the head football coach.
"I'm very happy for Jahmal, his whole staff and the players. They came so close last year and to be able to come back right after that tough loss to Covina last year and to win it all this year is outstanding. He just does a super job with that program," said Salter.
Boys water polo made the CIF Semifinals for the very first time. "Nestor (Dordoni, Jr.) does a great job in getting the boys ready to play. We won a lot of close games and that's a testament to how mentally tough the kids are and what a fine job Nestor does."
Girls tennis made it to the Semifinals for the first time in school history. They beat Beverly Hills in league again this year. "I'm just proud of Phil (Rothenberg) and Nick (Murchison). They do a great job with the girls and the boys. We had strong senior play that led us in girls tennis."
Girls volleyball with Tanner Siegel as head coach went to the Semifinals following CIF Championships the previous two years. The girls lost to tough match to Village Christian, the eventual champions and an exceptional team that could have easily been a Division 1 school.
Salter: "Girls and boys cross country did well. Coach Tom Fritzius, Steve and Robert Heyl do a great job. They have so many student athletes competing in cross country. The programs keep getting better every year."
The winter programs featured girls soccer. Led by head coach Pete Bartlett, the team has won league two years in a row. Before he arrived the program only won league two other times. They lost in the CIF Semifinals to Oak Hills but came back the following week to beat them in the State Regionals. They finally lost 3-0 in the Regional Final contest to Flintridge Sacred Heart.
Boys soccer had another fine year under head coach Louie Espalet, who retired after the season. "He did a great job," said Salter. "The team made it to the second round of playoffs. Louie did a really god job in his seven years at the school and really gave boys soccer a strong foundation. Michael Castillo, his assistant will be taking over."
Girls basketball has become the standard at Culver City High as they won their seventh league title in the past eight seaons. They were co-champs with El Segundo but had their season end uncharacteristically in the first round of playoffs on the road.
Salter: "We're very proud of head coach Julian (Anderson), Savannah (Erskine), Mark (Kitabayashi) and all the coaches. They do a fantastic job and are consistent every year. They never have a down year."
Boys basketball had an excellent start with first-year head coach Roy Walker. They came in third in the Ocean League and made the playoffs. They rallied from a 20-point deficit to beat West Torrance, 70-67, in the CIF first round before losing to Cresenta Valley, 69-60, in the second round. That was an incredible turn-around and Roy did a fantastic job in his first year. The program keeps getting better and better," said Salter.
Softball blazed a trail for the spring programs led by head coach Raianna Dobbs. The team won league for the first time in quite awhile. They've also made it to the CIF Semifinals now two years in a row, which they'd never done before. They lost to eventual CIF Champion Godina High, 5-0. "Most of the girls will be back as it's a very young team. So softball is in real good hands."
Salter: "Rick Prieto did another outstanding job with the baseball program, also a young team. The team started two freshmen, a number of sophomores and finished a solid second in league. They made it to the playoffs and next year promises to be even better."
Boys track won league for the third time in a row under coach Jahmal Wright. They also placed they did very well in the CIF, placing 13th out of 45 schools. Coach Rayfield Beaton's girls track finished second in the Ocean League finals to El Segundo after having won the previous four seasons. They won all of their duo meets and finished 9th in CIF Finals.
Boys lacrosse won their league championship and were undefeated in league play under head coach Casey Chabola. "Casey has been with the program for about 20 years. This year was the second time they won league. Most of their starters will be back next year. Casey and his staff do a great job," said Salter.
"Coach Emily Rodgers led girls lacrosse to their first-ever league championship. They were Tri-Champs with Downey and El Segundo. The program is on the rise with every year getting better the last five years."
Boys tennis under coach Rothenberg had its first league champion, Greg Turner, since Seth Lewkow won the title in 2002. They finished third in league behind powers Santa Monica and Beverly Hills and should have qualified for the playoffs. Tennis will have a good shot at winning league next year.
Salter: "Girls and boys swimming had a good year. We're in a tough league with Santa Monica and El Segundo. Coach Nestor (Dordoni, Jr.) and his assistant Peter Egan do a great job. Golf did not make the playoffs but had a good year under Brendan Nwoko, a Culver City High alum and golfer. The young team is in good hands moving forward."
Boys volleyball was in a rebuilding year under head coach Joe Manzo. The season featured a couple of wins over Beverly Hills including a 3-0 game rout in the final match of the season. Following a sub .500 record the team expects to return to form next year.
Two of the most important teams that literally support all the other athletic programs are the cheer team and the student trainers. Salter: "Candace Wallace, a Culver City High alum, does an outstanding job as coach of the cheer teams."
"Not only do the cheerleaders compete in cheer competitions but they cheer at most of the school's athletic events, assemblies and rallies. They're very well-organized, are positive role models and a terrific team that shows great spirit for the school."
"The student trainers with Marcos White do an excellent job overseeing all the athletes, making sure we're healthy, happy and ready to play in all of our games. Our school's athletic programs benefit greatly from the work of Marcos White and his student trainers."
Salter was optimistic about the 2019-20 school year: "There's a lot of good athletes coming through the school right now. We have excellent coaches and the expectations for next year will oversee this year. The teams are young and I see us possibly winning up to 11 league championships and a couple of more CIF Championships."