Throughout the school year, SoCal Prep Legends has been recognizing the best high school student-athletes in Southern California. As the end of the spring sports season approaches, SoCal Prep Legends will announce award winners in 11 categories, including boys and girls Athlete of the Year winners.
In the weeks ahead, we’ll announce finalists for the awards from KABC and the Southern California News Group that includes 11 news outlets throughout Southern California.
Here are the nominees for Coach of the Year:
Doug Soles, Great Oak cross country
Soles’ Great Oak cross country program is a juggernaut in the running community, not just on a local scale, but also on a national level. The Great Oak boys cross country team was labeled the best in the nation last fall after being crowned National Champions in Portland, Ore. at the Nike Cross Nationals on Dec. 5.
Not only did the Wolfpack win under Soles’ guidance, but they made history with 114 total points and won by 49 points — the largest margin in meet history. Soles led both the girls and boys cross country squads to CIF Division 1 State championships this past Fall. The girls team also finished 3rd in the Nike Cross Nationals.
Jeff Sink, Brea girls basketball
Jeff Sink guided the Brea Olinda’s girls basketball team to jaw-dropping heights this past season, with just one senior and one junior. Brea Olinda won the CIF State Southern California Division 1 Regional title and the CIF State Division 1 crown.
Sink turned a team filled with youth and talent into a team of champions. It helped that the lone senior on the team was 5-foot-7 guard Reili Richardson, who’s committed to play at Arizona State next year. But Sink’s ability to teach the game to a crop of freshman and sophomores in a way that they could retain and execute was an outstanding display of coaching.
Kelli DiMuro, Chaminade girls basketball
Chaminade girls head basketball coach Kelli DiMuro led the Eagles to a 31-4 record, which was polished off by winning the CIF State Open Division title — the second state crown in program history. Chaminade also captured the CIF Southern Section Open Division championship for the second straight year.
DiMuro’s strength was displayed through her management of prep stars Valerie Higgins, Leaonna Odom, Melissa Wright, Mackenzy Iwahashi, Zoe Tinsley and Alyssa Fisher.
Steve Baik, Chino Hills boys basketball
Steve Baik recently resigned, but not after leading Chino Hills to a perfect season, finishing 35-0 and finishing No. 1 in the nation on almost every national poll. Baik’s teams not only dominated California with a CIF Southern Section Open Division title and Open Division State title, but defeated teams from nine different states and chalked up 11 wins against teams that were nationally ranked.
The Huskies were on the road so much, they played just seven home games all season – five league games and two playoff games. Although Baik’s Chino Hills team was stacked with unmatchable talent this season, his culture setting philosophies and demand for hard work cannot go without being recognized.
Walter Escobar, Taft girls soccer
It was a Cinderella story for Walter Escobar’s Taft girls soccer team. Escobar’s accomplishments were a product of his hard work and dedication to a program that had never won a West Valley League title or any league title in its history, until this season.
And there was more.
In his third season in charge, Escobar transformed the program from one that lost annually into the 2016 L.A. City Section Division 1 champions, winning the title in March. In the championship game, Escobar’s troops rallied from a 2-0 deficit by scoring three goals in the final 12 minutes to pull out a 3-2 victory over El Camino Real.
SCPL Awards Show: The year will be topped off by an awards show hosted by SoCal Prep Legends and sponsored by Toyota on June 10 to recognize the nominees and winners for each category. Location and time of the show is still to be announced.
Leading up to the SCPL awards show, we will announce the remaining nominees for the following categories weekly:
-Boys Athlete of the Year
-Girls Athlete of the Year
-Play of the Year
-Scholar Athlete of the Year (Boy/Girl)
-Most Outstanding Individual Performance
-Best Student Section/School Spirit (Fan Vote)