By Charlie Warner, Special to the Independent
Laguna Beach High School water polo star Aria Fischer was selected as the county’s female athlete of the year by the Orange County Athletic Directors.
Players of the year in the Orange Coast League, where LBHS competes, also included Fischer and senior Bruce Knill for his efforts in football and soccer, directors announced Tuesday, May 30.
Fischer, a 2016 Olympic gold medalist in water polo, in her senior year led her team to a 31-0 winning streak, winning the Division 1 championship. Fischer was also awarded the league MVP in water polo. Teammate Bella Baldridge was selected for the first team in Division 1 for the fourth straight year.
In baseball, senior Dante Faicchio received the league MVP award by breaking the career games played record when he passed Chris Paul’s record of 113 contests set in 2011. Faicchio hit a school record of 20 doubles, passing the school single season record of 19 by Grant Wilhelm in 2014. LBHS junior Jack Loechner was named pitcher of the year. He was struck by a line drive in the quarterfinals against Etiwanda, breaking a finger on his pitching hand. The Breakers lost the game 16-7, a defeat doubly painful for Loechner.
While the school year and athletic seasons draw to a close, a new era of sports begins this fall. LBHS will add two new sports, wrestling and lacrosse.
“We have started looking for coaches,” said Athletic Director Lance Neal. “There is a science teacher who played lacrosse in college, and they have mentioned an interest in coaching the girls team.”
Other Orange Coast League schools lack a lacrosse team so next year the LBHS squad will play independently with schools that field a team.
“We will paint temporary lines up for lacrosse,” said Neal of the spring sport. This will remove confusion on the multipurpose field, striped for football and soccer, he said.
Boys and girls wrestling will take place in the winter, and the search for a coach is already underway. Wrestling and basketball take place during the same season and will have to share gym space, Neal said.
“We have two gyms as well as a dance studio. There will be more than enough space for them to practice and play,” said Neal. Other Orange Coast League schools have established wrestling programs.
The following year, LBHS will be moving to the more competitive Sunset League, where schools do compete in lacrosse. Sunset League schools include Fountain Valley and Los Alamitos, significantly larger than LBHS. In fact, LBHS will be the smallest school in the league.