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The Age of Excellence: SCV Sports come of age

Posted: December 19, 2009 11:00 p.m.
Updated: December 20, 2009 4:55 a.m.
The Age of Excellence.

It's sort of a grand name, maybe a little over the top, but we'll explain.

Welcome to this series - a 12-day showcase of the best of Santa Clarita sports from this decade.

Beginning today with the year 2000, The Signal will take a daily look back at the people, teams and events that made this the greatest decade in Santa Clarita Valley sports history.

On Dec. 30, we will announce our pick for the Female Athlete of the Decade.

The following day we will announce the Male Athlete of the Decade.

A panel of five Signal sports writers from the decade, including four sports editors, made the selections.

OK, so why is it called, "The Age of Excellence?"

The Santa Clarita Valley's important athletic moments began with the 1940s when Hart High fielded the first high school sports teams.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Hart continued to grow and produced star athletes like future Major League Baseball player Greg Garrett and future Super Bowl quarterback Joe Kapp.

In the 1970s, Canyon and Saugus joined the party.

It wasn't until the 1980s where the Santa Clarita Valley really started to assert itself as an athletic powerhouse.

Canyon's and Hart's football teams began to win CIF titles.

Hart and former College of the Canyons pitcher Bob Walk pitched in the 1980 World Series.

We had others make it big like Todd Zeile, Roger Salkeld, Chuck Osborne and Samantha Ford.

Legendary coaches Harry Welch and Mike Herrington began their runs.

In the 1990s, Hart football became a state powerhouse. The boys cross country team at Hart did the same. In 1992, that team won a national title.

Then there were the athletes - future Olympians like Crystl Bustos, Nicole Giordano and Anthony Ervin and future professionals like James Shields, Jerry Owens and Kyle Boller all graduated high school in the '90s.

But no decade compares to the 2000s.

This decade has produced more championships, more college athletes and more moments than any other decade in this valley's history.

State titles came from Canyon football and Saugus girls cross country and the College of the Canyons golf programs.

National titles came from COC football, Valencia softball and Valencia boys volleyball.

Valencia's Michael Herrick became the state's all-time passing-yardage leader.

We had our athletes make the pages of Sports Illustrated - Nate Longshore, Jessica Spigner, Christian Lopes and Courtney Proctor to name a few.

Though they graduated in the 1990s, Bustos, Ervin and Shields reached pinnacles in the 2000s.

Bustos cemented herself as the greatest Olympic power hitter ever in this decade.

Ervin won Olympic gold.

Shields pitched in the World Series.

In this decade, a new age, an age of excellence, the Santa Clarita Valley was put on the map.

It became a recognizable area of sports achievement.

Now, we celebrate it.


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