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The 2017 sports year was a busy one on the Central Coast, and there is a packed list of honorable mention stories for the Lee Central Coast Newspapers' list of top stories of the year.

The LCCN sports staff selected the stories.

As of the 2018-19 school year, the PAC 8 League and Los Padres League will be no longer, though the PAC 5 League, for football, might stay the same.

Early this year, the California Interscholastic Central Section office approved a request by representatives of several area schools' athletics programs to switch their programs from the CIF's Southern Section to the Central Section.

Valley Christian Academy is the only Santa Maria Valley school that will stay in the Southern Section. Orcutt Academy, Pioneer Valley, Righetti, Santa Maria, St. Joseph will all move to the Central Section.

Competition level and the extent of travel to some Southern Section locations for playoff events were the two main reasons athletic directors who were interviewed about their schools' move cited for wanting to make the switch.

Cabrillo, Lompoc and Santa Ynez of the Los Padres League will stay in the Southern Section.  

Orcutt Academy's eight-man football team won the inaugural Mt. Pinos League title for the program's first league championship. Unbeaten Canoga Park Faith Baptist edged the Spartans 56-50 in the semifinals of the Southern Section's Large Schools Division Playoffs. 

The Righetti girls basketball team's second-year coach, the then-Desiree Domingues (she's now Desiree Hitch) guided the Warriors to the outright PAC 8 League title even though the Warriors lost all-everything senior Danita Estorga to a torn ACL early in the league campaign.

The Warriors went out in the semifinals of the divisional playoffs but qualified for the Division 3 state tournament.

Eighth-ranked Righetti beat ninth-seeded Thousand Oaks in the first round of the Southern California Regional then lost to top-ranked, and eventual state champion, Fullerton Rosary Academy, in the regional quarterfinals.

Santa Maria native Karlos Balderas is 3-0 in his first year of professional boxing. Balderas, who fights in the lightweight class and fought in the 2016 Olympics, won his most recent fight, in Lancaster, by knockout.

Arroyo Grande native Jordan Hasay's marathon debut was a smash hit. She shattered the record for a United States woman running in her first marathon at Boston, where she finished third.

Hasay told interviewers afterward that she ran in honor of her late mother, Teresa Hasay, who  died suddenly in November of 2016.

Hasay followed up her Boston Marathon with a third place in the Chicago Marathon, where she ran a PR by two minutes.

Lompoc won another Los Padres League football championship, and senior running back Toa Taua's illustrious football career at Lompoc came to an end. Taua has attracted attention from several NCAA Division I schools.

St. Joseph junior Joseph Domingues Jr. easily cracked the top 10 at the CIF Division 5 state cross country meet. He finished sixth.

Cabrillo senior Haleigh Batty won the Division 3 girls long jump championship and qualified for the state meet. Righetti junior Issaya Finley won the 182-pound championship at the CIF Southern Section Southern Division wrestling meet.

Though neither placed at the state meet level, 2017 was a stellar year for Batty and Finley. Wrestlers Cristian Ayala of Pioneer Valley, Logan Herrera of St. Joseph (Southern Division) and Alex Lopez of Santa Maria (Northern Division) also won sectional titles.

Under veteran coach Cary Nerelli, Hancock's women's basketball team qualified for the Southern California Regional, marking the first time in decades a Hancock women's basketball squad qualified for the post-season.

Dunn School graduate Abu Danladi was drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft in January of 2017. Danladi was the very first MLS draft pick for the Minnesota United and he went on to finish second in the MLS Rookie of the Year voting this season, scoring eight goals in 27 games with three assists.

Finally, Valley Christian Academy's eight-man football team won the Coast Valley League championship, and the Lions made it to the quarterfinals of the Small Schools Division playoffs. Hancock sophomore Brianna Magana qualified for the Southern Cal state cross country meet.


Sports Reporter