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Diamond Bar Brahmas Have Bullish Year : Athletes Capture Three CIF Crowns

June 13, 1985|MITCH POLIN | Times Staff Writer

When the Diamond Bar High School baseball team won the CIF 2-A Division championship with a 3-2 victory over Mission Viejo on June 1, it put the finishing touch to a memorable sports year for the Brahmas.

The victory gave Diamond Bar its third CIF championship of the 1984-85 school year--the most of any Southern Section school.

The Brahmas earlier won the CIF Southeastern Conference football title and the girls 1-A tennis championship.

Diamond Bar also finished second in boys 2-A tennis and reached the playoffs in other sports.

Not bad considering it was only the third year of varsity competition for the Brahmas. That's more success than some schools ever have.

Why the rapid success?

Combination of Factors

"It's a matter of a superb coaching staff, a strong weight-training program, outstanding youth teams (to feed from) and kids who commit themselves to being successful," said Athletic Director Doug MacClear.

Those factors, MacClear said, probably would bring success to any program.

But he says there is more to Diamond Bar's success.

"I think it's a lot of things," MacClear said. "A lot of it has to do with the whole atmosphere at Diamond Bar.

"I think the teaching staff and administration set a certain standard of (academic) excellence and that carries on to the athletic field. Our success in athletics is just an outgrowth of the whole attitude."

MacClear said Diamond Bar's athletes usually start off on the right foot thanks to good coaching of the youth teams in the area.

"I think the kids get up through a good youth program and when they get here they have a booster program that also supports them academically," MacClear said.

And at Diamond Bar, MacClear said, they receive excellent coaching.

"It's primarily on-staff coaches, not walk-ons like some schools," MacClear said. "These guys are dedicated. They know fundamentals and they're willing to put in the time to succeed."

Denis Paul, the baseball coach, said the weight-training program, directed by Bruce McNeil, has been crucial to the rapid athletic improvement.

"He's had the players for four years and it's starting to pay off," Paul said of McNeil. "When these kids started, we were playing a varsity schedule and were getting eaten up. But it wasn't long before we started winning, and he has a lot to do with it."

Most of Diamond Bar's teams struggled through the 1982-83 season, the first time the Brahmas competed at the varsity level.

But things started to change drastically in Diamond Bar's second year of competition when the Brahmas reached the CIF finals in football, the semifinals in boys tennis and the quarterfinals in girls volleyball and co-ed badminton.

And this year was better.

Besides having championship baseball, football and tennis teams, the Brahmas also won league titles in girls track, boys soccer and co-ed badminton and made the CIF playoffs in several other sports.

Diamond Bar's football and baseball championships marked only the 12th time in CIF history that a school has won titles in those sports in the same year. Covina last accomplished the feat in the 1980-81 season.

"I think it's (the program) just starting to blossom," MacClear said. "I think we've arrived in some areas and getting stronger in others."

Make no mistake, interest in sports is high at Diamond Bar. MacClear said that is particularly true of football.

"Once you establish a winning tradition, a lot of kids want to be part of that tradition," he said. "We have 120 kids out for spring football, and that's a lot when you consider we have about only 1,700 kids here."

He said success in football may have spurred the baseball team. Four football starters--seniors Rich Gonzales and Tony Scrofini and juniors Kraig Washington and Larry Vladic--also starred in baseball.

"Success breeds success," MacClear said. "I think the two titles kind of go hand in hand. Getting the one title stimulated them to go after another."

MacClear said he doesn't think Diamond Bar will be this successful every year.

"I don't think it's fair to think we're going to win this many titles all the time. But we're headed in the right direction."

Diamond Bar was not the only CIF champion in the San Gabriel Valley.

Claremont won the CIF Eastern Conference football title and the girls 4-A soccer crown. Ganesha won in boys 3-A track and was co-champion with Hacienda League rival Montclair in girls 2-A soccer.

The only Valley team to win a state championship was Muir, which combined the sprinting and hurdling talents of Linetta Wilson, Nikky Caddell, Carrie Franklin and Lana Cantrell to finish ahead of powerful Hawthorne for the title. The Mustangs, coached by Jim Brownfield, also had beaten out Hawthorne for the CIF 4-A championship.

Other CIF team champions were Mountain View in girls 3-A cross country; Wilson (Hacienda Heights) in boys 3-A and South Pasadena in boys 2-A water polo; San Dimas in 1-A baseball; El Monte in girls 2-A softball; Pomona in girls 3-A track and field and Arroyo in girls 4-A gymnastics.

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