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Must be something in the water

For a second straight year, CV boys' water polo and swimming coach Jan Sakonju is voted coach of the year.

August 17, 2010|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com
  • Jan Sakonju is once again the News-Press Coach of the Year.
Jan Sakonju is once again the News-Press Coach of the Year. (File Photo )

The top high school coaches from the 2009-10 season were selected by the sportswriters of the Glendale News-Press.

1 Jan Sakonju, Crescenta Valley boys' water polo and boys' swimming: After winning two league titles and a CIF crown in 2008-09, Sakonju entered the past season as the reigning News-Press Coach of the Year and retained that distinction with another outstanding year for both of his teams.

The Falcons boys' water polo team was undefeated in its Pacific League title defense, which came down to a come-from-behind overtime win over Glendale in the league tournament.

Under Sakonju's guidance, the Falcons kept their heads and their crown despite an aggressive, physical challenge from the hungry Nitros.

The team (20-9) went on to return to the CIF Southern Section Division VI semifinals, where it was defeated by the same Rio Mesa squad it played in the previous year's title match.

"That was definitely a challenge," Sakonju said. "We had a team that was deservedly in the top four and had a potential to be the champion, but you do get that pressure and that expectation and plus every team that you face is going to bring their A-game whether that be in the division or in league.

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"But, as a coach, I think it's a great situation because it's a learning experience for the boys to be able to face opponents that always take you seriously and are looking to beat you as a measure of their own success."

Sakonju's greatest success came in the spring, when his boys' swimming team also sped through the Pacific League unchallenged, claiming the program's 18th straight league crown, capped by a 592-point bonanza at the league final meet.

"The league championship meet has always got that great competitive atmosphere and as a coach it's definitely one of the highlights of the year," Sakonju said. "So many guys are excited and focused and the competitiveness really shines at those big meets."

At the Division II finals, no team came closer to challenging juggernaut Oaks Christian than the Falcons, who jumped up five spots from their finish the previous season to take second place. And, for the second straight season, Sakonju's year ended by coaching a large group at the CIF Masters Meet.

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