Laguna Hills swimmer Tona Zinn commits to Northwestern

Laguna Hills High swimmer Tona Zinn, who became a CIF Southern Section individual champion as a freshman, committed to Northwestern on Tuesday, Jan. 19.

The junior from the SOCAL club announced his commitment on Instagram, thanking his friends, family and coaches for their support.

As a freshman in 2019, Zinn captured the 200-yard individual medley at the Division 1 final in 1 minute, 48.61 seconds. He also placed third in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 55.79.

Zinn went on to race at the CIF State meet in Clovis, finishing fifth in the 200 IM and ninth in the breaststroke.

Last spring, Orange County’s high school swimmers didn’t get much of a chance to make a splash as the pandemic ended their season in mid-March.

In a club meet in Arizona last month, Zinn clocked a swift 1:47.61 in the 200 IM. Corey Okubo holds the county record with a 1:45.42 for University in 2014.

Please send swimming news to Dan Albano at dalbano@scng.com or @ocvarsityguy on Twitter or Instagram

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Laguna Hills High, SOCAL swimmer Tona Zinn commits to Northwestern

Laguna Hills High swimmer Tona Zinn, who became a CIF Southern Section individual champion as a freshman, committed to Northwestern on Tuesday, Jan. 19.

The junior from the SOCAL club announced his commitment on Instagram, thanking his friends, family and coaches for their support.

As a freshman in 2019, Zinn captured the 200-yard individual medley at the Division 1 final in 1 minute, 48.61 seconds. He also placed third in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 55.79.

Zinn went on to race at the CIF State meet in Clovis, finishing fifth in the 200 IM and ninth in the breaststroke.

Last spring, Orange County’s high school swimmers didn’t get much of a chance to make a splash as the pandemic ended their season in mid-March.

In a club meet in Arizona last month, Zinn clocked a swift 1:47.61 in the 200 IM. Corey Okubo holds the county record with a 1:45.42 for University in 2014.

Please send swimming news to Dan Albano at dalbano@scng.com or @ocvarsityguy on Twitter or Instagram

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Oxford Academy’s Angie Choi commits to MIT for women’s basketball

High-scoring Oxford Academy point guard Angie Choi has committed to Division III MIT, the Patriots’ girls basketball program announced.

The 5-foot-3 Choi led Orange County in scoring last season by averaging 21.6 points. She shined for a team that finished 12-16 after graduating seven seniors from its CIF-SS Division 2-A runner-up squad in 2019.

Choi also averaged 4.1 assists and 3.7 steals last season. She scored a season-high 36 points in a 53-51 loss against Cerritos.

In three seasons at Oxford Academy, Choi ranks second in school history in scoring (1,323 points) and owns the school record for 3-pointers (128). She made 56 of her 168 attempts (33 percent) from beyond the arc last season.

MIT reached the Division III postseason in 2018 and 2019, losing in the first round each year. The Engineers also won their New England conference title in 2018 and 2019, and placed second last season.

Assistant Meghan O’Connell was named the team’s interim coach in September.

Please send girls basketball news to Dan Albano at dalbano@scng.com or @ocvarsityguy on Twitter and Instagram 

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SoCal club football league organized by Winner Circle Athletics aims to play in Arizona starting Dec. 28

A Southern California club football league at the center of discussion among high school coaches and administrators plans to begin later this month in Bullhead City, Ariz., organizer Jordan Campbell of Winner Circle Athletics in Corona said Saturday, Dec. 19.

Campbell, who owns the Winner Circle Athletics’ training and wellness center, said the league’s Elite 10 will play a showcase Dec. 28-29 and continue with games Jan. 8, Jan. 22 and Feb. 15. Most dates pair 10 teams in five games.

The league’s plans arrive as the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recently released guidelines that will allow high school and youth sports to begin competition as early as Jan. 25, if they can meet certain health conditions.

The CDPH announced on Dec. 14 that football, for example, can be played in a county that has cleared regional, stay-at-home orders and has reached the orange tier (moderate risk) in the state’s COVID-19 monitoring system. Nearly all of the 58 counties in the state are in the purple tier (widespread risk) as cases have spiked in recent weeks.

The updated guidelines have cast doubt about whether the high school football season can be played, especially in hard-hit Southern California.

High school football is a fall sport that was scheduled to start Jan. 7 and could be played as late as April 17, CIF Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod said.

The CIF State has canceled its regional and state playoffs to allow as much time as possible to schedule games. The Southern Section has indicated it could make a similar move.

State executive director Ron Nocetti also has said that the federation will advocate for football and others sports in the orange and yellow tiers to placed in tiers that will allow competition sooner.

Moving football to the spring season, officials say, isn’t a viable option because of safety reasons related to the proximity to the fall of ’21 season.

Youth sports teams from Southern California began traveling to Arizona and other places to compete after California prohibited competition on Aug. 3. High school and youth sports were limited to physical conditioning and skill development in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

The rise of club football has been a new trend for high schools, raising questions about rules and participation. Because of the pandemic, CIF State adjusted its rules for this school year to allow athletes to compete in club sports at the same time as high school athletics.

Mater Dei High football coach Bruce Rollinson recently said that he will encourage his players to hold off playing club and to wait for the high school season.

“What I tell them is ‘Hold tight fellas. Lets stay together because I truly believe there is going to be a season,’ ” Rollinson said. “Our preference is to play CIF football. … If a parent wants to meet with me (about club), and decide, I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. Ultimately, the parent is the provider. The parent ultimately makes the decision.”

Rollinson said the subject of forming a Mater Dei club team if the high school season were canceled has come up but those discussions have been preliminary.

“I’d look into it in a heartbeat if it got my team on the field but I think there will be other solutions to get us on the field of play,” he said. “I just say my prayers every night that they get to play together and we have a season.”

Campbell, who played at Norco High before moving on to USC and the NFL, has advice for players whose high school coaches ask them not to play the club league. “Listen to your high school coach and keep your high school program first,” he said.

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Fairmont Prep girls basketball players Kayla Ishibashi, AnLing Su Vera commit to colleges

Fairmont Prep senior guards Kayla Ishibashi and AnLing Su Vera have committed to strong, Division III college programs, Huskies girls basketball coach Sara Brown said.

Ishibashi, a 5-foot-6 shooting guard, has pledged to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps while Su Vera, a 5-foot-3 point guard, has selected Division III powerhouse Amherst College in Massachusetts.

Amherst College reached the Division III Sweet 16 in March but the tournament was canceled because of the pandemic. The Mammoths also reached the Sweet 16 the previous season and captured back-to-back national titles in 2017-18 with 33-0 records.

Ishibashi joins former Oxford Academy standout forward Austyn Masuno at Division III Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, a regular contender in the SCIAC now led by second-year coach Chanel Murchison.

Su Vera and Ishibashi helped Fairmont Prep finish as the CIF Southern Section Division 2AA runner-up to league rival Orangewood Academy last season and reach the first round of the CIF State Division 1 SoCal regionals.

Please send girls basketball news to Dan Albano at dalbano@scng.com or @ocvarsityguy on Twitter and Instagram

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Mater Dei offensive lineman Ross Maseuli commits to San Diego State

San Diego State’s recruiting class for 2021 has added another Trinity League football standout.

Mater Dei High offensive lineman Ross Maseuli committed on Wednesday, Dec. 2 to the Aztecs, giving the Mountain West Conference program three recruits with Trinity League ties.

All Glory 2 God!!! Please respect my decision🙏🏽🙏🏽🔴⚪⚫pic.twitter.com/zI9ZaBp59B

— Ross Maseuli (@RossMaseuli) December 2, 2020

Maseuli joins a recruiting class that includes Servite defensive back Noah Avinger and former JSerra safety New Zealand Williams, now at St. Bernard in Playa Del Rey.

San Diego State has 20 commits from the class of 2021 and ranks second in the Mountain West Conference to Boise State, according to 247sports.

Maseuli (6-3, 350) spent last season at JSerra but didn’t play because his transfer from Cathedral Catholic in San Diego wasn’t cleared by the Southern Section.

He also was offered by Alabama, Arizona and Fresno State among others.

The early signing period for football is Dec. 16.

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Ex-Rosary basketball star Asia Avinger, now at San Diego State, suffers knee injury

The start to Asia Avinger’s promising collegiate basketball career will be delayed.

The San Diego State freshman from Rosary High announced on Tuesday, Nov. 24 that she recently suffered a torn ACL that will require surgery.

The Aztecs are scheduled to open their season Wednesday against Washington at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

“A few days ago, I had a freak accident and ended up tearing my ACL completely,” Avinger wrote on her Instagram. “I know this is in God’s plan and he gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. … This is just one obstacle that I have to overcome but best believe I’ll come back stronger than ever.”

Avinger, a 5-foot-7 guard, arrived at San Diego State coming off an outstanding senior season in which she earned Register player of the year and female athlete of the year honors.

The highest-ranked recruit under eighth-year coach Stacie Terry-Hutson, Avinger was selected the preseason freshman of the year in the Mountain West Conference.

Last season, Avinger led Rosary to its second consecutive CIF State Division 1 final before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the championship game.

She averaged 13.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists to earn Trinity League MVP.

San Diego State was picked to finish fourth in the Mountain West Conference behind favorite Fresno State, San Jose State and Boise State.

Avinger’s twin brother, Noah, a senior at Servite, has committed to San Diego State for football.

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Mission Viejo’s Ryder Fitch, Mater Dei’s Marceese Yetts commit to Air Force


Mater Dei Monarchs running back Marceese Yetts (5) runs for yards against the St. John Bosco Braves during the first half of the 2019 CIF Southern Section Division 1 High School Football Championship game at Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif. on Saturday November 30, 2019. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

Mission Viejo High and Mater Dei might be Division 1 rivals in football but the programs will have something in common if they clash again in the playoffs in 2021.

Cornerback Ryder Fitch of Mission Viejo and running back Marceese Yetts of Mater Dei have recently committed to Air Force.

Fitch (5-11, 175) earned second-team All-South Coast League honors last season.

He is the second Mission Viejo defensive back to commit to Air Force in recent years, joining former teammate Deavyn Woullard, now at UCLA.

“I picked (Air Force) because of the opportunities after the academy and how it sets you up for life,” Fitch said. “I also had a good relationship with the coaches and took my own visit to the campus. I feel like it’s a good fit for me.”

The speedy Yetts (5-8, 175) was a second-team All-Trinity League selection last season. He led the Monarchs in rushing with 578 yards, added 12 catches for 121 yards and returned kicks.

Yetts highlighted his 2019 campaign by rushing for 96 yards on 13 carries against St. John Bosco in the Trinity League.

He said Air Force recruited him as an all-purpose back.

Yetts plans to major engineering.

Air Force’s roster includes former Pacifica quarterback Ben Jefferson, now a wide receiver, punter Charles Bein (San Clemente) and defensive end Chris Kane (San Clemente).

Please send football recruiting news to Dan Albano at dalbano@scng.com or @ocvarsityguy on Twitter or Instagram

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O.C. swimming: Alex Ispas of Nadadores shifts from Signing Day to race day at U.S. Open

IRVINE Mission Viejo Nadadores swimmer Alex Ispas signed a national letter of intent with his dream university — Northwestern — on Wednesday, Nov. 11.

On Thursday night, the Santa Margarita High senior raced as the youngest male in the fastest heat of the men’s 800-meter freestyle at the U.S. Open

And his spot in the sizzling heat at the Woollett Aquatics Center arrived as a surprise.

“I got scratched in,” he said.

Yes, talk about a couple of whirlwind days.

In his first pool competition since February because of the pandemic, Ispas clocked a time of 8 minutes, 31.94 seconds in the 800 freestyle, which combined with the results from the other nine sites for the meet, placed him 58th overall.

While his entry time of 8:14.39 — clocked racing for Austria at the European Junior Championships last summer — would have placed him in the Top 25, Ispas wasn’t too hard on himself.

“I’m happy to be back,” he said. “Being here and stepping up to race these guys is what I’ve missed.”

Ispas, 17, also is pleased with his training with the Nadadores, which was one of the first teams to resume training amid the pandemic.

“I’ve been pretty motivated these last few months going into this winter season, so I’ve enjoyed it,” he said. “We have a great group at Mission Viejo right now. We’ve been getting in some great work in.”

Ispas said he also is intrigued by open water racing. He made his debut at the recent West Coast Open Water Championships at Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, Nev. and placed ninth in the 10K.

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Brea Olinda tennis ace Kayla Meraz honors coach at signing day celebration

Brea Olinda High tennis ace Kayla Meraz paid homage to one of her coaches on National Signing Day on Wednesday, Nov. 11.

The All-County player celebrated signing a national letter of intent with Arizona with a festive gathering at Fullerton Tennis Center, where she trains privately with Coach Dave Mann.

“Dave Mann has done so much for,” said Meraz’s father Rich, “it was only fitting.”

Mann was Meraz’s first coach and remains a key mentor for the senior, Rich said.

Meraz, who reached the semifinals of the CIF-SS individual championships last season, also trains privately with Hector Chairez at Monarch Beach Tennis Club in Dana Point.

Mann also has trained Troy All-County senior Jenna Sabile.

Meraz also celebrated Signing Day with her brothers Ryan and Roman and her grandmother, Margret, who made an impressive cake with Arizona’s symbolic red A outlined in white and blue.

Check the #NationalSigningDay cake made for Brea Olinda tennis ace and #Arizona signee Kayla Meraz by her grandmother! ⁦@CupcakeWarsTV⁩ should sign grandma! 🎾➕🍰💯@ocvarsitypic.twitter.com/vxRmHdO09t

— Dan Albano (@ocvarsityguy) November 12, 2020

In other tennis recruiting news Wednesday, Huntington Beach senior and reigning Register player of the year Kaytlin Taylor signed with Cal State Fullerton.

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