Swimming official Kieth Pike remembered for deck excellence during 56-year career


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Kieth Pike, one of Southern California’s most experienced, respected and colorful swimming officials, died July 19 after a sudden bout with ketoacidosis, an acidic blood condition, his wife, Jo Ann, said Monday.

Pike, 84, started officiating high school meets in Southern California in 1962 and continued until 2017, the year he received the Ed Ruth Excellence in Officiating Award from Southern California Swimming.

“I respected him every time I had him deck,” veteran swimming official Richard Davis said. “I knew the deck was covered.”

Pike officiated the CIF-Southern Section swimming championships and was a fixture at Long Beach Wilson-hosted Klaus Barth Invitational.

The Westminster resident also officiated USA Swimming meets and high school water polo matches. He was past president of the Southern California Aquatics Federation.

“Kieth was one our best officials,” veteran referee John Montrella said.

Pike indeed spelled his first name Kieth, a unique flair picked by his mother.

Pike swam and played water polo at Long Beach Jordan High before serving in the Air Force from 1956-1962.

After the Air Force, he began working as the pool attendant/lifeguard at Long Beach Millikan High’s indoor pool. He balanced the position with his referee assignments.

“He enjoyed (officiating) because he was there for the students and the athletes,” Jo Ann said.

Pike met Jo Ann, his wife of nearly 35 years, while at the Long Beach Millikan pool.

He is survived by children, Keith, Kevin, Michael, Randy, Bryan and Wendi, ex-wife Suzanne and several grandchildren.

A funeral service is being planned for Riverside National Cemetery in August.

“His zest for life and laughter were contagious and irresistible,” the Pike family wrote in a tribute. “He was silly and loud, dedicated and strong, dynamic and deep. … Kieth’s voice will always be with us, cracking jokes, brightening our days and urging us to be be better.”

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Santa Margarita boys water polo coach Jeremy Laster moves to assistant, Justin Johnson takes reins

Santa Margarita boys water polo coach Jeremy Laster has stepped down to become an assistant coach for the CIF-SS Division 1 contending Eagles, the Olympian confirmed.

Laster will be replaced by assistant coach Justin Johnson.

“I just swapped roles with Justin,” Laster said Friday night. “He will be the head coach and I will be his assistant. … Just letting Justin grow into the head coaching role that I hope he has for years and years to come.”

Laster, a former star at San Clemente and Stanford, has coached at Santa Margarita for the past three seasons.

The Eagles won the CIF-SS Division 2 title in 2016 and made Division 1 playoff appearances in 2017-18.

Johnson, a former U.S. national team player from Mission Viejo High, has been at Santa Margarita the past two years after departing El Toro. He earned O.C. coach of the year honors after leading the El Toro girls to a CIF title in 2015.

Santa Margarita’s boys should be in the thick of the Trinity League race this race this fall with Mater Dei and Orange Lutheran and perhaps Servite.

Please send water polo news to Dan Albano at dalbano@scng.com or @ocvarsityguy on Twitter. Thank you for following the water polo coverage and consider a subscription.

MORE WATER POLO STORIES

SOCAL 14-and-under girls win Junior Olympics

Orange County Olympian Kaleigh Gilchrist injured after night club balcony collapses in South Korea

SoCal 16-and-under boys capture Junior Olympics

 

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SOCAL 14-and-under girls beat rival Laguna Beach for Junior Olympics gold

IRVINE It’s dubbed the largest water polo tournament in the world. A record 866 teams came to Orange County for the Junior Olympics the past nine days.

But when it came to settling the girls 14-and-under title Sunday, two of the county’s hottest, backyard rivals had to be separated at the Woollett Aquatics Aquatics:

Perennial powers SOCAL and Laguna Beach but local rivals first.

The two clashed in zone qualifying for Junior Olympics. They dueled at the U.S. club championships and at the Cal Cup state championships.

Now, there was just one grudge match left.

“We’ve kind of known (this would be the final),” SOCAL goalie Anna Reed said. “We’ve had our differences with Laguna. They’ve won. They’ve lost. It goes back and forth.”

SOCAL made sure the final showdown went its way.

Behind a hard perimeter press, 15 saves by the Newport Harbor High-bound Reed and a dazzling performance by Emily Ausmus, SOCAL defeated Laguna Beach 5-2 in a match that displayed several future high school standouts.

The Junior Olympics title is believed to be SOCAL’s first in the 14-and-under division since 2002.

SoCal sinks Laguna 5-2 and Coach Ed Reynolds flips into the pool 🤽‍♀️💦💯@ocvarsitypic.twitter.com/ZVnVj8AGXp

— Dan Albano (@ocvarsityguy) July 28, 2019

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“This was the first time we didn’t go into a one-goal, down to the final-minute experience (with Laguna) because they’re a great coached club,” veteran SOCAL coach Ed Reynolds said.

“We wanted to press the right people and press in the lanes. That’s pretty simple what we teach at 14-and-unders.”

Laguna Beach led 1-0 after the first period but SOCAL quickly seized control in the second frame to open a 4-2 lead at halftime.

SOCAL shut out Laguna Beach, the 2017 champion and runner-up last year, in the second half.

“It’s always a battle,” said Reed, an incoming freshman at Newport Harbor who blocked a penalty shot in the first period. “We were ready for this game.”

Orange Lutheran-bound center Rachel Gazzaniga scored on SOCAL’s first possession of the second period. She drove deep into 2 meters and scored off an entry pass by left-hander Sara Naulty, who also will be a freshman at Orange Lutheran this coming school year.

Gazzaniga later scored on a weak-side drive and cross pass by Eliana Zener, yet another player bound for Orange Lutheran.

“Orange Lutheran is loading up,” Reynolds said.

Naulty capped a 3-0 run by SOCAL by skipping in a perimeter strike from about 6 meters in the middle of the second period.

Sara Naulty and ⁦@SOCALWPF⁩ leads 4-2 at half v ⁦@LBWPFoundation🤽‍♀️💦💯pic.twitter.com/ky27cWkrQT

— Dan Albano (@ocvarsityguy) July 28, 2019

Laguna Beach defender Olivia Ouellette — a freshman bound for Los Alamitos — powered in a shot from center off Reed’s block with 2:15 left in the first half to make it 3-2 but SOCAL answered.

Foothill sophomore Madeleine Poissonnier scored from center with 24 seconds left in the half to extend SOCAL’s lead to 4-2.

Ausmus, selected the tournament MVP, capped a sensational effort by scoring the lone goal of the second half, a cross-cage lob shot early in the fourth period from the wing that bounced in off the side bar.

The M.L. King of Riverside-bound Ausmus added four steals, including one from the perimeter in which she also drew an exclusion on.

“She is amazing,” Reed said. “And she’s a super-nice person. She’s always cheering us on. She’s super humble.”

Laguna Beach goalie Lauren Schneider also played well. A former SOCAL player, the Laguna Beach High-bound keeper made 14 saves, including one against a penalty shot.

“We’ve been in the finals with (SOCAL) pretty much throughout the year,” Laguna Beach coach Kelcie Ferreira said. “It’s always been a close game but they got us this time. … We live and learn.”

Laguna Beach’s offense was hurt in the first period when center Lauren Short picked up two fouls. The Laguna Beach High freshman fouled out in the third.

Laguna Beach’s Avery Montiel, a left-handed freshman bound for Newport Harbor, scored the first goal of the match by converting a power-play chance off an assist from Ouellette. Montiel also recorded two field blocks and two steals.

Laguna Beach’s Charlotte Riches, also bound for Laguna Beach High, drew a penalty shot in the first period.

In other finals, Laguna Beach’s girls won the 12-and-under title while SET claimed the 16-and-under crown. In the 18s final, Northern California’s 680 Drivers defeated SOCAL in a shootout 15-13.

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Orange County Olympian Kaleigh Gilchrist injured after night club balcony collapses in South Korea

U.S. water polo player Kaleigh Gilchrist suffered a serious laceration on her left leg after a balcony and staircase collapsed at a night club in Gwangju, South Korea in the early hours Saturday morning, reportedly killing two people and injuring more than a dozen others as the city hosted the FINA World Championships.

The incident at the Coyote Ugly night club occurred just hours after Gilchrist, a former Newport Harbor High and USC standout and a 2016 Olympic gold medalist, helped the U.S. women’s water polo team capture the gold medal.

USA Water Polo spokesman Greg Mescall confirmed that Gilchrist underwent surgery Saturday in Gwangju for the injury.

U.S. men’s players Johnny Hooper and Olympian Ben Hallock, both former stars at Harvard-Westlake High, also were injured after a balcony and staircase inside nightclub reportedly collapsed, Mescall confirmed.

Hooper suffered a laceration that required stitches while Hallock suffered scrapes.

U.S. women’s team player Paige Hauschild (San Marcos) also suffered a laceration on her right arm that required stitches, according to USA Water Polo.

The incident reportedly happened around 2:30 a.m. and with about 370 people inside the night club. The club is located near the athlete’s village.

The U.S. women’s team defeated Spain 11-6 to claim their third consecutive gold medal at the World Championship. The team, featuring several O.C. players, has already qualified for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Maddie Musselman (Corona del Mar) didn’t play in the final because of illness, Mescall said.

 

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Roundup: Newport Beach 14-and-under boys capture Junior Olympics

IRVINE Newport Beach Water Polo’s 14-and-under boys defeated Northern California’s 680 Drivers 12-9 to capture the Junior Olympics at the Woollett Aquatics Center on Tuesday.

It was Newport Beach’s first title in the 14-and-under division. The club has twice won the 10-and-under division.

Incoming Newport Harbor High freshman Ben Liechty was selected tournament MVP for the squad guided by Coach Stefano Ragosa.

Liechty, a left-handed center, is the younger brother of Newport Harbor graduate Jake Liechty (UC Irvine) and junior-to-be Eli Liechty.

Newport Beach’s 18-and-under boys, featuring the top players from Newport Harbor High, finished fifth. The team lost in the tournament to L.A. Premier 7-6 and Stanford 10-6.

In the 18-and-under final:

Stanford 10, L.A. Premier 9: Stanford’s Andrew Churukian scored on a backhanded shot from center with 3:47 left in the fourth quarter to tie the score 5-5 and won the shootout 5-4.

Stanford goalie Griffen Price blocked a shot in the second round of shootouts and William Riley sealed the title with a goal in the final round.

 

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Laguna Beach, Orange Lutheran, Foothill reach semifinals of Irvine SoCal water polo tournament

Girls water polo teams from Laguna Beach, Orange Lutheran and Foothill have advanced to Saturday’s semifinals of the Irvine Southern California Championships in Irvine, the last major tournament of the regular season.

In the 10 a.m. semifinal at the Woollett Aquatics Center, the Breakers will play Dos Pueblos.

Orange Lutheran will take on Foothill in the second semifinal at 11 a.m.

The championship match is scheduled for 3 p.m.

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Corona del Mar, Mater Dei girls win sudden-death overtime thrillers in water polo

Megan Peterson’s primary position for the Corona del Mar girls water polo team is defender but she still knows how to pick her spots on offense.

Her timing on a stormy Tuesday night in Newport Beach could not have been any better.

Peterson scored from about 7 meters off a foul she drew posting up to lift the host No. 4 Corona del Mar to a dramatic 6-5 victory in sudden-death overtime against No. 5 Newport Harbor in a Surf League showdown.

.@cdmaquatics wins 6-5 over @NewportAquatics on a laser off the foul by Megan Peterson with 1:35 left in sudden death OT 🤽‍♀️💦💯@mjszabo pic.twitter.com/Ru3dnyJXl3

— Dan Albano (@ocvarsityguy) January 16, 2019

The 5-foot-10 junior narrowly beat the shot clock and fired a shot past two field blockers into the near-side, upper corner with 1:35 left in the first sudden-death overtime period to help the Sea Queens improve to 2-0 in the elite Division 1 league.

“I knew the clock was winding down and everyone around me, even the boys in the stands, we cheering, ‘That’s (your shot) and that gave me confidence,” Peterson said.

“I kind of saw (the upper corner open) when I picked up the ball and said, ‘Heck, this your opportunity. Take a depth breath and finish the ball.’ … That’s a big win for us. The Battle of the Bay is always really fun.”

Corona del Mar capitalized on another stellar game by its rising goalie, Maya Avital. The junior stopped a penalty shot in overtime en route to 14 saves to out-duel Newport Harbor goalie Erin Ross (12 saves).

“She had an amazing 5 meter (block) in overtime,” Peterson said of Avital.

We’re going sudden death because goalie Maya Avitall of ⁦@cdmaquatics⁩ did this👀🤽‍♀️💦💯@ocvarsitypic.twitter.com/usPoAV8zHE

— Dan Albano (@ocvarsityguy) January 16, 2019

Tuesday’s match was filled with drama. The contest moved from Corona del Mar to Newport Harbor on a stormy afternoon. And Peterson’s strike was the Sea Queens’ first goal since the second period.

In the Trinity League:

No. 7 Mater Dei 10, No.  6 Santa Margarita 9 (OT): Sasha Constandse scored in double-sudden death overtime for her fourth goal to put the host Monarchs in position to defend their league title. Constandse’s older sister, Stanford-bound Hannah, scored five goals to help highlight senior night.

Freshman goalie Jada Ward added 13 saves for the Monarchs while the Constandse sisters and senior Maisie McPherson each had two steals.

Mater Dei plays No. 2 Orange Lutheran on Jan. 30.

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Orange County girls water polo top 10, Jan. 1

Orange County girls water polo

Top 10 rankings, Jan. 1, 2019

1.Laguna Beach

2. Corona del Mar

3. Orange Lutheran

4. Foothill

5. Newport Harbor

6. Mater Dei

7. Santa Margarita

8. Los Alamitos

9. Huntington Beach

10. San Clemente

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Los Alamitos’ Bayley Weber is the Register’s Female Outstanding Competitor

  • The Orange County Register’s Outstanding Competitor of the Year is Los Alamitos water polo player and swimmer Bayley Weber.  (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Orange County Register’s Outstanding Competitor of the Year is Los Alamitos water polo player and swimmer Bayley Weber. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Orange County Register’s Outstanding Competitor of the Year, Los Alamitos swimmer and water polo player Bayley Weber, is photographed at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, CA, on Friday, June 1, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Orange County Register’s Outstanding Competitor of the Year, Los Alamitos swimmer and water polo player Bayley Weber, is photographed at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, CA, on Friday, June 1, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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  • The Orange County Register’s Outstanding Competitor of the Year, Los Alamitos water polo player and swimmer Bayley Weber, is photographed at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, CA, on Friday, June 1, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Orange County Register’s Outstanding Competitor of the Year, Los Alamitos water polo player and swimmer Bayley Weber, is photographed at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, CA, on Friday, June 1, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Orange County Register’s Outstanding Competitor of the Year,  Los Alamitos swimmer and water polo player Bayley Weber, is photographed at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, CA, on Friday, June 1, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Orange County Register’s Outstanding Competitor of the Year, Los Alamitos swimmer and water polo player Bayley Weber, is photographed at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, CA, on Friday, June 1, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Orange County Register’s Outstanding Competitor of the Year,  Los Alamitos water polo player and swimmer Bayley Weber, is photographed in the pool at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, CA, on Friday, June 1, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Orange County Register’s Outstanding Competitor of the Year, Los Alamitos water polo player and swimmer Bayley Weber, is photographed in the pool at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, CA, on Friday, June 1, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Orange County Register’s Outstanding Competitor of the Year is Los Alamitos water polo player and swimmer Bayley Weber.  (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Orange County Register’s Outstanding Competitor of the Year is Los Alamitos water polo player and swimmer Bayley Weber. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Orange County Register’s Outstanding Competitor of the Year, Los Alamitos water polo player and swimmer Bayley Weber, at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, CA, on Friday, June 1, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Orange County Register’s Outstanding Competitor of the Year, Los Alamitos water polo player and swimmer Bayley Weber, at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, CA, on Friday, June 1, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Orange County Register’s Outstanding Competitor of the Year,  Los Alamitos water polo player and swimmer Bayley Weber, at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, CA, on Friday, June 1, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Orange County Register’s Outstanding Competitor of the Year, Los Alamitos water polo player and swimmer Bayley Weber, at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, CA, on Friday, June 1, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Los Alamitos’ Bayley Weber was the Orange County Register’s Girls Water Polo Player of the Year. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Los Alamitos’ Bayley Weber was the Orange County Register’s Girls Water Polo Player of the Year. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Orange County Register’s Outstanding Competitor of the Year is Los Alamitos water polo player and swimmer Bayley Weber. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Orange County Register’s Outstanding Competitor of the Year is Los Alamitos water polo player and swimmer Bayley Weber. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Los Alamitos’ Bayley Weber takes a shot at the goal against Long Beach Wilson on Friday, December 15, 2017. (Photo by Thomas R. Cordova Press-Telegram/SCNG)

    Los Alamitos’ Bayley Weber takes a shot at the goal against Long Beach Wilson on Friday, December 15, 2017. (Photo by Thomas R. Cordova Press-Telegram/SCNG)

  • Los Alamitos water polo Bayley Weber signed with USC,. (Photo courtesy of Bayley Weber)

    Los Alamitos water polo Bayley Weber signed with USC,. (Photo courtesy of Bayley Weber)

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LOS ALAMITOS – Bayley Weber’s easy laughter away from the competition pool became a bit of her signature at Los Alamitos High.

“Her laugh is definitely contagious and one of the things that I love about her,” said Corona del Mar senior Chloe Harbilas, a childhood friend and fellow water polo player. “I have always known her to be this optimistic and goofy person.”

But Weber’s infectious laughter can divert attention from her burning desire below the surface, one sprung from challenges with difficult childhood obstacles.

Weber, 17, struggled with bullying growing up. She was teased about her appearance and had her intelligence doubted. Things got so rough, she changed schools.

“That all makes me the person I am today,” she said recently.

This school year, Weber was one of the best high school athletes in Orange County. The USC-bound senior was a multi-sport standout in aquatics, carried a 3.7 grade-point average and played for the juggernaut U.S. women’s water polo national team.

Her growing list of accolades now includes receiving the Register’s Female Outstanding Competitor Award for her excellence as a multi-sport athlete and in the classroom.

“Bayley is a sweetheart out of the water,” Los Alamitos girls water polo and swimming coach Dave Carlson said. “(But) she is ultra, ultra competitive at everything.

“If it’s a practice drill, she has to win her one-on-one. If it’s a swim set, she has to come in first. … She always requests to guard the other team’s best player.”

Weber quenched her competitive thirst in the winter by leading Los Alamitos’ girls water polo team to a third consecutive Sunset League title and a runner-up finish in the inaugural CIF State SoCal Division II Regionals.

The 5-foot-10 utility player was a lockdown defender who racked up 92 steals and played some goalie. Weber scored a career-best 125 goals and added 60 assists to help the Griffins (23-10) reach the Southern Section’s new Elite 8 grouping for the Division 1 playoffs.

For her efforts, she was selected the Register’s county player of the year.

Girls water polo was only Weber’s opening act.

After a trip to New Zealand to help the U.S. women’s water polo team capture gold at the FINA Intercontinental Tournament in early April, she joined the school’s swimming team.

Weber, who trains seasonally as a club swimmer, placed third in the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 48.35 seconds) and 100 butterfly (55.16) at league finals to help Los Alamitos capture the Sunset title.

She clocked an automatic All-America time in the 200 free and lowered her school record in the butterfly by a second.

“I want to show that a water polo (player) can still do good (in swimming),” she said. “I gave it my all.”

Weber reached the finals in both events in Division 1, including a fourth-place finish in the butterfly.

She was selected Orange County female athlete of the year by athletic directors.

Weber said her dual-sport aspirations were inspired in part by her mentor Natalie Benson, an Olympic water polo player from Rosary who also played softball. Benson was the Register’s athlete of the year in 2000.

“She helped me through (the bullying),” Weber said. “She said to use that as motivation in the water.”

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Memorial for Canyon’s Connor Ewing set for Friday in Anaheim Hills

A memorial celebration for inspiring Canyon High water polo player and swimmer Connor Ewing will be held Friday at Canyon Hills Presbyterian Church in Anaheim Hills at 2 p.m.

Ewing beat cancer twice as a child and had been fighting the disease for a third time since August. The Anaheim Hills resident died at age 18 on Sunday, May 20.

Ewing battled neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that often arises from the adrenal glands and most commonly affects children age 5 or younger.

He played water polo and swam at Canyon during his first three years. But after being cancer-free for nine years and numerous follow-up exams, Ewing became ill in mid-August, just before the start of the boys water polo season.

His fighting spirit was admired by Canyon’s high school community and beyond. Many of his teammates visited him at the hospital before he passed away.

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