Archive | May, 2014

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Heralds jump early, hang on for second-round win over Cabrillo

Posted on 28 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

Whittier Christian second baseman James Veloff records an out at second base and fires to first to complete one of the Heralds' two double plays in the first two innings during a 4-3 second-round playoff win over Cabrillo at home, Wednesday afternoon.

Whittier Christian second baseman Logan Veloff records an out at second base and fires to first to complete one of the Heralds’ two double plays in the first two innings during a 4-3 second-round playoff win over Cabrillo at home, Wednesday afternoon.

Story and photos by Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

The Heralds’ baseball team had to persevere, but held on to an early four-run lead to knock out Cabrillo of Lompoc, Wednesday at home, to advance to the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 5 playoffs.

Mike Rafter pitched through trouble to maintain the 4-3 final score and Brett Greene slammed to door in the seventh inning to push Whittier Christian into the next round.

The Heralds came out of the gate swinging. Mike Rafter singled and Cooper Hughes doubled down the third base line. With runners on second and third, Mike Rubio caught the infield off guard, leading to the Heralds’ first run.

“Execution offense in that first inning, we forced the issue a little bit, guys souled out, made plays, and four runs later, that’s a nice start for your pitcher,” said Brent Lavoie, Heralds head coach.

Joseph Cobian stuck his bat out and hit a slow dribbler towards the shortstop. Cooper Hughes scored easily, while Rubio and Cobian took an extra base on an overthrow.

With runners on second and third base, Mike Rubio scored on a groundout from Brett Greene and Joseph Cobian crossed the plate on a squeeze bunt from Brian Rafter.

Through four innings Rafter pitched his way through jams with minimal help from the umpires. As the Conquistadores began to see more pitches from Rafter, their at bats began to lead to run production.

In the fifth inning, Cabrillo’s Boomer Duffey doubled to left-center field, his second double on the afternoon. Brett Gregory drove him home with a single. Oswaldo Medina added another single to put runners on first and second base.

Heralds' starting pitcher Mike Rafter throws a pitch during Whittier Christian's 4-3 second-round victory over Cabrillo at home, Wednesday afternoon.

Heralds’ starting pitcher Mike Rafter throws a pitch during Whittier Christian’s 4-3 second-round victory over Cabrillo at home, Wednesday afternoon.

Feeling the pressure, the Conquistadores attempted a double steal, which led to a second run crossing the plate when Hughes’ throw got past Rubio’s glove at third base.

With two outs in the sixth inning, the Heralds’ grasp on the lead began to unravel.

A pitch from Mike Rafter skipped past Hughes, which put a runner at second base. Alex Aguilar brought Cabrillo within one run with a double to left. Dakota Veltkamp made a strong throw to cut down the runner at home, but the throw was cut off before it reached the plate.

Brett Greene came in to relieve Rafter, and induced a popout to escape the jam.

“I just had confidence in our guys, that game at Mary Star last week had a real similar ending, so I think that switch of been-here-done-that went off, you couldn’t tell that those guys played timid, they just keep playing the game” Lavoie said.

With the end in sight, Greene cruised through the seventh inning to grab the save for the Heralds.

Greene’s confidence does not reflect a player who has been on varsity for only a month, but his contributions have come at an important time.

Greene has received help from some of the leaders on the team like Rubio, Cobian and Mike Rafter and appreciated the chance to come in to relieve Rafter.

“It felt really good to be the one to win the game, it feels really great,” Greene said.

Mike Rafter took on the challenge of shutting down Cabrillo (18-13), which was fresh off a 12-inning upset of Woodcrest Christian last Friday.

Rafter struck out two in the first inning and reaped the benefit of two double plays in the second and third inning.

“We’ve turned more double plays in the past two games than we did in the past twelve games,” Lavoie said.

The Heralds have needed to adjust when Mike Rafter pitches, and have seen multiple players manning second base, but today Logan Veloff took on the challenge.

Veloff held down second base with no issues and gave his best effort with the stick in the second inning with a double between two shallow outfielders in center field and right field. Veloff continued to give the outfielders fits when he hit a bloop single in his second at bat.

“At the mid point in the year he started taking some pitches, and now he’s more in attack mode,” Lavoie said. “(Veloff’s) having success hitting the ball hard, even when he gets out.”

With a home game Friday against Big Bear High School, the Heralds (17-12) will need to continue their focus.

“Sometimes home teams can get a little too comfy in their own element,” Lavoie said.

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Athlete Spotlight: Danny Mueller’s unique leadership was key for Heralds volleyball

Posted on 28 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

Danny Mueller provided plenty of momentum shifts with kills like this one against Heritage Christian, Apr. 25.

Danny Mueller provided plenty of momentum shifts with kills like this one against Heritage Christian, Apr. 25.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

Despite falling in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs, the Whittier Christian boys’ volleyball team made big progress in its second season under Head Coach Chris Duran.

One of the big reasons for that progress was the senior leadership of Danny Mueller, who found ways to step up for his team in big situations throughout the 2014 season.

A three-sport athlete and three year varsity member in volleyball, Mueller said he felt privileged to be selected as a captain on this year’s team.

“I feel our guys are very respectful of one another and I think we have a really tight-knit group,” Danny said. “Being a co-captain with Austin [Tafoya] is an honor because we’ve played all four years together and we used to play club together. It’s been a lot of fun and a privilege to be captain.”

But Danny knew that being a captain extended past being vocal, throughout the course of the season, Danny has been a catalyst for positive momentum shifts all season.

“He’s been in the program all four years, three years on varsity,” Duran said. “He’s our most consistent overall player over the last couple years where if we needed that pass or that kill, we knew we could go to him and he would make things happen.”

A big reason for Danny’s success is the work ethic he employs in practice.

But through it all, it’s his ability to keep his emotions balanced, whether in practice or in matches, that catches his coach’s eye the most.

“He’s a great passer, great work ethic, always even-keel and if he makes a mistake it’s the same as if he makes a great hit,” Duran said. “It’s cool for us to see him calm and collected all the time. He’s always ready to step up to any challenge to put his team in a spot to succeed.”

Danny’s ability to rise to the occasion on the court isn’t as big of a surprise when finding out exactly how involved the senior is on other parts of campus.

In addition to being a co-captain on volleyball, Danny also played soccer and ran cross country for the Heralds this year.

On top of the athletics, Danny is also a member of the Senior Class Council and ASB, while also acting as Key Club President, Spanish Club President and a participant in the Creative Writing Club.

“[He’s a] Great kid, great heart, great leader, involved in so many things on campus, it’s great to see student athletes create a great environment for themselves,” Duran said. “He’s highly involved in everything and everything he does he puts a lot of hard work into as well.”

Along with his accomplishments on the field, Danny was chosen as a CIF Scholar Athlete and also felt proud to be a part of coordinating the Sadie Hawkins event for the school this season, despite having to make some last-minute changes.

The hard work and leadership could be seen on the court as well this season. Danny, an outside hitter, came up with big kills when the Heralds needed to stop an opponent’s run.

He also provided plenty of support while on the back line this season.

“I think you have to have that mentality, when you know you need the points, you just have to turn it on and come in for your team on those points that really matter,” he said.

However, one aspect of Danny’s leadership role that he felt he had to grow into was how to lead the team and be positive at the same time.

“You also have to bring up the encouragement, we get down on ourselves sometimes and I just try to help the team stay positive and remind them that we’ll get the next point,” Danny said. “I think that’s really important. It’s been my biggest challenge, but I think it’s improved a lot.”

Danny hopes to take what he’s learned through his time at Whittier Christian and apply it next year at Cal State Fullerton, where he will be majoring in Biology.

Coordinating with that major, Danny said that during his senior year, Anatomy has been by far his favorite class.

“We’ve done several dissections and we’ve had the ability to shadow different jobs in the medical field and that’s definitely what I want to do is sports medicine,” he said. “It keeps me excited.”

When it comes to the respect Danny has for his teammates, coaches and opponents, he said he gets most of that by following the advice and example of his role model, Rolland Esslinger, Whittier Christian’s athletic director.

“He is hands-down one of the most sincere people you will ever meet,” Danny said. “He emphasizes so much the importance of good sportsmanship and character and I think it’s something that people struggle with is acting the same around your friends, parents and teachers. He really tries to teach all of our student athletes to have good sportsmanship and to be yourself, have that true character and integrity when you’re on and off the court.”

When Danny isn’t studying hard or practicing on the court, he still keeps himself busy. The senior enjoys playing tennis with friends, geocaching, skiing and also writes a blog on the subject of credit unions.

But as he gets ready to head to the next stage in his life, Danny will take with him some great life lessons as well as some lasting memories.

“I’ve just really enjoyed playing with everyone, we have so much fun that it’s such a privilege, and playing for these coaches, I couldn’t ask for better coaches,” Danny said. “It’s been a great season, I’ve been so blessed to be here at Whittier Christian.”

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Couple found dead in La Habra Home- Updated

Posted on 27 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

 

***Story updated May 28, 2014, 4:45 p.m. ***

Two people were found dead in their home on the 600 block of West Greenwood Avenue Saturday afternoon.

Alaina A'Lurede, 31, of La Habra

Alaina A’Lurede, 31, of La Habra

 

La Habra Police said Kevin A’Lurede, 35, and his wife Alaina, 31, found dead in their home.

Autopsies showed that Kevin A’Lurede sustained a gunshot wound to the head from a small caliber pistol.  Alaina A’Lurede’s body showed signs consistent with a drug overdose. Orange County Coroner’s Office has stated that the cause of death for the couple is mostly likely suicide, however, conclusive results for both subjects is pending the completion of a toxicology screen.  A full toxicology report will be available in 8-12 weeks.

After not hearing from the couple, their parents reported them missing to the La Habra Police Department Friday.

 

Kevin A'Lurede 35, of La Habra

Kevin A’Lurede 35, of La Habra

Police arrived at the residence to check on the couple Saturday. After making entry, the officers found Alaina’s body in the living room and tKevin’s body in the bedroom where police recovered a small caliber handgun near his body.

Police said that both appeared to have been deceased for several days.

 

 

** On a personal note, both were my students at Fullerton College. Kevin was a long time sports editor on the student newspaper and Alaina was a photographer on the same paper.  It was in my class that the two met. It is very sad to report this news. ***

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Sonny, Raiders’ defense shut down Patriot to advance to second round

Posted on 22 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

Sonora starting pitcher Evan Sonny winds up to pitch against Patriot in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs, Thursday afternoon at Sonora High. Photos courtesy of Kurt Blodgett

Sonora starting pitcher Evan Sonny winds up to pitch against Patriot in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs, Thursday afternoon at Sonora High. Photos courtesy of Kurt Blodgett

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

Last year, Sonora pitcher Evan Sonny missed the playoffs after a four-day hospital visit forced an early end to his junior season.

The now senior pitcher admitted he was a little anxious heading into his first varsity playoff start on Thursday afternoon, but settled midway through the game and delivered a complete game shutout as the Raiders topped Patriot 2-0 at home in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs.

Sonny allowed two hits, the second coming with two outs in the third inning. With help from his defense, he retired the last 12 Warriors he faced.

“I think I tried to overthrow a little bit early, but once I got my off-speed stuff working, everything came into play,” Sonny said. “I was anxious, I was ready to get out there. Our coach always says good teams find a way to win even when they’re off and I feel that’s what we did today, we found a way to win.”

In all, Sonny allowed three baserunners, two of which were thrown out at second base. Sonny faced 22 total batters, one more than the minimum for a seven-inning game.

Patriot (12-15) had only one runner in scoring position as Justin Thomas was allowed second base after a throwing error during a double-play attempt in the first inning.

Sonora’s defense was key, the infield recorded 17 outs and Sonny struck out four batters. Aside from one hit in the first inning, a chopper over third-baseman JP Sarro, none of Patriot’s swings reached the outfield.

“We tell the guys if you get to this point of the year that you have to make plays,” said Pat Tellers, Sonora head coach. “We made some plays today, Gavin [Blodgett] made some big plays at shortstop. We also challenged them and we were able to take advantage of a couple mistakes.”

However, as great as Sonora’s pitching and defense were on the afternoon, the bats struggled. Sonora recorded just two base hits, both in the fourth inning.

Sonora shortstop Gavin Blodgett prepares to throw to first after fielding a tough chopper up the middle during the seventh inning of Sonora's first-round 2-0 win over Patriot, Thursday afternoon at home.

Sonora shortstop Gavin Blodgett prepares to throw to first after fielding a tough chopper up the middle during the seventh inning of Sonora’s first-round 2-0 win over Patriot, Thursday afternoon at home.

Despite an erratic performance by Warriors’ starting pitcher Andrew Martinez, Sonora’s willingness to chase pitches helped his cause early on.

Sonora (21-6-1) was held without a hit until Gavin Blodgett singled to lead off the fourth inning. Two batters later, Jake Rosander doubled to deep left-center field to put runners on second and third base.

Justin Mellano plated the Raiders’ first run with a sacrifice fly to right field in the fourth inning. Blodgett scored from third base as the throw sailed wide right of the plate.

“We didn’t execute well offensively, we didn’t get bunts down well today,” Tellers said. “I liked the way we drove the ball, but they must have had something on us because their outfield was playing deep. They tracked them down and made them fly-ball outs.”

Patriot shortstop Luis Perez bobbled a ground ball by Blodgett in the fifth inning, allowing Sonny to score and give the Raiders a 2-0 lead.

Sonny and the defense took care of the rest as Sonora cruised into the second round and extended their current win streak to 16 games.

The Raiders will face Century in the second round. Century, the champion of the Orange League, defeated Monrovia 2-0 on Thursday afternoon. A coin flip will determine the site of the game.

“It’s about making plays and we did, that’s why we’re continuing,” Tellers said. “It doesn’t matter who you play at this time, they’re all good, you never know what you’re going to run into. We just have to prepare for our next opponent and we get to do that, starting tomorrow or tonight.”

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Split vote regulates LH truck vendors

Posted on 22 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

In a split decision Monday, the La Habra City Council adopted the ordinance creating new regulations for truck vendor operations within the city.
Citing multiple public concerns for child safety around schools, the 3-2 vote by the council  applies to ice cream and food vending trucks.
Some of the new regulations require truck operators will now not be able to operate within 300 feet of a school during the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. without a special permit. Further limitations include 300 feet from a park and the Children’s Museum. Trucks are prohibited to stop on streets with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or more.
Mayor Tom Beamish and Council woman Rose Espinoza voted against the ordinance changes.
Espinoza explained that she voted against the ordinance change because no representatives from the truck vendors were consulted when planning the new ordinance.
“It’s going to be harder for us to make a living,” said Gerry Alquisra, a truck vendor servicing La Habra for 25 years.

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Las Lomas Second Grader receives award for writing

Posted on 22 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

Keilani A. Darvin, a Second grader from Las Lomas Elementary received honorable mention for Best Historical Fiction: “The Day I Went to School with Ruby Bridges” at the PBS SoCal’s annual PBS Kids writers contest May 8 in Costa Mesa.KeilaniADarvin
The annual PBS KIDS Writers Contest is a national initiative designed to promote the advancement of children’s literacy skills through hands-on, active learning. The contest encourages children in grades K-3 to celebrate creativity by submitting their own original stories and illustrations.
“We love the opportunity to participate in the contest each year, as it advances our commitment to supporting creative expression and growing children’s literacy skills.” said Jamie Myers, VP of Education and Community Outreach for PBS SoCal.

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Keller Williams helps build dance studio at Boys & Girls Clubs of La Habra

Posted on 22 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

Agents from Keller Williams in Whittier volunteered their Saturday renovating a former staff room into a brand new Dance Studio at the Boys & Girls Clubs of La Habra.
The renovated dance studio will expand the Club’s program services and add another service for the children of La Habra.
Over 35 volunteers pulled out carpet, prepped and painted the room, and started to lay down a new wood laminate floor.

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Farewell and good luck to LHJ Sports Editor

Posted on 22 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

I hope at some point in the last five years you have had the opportunity to read some of the great sports stories written by our sports Editor Nathan Percy. Not just to find out about the amazing athletes from our three high schools, but to enjoy some of the best prep sports coverage in community newspapers today.Nate interview
I say this not just to promote the pages of the La Habra Journal, but rather to highlight the amazing job done by Nate. I have known Nate since he first came into my journalism class at Fullerton College in 2009.  I have seen him develop as a sports reporter over the years.  Now, it is a bittersweet time to say goodbye to him, but know it is a good move.
As of May 26, Nate will be covering sports for the Orange County Register.  Please, hold your boos.  It is a good opportunity for a full time position as a higher-profile news outlet that is expanding.  He will be moving to new territory too as he will work out of the San Clemente office covering prep sports in South Orange County.
You  may not have known it, or even really paid attention to it, but the Brea native gives his all when he covers these stories.  He has traveled as far as Bishop  and San Clemente to cover games by our local teams.  He has covered three sporting events in one day (on many occasions), writing and posting the stories online by that evening.
He’s a great reporter who knows how to get accurate information and tell compelling stories. Coaches and athletic directors have grown to know him, and you’d never see him without a notepad and recorder.  Many comments we receive are in regard to the “great” sports coverage in the Journal.
He also has overseen the creation and development of our Twitter account, and due to his constant updating and that of the reporters he oversees, he has created an indispensable source of information for some in the community. He has worked hard to make sure that results were posted immediately to inform the La Habra community.
With all that success, Nate remains one of the most modest, hardworking and focused sportswriters I have known.
While it will be a challenge to fill his shoes, as his former instructor, I can’t help but be so excited for this opportunity for him.
We will miss him and his writing in the LHJ, but look forward to watch his continued growth and cross paths with him when La Habra schools play schools like San Clemente, Dana Hills, J Serra and other South County schools.
If you want to come by and wish him luck and thank him for his sports coverage over the years, we will be celebrating a going away party for him at Pepz Pizza on June 7.  It will start about 4 p.m.
Everyone at the La Habra Journal wishes Nate well and good luck in his new venture.
—The Editor

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Community book sharing system opens in LH

Posted on 22 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

A box was placed last week on a pedestal in the La Habra Civic Center.  Inside the box was placed a small stack of books. But what is it for?
It is the Little Free Library.  Its part of an international organization focused on promoting literacy and the love of reading while building a sense of community.

Photo by Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal Take a book, leave a book: La Habra Councilman Jim Gomez opens the first Little Free Library box in La Habra.

Photo by Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal
Take a book, leave a book: La Habra Councilman Jim Gomez opens the first Little Free Library box in La Habra.

The concept is based on “take a book, return a book” concept.  People can take a book to read and share, and it is encouraged to leave a book for someone else to pick up.
La Habra Councilman Jim Gomez brought the Little Free Library to La Habra.
“I got the idea from The St. Andrews Square Association, a group I work closely with in Los Angeles. The program has really taken off in that area of Los Angeles,” Gomez said. “I thought we need to do this in La Habra.”
The books are free and according to the organization,  are based on the belief of sharing as part of a community. The idea that we are all part of a community and we can all help others enjoy the gift of reading.
Gomez would like to sponsor six more Little Free Library locations around the city by the end of the year. The second free library is slated to be placed near the Gary Center.
“I want to promote literacy in the community and encourage people to read,” Gomez explained.  “Most of my life I was not much of a reader. Now that I’m a old guy I realize how important reading is. I hope the project will bless our community.”
Gomez explained that donated books and Bibles have disappeared from the box by anxious readers.
For more information contact Councilman Jim Gomez at: (714) 329-0365.

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LH moves forward to create city bike trails

Posted on 22 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Heather Pape
La Habra Journal

The city of La Habra and surrounding areas will establish bike trails in the place of railroad tracks, but the project may take years to fund.
In the city council meeting on May 5, LH council members approved a plan to create a circuit of bike trails in the easement that belongs to the Union Pacific Railroad Company. The bike path will extend about three miles from the west city limits to the east city limits along the Union Pacific Railroad line, and from west of Beach Boulevard to east of Palm Street. This project is part of a larger, regional plan to have an interconnected system of bike trails for the communities of La Habra, Whittier and Brea to enjoy. Most sections of the railroad have been inactive for years, with the only exception being a small chunk of the rails that are still used to deliver to a plastic company on Berry Street in Brea.
Councilman Jim Gomez explained La Habra has a community of cyclists who have been requesting more opportunities for biking in the area for years, and this project poses as a good solution for those desires.
“For a number of years there have been residents in the community who are bike enthusiasts that have always wanted to have a bike trail that goes through La Habra,” Gomez said.
The trail will benefit those who bike for fun as well as those who trek across the cities for their commute. The city of La Habra wants cyclists to be able to ride, but they also want them to be able to ride safely.
According to city officials, one of the main reasons for this project is to have another path for bikers to ride, instead of roaming down busy streets.
“It will promote another way for cyclists to traverse the city off street,” said City Engineer Chris Johansen. “We will just have to improve the crossings where the trail crosses some of our major streets such as Euclid, Beach and Harbor, and we’re planning to do signals there so cyclists can push a button and activate the signal so they can cross the street safely.”
Gomez explained that although the engineering plans have been completed, funding the project may take years.
“We still need to get approximately $10 million of funding, so we are going to have to lobby the state, county, and grant funding to fund the project,” Gomez said.  “We have approved engineering reports to lay out how the bike plan will look and where it will run through, but we still need the funding part. Ten million dollars is a lot of money.”
Johansen guesses that $10 million may even be an underestimation. Funding is the biggest obstacle to the completion of this project, not just in La Habra, but also in Whittier and Brea. Johansen says that Brea and Whittier have not been able to buy the easement up to the city limits of La Habra yet, and that is a barrier to the goal of connectivity.
“Most cyclists don’t just stay within their own city boundaries—they go city to city,” Johansen said. “This is part of a bigger picture to try to get the trail to go from the Santa Ana River all the way over to the San Gabriel River. [We] really want the connectivity between the cities to happen so we have a regional trail system.”
Despite the current lack of funding, city officials are hopeful for its outcome.
“It’s a project that is going to take some time,” Johansen stated. “It’s not going to happen overnight. But this is the first step in a long process to deal with connecting this trail up with other cities. A regional system like this just takes some time, but [La Habra] has started the process and we are looking forward to waking up our trails with other agencies, with Brea and with Whittier.”

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