Boy’s Golf: Improvement continues for Sharks

Malibu High School freshman Josh McConnell shot his lowest score of the season on Thursday, April 23, finishing with 104 strokes at the golf tournament at Olivas Links Golf Course.

Coach Cindy McConnell said Josh was struggling with this swing earlier that week, but found ways to improve it for Thursday’s match. She also said his short game and chipping were the best part of his performance.

“He’s also been working hard on his short game, and that definitely showed [on Thursday],” Cindy said.
The golf team’s roster increased to five players on Thursday with the addition of freshman Keaton Osbourne. He was previously ineligible to play, Cindy said.

Osbourne’s debut came with a score of 99, and he shot three strokes better in the back nine compared to the front.

“He has played quite a bit in the past, but not much of recent years,” Cindy said. “So he’s kind of getting back into the game.”

Cindy said she noticed that during practice, Osbourne has a tendency to lose focus. But when she saw him compete in his first match, it was a different story.

“In the match, he was more focused on his shots and his game,” she said. “I would call that his strength [on Thursday].”

Three of the four Malibu players who competed each had one birdie in their rounds of 18.

Freshman Quincy Allen and sophomore Daniel Haines continued their stellar play in Frontier League competition. Allen tied for first place at Thursday’s tournament with a score of 81, and still leads the league in stroke average.

Haines shot an 87, putting him at third place overall in the tournament. But with a stroke average of 86, Haines is second in the league.

“He had a little bit of trouble with putting but he still kept his position, so that was good,” Cindy said of Haines’ performance.

Josh and Haines worked on putting at the practice green after Thursday’s tournament, Cindy said, but she didn’t seem concerned about Haines’ struggles that day or moving forward.

“It’s the nature of the game,” Cindy said. “Some days you putt really well and some days you don’t. Some days you hit the ball better than other days.”

Cindy said her two best players still have a lot of room for improvement.

“They can improve on all aspects of their game,” she said. “They’re still young and getting better and better.”

The Sharks have one more regular season tournament to play before heading to the CIF playoffs. They will play on Thursday, April 30, at the Mountain View Golf Course in Santa Paula.

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Uneven play extends Sharks’ losing streak

The Malibu High School baseball team floundered in two straight games against the St. Bonaventure Seraphs last week, extending their losing streak to five games.

Malibu’s most recent loss came on Friday, April 17, where it committed a comedy of errors that led to several unearned runs for the Seraphs, and a 13-9 loss for the Sharks.

“We just made too made too many mistakes that we just have to cut down on,” second baseman Dylan Ross said after the game.

The Sharks started the game off strong. In the second inning and down by only one run, five hits led to four runs, giving MHS a 4-1 lead.

But in the top of the third, with two outs, the bases loaded and Bronson Bard pitching, Malibu started to unravel.

St. Bonaventure scored two runs, tying the game at 4, after a bad throw to third base by the Sharks. Then a wild pitch by Bard and a missed throw to first put the Seraphs up 6-4.

Bard threw another wild pitch that went right past catcher Trevor Simonian, who couldn’t find the ball for a few seconds, and a Seraphs runner scored. St. Bonaventure scored two more runs for a 9-4 lead before the Sharks got their third out.

Coach Ari Jacobs was visibly upset after the game while speaking about the team’s struggles this season.

“As a coach, watching us break down on things that we constantly prepare for in practice is very frustrating,” Jacobs said after taking a few seconds to carefully choose his words.

Before Malibu’s next at bat, Jacobs had a short meeting with team, which seemed to spark its offense. Simonian drilled a shot to deep left field and drove in two runs.

Going into the fourth inning, the Sharks were down 9-8 and looking to make a comeback. But St. Bonaventure ran off four runs before Malibu knew what hit them, and sealed the victory before one out was recorded at the top of the fourth.

Despite the losing streak, some players on the team are finding silver linings to their struggles. Bard said the team has grown more mature.

“Less people are throwing their helmets, less people are throwing their gloves” Bard said. “We’re just doing a better job on the small things.”

Jacobs singled out Ross as a bright spot so far this season, and said his second baseman is helping the other members of the team to fight through adversity.

“He is always someone that no matter what happens on the field, when Dylan Ross is on your team, it’s fun to watch him play,” Jacobs said. “He is such a battler and such a hard worker. He’s one of those guys that his adversity is being tested and he is just a champion.”

Ross, who is the captain of the team, is looking for improved play from the rest of the players.

“We’ve got a lot to work on as a team,” Ross said. “We work year-round, so we can play much better than this.”

The Sharks will play two games this week versus the Santa Clara Saints starting on Wednesday, April 22.

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Residents collect knowledge at City-sponsored Eco fair

A sign showing the health of various beaches in the Los Angeles area is displayed during the Malibu Earth Day Eco Fair Saturday, April 18, at Malibu City Hall.

A sign showing the health of various beaches in the Los Angeles area is displayed during the Malibu Earth Day Eco Fair Saturday, April 18, at Malibu City Hall.

Residents of Malibu and surrounding communities observed Earth Day early with an event at Malibu City Hall on Saturday, April 18, that promoted sustainability and other eco-friendly causes. 

Representatives from several environmental organizations sat at booths to inform attendees of the event. The organizations included the Surfrider Foundation, the Malibu Chamber of Commerce, Sustainable Surf and others. 

Jessica Wolfe, who lives in Simi Valley but works in Malibu, attended the event to get information about helping the environment. She said because she spends so much time in Malibu, the city is “my kind of place to take care of.” 

“Especially for the younger generation, it’s good to bring them around this kind of stuff so they know,” Wolfe said. “It’s their world.”

Wolfe recycles, eats locally grown food and uses cloth bags in an effort to be more sustainable in her own life, she said. 

Lucia Corona (right) listens to Ron DeVera of Los Angeles County Waterworks during the Malibu Earth Day Eco Fair on Friday, April 18, 2015 at City Hall in Malibu, Calif.

Lucia Corona (right) listens to Ron DeVera of Los Angeles County Waterworks during the Malibu Earth Day Eco Fair on Friday, April 18, 2015 at City Hall in Malibu, Calif.

At the event, City employees provided literature and free items for people at its booth. They encouraged attendees to fill out what they called an Eco Passport, which had pages people could stamp if they visited all the informational booths. 

Those who got the entire passport stamped were entered in a drawing to win free merchandise from the City. 

Jennifer Voccola Brown, senior environmental programs coordinator for the City, believes water usage is the biggest sustainability issue that Malibu has to tackle. 

“Ideally, just cut back on the landscaping,” Brown said. “Is it an emergency to have a big, lush lawn? No. Is it an emergency to have water to drink? Absolutely.” 

Jessica Wolfe (right) listens to a representative from Heal the Bay during the Malibu Earth Day Eco Fair on Friday, April 18, 2015 at City Hall in Malibu, Calif.

Jessica Wolfe (right) listens to a representative from Heal the Bay during the Malibu Earth Day Eco Fair on Friday, April 18, 2015 at City Hall in Malibu, Calif.

Malibu was named in a recent Los Angeles Times article as one of the affluent areas that use more gallons of water than less well-off areas of the state. The city was among four that used more than 150 gallons per capita, or per person, in January, according to the article. 

Brown said it can be difficult to reach those in the community with properties that use more water than others. But she said the City is doing its part to give the right information to those residents. 

“We’re really trying to get the message over to them now that this is [their] first step, this is going to get the biggest bang for the buck if [they] cut that back,” Brown said. “I think once we can reach them and give them that message, we’re going to see a big change.” 

The fair attracted dozens of people through the course of four hours. Refreshments were served and a man playing handmade Native American flutes entertained the crowd with his music. 

Joseph Nitti, resident of Topanga Canyon, attended the event and said he learned a lot from the information about sustainability and the environment provided by the various booths, and felt that it was valuable to him and others.

“I think it’s very important that the education part of this is met in some way, and this seems like a perfect venue to learn about new things,” Nitti said. “I think education is the most important thing because that prompts change.” 

Steven Guerry (middle) and Kevin Torres (right), representatives of The Energy Network, speak to Joseph Nitti, resident of Topanga Canyon, during the Malibu Earth Day Eco Fair on Friday, April 18, 2015 at City Hall in Malibu, Calif.

Steven Guerry (middle) and Kevin Torres (right), representatives of The Energy Network, speak to Joseph Nitti, resident of Topanga Canyon, during the Malibu Earth Day Eco Fair on Friday, April 18, 2015 at City Hall in Malibu, Calif.

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Girls track and field dominates after absent runners return

Senior Carorline Pietrzyk runs ahead of the pack during the track meet on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Senior Carorline Pietrzyk runs ahead of the pack during the track meet on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

The Malibu High School track and field team is complete again, with many of the girls who were away with the soccer team coming back to compete in the meet on Thursday, April 16. 

Eva Conrad and Abby Blackwood were among those who recently returned to the roster, with Blackwood making her debut performance in Thursday’s meet. 

Coach John Cary said the amount of soccer players being away from the team because of invitationals has impacted Malibu’s overall performance this season. 

“That’s why we didn’t have any relay teams,” Cary said. “All our [good] girls, specifically, are in soccer.”

Blackwood competed in both the 800- and 3,200-meter runs on Thursday, placing second in the two events. Senior Caroline Pietrzyk finished first in both runs. 

Blackwood suggested she didn’t mind coming in second to Pietrzyk in the races. 

“It’s not even like I’m racing against her,” Blackwood said. “It’s like I’m racing with her.”

Sophomore Jaime Le, 15, lands in the sand during the long jump event at the track meet on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Sophomore Jaime Le, 15, lands in the sand during the long jump event at the track meet on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

The Sharks totaled nine first-place finishes during the meet, according to the unofficial meet results. Pietrzyk and senior Michaela Cosentino had four of the nine top performances. 

The Sharks have more athletes competing this year compared to last, which has brought up the level of intensity and improvement so far this season, Blackwood said. 

“It’s really cool because we have so much more potential,” Blackwood said. “It’s just really nice to know that a lot of people are getting into track and trying it. I think we’re going to have a really strong team this season.”

Conrad said the younger girls on the team have stood out this year. 

“A lot of them have surprised me by doing so well, even freshman,” Conrad said.

In addition to Pietrzyk’s and Cosentino’s performances, other Sharks also excelled in their respective events. 

Freshman Ella McKinna-Worrell won first place in the 400-meter dash with a time of 1 minute, 2.22 seconds, according to the unofficial results. Sophomore Maverick Baglietto finished first in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 18.91 seconds. 

Sophomore Abby Blackwood takes off running during the track meet on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Sophomore Abby Blackwood takes off running during the track meet on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Malibu dominated the field events on Thursday, with Cosentino jumping five feet for a top finish in the high jump event. In the long jump, senior Jenna Weinberger easily won with a distance of 14 feet, eight inches. 

Three Malibu athletes finished in the top three in the triple jump. Freshman Sara Cosentino won the pole fault event with a final height of seven feet, three inches. 

Cary said that while the girls’ team continues to perform well, the boys are a different story. The boys will likely not win league this year because of a collective lack of experience, Cary said. 

“We just don’t have any depth whatsoever in our boys team, because they’re all young,” Cary said.

But Cary is confident the girls will have a chance to come away with a league championship, especially now that the whole team is back together. 

“If all of them do as well as they have done in the past,” Cary said, “there’s no reason why we should not win girls’ varsity.”

Junior Madeleine Ward, 17, prepares to jump over a hurdle during the track meet on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Junior Madeleine Ward, 17, prepares to jump over a hurdle during the track meet on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

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MHS golf packs punch

Earlier this year, it was a toss-up whether or not Malibu High School would have a golf team this year.

During a recent meeting of the high school’s Athletic Booster Club, Cindy McConnell and Jud Allen had a small debate over who was going to coach golf.

After some deliberation, McConnell told the athletic director that she would take the job.

“I thought about it for about a week and thought, ‘Gosh, I have time now in my life. I could give this a try and see how it goes so at least the boys have a team that they can play on,’” McConnell said.

However, problems with academic eligibility has relegated the golf team to only three players — freshmen Josh McConnell and Quincy Allen, and sophomore Daniel Haines — who compete on an individual basis.

Quincy, Jud Allen’s son, is already the Frontier League leader in stroke number, Cindy said. Haines is only behind by two strokes, good for second in the league.

Cindy’s son, Josh, decided to try his hand at golf this year. He had never played competitively before, but decided to try something new after water polo season ended.

Josh, who is ranked 18th in the league, said being coached by his own mother was interesting, and suggested their relationship on the course was business as usual.

“I really just act like she’s a random person that’s coaching the team,” he said, “and I act like just a player.”

Haines said it’s been a good experience having Cindy as coach of the team.

“She really knows what she’s talking about,” Haines said. “Being an ex-LPGA [Ladies Professional Golf Association] player, she knows a lot about swing and knows how to coach as well.”

As a first-year coach, Cindy relishes in seeing the team get better.

“I really enjoy seeing the improvement in the younger players,” she said. “You’ll see kids that have never played and then all of a sudden, they start hitting the ball more consistently and their scores are dropping. That’s just fun to see their improvement and their happiness in that.”

One of the players who is improving as the season rolls along is Josh, his mother said.

“When Josh first started in the beginning of the season … he could barely hit a ball,” Cindy said. “He’s becoming more and more consistent and he’s progressing really nicely.”

Even though the team only has three players, Malibu has an opportunity to make the CIF playoffs. Haines believes he and Quincy have a good chance at appearing in the postseason in May.

“I’m pretty confident that both of us can do that,” Haines said.

In addition to making the playoffs, Haines is looking to shoot even par by next season, and said he will focus on that goal in the offseason.

“I’m just going to work hard, practice a lot over the summer,” Haines said. “I figure I’ll play quite a bit and really work on my game and try and get to that.”

Cindy said Quincy and Haines have their own professionals that help them with specific aspects of their games, and her role as a coach is, at times, one of simply encouraging her players during tournaments.

Cindy said the toughest part of playing golf at the high school level is the mental aspect of the game.

“It’s not getting too frustrated with yourself and not giving up no matter how poorly you’re playing,” she said. “That’s probably the most difficult thing to learn in golf.”

Josh said he deals with the frustrations of the game by taking a deep breath and focusing on his swing.

“When you’re swinging and you hit bad shots constantly, it gets pretty depressing,” he said. “But you just have to work through it.”

The Sharks’ home turf, the Malibu Country Club, is currently closed after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month, according to an LA Times article. Therefore, the team has to travel to courses in Agoura Hills, Westlake Village and Oxnard.

Malibu would need at least six players to compete as a team in the league and for the CIF playoffs. Cindy believes once that happens, the team can achieve great things.

“If we could get a couple more players, we would be winning this league,” she said. “I know it.”

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