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Alex Morgan
1. Local athletes strike gold in London

Seven athletes - all of whom competed at one point in the area - won gold medals for the United States during the Summer Olympic Games in London.

Cal Poly Pomona graduate Kim Rhode equaled a world record in winning gold in skeet shoot by hitting 99 of 100 clays. It was her third gold, fifth overall, and she became the only American competitor to win medals for an individual event in five consecutive Olympics.

Rhode trained extensively at the Redlands Shooting Club.

Two of the athletes were part of the women's soccer team that defeated Japan in the final. Alex Morgan, who prepped at Diamond Bar High School, was part of the team in addition to Shannon Boxx, who was born in Fontana.

Morgan, the U.S. Soccer female athlete of the year, scored a game-winning goal against Canada, her team-high 20th in 2012, and became only the sixth and youngest U.S. player to do so in a single year.

In basketball, Don Lugo High School graduate Diana Taurasi added to her gold collection for the U.S. women while Tyson Chandler won his first gold for the U.S. men. Chandler was a junior high school student in San Bernardino before moving to Compton to start high school.

Tyler Clary graduated from Riverside Poly High School, but he had plenty of hometown fans in his native Redlands when he was a surprise winner in the 200-meter backstroke.

Redlands and San Dimas shared in a win by Kristin Armstrong in the women's road cycling time trials. In 2004, she was a stage winner at the Redlands Bike Classic. A year later in San Dimas, she was a stage winner and finished second overall in the San Dimas Stage Race.

2. Area dominates in prep softball

Whether you are talking about the Inland Valley or San Bernardino County, there's no doubt which high school sport was the area's most successful in 2012: softball.

Of the seven CIF-Southern Section champions in softball five - Chino, Chino Hills, Citrus Valley, Kaiser, and Pomona Catholic - were from the area, with heroes ranging from the unsung to those receiving NCAA Division I scholarships.

Three of them - Chino Hills, in Division 3, Citrus Valley in Division 6, and Pomona Catholic in Division 7 - were favorites in their respective divisions as No. 1 seeds.

Chino Hills lost only three times all year and didn't win a playoff game by fewer than three runs.

Citrus Valley lost only twice all year and won its first three playoff games by a combined 33-2 score, and Pomona Catholic scored at least 24 runs in each of its first four playoff games.

Unseeded Mt.

IndyCar returned to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana in 2012.
IndyCar returned to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana in 2012. (Will Lester Staff Photographer)
Baldy League champion Chino had to knock off No. 1 Mission Viejo and No. 4 Lakewood en route to facing league rival Don Lugo for the Division 2 title, which it won 10-6.

Unseeded Sunkist League champion Kaiser had a flair for the dramatic. The Cats went extra innings in their last two playoff games. They beat La Habra 8-4 in the semifinals in 10 innings and Garden Grove 1-0 in an 11-inning final.

3. Taylor reaches unbelievable rushing mark

There's no doubt there were high expectations for Rim of the World senior running back Jacob Taylor for the 2012 season.

After all, Taylor rushed for 2,546 yards and 27 touchdowns as a junior in leading the Scots to the CIF-SS semifinals.

When Taylor told coach Bob Gradillas his goal was to rush for 4,000 yards in 2012, Gradillas thought Taylor was setting his sights perhaps a little too high.

Even if Rim reached the CIF-SS championship game and played 14 games, Taylor still would need to average at least 286 rushing yards per game to reach the 4,000-yard mark.

Taylor also didn't know how rare that was. Until this season, according to the National Federation of High Schools, only one other player in California and four others in the history of high school football had rushed for at least 4,000 yards in a season.

Taylor now is one of six players who have done it.

He carried the ball 416 times for 4,036 yards and 57 touchdowns this season and averaged 9.

The Ontario Warriors in arena football play at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
The Ontario Warriors in arena football play at Citizens Business Bank Arena. (Thomas R. Cordova Staff Photographer)
7 yards per carry.

Entering the CIF-SS East Valley Division championship game, Taylor had a streak of five consecutive games rushing for at least 300 yards and four touchdowns.

In the championship game, a 34-31 win over Ontario Christian, he rushed 44 times for 264 yards and three touchdowns. But it was plenty to push Taylor over the magical plateau.

4. IndyCar returns to Fontana

For seven years, the open-wheel cars the Auto Club Speedway was designed to host were absent from the two-mile speedway's racing calender.

In 2011, after several years of dealing with the IndyCar Series organization, track president Gillian Zucker secured a September race date in the 2012 Izod IndyCar Series.

As the date drew closer, other events in the IndyCar world cast doubts about the race. Would it be the season finale, as once listed on the schedule, or would there be another race scheduled later to replace the canceled China event?

The biggest question was whether the speedway would sell tickets. Many in the industry had memories of a sparse crowd for the 2005 race.

Turns out there was no reason to worry. Despite triple-digit temperatures more than 30,000 attended the Mav TV 400 and were treated to one of the best races in the series.

Ed Carpenter won the 200-lap race, but the big story was Ryan Hunter-Reay winning the series driving title. He entered the race in second place, but an early wreck by leader Will Power set the stage for Hunter-Reay's rally.

Power, who finished second in the points for the third consecutive season, returned to the race to force Hunter-Reay into finishing.

5. Two champs,two runners-up in prep football

Many of the area's top prep football teams were roadblocked by Vista Murrieta and Corona Centennial in the CIF-SS Inland Division, but there still was success with two champions and two second-place finishers.

Kaiser, given up for dead after losing the Sunkist League title to Summit 29-7 in Week 6, still was getting little recognition after blowing out four consecutive opponents from a weak league entering the postseason.

The third-seeded Cats still didn't raise a lot of eyebrows with 14-7 and 14-10 wins in its first two CIF-SS Central Division playoff games. But Kaiser then knocked off second-seeded Menifee Heritage 13-7 in the semifinals.

Kaiser then downed Moreno Valley Rancho Verde 28-21 in the final on a touchdown with 1:08 to play when Marquette Washington ran for 18 yards, then pitched the ball to his teammate, Raymond Padilla, who ran the remaining 45 yards.

It was Kaiser's first CIF-SS title since moving from the Eastern to Central division and the school's first title overall since 2003.

The East Valley Division also had a game for the ages as unseeded Rim of the World intercepted a pass with 2:04 remaining to ensure its 34-31 victory over top-seeded and previously undefeated Ontario Christian.

It was Rim's second CIF-SS football title in school history and first since 1976, when current coach Bob Gradillas was the quarterback.

Serrano couldn't add to the list of area champions. The third-seeded Diamondbacks knocked off fellow undefeated and No. 2 seed Carter 21-14 to reach the championship game.

But Serrano then faced powerful and top-seeded Perris Citrus Hill but fell 38-24 in a game that essentially was over at halftime.

6. Warriors come out to play - indoor football

Arena football made a huge splash at Citizens Business Bank Arena in 2012. The transplanted Los Angeles Temptation won the Lingerie Football League title for a third consecutive season.

Ashley Salerno, who started at quarterback for the Ayala High School freshman team, was the Temptations' star player.

However, she soon was displaced as the best quarterback at the arena when the Ontario Warriors started play. Put together by team owner Tom Mitchell, the Warriors were part of the American Football League and soon were among the best in the country.

Starting quarterback Kevin Warner was the biggest offensive weapon for the team. In their seven games, the Warriors outscored the opposition 502-154 and rolled up such lopsided score as 92-0 (Arizona), 60-6 (Alameda) and 76-6 (Nevada).

The defense was just as impressive.

In the end, however, the league proved too stubborn to defeat. The Warriors, the only team in the West with a home field and fiscally sound, were kicked out of the AIF with two games remaining after securing a berth in the championship game set for the East Coast.

The front office charged the team with unspecified "violations" and suspended the team. This after Mitchell refused to pay for teams to travel to Ontario. The league also said it would not pay for the team to travel to North Carolina for the championship game.

Those who attended games were treated to fan attractions, including keeping footballs that made their way into the stands. The biggest crowd numbered almost 4,000 but as the scores mounted the attendance dropped as games were not competitive.

7. Changing of the guard in prep athletics

In most of the CIF-Southern Section prep leagues are restructured every four years. However, in areas designated as the Foothill-Citrus and Inland, those changes usually occur every two years to keep with the number of high schools built.

Changes also are made in an effort to keep certain leagues competitive, as well individual schools.

For the 2012-13 season, the changes impacted two local leagues and longtime members. Cajon High School was switched from the San Andreas League - comprised primarily of its San Bernardino district rivals - to the Citrus Belt League.

In place, Fontana was moved out of the CBL and into the lower-level Sunkist League. It was just the second time since the school opened 50 years ago that it had not competed in the Citrus Belt.

The Steelers were moved into the Ivy League in 1964, but were re-admitted the next year after winning the football title. Fontana became a national power in the late 1980s and won two CIF-SS championships as well as one mythical national title.

But with the opening of four other high schools within its district - Miller, Kaiser, Summit and Jurupa Hills - the Steelers no longer were competitive in the Citrus Belt League, thus the move.

Cajon enjoyed success in the San Andreas, much to the chagrin of its fellow members and, in 2011, was moved into the Citrus Belt League.

In 2012, Cajon finished mid-pack in football in the Citrus Belt League while Fontana was at the bottom of the Sunkist.

8. Three teams win girls soccer titles

Softball wasn't the only girls sport in the area with success in 2012. Girls soccer also was successful.

Los Osos won the CIF-SS Division 2 title with a 1-0 victory over Sunny Hills.

Los Osos perhaps was one of the finest girls soccer teams the area has ever seen.

The Grizzlies finished the season 25-1-3 and lost only to Division 1 champion Aliso Viejo Aliso Niguel 3-2 in the CIF Southern California Regional championship game. Los Osos finished with a No. 2 state ranking by MaxPreps.

Claremont also won a CIF-SS girls soccer title by shutting out La Puente Bishop Amat 2-0 in the Division 3 championship game. The Wolfpack finished 27-2-4 and were ranked No. 3.

Citrus Valley, perhaps not considered among the state's elite, nonetheless also took home a CIF-SS girls soccer title with a 2-0 victory over Chatsworth Sierra Canyon for the Division 7 crown. Citrus Valley finished 23-3-1.

Alas, the strength of area soccer was heavily on the girls' side. Cajon was the only area boys team to make it to the CIF-SS finals, and the Cowboys fell to Lake Elsinore Lakeside 3-1 in the Division 5 title game.

9. NHL players Reigning it in

When the NHL and its players association couldn't agree on a new collective bargaining agreement in September, fans were the biggest losers. The ensuing lockout forced the cancellation of half the season by year's end.

Among the biggest winners: The Reign.

Three NHL players - forward Kyle Clifford, right wing Devin Setoguchi and defenseman Paul Mara - helped the Reign race to a 20-7-1 start and first place in the Pacific Division. The crowds followed, with Citizens Business Bank Arena averaging 6,870 through the team's first 15 home dates. Only one ECHL team had a higher per-game average in the first three months of the season.

Setoguchi had four goals and 13 points in 10 games. Clifford has three goals and six points in five games. Mara is among the league leaders in plus-minus rating (plus-16) to go with 18 points in 27 games.

The trickle-down effect of the lockout was felt across the ECHL. Some younger players bound for the NHL (such as the Kings' Dwight King and Jordan Nolan) found themselves in the American Hockey League, forcing several AHL regulars out of the league.

Jobs were even more scarce in Europe, where the Kings' Dustin Brown and the Ducks' Bobby Ryan - among several big names - signed on during the lockout.

Fewer NHL players chose to play in the ECHL. But the Alaska Aces signed four, the Reign signed three and both teams are leading their respective divisions.

Reign president Justin Kemp said at the beginning of the season he didn't relish the opportunity to capitalize on the NHL's misfortune.

"We are just as anxious for everybody to get back to work as they are," he said Oct. 12.

Reign fans watching NHL players in person at a fraction of the cost seem content to wait it out.

10. Bonita, Summit No. 1 all the way

Summit High School girls basketball and Bonita High School baseball were different on the surface, but there were some key similarities that tied them together.

Summit and Bonita earned dominant No. 1 rankings in their respective CIF-SS playoff divisions, Summit in Division 1A and Bonita in Division 3.

Both teams also fought off all challengers to win CIF titles.

Summit, en route to the title and finishing the season 28-4, had a pair of close games in the CIF-SS playoffs, a 62-54 win over Downey in the quarterfinals and a 56-51 win over Huntington Beach in the final.

In the state playoffs, Summit defeated Bakersfield Stockdale and Corona Santiago (a team that had beaten the SkyHawks earlier in the year) before falling to eventual state champion Mater Dei 69-59.

Bonita played tight games en route to its baseball title and finished 31-2. The last four games were decided by a combined 10 runs.

Perhaps most impressive in Bonita's run was the pitching. The Bearcats allowed a combined six runs in five playoff games and allowed more than three runs in a game only five times in 33 games.

Bonita's team ERA for the season was a paltry 1.47.