Eastlake High School’s homecoming celebration on Friday will take on a special meaning for several select individuals associated with the east side Chula Vista school when they take the field during pre-game ceremonies as members of the school’s inaugural athletic hall of fame.
Featured are two sports teams, 12 individuals and five coaches.
All are deserving of the honor.
“Following the school’s 20th anniversary, we felt that it was time to celebrate our great athletic history by creating a hall of fame to honor the coaches, athletes and teams who left an indelible mark on the school,” EHS assistant principal Robert Hughes said.
The inaugural honorees include the school’s first girls and boys sports teams to win San Diego Section championship titles. Those would be the 1996 EHS girls basketball team and the 1999 boys volleyball team.
The five coaches named to the elite list include Alan Duke (football/track and field), Larry Armbrust (girls basketball), Jim Knox (boys/girls volleyball), Forest Partch (boys basketball) and David Gonzalez (baseball). All were instrumental in laying the foundation for the sports culture during the formative years at Eastlake. All coached Titan teams either to league or CIF championship titles.
“It is indeed an honor to be recognized as a part of the inaugural Eastlake High Athletic Hall of Fame,” Partch said. “I was fortunate to work with a truly outstanding group of student-athletes, who truly represented what a team is all about. ‘Team Titan’ was always our goal and our players recognized that the sum was always greater than the parts.
“They bought in and I am proud to have been associated with them. I want to thank all those players, their parents, my assistant coaches and, of course, the great fans of the Eastlake community.”
Above and beyond
The 12 honored individuals include six male and six female athletes. Nine sports are represented between them.
Male athletes include Adrian Gonzalez (baseball), Stephen Carr (football/basketball/track and field), Tony Perez (baseball/football), Jason Cox (basketball), Alexis Cano (wrestling/football) and Nik Clair-Williams (swimming/water polo).
Female athletes include Vianney Campos (field hockey), Cheyenne Curley-Payne (basketball), Jacqueline Montalban (basketball), Danielle Kimmel (swimming), Leila Dolfo (softball) and Debbie Stanton (basketball).
Friday will be a full day for the HOF inductees.
Alumni athletes will be honored with a pep assembly and personalized banner raising ceremony at 9 a.m., followed by a pre-game reception on campus and a sideline recognition ceremony at 6:35 p.m.
There will be a VIP game viewing for those honored from 7 to 9 p.m. in the north end zone.
Each inductee will receive a personalized banner in the school’s gymnasium. The banner will include the athlete’s name, jersey and year of graduation.
Individuals named to the inaugural HOF class were chosen based on a number of criteria, including performance in high school, college and professional ranks (where applicable).
Selection criteria included all-league, all-section and all-state recognition. Sportsmanship and citizenship standing were also considered. Athletes must also have graduated at least four years from high school.
A panel of seven individuals representing both the school and community were involved in the selection process.
Additional individuals, coaches and sports teams will be added at designated intervals to the inaugural Eastlake Athletic HOF class.
Eastlake High School Athletic Hall of Fame Coaching Legends
The school’s first girls basketball coach, Armbrust compiled a 110-38 record from 1993-98, including three section championships (1996, 1997 and 1998) and one Southern California state runner-up finish (1996). He was inducted into the San Diego County Hall of Champions Coaching Legends Hall of Fame in 2000.
Under Knox’s direction, EHS girls and boys volleyball teams won nine league titles and qualified for the section playoffs in each season he coached. The Titan boys team advanced to the CIF finals three times, winning the 1999 championship; the EHS girls team finished as three-time CIF semifinalists.
Knox’s 2001 boys volleyball team won 23 consecutive games to rank fourth all-time in section history. He was inducted into the San Diego County Hall of Champions Coaching Legends Hall of Fame in 2009.
The first teacher hired at Eastlake, Duke earned honors as the school’s first football coach, first track and field coach and first athletic director.
Duke’s football teams advanced to the CIF playoffs five times while his track teams were even more successful. His boys teams captured eight league championships while his girls teams claimed five league championships.
Eastlake became the first team since Sweetwater accomplished the feat in 1985 to sweep section titles in both boys and girls track.
Titans earning major college football scholarships under Duke’s guidance included Lavell Anderson (Washington State University) and Patrick Battle (San Jose State). Track and field state qualifiers during Duke’s helm included Wade Curry (high jump), Tanisha Johnson (hurdles) and Dante Franks (400-meter dash).
The Titans baseball coach from 1997-2004, Gonzalez’s teams won four league titles and two CIF championships (1999 and 2002). His teams also were twice ranked in USA Today’s top 20 baseball poll. His 1999 team still holds the state record for home runs in one season (75). He was inducted into the San Diego Hall of Champions Coaching Legends Hall of Fame in 2008.
The school’s first boys basketball coach, Partch finished with a record of 102-57 while coaching from 1993-99. His teams advanced to the CIF semifinals six times. He created the first freshman league for Metro Conference schools and also served as the school’s athletic director (1992-98).
EASTLAKE HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME HONOR ROLL
Class of 1995
The talented Titan hoop man earned team co-MVP honors as a sophomore, junior and senior. He was a first team All-Metro Conference selection as a junior and senior and earned honors as the league’s player of the year as a senior.
Cox went on to play four years at UC Davis, winning a NCAA Division II national championship in 1998.
Class of 1997
Montalban won two San Diego Section Division III girls basketball championships with the Titans. She was recognized with the Division III Player of the Year and Metro Conference Player of the Year awards during her career while also being a three-time All-CIF and four-time all-league pick.
She finished as Eastlake’s all-time leading scorer in girls basketball history and the ninth-best scorer in section history by averaging 20.3 points per game.
She was also a two-time all-league selection in girls volleyball. She received a basketball scholarship to the U.S. Army Academy at West Point.
Class of 1998
Stanton was among the catalysts of the Titans’ impressive three consecutive CIF championship teams from 1996 to 1998. A three-time CIF champion, she was named the Division II Player of the Year and Metro Conference Player of the Year while also earning honors as a three-time All-CIF and four-time All-Metro Conference selection.
She finished her prep career in the top 10 in section assists.
Following graduation from EHS, she received a basketball scholarship to SDSU and became the first Titan to play professional sports (women’s football).
Class of 1999
Perez earned all-league and team MVP honors in 1997 and 1998 and was an All-California, Team USA and San Diego region Scholastic Player of the Year in 1999.
He went on to play four years at the University of San Diego where he set a saves record. He earned honors on the Toreros’ All-Decade Team, first team NCAA All-Regional team, third team All-American and played five years in the Tampa Rays minor league organization.
Class of 2000
A four-year varsity baseball player, Gonzalez earned honors as the San Diego Section Player of the year as a junior and senior and received accolades as the No. 1 pick in the Major League Baseball amateur draft (Florida Marlins).
Gonzalez is playing in his 11th MLB season after enjoying stints with the Texas Rangers (2004-5), San Diego Padres (2006-10), Boston Red Sox (2011-12) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2012-2013).
He and his wife are co-founders of the philanthropic Adrian and Betsy Gonzalez Foundation.
Class of 2003
In a sport that was still defining itself at Eastlake, Campos was its first bona fide superstar. She was the team’s MVP her junior and senior years and led the Titans to two league championships. A first team all-league selection, she also earned accolades as a member of the county’s all-academic team.
She is best known perhaps for her post-high school accomplishments that included a full-ride scholarship to the University of the Pacific where she played field hockey four years and earned NFHCA All-American honors in 2006 (becoming just the fourth player in UOP history to receive that award).
Campos set a single-season school record with 32 goals and eight assists for a total of 72 points as a senior. She led the entire nation in goals per game and points per game during that 2006 season. She capped her final collegiate season by scoring four goals and picking up one assist in the NFHCA Senior All-Star Game.
During her four years at UOP, Campos captured every offensive record at the school, including most goals in one game (five), goals in a career (68), assists in a career (18) and points in a career (154).
The former Titan standout also captured three Nor-Pac Offensive Player of the Year awards, four Nor-Pac All-Conference First Team honors, four NFHCA All-West Region Team awards and 10 Nor-Pac Conference Player of the Week awards.
Campos is presently the head women’s field hockey coach at UC Davis.
Cano finished his EHS wrestling career as a San Diego Section divisional champion, San Diego Masters champion and state place-winner. He finished undefeated through Masters as a senior, finishing seventh in the state in his 160-pound weight class.
A graduate of SDSU, Cano went on to active duty in the Army and served a tour in Afghanistan.
Known for his speed and power in the pool, Clair-Williams captured the San Diego Section Division II 50-yard freestyle sprint championship as a sophomore and went on to win the Division I title in the same event as a senior.
He scored 368 career goals in water polo, then believed to be a conference record. He helped lead the Titans to the championship title of the 2002 Metro Conference water polo championship tournament and a qualifying berth in the San Diego Section playoffs. He earned honors as the 2002 Metro Player of the Year.
He went on to compete in both swimming and water polo at UC Irvine where he majored in economics.
Class of 2005
The South Bay League Pitcher of the Year in 2002 and Mesa League Pitcher of the Year in 2004 and 2005, Dolfo also earned first team all-league and first team All-CIF honors in 2003, first team all-league and team MVP honors in 2004 and first team all-league honors in 2005.
She led the Mesa League with a .563 hitting average in 2005 (No. 38 in the nation) while compiling a 42-5 career pitching record with a 0.75 earned-run average.
The Titans reached the CIF semifinals her freshman year; she helped Eastlake capture South Bay League titles in 2002 and 2003 and a Mesa League co-championship in 2005.
She attended the University of Memphis on a softball scholarship. As a member of the school’s inaugural team, she established herself as one of the top 16 utility players in the nation while earning Offensive Player of the Year awards in 2006 and 2007 for the Tigers. She was a team captain in 2008 and 2009.
She set career records at Memphis for at-bats (683), runs scored (125), hits (207), doubles (52), home runs (30), RBI (123), total bases (286) and walks (97) among other categories.
Class of 2006
A two-time All-American in the 100-yard breaststroke, she captured the San Diego Section Division I championship in the event at both the 2004 and 2005 section finals and was the Metro Female Swimmer of the Year in 2003, 2005 and 2006.
She served as team captain for three seasons in both swimming and water polo, earning first team all-conference honors four times in water polo.
She received a four-year swim scholarship to Pepperdine University where she enjoyed a record-setting career. Her great uncle is Joe Namath.
During his career at Eastlake, Carr played on two league championship football teams and three league championship basketball teams, including the school’s 2006 CIF runner-up squad.
He averaged 19 points and 11 rebounds per game as the 2005 Metro boys basketball MVP and was one of six players named to the 2006 San Diego All-County basketball team.
He went on to earn a degree at Stanford where he played football. He caught 38 passes for 795 yards and scored six touchdowns as a junior with the Titans.
He was also a four-year letter-winner in track and field, competing in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, 110 high hurdles, long jump and triple jump.
Class of 2009
One of the top all-around players to ever play the game of girls basketball in San Diego County, Curley-Payne set the standard not only in the Metro Conference and the San Diego Section but nationally as well. She set a national career steals record with 1,065 from 2005 to 2009, setting a single-season national steals record with 328 in 2008.
She ranked eighth all-time in the nation with 1,005 career assists and was named to the 2009 McDonald’s All-American Team. She earned further recognition as a Wendy’s Heisman Award finalist, national high school female student athlete of the week in 2007 and 2008, all-state first team and second team selection, 2007 Metro Player of the Year.
She holds school records for career and season steals, assists and rebounds, career three-point shooting. She was the team’s defensive player of the year in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and also team MVP those same three years.
A member of the National Society of High School Scholars, she received a four-year Division I basketball scholarship to Howard University where she served as team captain and was named the university’s female athlete of the year in 2012-13.
She set single-season assist records at the school She graduated in 2013 cum laude as a four-time member of the school’s dean’s list with a degree in science-sports management/psychology.