Paly's Hansen top boys' AD
It started with his football team playing for a state championship and it ended with one of the nation's top distance runners competing in the state track and field finals.
In between was pretty good, too, for the Palo Alto High boys' athletic program this season. For that reason, the Vikings' Earl Hansen was named as the state's Boys Athletic Director of the Year by the California Coaches Association.
Hansen, 56, was honored along with other award winners last Saturday during a banquet at the Orange County Airport Hilton.
"It's a nice honor," Hansen said Thursday. "It was quite a year. I've got a lot of good coaches around me."
It was a year that started with his football team accomplishing something that no other program from the Central Coast Section had before -- playing for a state championship. The Vikings took a school-record 12-1 mark into the first state football finals in 79 years, a Division II matchup with nationally-ranked Orange Lutheran.
While Palo Alto suffered a 42-28 loss in the season finale, it nonetheless another highwater mark for the school's athletic program, which produced a state Division II basketball championship a year earlier.
Hansen called his team's 23-21 victory over Oak Grove in the CCS Open Division championship game as most satisfying this past season. For one, the win avenged the Vikings' only loss during the regular season and it came in the most difficult division against the toughest competition.
"Football started the year out pretty well," Hansen said.
And it just kept rolling after that.
The Vikings' young basketball team on the SCVAL De Anza Division championship and reached the CCS semifinals before falling to eventual state finalist Mitty; football standout John Hall reached the state wrestling finals before losing only his second match of the year and freshman Philip McQuitty ran in the 3,200 finals at the CIF State Track & Field Championships in Sacramento, a week after earning the distinction of being the fastest freshman in the nation at that distance.
The Paly boys' tennis team won the SCVAL El Camino Division title and played in the CCS tournament; the boys' swimming and diving team tied for second at the CCS championships after winning the De Anza Division dual-meet title with a 6-0 record; MacQuitty highlighted the cross-country season by running in the state finals; the boys' water polo team captured the SCVAL De Anza Division regular-season and tournament titles before competing in CCS; and the boys' soccer team reached the section Division II title match before finally losing.
To top it all off, one of Hansen's former football players -- Jim Harbaugh -- was named as Stanford's head football coach in December. Harbaugh played for Hansen in 1980 and '81.
"We had a pretty good run this year," Hansen said. "Hopefully we'll be strong next year."
Hansen, of course, also oversees the Paly girls' sports program, one that had its own share of success this season. The Viking girls, in fact, have at least four nationally ranked athletes who were juniors this season -- Liv Jensen (swimming), Teresa Noyola (soccer), Michaela Fossati (diving) and Mia Lattanzi (track in 2006).
All four give the Paly girls a strong head start on what could be a very successful sports season in 2007-08.