After spending the last two years as an assistant coach for the Laguna Beach boys’ cross-country team, Tommy Newton-Neal has been named the head coach of the Breakers’ boys’ track and field team.
Laguna Beach boys’ cross-country coach Scott Wittkop said he recently broke the news to his team, and Breakers distance-running ace Ryan Smithers endorsed the school’s decision.
“What he has done for our program is incredible,” Smithers said of Newton-Neal. “First of all, he understands what he is doing with every workout. I know that there can be coaches that just tell their [athletes] to go do a run, but everything he does has a purpose.
“This is why we peaked at the end of the season. He knows exactly what he is doing.”
Newton-Neal, who previously ran collegiately at UC Irvine, became known for running with the Breakers during their cross-country workouts. A 2010 graduate of Laguna Beach, Newton-Neal helped the Breakers win a state cross-country title in 2009, and he was the runner-up in the 1,600 meters at the Division 4 finals in 2010.
This season, the Breakers rallied around the idea that they wanted to beat their coach’s high school team, and Laguna Beach defeated San Anselmo Sir Francis Drake 68-97 for the CIF State Division IV cross-country title.
Just being the Division IV champ would be enough to get on this list, but this season was so much more than that for the Breakers. Laguna Beach had the 15th-best team performance of the state meet across all divisions, with only one team outside of D1 and D2 doing better. On the season, the team ranks 11th for 5K and a stunning 3rd in the state for 3 Miles (based largely on league meet times from a known super-fast course, but still). Those are remarkable numbers for a D4 squad, and Laguna Beach should not go unrecognized for being one of the best teams overall (not just in their division) this fall.
All-County boys cross country team: Laguna Beach’s Scott Wittkop takes top honor, and Ryan Smithers is first team.
2018 MileSplitCA XC All-State Senior Boys Ryan Smithers 3rd team. Mateo Bianchi All State Sophomore honorable mention..
Ryan Smithers (Laguna Beach/SS) -- Runner-up finish (15:27.8) at State Meet for Division IV, leading his squad to the Team Title; Surprise CIF-SS Finals Division IV Champion; 11th place finish at the Foot Locker Western Regionals and may have qualified if not for a stumble over the last 10 meters.
.....perhaps the best team ever from a school with less than 1200 students, Laguna Beach was amongst the top ten teams in the Southern Section all season long. They dominated the competition with a 92-point victory at the divisional finals. This would have qualified them for the California State Meet in the larger divisions as well.
In one of the more dominant team performances of the state meet, Laguna Beach took control early in the race and held strong through the finish, scoring four runners in the top 15 points-wise. Sir Francis Drake was actually within striking range of the title through four runners, but ended the race holding off Placer for second place.