Conte and Izboinikov combined to win 15 league titles, Izzy accounting for 13 of them. “I remember when I found out Izzy was leaving,” Smith said. “I said, ‘Man, I feel sorry for the guy who’s going to have to step up and fill his shoes.’ “ Seventeen years ago, Conte was the Yucca Valley wrestling coach, and current coach Smith was a Marine based at Twentynine Palms. By chance, the two wound up at a party together, and from another room Smith recognized Conte’s distinctive New York accent. Not only had the two grown up together, but they had wrestled against each other in college. “I said, ‘I know that guy,’ ” Smith said. “I knew exactly who it was. Our eyes locked and then we cracked up. Five minutes later he was inviting me to come over and help out with his team at Yucca.” EAGLES FLY Arrowhead Christian girls basketball recently honored one of its players, and soon it will honor another one. Senior Kihana Langdon scored her 1,000th career point Dec. 16 against Murrieta Calvary Chapel, and on Jan. 10 she reached the same plateau in rebounds. She was presented with a trophy commemorating the milestones at last Thursday’s home game against Loma Linda Academy. Junior teammate Jessilyn Conicelli should join Langdon in the 1,000-point club within the next week or so. ANOTHER MILESTONE Mesa Granda Academy’s Megan Bradford topped the 1,500-mark Tuesday night for points in a career. Bradford’s 16 points give her give her 1,515. She also entered the game with more than 716 career rebounds and 565 steals. Mesa Grande has made it at least to the CIF semis in each of the last two years. OWENS COMMITS Cajon volleyball star Tiffany Owens has made a verbal commitment to attend the University of Arizona, said Fannie Owens, Tiffany’s mother. Tiffany made The Sun All-County first team. VARGAS WINS Pacific graduate Tommy Vargas of Cal State Bakersfield won the 133-pound division of the Midlands Classic earlier this month in Evanston, Ill. The senior, who formerly attended Northwestern, won the title on the mats where he formerly competed. He won all five of his matches, defeating Jesse Sundell of Iowa State 9-7 in the finals. Vargas, the nephew of Pacific High School coach Rick Castro, is ranked No. 18 in the NWCA/Intermat rankings. BAD BREAK Carter girls soccer star Janelle Civitarese broke her foot last Thursday against Bloomington and is out for the season. “I’ll be out for about eight weeks, but I’ll be back for club and for college,” she said. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card Shortly thereafter, Izzy was coaxing Smith into taking over the program. The ex-Marine has acquitted himself well, leading the Trojans to a 6-0 league record this season and a No. 1 spot in the CIF-Southern Section Division III rankings. Izzy is now an assistant coach for the U.S. Women’s national team. Smith has followed Izzy’s advice to be himself and put his own imprint on the program. “I’m a natural competitor, and so I’m going to put as much effort as I can into it,” Smith said. “When Izzy took over for Alex, he said, ‘I’m going to see what I can do.’ That’s how I feel.” The Trojans are led by Adam Smith (125), Jose Correa (135), Vinny Maraj (140), Jared Huntzinger (145), Brandon Wallace (160) and Joe Kelly (heavyweight). I KNOW THAT GUY Melvin Smith felt badly for the poor sap who was going to take over the Yucca Valley wrestling program. The Trojans have been a power for more than 15 years, first under coach Alex Conte and then under Conte’s successor, Vlad Izboinikov.