Savannah Scriven

Palos Verdes High's Savannah Scriven was nominated as Athlete of the Year for surfing, cross country and for track and field. (Photo courtesy Scriven)

Savannah Scriven was a freshman when she first heard about the annual Palos Verdes High senior Athlete of the Year banquet, and it was something she looked forward to every year.

"When I was a freshman, one of my (cross country and track & field) teammates, Camille Hines, was nominated," Scriven said. "It was always something I looked forward to. Being at the banquet with my family, being recognized and just being there with other athletes who were the top in their sport."

Scriven was nominated as Athlete of the Year in three sports: cross country, surfing and track and field.

She admitted it was interesting trying to find a balance between surfing and running, especially when she first got into running competitively.

"Freshman year, it was tough adjusting," Scriven said. "I was still trying to surf every day. Now, I've gotten use to appreciating the water more when I do get out there."

Scriven noted she continues to surf two to three days per week.

"I think it's good getting into the water at least once a week," Scriven said. "Once I began running more, it wasn't hard to switch to surfing less. Some days I'd be OK not surfing because I needed the rest."

It was that rest that helped Scriven appreciate the water even more.

"Going less often, it made me appreciate the water more," she said. "It's nice that running and surfing are so different. Running gave my arms a break, while surfing gave my legs a rest."

Scriven’s surf coach at PV, Steve Gherardi, knew he had something special on his team from the minute he met her. 

“She is a great athlete, all-around, with lots of natural ability,” Gherardi said. “You could tell as a freshman she was going to move up the ranks fast. She started her first year and ended up team captain as a senior. She was a great role model for the girls, always dedicated to the team first.”

Gherardi learned quickly not to take Scriven lightly. 

“She’s seemingly timid and reserved, but underneath that nice persona is a fierce competitor ready to surf as hard as she can to bring a victory to the team,” Gherardi said. “Look out for quiet Savannah, she’s not to be underestimated.”

While surfing has been a passion for Scriven since she was nine, she recalls a story her grandparents tell about finding her true love for running.

"They always tell a story about me asking 'Do you want to see how fast I am?' when I am three of four, and I would sprint around," Scriven said.

Up until sixth grade, Scriven played soccer, and the one thing she enjoyed most on the field was sprinting.

It was after that season that Scriven started focusing more on running competitively, thanks to her older sister, Veronica.

"I loved the individual competition (of running). I liked the fact that everyone had an equal opportunity to do their best," she said. "I started improving more in eighth grade, and I won my first race. That was a great feeling, and I wanted to stick with it in high school."

Scriven made a commitment in February to attend UCLA in the fall, and while her desire was to study in the UC system, she couldn't pass up the chance to study at one of the nations top universities, but still be so close to the beach.

"I only applied to five schools, and UCLA felt the easiest to be able to be happy there," she said. "When I'm happy, I'll run my best. They have a really big team, and everyone was super friendly, too."

Her plan at UCLA is to study Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, with a desire to work in the medical field following graduation.

"My freshman year, my biology class was my favorite," Scriven said. "I didn't mind working hard, and spending the time studying. The medical field is the most rewarding. Ideally, I'd love to be a doctor."

Scriven carried a 3.98 GPA at PV, and was a member of the National Honors Society, as well as the Science and Spanish societies.

She knows it is not a given making the UCLA traveling team, but she does have aspirations of being able to help the Bruins win meets.

"I'd love to help the team earn points and make it to championships," Scriven said. "I think we have a really good chance this year. I saw an article that said UCLA is the most underrated team in the nation, and it would be really cool to contribute to a strong team."

She likened the possibilities at UCLA her freshman year to her first year at PV, when she was a member of the cross country squad that advanced to the Nike Cross National event following the CIF postseason.

"It would be great to make those memories, get close to the team and bond over doing well," Scriven said. "I'd love to get faster and improve each year (in college). I was able to do that in high school, and I'd like to stay injury free and continue to improve."

This year's Athlete of the Year awards banquet was set for June 9. Three months prior, the banquet was subsequently canceled due to the growing coronavirus pandemic.

"Even though I knew (the banquet being canceled) was coming, my heart still sank when I found out it was canceled," Scriven said. "I was really sad that day, because it was another thing to add to the list of canceled events. I was sad that all the other athletes wouldn't get to celebrate each other and our accomplishments one last time."

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