Peterson takes off for Newport

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

Senior lacrosse player, who helped Sailors reach playoffs, is also a pilot, as well as a surfer.

May 04, 2013|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
(KEVIN CHANG / Daily…)

Riley Peterson scores, surfs and soars. Not in that particular order, but on any given day, he can do all three.

Peterson is on the lacrosse and surf teams at Newport Harbor High. When he's not on the field with a stick or in the ocean on a short board, the senior is in the air on a plane.

The single-engine Piper aircraft isn't his. It belongs to his grandfather, Burt Christiansen, who lives in Utah. Peterson comes from a family of pilots. His other grandpa, Don Peterson, used to fly, and his father, Ty Peterson, is a licensed pilot..

Father and son recently visited Christiansen. They went to check out the University of Utah, the school the 18-year-old Peterson plans to attend.

When it was time to go home, they flew together on Christiansen's four-person plane. The flight from a small airport near Salt Lake City to John Wayne Airport took about five hours.


The plane is now tied down at John Wayne Airport. The plane is there for the young Peterson, who plans to follow his grandpas' and dad's path.

He's close to earning his pilot's license. In some ways, he didn't want to be so close. The only reason that he has free time now is because his high school lacrosse career ended on Tuesday.

Peterson and his teammates tirelessly worked to reach Tuesday, the start of the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section South Division playoffs. Their postseason lasted only one round, as they lost the opener at fourth-seeded JSerra, 14-4.

Peterson scored in the game and recorded three takeaways, two groundballs and two knockdowns. He did many of those things down the stretch for the Sailors.

They needed him to produce. During a five-day stretch in late April, they played three games. Each one was crucial.

The Sailors had to win out to qualify for the postseason for the fifth straight year. Peterson helped their cause in the final week of the regular season, finishing with six goals, one assist, 21 groundballs and six takeaways.

"We needed to show up and make a statement," said Peterson, whose team did just that.

Newport Harbor started the week at home with a 13-6 win against Esperanza in a nonleague game. Then came two tough Sunset League matchups and the Sailors picked up a 9-8 victory at Marina and a 10-8 victory at Los Alamitos.

The last one ended a 10-game losing streak to Los Alamitos and it marked the first time Sailors won at Los Alamitos.

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