The consistent commitment to leadership, hard work and athleticism West High seniors Tiara Dunson and Montrel Richardson displayed has paid off, as they were named the 2007 West High Athletes of the Year.
Dunson led the Wolf Pack girls basketball team back to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Division I playoffs this year as the team’s starting point guard. She led the team with 82 assists and 84 steals and grabbed 100 rebounds, and she was second in scoring with 225 points.
Her statistics for rebounds, steals, assists, free throws and points increased each year during her three-year varsity career. As captain, she led the Wolf Pack to a 20-8 record her senior year and was named to the Tri-City Athletic League first team for her leadership on the court.
“It’s a great accomplishment for me. I was surprised to win the female athlete award,” Dunson said. “It was through a lot of hard work my senior year — it’s a great accomplishment. The coaches, my teammates and my family being behind me to support me really helped me out.”
Her leadership skills and determination are some of her best qualities, coaches and teammates say.
West High’s Tiara Dunson puts up a layup during a Feb. 22 playoff game. Dunson’s 100 rebounds and 225 points in the 2006-07 campaign earned her top school honors along with football and track star Montrel Richardson, shown below defending a pass for the Wolf Pack during a playoff game and sprinting during the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Section track meet.
“Her work ethic is one of the best I have ever seen here at West,” basketball coach Joe Lawrence said. “She comes out and works hard every day. She’s always positive with other players and tries to motivate them.”
Dunson will play basketball at Merced Junior College next season and then plans to transfer to a four-year college.
Richardson won the John C. Kimball Award and Tri-City Athletic League MVP as the starting tailback and defensive back for the Wolf Pack football team and was a member of the 4-by-100 relay track team that qualified for the CIF State meet.
In the fall, Richardson had 149 carries for 1,398 yards, averaging 9.38 yards per carry, and scored 18 touchdowns as the Wolf Pack won a second-straight league title and advanced to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinals. He averaged 26.56 yards as a kickoff returner and caught seven passes, averaging 11.72 yards per game.
He even threw for two touchdowns with trick halfback pass plays in key situations, giving him a passer rating of 149. In all, Richardson scored 110 points for the Wolf Pack this season, according to maxpreps.com.
As a defensive back, he finished the year with 13 tackles, 11 assists and averaged 1.8 tackles per game.
“He did everything we wanted him to do and more,” West coach Steve Lopez said. “Sometimes, I forgot he was just one guy — I thought he was three guys.”
As a first-year track runner, Richardson advanced to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet in the 100- and 200-meter dashes. He set a personal best of 10.77 seconds in the 100 meters, close to a berth in state, and ran a personal-best 21.91 in the 200 meters. He was also the second leg on the 4-by-100 relay team that set a new school record with a time of 42.25 seconds.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Richardson said. “Especially with the talent we have in the league to win these awards, it’s a great accomplishment.”
Richardson, however, praises others for helping with his achievements.
“I’ve been a part of two great teams,” he said. “I was a part of a class that set a new record for wins in football, and I was on a relay team that set a new school record.”
Richardson plans to go to a junior college to continue in football and track.
“I haven’t made my decision yet,” he said. “But it will be local to stay close to my family and friends and have that support.”