Postseason Awards: Top athletes lauded as leaders, competitors
by Bob Brownne
May 31, 2013 | 4454 views | 0 0 comments | 82 82 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Local high school coaches chose 11 seniors for their schools’ respective senior athlete awards, based on their accomplishments on the field and court, team leadership and competitive spirit.

Alex Toledo, Kimball High

Toledo’s four years as a Kimball football player include a memorable touchdown reception against Tracy High in his sophomore year.

The end zone catch made him the first player to score for the Jaguars in a varsity football game.

He was also the Jaguars’ leading outside shooter during three years of basketball and felt honored to be singled out among a senior class loaded with similar trailblazers.

“The Class of 2013 is the only class that can say we were here for the start of (Jaguar athletics) and the first four years,” he said. “That’s a prestigious achievement for everyone in the Class of 2013.”

Toledo plans to play football at San Joaquin Delta College and study criminal justice or physical therapy.

Megan Bhathal, Kimball High

Bhathal’s volleyball and basketball experience at Kimball High defined her high school experience.

One year on the original junior varsity teams and three years on the varsity teams gave her a chance to be a team leader, a role she enjoyed as younger players joined the varsity teams.

“The system you have to follow every single day, you practice, you get better, you help each other out. It’s a lot better than being on your own,” she said.

She now heads to college at University of California, San Diego, where she will try out for the Tritons women’s basketball team and study children’s psychology or sports psychology.

Luke Hanna, Tracy High

Hanna’s role as quarterback of the 2012 Bulldog football team and leadership of the 2012-13 basketball team earned him this year’s Jake Longmire Senior Blanket Award.

Hanna grew into the role during four years in both sports, plus a season of baseball in his sophomore year.

He will carry that experience to Modesto Junior College, where he expects to play football and study general education.

“I’ve had leadership skills, but I’ve had to mature a lot,” he said.

He said his teammates and coaches were an important part of his high school years.

“It’s a great experience,” Hanna said. “Just to be able to have a family to fall back on — they’re always there for you.”

Angela Mariani, Tracy High

Mariani, co-winner of the Dr. John C. Kimball Senior Outstanding Athlete for Woman Award, has been a three-sport athlete in all four of her years at Tracy High.

She looks back on three years of varsity volleyball and softball and two years of varsity basketball as part of her high school routine

“To be playing sports and going to practices and games after school, it’s just what I’ve grown accustomed to,” she said. “It’s taught me to be determined and go for everything I can and achieve all of my goals.”

That dedication will help her next year at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where she will study civil engineering and may try out for the softball team.

Shelby Devlin, Tracy High

Devlin, who shared the Dr. Kimball Award with Mariani, gained recognition through her leadership of the girls soccer and basketball teams and as a member of the girls golf team.

“I know there are a lot of good female athletes in our class,” she said, adding that many of them became her good friends during four years on varsity and junior varsity teams.

“Just the friends that I’ve met and the coaches,” she said, “it’s made high school a lot more fun.”

Devlin will continue playing soccer on a scholarship at UC Merced, where she will study psychology.

Mark DeWitt, Millennium High

DeWitt’s four years of Falcon basketball and baseball were reward enough before he was named Millennium’s male athlete of the year.

“It’s a validation of what I’ve done throughout the four years,” he said.

DeWitt played two years of junior varsity and two years of varsity in both sports and hopes to keep playing at Las Positas College in Livermore, where he will study general education and business.

He said athletics helped him connect with high school classmates and the campus culture.

“Through all four years, sports is one of the best experiences,” he said. “Everyone knows each other, so when the upperclassmen help the younger classmen, they show the standards of the team.”

Daisey Aguayo, Millennium High

Aguayo wouldn’t think of passing up a chance to join the Falcon girls soccer team for one more game.

“I even skipped my senior trip to play in the playoff games for soccer,” she said.

After playing on two Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII championship teams, she gladly chose this year’s spring playoffs over a trip to Disneyland, even though her team finished short of the championship game this year.

“To me, it was a lot more exciting,” she said.

She played soccer all four years at Millennium and was on the cross-country team for two years.

She is headed to California State University, Stanislaus, to study sociology and pursue a career in counseling.

DeAndre Thomas, West High

Thomas, the male athlete of the year at West High, started his freshman year just wanting to play basketball, but he soon got more involved.

He proved to be a tough competitor as a 5-foot-2½ guard on the basketball team and competed in the jumps on the track and field team for two years.

West’s football coaches then recruited him as a running back and defensive back during his senior year. He recommends that all players step up to such challenges.

“Don’t have any regrets. Just put it all out there,” Thomas said. “If you hold back, you’ll always think, ‘What if?’”

Thomas will study kinesiology at Fresno State, try out for basketball and pursue a career as a sports analyst or as a high school or college coach.

Emma Bell, West High

Bell is humble about her achievements, even after winning the Tri-City Athletic League girls tennis singles title in the fall.

The TCAL title highlighted her fourth year as one of West’s top players. She also played basketball for four years, including two as a varsity team leader.

This year, her 4.3 GPA earned her the Sac-Joaquin Section A. Dale Lackey Award for scholar-athletes, and she is bound for UC Davis to study civil engineering.

Bell says sports is a valuable part of her education.

“You meet so many people. It helps you stay active,” she said. “(Athletics) is always a great experience, even if you’ve never played before.”

Mickey Dundee, Delta Charter High

Dundee jumped at the chance to join the Dragons’ fledgling basketball team during his freshman year.

It was a rough first season, but then he played on three consecutive Mountain Valley League championship basketball teams. He was also on the school’s first soccer team.

The experiences made his education at Delta Charter especially rewarding.

“It’s turned me into a better leader and has given me more confidence,” he said.

He received one of the school’s Golden Dragon awards in recognition of his role in building those teams.

“It’s just fun to work hard and be rewarded for your hard work,” he said.

Dundee is headed to San Joaquin Delta College for vocational education in welding.

Marceline Rosario, Delta Charter High

Rosario established herself a core player on Delta Charter’s first girls teams.

Her Golden Dragon Award recognizes her junior and senior years on the volleyball and basketball teams, which marked big steps for Delta Charter athletics.

One of the milestones was playing the first basketball games in her school’s new gymnasium, “especially knowing that (Delta Charter’s teams) are going to grow bigger, and I know they will,” she said.

As she heads to Modesto Junior College to prepare to become a teacher, she would advise younger Dragon players to focus on the future.

“Try your best,” she said. “One day you’ll look back and be proud of what you did.”

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