Seniors Jeremiah Yang and Cu-Nisha Mitchell stood on stage at Sanger High’s multipurpose room on either side of athletic director Brian Penner still surprised they had been named male and female athletes of the year.
That honor, the pinnacle of achievement for a Sanger athlete, proved especially great for the 2018-2019 sports season because many of their fellow Apaches in multiple sports performed so competitively and achieved much over the year. Penner called them “two very deserving candidates.”
“This feeling is unreal,” Yang said.
And Mitchell said she still felt “a little bit” of that initial shock.
The Night of Champions Awards Banquet on June 3 sent a pile of awards to Sanger High’s athletes. Madalyn Berry and Julian Saldana were named scholar champions by earning the highest grade point average during their entire four years. Berry, who played girls golf, had a 4.45 average, and Saldana, in swimming and water polo, had 4.21.
Coach Dave Dodson handed out the awards named in his honor, the Dodson Sportsmanship Awards, to swimmer Alexia Beck and basketball player Sal Dhillon. Penner described both as selfless hard workers dedicated to their respective sports. Dhillon said he’s going to Reedley College but plans to pursue a doctorate in physical therapy.
Arrowhead Character Awards, issued to “student athletes who demonstrate outstanding sportsmanship, character and leadership for their teams, school and community,” were given to 26 athletes. In addition to Dhillon and Beck, those receiving the honor included Christopher Castro, Adrian Mercado, Luis Lopez, Zack Stricker, Izaiah Castaneda, Ana Delfin, Ryan Serrano, Saldana, Antonia Perez, Allison Hartsell, David Ayala, Melody Salazar, Kyana Grunberg, Katelyn Estep, Sarah Herring, Natilee Owens, Jennifer Bejarano, John Pena, Cody Patrick, Lynley Montano, Danessa Castro, Joy Xiong, Steven Martinez and Jennifer Cisneros.
More students, and coaches, were honored as all league individual champions in the County Metro Athletic Conference. The honors are bestowed by votes from coaches of other schools within the conference.
The athletes of the year were nominated by individual Sanger coaches and agreed upon by all coaches. Yang earned four varsity letters in boys tennis and was a key contributor to three consecutive CMAC championships and two consecutive California Interscholastic Federation Central Section championships, a feat not accomplished by another team in 50 years.
Yang made the first team All-CMAC and qualified for the Central Section individual tournament all four years. He was CMAC most valuable player as a junior and CMAC doubles champion this year.
Mitchell earned six varsity letters, three in basketball and three in track and field. She was a key contributor to the Central Section runner-up basketball team in 2017. This year she was a first-team All-CMAC member and was selected to play in the City-County All-Star Basketball game. She was an area champion in the 400 meters and triple jump in her junior year and was and area champ in the four by 400 meter relay this year. She was named Sanger High’s B’nai B’rith award recipient this year.
Yang plans to play tennis for the University of Redlands, which is just east of San Bernardino. Mitchell plans to attend Fresno State, majoring in business, and “may run track.”
Football CMAC first team honorees were Jake Boust, Steven Gomez, Isaac Salas and Kosi Agina. Girls volleyball CMAC most valuable player was Mackenzie Jennings. Boys soccer CMAC first team honorees were Saul Sanchez, Luis Villegas and Freddy Bautista, while goalkeeper of the year was Eddie Cuevas.
Girls soccer CMAC midfielder of the year was Audrey Reyna. Girls golf CMAC first team honoree was Kyana Grunberg. Boys golf CMAC first team was Alejandro Mendibles. Girls water polo CMAC first team honoree was Bailee Poole, while CMAC most valuable player was Addison Williams.
Girls tennis CMAC player of the year was Sydney Reimer, while first team honorees were Reimer, Autumn Lee, Lillian Yang, Jennifer Villalobos, Samantha Rostro and Allison Hartsell.
Boys wrestling CMAC first team honorees were Fernando Gonzalez and Vincent Stafford. Girls wrestling CMAC first team honoree was Abby Ellis.
Boys cross country CMAC first team honoree was David De Loera, and girls cross country CMAC first team honorees were Diana Garcia and Jennifer Recinos.
Girls basketball CMAC first team honorees were Mitchell and Annie Lopez. Basketball CMAC first team honoree was Cameron Stanley. Stanley said he’s heading to Orange Coastal College to play basketball with 2018 graduate Morice Norris.
Boys volleyball CMAC first team honorees were Jesus Gomez, John Her and Ethan Ly.
Baseball CMAC first team honorees were Jake Harrell, Alec Flores and Alex Rodriguez. Harrell was CMAC most valuable player. Softball CMAC first team honorees were Katelyn Estep and Madelyn Mata.
Girls swim and dive CMAC first team honorees were Alexia Beck, Bailee Poole, Maya Herrera, Emma Pena and Jade Gill. Boys swim and dive CMAC first team honorees were Aaron Avalos, Tyler Coles and Christian Tienda.
Boys track and field CMAC first team honorees were Ben Rust, Kosi Agina and Noel Collazo. Girls track and field CMAC first team honorees were Mitchell and Nia Lamas.
Boys tennis CMAC first team honorees were Jakob Ontiveros, Greg Gonzalez, Dylan Reimer, James Weber and Yang.
Badminton CMAC first team honorees were Anna Yang, Cristy Lor, Kayleena Yang, Kengii Lee, Joy Xiong, Cailie Smith and Ahtziri Pasillas.
Competitive cheer four-year letter earners were Jennifer Bejarano and Caroline Cavazos.
Yang, who’s played tennis since he was 5 and competitively since he was 10 or 11, said winning the award, “Really made all that hard work pay off.”
Mitchell marveled at her name on the trophy. “It was amazing,” she said. “All the recognition.”