Five local high schools have announced their athletes of the year, honoring students who excelled in their chosen sports during 2019-20 abbreviated sports year.
Scholar Athlete of the Year: Kaitlyn Sheffield of Clayton had an in-season 4.38 GPA to earn the honor, which “recognizes excellence in the classroom and on the playing field in season.” In her case, it was in the pool as a water polo player and swimmer for the Cougars. Last fall, Carondelet polo lost an incredible 17-16 overtime game to Tamalpais in the North Coast Section Division II championship game as she finished her third varsity season for CHS. Each year the team made the post-season playoffs. She also swims for the Terrapins Swim Team and will be attending Ohio State University in the fall.
Athlete of the Year: Jayme Blackard spent four years on varsity basketball and as part of three straight NCS championship teams before falling in the semi-finals this year to eventual champion San Ramon Valley. She was team MVP this season, all-EBAL second-team and selected to all-tournament teams at the West Coast Jamboree and Miramonte‘s Jim Peyo Tip-Off Classic. Blackard also excels in track and field as a state qualifier in her sophomore year 4×400 relay and third in the NCS Meet of Champions triple jump, qualifying for State as a junior. She was part of Carondelet’s all-time record in the sprint medley relay and currently is second all time in the triple jump and fifth in the long jump at the school.
Clayton Valley Charter
Female Athlete of the Year: Jordan Frost played the key goalie position for Ugly Eagles varsity water polo for four years. Her team reached the NCS semi-finals this past fall, the fourth consecutive trip the playoffs for Frost and her teammates. She earned three first-team all-Diablo Athletic League laurels and was two-time league MVP. CVCHS won the DAL valley division championship her first two years. Frost also swam for the school in the spring. She plays club polo for 680 Drivers and is in the Olympic Development Program. Frost is going to play Division I water polo in the fall for UC Irvine after earning 4.0 GPA at CVCHS.
Male Athlete of the Year: Edgar Castenda led the Ugly Eagles NCS semi-final soccer team in scoring this year with 15 goals and 15 assists, which earned him DAL Offensive MVP. He was a three-year varsity player, two-time all-league and coach Guillermo Jara says he “has been influential in helping build the Clayton Valley Charter soccer program to be one on best Division I soccer programs in NCS.” The coach said this year’s team was the best in Clayton Valley history at 18-2-4. “Edgar was influential on and off the field to make it the best season to go down in the CVCHS history books.” The MVP is going to Humboldt State in the fall.
Scholar Athlete of the Year: Joey Soberon matched his ability on the baseball diamond with a 4.31 GPA. The righthander was a three-year ace of the Ugly Eagles pitching staff. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to follow up with 2019 DAL pitcher of the year exploits with this spring season cut short. Soberon was 7-3 with a 2.01 ERA as a junior and this year’s team was off to a 6-1-1 start when the season ended. He’s headed to UC San Diego in the fall to resume his baseball career.
Female Athlete of the Year: Marina Delaluna earned the prestigious White Block C this year by competing in eight varsity seasons as a four-year member of varsity water polo and softball. She won many accolades through the years, including five all-league recognitions (3 times in water polo and 2 in softball), team defensive MVP three times for water polo and 2019 MVP Offensive Award for softball. She started her Concord High career as a member of the 2017 NCS championship softball team where coach Megan Coddington says Delaluna “quickly found a home as the starting center fielder and competed in the top of the batting lineup each season bringing a work ethic, positivity and insight to our program.’” She accumulated a 4.4 GPA and is headed to Trinity University in Texas this fall.
Male Athlete of the Year: Ryan Murphy was a four-year member of both the football and baseball programs and earned six varsity letters. Head football coach Paul Reynaud says, “As a coach it is rare that you find a player that can play multiple positions at such a high level, but he played so spectacularly at quarterback, punter, and free safety, that he was awarded first team all-league utility player.” He was a three-year varsity starter as a shortstop and centerfielder and earned all-league accolades in his 10th and 11th grade years. He going to Sonoma State this fall.
Female Eric Griffin Memorial Award: Eden Broussard is called “a driving force at Northgate in the classroom, through NG leadership, student government and athletics.” New athletic director Ben Ballard says, “She is loved and respected by all she comes in contact with. On the basketball court she is a skilled post player and great competitor. In track and field, she was a standout in shot put and discus”. Broussard was in the NHS Leadership program for four years and was elected to officer positions three years. As a senior she was ASB VP while maintaining a 4.1 GPA. Ballard adds, ”She’s courageous on the court and field and is a force to be reckoned with. She does it all with efficiency and grace.” She is going to Cal State Northridge.
Male Eric Griffin Memorial Award: Cole Sanchez finished off a stellar career and will go down as probably the best wrestler ever at Northgate. He set the school record with 161 career wins (old record was 142), finished his senior year with a 49-5 record, setting the single-season school record for wins. He was a four-time NCS place winner and three-time CIF State qualifier (both firsts in school history). He was 2020 NCS Champion (first at Northgate since 2001) and was all-league and team MVP all four years. He captained this year’s team to undefeated DAL division championship, NCS Division 2 East Bay Dual Team title, DAL tournament championship and led the Broncos to best-ever NCS finish in fifth place. In addition to wrestling Sanchez was a three-year varsity letter winner in water polo, serving as captain his senior year as his team won NCS and placed second at NorCal championships. He is also a four-year varsity swimmer. He is a four-year scholar athlete with 3.86 GPA and will attend Cal Poly in the fall.
Female Athlete of the Year: Piper Kunesh is a repeat winner of the Athlete of the Year award and she’s still only a junior. She again kept busy on the cross country, soccer and track teams this school year. It is in track that Kunesh most distinguishes herself but was deprived of the majority of this spring season. Last year, she was team MVP and placed third at the DAL championships in both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles. She qualified for the NCS Tri-Valley championships in both events and then made it to the NCS Meet of Champions in the 300 by taking sixth at the Tri-Valley meet.
Male Athlete of the Year: Alex Lopez spent a lot of time in Dick Ryan Stadium as a member of the Warriors football and soccer teams this school year, helping both teams to the post-season playoffs. He was a first-team all-DAL soccer selection, completing four years of all-league recognition. Lopez was a key component of the NCS Division III championship squad that went on to the Northern California championships as the D-III top seed where they lost their opening game in a shootout. The Warriors were second a year ago at NCS and NorCal. He is headed to Humboldt State this fall on a soccer scholarship.
De La Salle
De La Salle chose this year to honor athletes by sport but did not select an athlete of the year.
Soccer: Ramiro Rosas, Ben Parker, Dominic Giusto
Football: Shamar Garrett, James Coby, Lu Hearns, Grant Daley, Matthew Vranesh, Wyatt Crespi, Ben Roe
Basketball: Jack Byers
Cross Country: Patrick Curulla, Derek O’Connor, Kieran Brown
Wrestling: Bobby Cuevas, Gavin Fernandez, Bradley Moore, Lance Hackett, Ben Roe,
Tennis: Ben Beernick
Baseball: Kyle Harrison, Blake Burke, Vincent Bianchina, Charles McAdoo
Volleyball: Jarod Jatoft
Swimming & Diving: Ryan Dicks
Lacrosse: Dominic Cote
Rugby: Peter Mazolewski
Water Polo: Carsten Peters