Local schools announced their athletes of the year honoring students who had excelled in their chosen sport this year.
Student Athlete of the Year: Emily Howie played on the Cougars varsity basketball team for four years. The senior point guard helped Carondelet to its fourth successive North Coast Section basketball championship and the third straight in Division I. Her teams won 99 games while losing only 25 over four years. Howie got all-East Bay Athletic League honors the past two years. She also excelled in the classroom with a 4.45 GPA. She will be attending Johns Hopkins in the fall to begin her studies towards becoming a doctor, while also playing basketball for the Blue Jays in Baltimore.
Athlete of the Year: Ali Bamberger has been collecting local, regional and national honors since concluding her final Carondelet basketball season. She is one of five seniors who played together for four years as the Cougars captured the NCS championship each season and advanced to the Northern California championships. She is going to play in the Pacific-12 Conference for the University of Washington this winter. Bamberger was named all-state this year, matching an honor her dad got 31 years ago.
Athlete of the Year: Angie Anderson began making her athletic mark during her senior year about 6500 miles from the Concord campus as captain of the United States under 17 World Cup soccer team. While there she also formalized her commitment to play for Cal Berkeley beginning this fall. Anderson won the Golden Glove as the top goalkeeper in the CONCACAF championships where the US qualified for the World Cup. She returned to school and helped the Cougars to their first NCS soccer championship since 2011 after several heartbreaking near misses.
Clayton Valley Charter
Female Athlete of the Year: Sydney Skow earned eight varsity letters at CVCHS Charter, lettering four times each in water polo and swimming. As a senior she was a swim team captain and a leader on the water polo team. She was the leading scorer for the Ugly Eagles this year and a three-time all-Diablo Athletic League player helping her team to the NCS tournament each of those years. Away from the pool Skow is active in the charter school’s Public Service Academy, ASB Leadership and Mock Trial team. The Concord native is going to Cal Poly SLO in their honors program.
Male Athlete of the Year: Cameron Reynolds was the catalyst for the outstanding form of the CVCHS boys track and field team the last three spring seasons. The Ugly Eagles won NCS team championships in 2017 and 2019 and were runnersup in 2018. He was first team all-DAL for three years. Headed to UCLA this fall, Reynolds was the 200-meter NCS champ this year and a two-time CIF State Meet finalist in the 200 and 400. He was second at State late last month in the 200 and fourth in the 400. He also was part of highly ranked CVCHS 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams, each of which took seventh at State.
Female Athlete of the Year: Rayna Stanziano has been in the headlines since her freshman year at Concord. She is the only four-year, three-sport varsity athlete that the school in over 15 years. Stanziano was two-time DAL cross country MVP as she qualified for the State Meet all four years, improving her time and place each year. Last fall she finished third in Division III and 10th overall at State. During the spring she was a dual sport athlete in swimming and track. Stanziano qualified for league swimming finals every year. CHS track coach Trevor Chatterton says, “She is the most accomplished track and field athlete the school has ever had. She is the only person in school history to make it to the State Championships three years in a row. She was first at league in the 800 and 1600 meters for the fourth straight year as well as the 3200 for the second time. She owns the school record in the 400, 800, 1600 and 3200. She was second at CIF State Meet in the 800 the last two years. Stanziano is headed to nearby St. Mary’s College in the fall on an academic (4.33 gpa) and athletic full ride scholarship to run cross country.
Male Athlete of the Year: Cole Arabian was a member of the Minuteman varsity cross country and track teams the past two years, as well as a starter on the CHS basketball squad all four years. Basketball coach Mike Jaime says, “He has shown more work ethic than any other player I have ever coached. He was team captain for two years and has shown great leadership on our team. He led our team in almost every statistical category this season and is well respected by other coaches in our league as is evidenced by the fact that those coaches voted for him to be our League MVP. He has set the bar for our basketball program of how a player should act, practice, be a leader and play the game.” He will be playing hoops at Solano College this winter.
De La Salle
Athlete of the Year: Kyle Parco became the second DLS wrestler to win a state championship in two years. The senior followed in the footsteps of his former teammate Peyton Omania to the top of the State Meet podium when he defeated Ryan Franco from Clovis North in the CIF State Meet championship 132-pound match 1-0. Parco survived a perilous final four seconds in the second round to keep the match scoreless and then got an escape in the third round to complete his high school career. He had a 47-2 record this year and 165-19 over four years that included three league and Section titles. He also helped DLS continue its domination of NCS team titles. Parco will be wrestling for the Fresno State Bulldogs next school year.
Athlete of the Year: Henry To’oto’o came into the 2018 high school football season as one of the most highly-touted players in California. The linebacker and runningback led the Spartans to 12 consecutive victories right into the State championship game last December. His storybook season ended that evening when DLS lost to national champion Mater Dei. The result may have been different had not To’oto’o broken a bone in his foot in his final high school practice session the evening before the game. Coach Justin Alumbaugh and his staff didn’t expect their senior captain and heartbeat of the team to even suit up the next evening. “That guy showed a lot of guts tonight. He could have packed it in and saved himself for college. Instead, he was a leader. Imagine the role model he set for younger players.” To’oto’o hobbled through the game as the Spartans hung in until late in fourth quarter. He has already enrolled at Tennessee where he hopes to make a similar mark for the Volunteers.
Female Eric Griffin Memorial Award: Katrina Kohlmeyer was on the Broncos varsity cross country and swimming teams for four years each. She was a team captain for multiple seasons. Northgate coaches said, “She would lead practice, stretches, communicate with the coaches about concerns of other swimmers on the team, all while having a smile on her face” and “She is one of the most positive influence on the team.” Away from school she placed 19th out of 367 women in the Walnut Creek Marathon. Kohlmeyer also performed well in the classroom with a 3.8 overall GPA while taking a heavy load of four AP and two honors classes.
Male Eric Griffin Memorial Award: Thomas Davies was on varsity swim four years and varsity cross country three years. The Griffin award is presented to multi-sport athletes who exhibit excellent leadership, effort, sportsmanship and athleticism in their teams. Davies exemplified that criteria. As a junior and senior he doubled up in the and excelling in the classroom. He maintained a 4.1 GPA while taking seven AP classes at Northgate. He is going to Northeastern University in Boston to study mechanical engineering.
Female Athlete of the Year: Piper Kunesh kept busy on the cross country, soccer and track teams during her sophomore year at YVHS. It is in track that Kunesh distinguished herself from the other female student athletes at Ygnacio Valley. 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. Warriors track coach Mark Tran said, “Piper was focused and determined all season. Her efforts paid off during the last month of the season when she seemingly ran faster in every single race.” She has a 3.53 cumulative GPA.
Male Athlete of the Year: Alexzander Sandoval was the starting goalkeeper the past two seasons for the Warriors soccer team. He was a big part in the late playoff run for YV soccer. The Warriors were runnerup in NCS D-III and NorCal D-IV finals. He was named second team all-DAL and his team’s defensive player of the year. Although this was the first year Sandoval competed in track and field, the senior was awarded team MVP. Showing his versatility, he competed in the 110m high hurdles, high jump, long jump and triple jump. Sandoval had four wisdom teeth pulled two days before the DAL championships but was still able to qualify for NCS Tri-Valley in the triple jump.