Spring athletes honored at awards ceremony

Ending a successful spring sports season on a high note with state berths in tennis, golf and track, and strong finishes in soccer and baseball, the young athletes were honored at the Sunnyside High School Spring Sports Banquet Tuesday night.

Rick Van de Graaf of the Sunnyside Athletic Club presented the 2004 Spring Athletic Scholar Athlete academic awards to the students with the top grade point average in their sports program. First time recipients of the honor were presented with a patch and those who had earned the honor before were presented a pin. To be eligible for the award students must be enrolled in at least three classes at Sunnyside High School, said Van de Graaf.

In soccer Luis Galvan was awarded a patch for having the highest GPA for the varsity team and Pedro Velez for the jr. varsity team.

Girls varsity tennis player Lizeth Chiprez received a pin as did jr. varsity player Brionna Hughes. Jr. varsity player Dionne Cohan earned a patch.

Jonathan Beals, boys varsity tennis player, earned a pin and jr. varsity tennis player Jesus Alquicira received a patch.

Girls golfer Christine Kim earned a patch and boys golfer Kevin Lick received a pin.

Girls trackster Isley Gonzalez received a pin.

In boys track there was a four-way tie, said Van de Graaf. Pins were awarded to Jeff Davis, Brendon Scott and Joe Schwartz. Mitch Lathen earned a patch.

Varsity softball player Emily Jones received a pin. Jr. varsity player Julie Taylor earned a patch as did C squad player Laura Aguiar, said Van de Graaf.

Sunnyside High School soccer coach Juan Pineda started off presenting the individual team awards to outstanding athletes.

With 70 percent of the team scoring points this year, Pineda said the team had "glorious moments this season."

Receiving the award for Most Inspirational Player was Johnny Hernandez, whom Pineda nicknamed late in the season "the octopus."

Pineda said Hernandez is a goal keeper who worked hard in past years to get better even when he wasn't able to give him a lot of playing time.

The award for Most Improved was presented to Kyle Van de Graaf, whom Pineda said brought a lot of height to the team this year. He said Van de Graaf was able to bring the ball down and that he was an asset to the team.

Described as "a quiet player with magic in his feet," Luis Galvan was awarded the Captains award.

"He made a lot of decisions on the field when I can't be there," said Pineda, adding that Galvan's quick thinking is part of the reason the team made it to the quarterfinals this year.

The Coaches Award was presented to Rafael Diego, who Pineda said is the type of player that radiates a lot of humbleness.

"He has a humble spirit and is always ready to apply or do the functions we ask him to do," said Pineda. "He's an all-around player, great on defense and great in forward positions."

Receiving the award for Most Valuable Player was Junior Garcia.

"He was born with a special gift in his feet," said Pineda. "He needs to use his feet for more than just getting on the bus."

Head baseball coach Dave Martinez described the 2004 baseball team as having desire, commitment and hard work, which is what made the team successful this year.

The team tied the school record for the most wins and advanced to the Regional play-offs for the first time in school history, said Martinez.

The Coaches Award was presented to Micah Zakahi, who has been part of the varsity baseball program for the past four years.

"He's the guy we went to when we wanted a win," said Martinez.

Receiving the Inspirational Award was Michael Sanchez, a four-year veteran of the Sunnyside baseball program.

A player with hopes of becoming a coach in the future was the winner of the Captains Award. R.J. Elizondo has led the team for the past two years both on and off the field, said Martinez.

The winner of the Most Improved award was presented to high school junior Chris Newberry, who raised his batting average 200 points in one year, said Martinez. Newberry was one of the lower batters last year, but is now the number 3 batter on the team.

The Most Valuable Player award was presented to Derek Uberuaga, who nailed a two-run homer late in the season giving the Sunnyside team the lead needed to move forward in their quest for State.

Sunnyside girls track and field coach Robin Bryson presented the Most Inspirational Award to Daniela Rivera, whom Bryson said is always smiling and willing to step up and do whatever is asked of her.

At Districts and Regionals, she was asked to step up and run the 4x400 relay and also run the 4x200, which are run with, at the most, 30 minutes between races.

Most Improved was presented to SHS sophomore Fatima Ruelas, who ran the 100, 200, 4x100, 4x200 and ventured into long jump and triple jump this season.

Outstanding Performer was presented to Hilary Van de Graaf for her four years of consistent performance for the track team.

The Coaches Award was presented to Isley Gonzalez, who Bryson said, "over the four years she's never ceased to amaze me."

As a freshman she placed second at State and quickly became the person to beat in 3A distance running. With extra training in the off season, Gonzalez was able to win the State cross country title this past fall and a State track title this spring.

Third year trackster Brenden Scott was presented the Most Inspirational Award by Coach Wally Shearer last night. Shearer said that Scott was disqualified at the District meet and was very upset and disappointed, but filled in on a relay the same day.

Exchange student Branimir Janjevic was presented Most Improved. Competing in the high jump, long jump and triple jump, for the first time, Janjevic qualified for the Regional track meet this spring.

The award for Outstanding Performer was presented to Luke Schilperoort, who accumulated the most meet points for Sunnyside this year.

The Coaches Award was presented to senior Jeff Davis, who "...was always about the team," said Shearer.

"He was always willing to step in and help in a relay," said Shearer, "even if it was going to hurt his individual record. It was never about him, it was about the team."

Varsity golf coach Glenn Braman presented the award for Most Improved to Andrew Schutt, who spent hours on the green chipping and putting outside practice.

Spending almost as much time on the green in contests with Schutt was Kevin Lick, who was named Most Valuable Player. Lick qualified for the State golf tournament this year for the third year in a row.

Assistant Coach Gary Rohde presented the award for Most Improved girl golfer to Megan Downing, who won the same award in 2003. Downing will be the veteran golfer next spring.

Most Valuable Player was awarded to Jensie Hernandez, who qualified for the State tournament this spring.

Awards for Inspirational and Most Valuable Player in varsity tennis were voted on by the tennis team and awarded to Johnny Plesha. Plesha ended his season with a record of 28-2, according to tennis Coach Troy Whittle. His brother Danny Plesha received the award for Most Valuable Player in 2003. The duo took fourth place in State doubles tennis.

In girls tennis, Lizeth Chiprez was presented the Inspirational Award. The girls team was very coachable and competitive this year, said Whittle. They finished fourth in league. He said Chiprez was always smiling and extremely happy.

The Most Valuable Player Award was presented to Erica Mendez, who had a 10-5 doubles record.

"She was consistently there at every match and every practice," said Whittle.

With a strong group returning next spring, only one player will be graduating, fast-pitch Coach Kris Gonzalez is excited about the future of the softball program.

She said the girls were on a six game winning streak when they lost to Selah by one run, a game they should have won, Selah went to State.

The Coaches Award was presented to four-year player Julie Taylor.

Most-Improved was presented to Lacey Yanez, who moved from first to third base and excelled.

The Golden Glove award was given to Devina Martinez, who had 48 plays and only four errors in the season.

The only senior on the team, Jenny Jones, who acted as a second coach on the field and was an example to the team, was presented the Captain award and Inspirational.

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