The Annual Axey Awards - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Sports

The Annual Axey Awards

Nado Natterings by David Axelson | Posted: Friday, June 21, 2019 10:45 am

Welcome to the 20th Annual Axey Awards column, where the outstanding athletic achievements compiled by the Coronado High School sports teams during the 2018-19 school year are celebrated and acknowledged. As always there are few disclaimers at the outset of the Axey Awards column.

First, the awards that follow are totally subjective and are based primarily on games I saw in person. Second, consideration for Axey Awards is based solely on Varsity-level performances. Third, in the early years of this column, the ‘Best Athletes by Class’ honorees were intentionally biased toward honoring multi-sport athletes. Two decades later, that is still a consideration, but now there are very few athletes who play three sports, due to the growing trend toward single-sport specialization in the prep ranks. And as a Fourth and final disclaimer, my apologies in advance for any omissions or errors, as they are not intentional.

Islander Top Senior Athletes – CHS Athletic Director Robin Nixon announced the Top Senior Athletes for 2019. The 10 athletes selected by a vote of the Islander Varsity Head Coaches include: Bryce Alexander (Football and Basketball), Andrew Bell (Lacrosse), Ruthie Grant-Williams (Track & Field), Alysah Hickey (Track & Field), Reese Oliver (Water Polo and Swimming), Teresa Perez (Cross Country, Track & Field), Jared Pratt (Baseball), Andy Rodgers (Water Polo), Sheila Tomlin (Water Polo and Swimming), and Joe Walsh (Lacrosse). The athletes were honored at the May 22 Rotary Club of Coronado luncheon.

Teams Which Posted Memorable Seasons – The Islander Softball Team went 22-2-1, and was the No. 1 seed in Division III; Boys Water Polo Head Coach Sean Castillo helped guide his team to the No. 5 seed in the Open Division and an overall record of 10-18, against their characteristically ultra-competitive regular season schedule; Islander Girls Golf Head Coach Stuart Gordon and his team earned the No. 4 seed in Division II; Head Coach George Cavaco and the Islander Boys Volleyball Team went 22-15 and earned the No. 7 seed in CIF Division II; and Head Coach Rob Moore helped the Girls Tennis Team earn the No. 3 seed in the Open Division with a record of 13-3, a season which saw the Islanders go undefeated in the Western League and emerge as League Champs.

State Meet Qualifiers – The depth of athletic talent in the State of California is significant and any athlete who qualifies for the State Meet, in any sport, deserves a mention. Madden Hundley and Theresa Perez qualified as individuals in Cross Country; the Boys Cross Country Team of Connor Jaynes, Cole Mullins, Grant Hawthorne, Brad Busby, Cole Hutcherson and Landon Mullins qualified for the State Meet; Samantha McNall competed at the State Meet in Swimming; Theresa Perez showed her versatility by qualifying in a second sport, this time in the 800 Meters in Track; and Alysah Hickey won the State High Jump and finished third in the State Long Jump in Track and Field.

CHS Female Team Coach of the Year – There were several first-rate coaching jobs done at Coronado High this year, which helped create a tie between Girls Soccer Head Coach Mike Costaglio and Girls Basketball Head Coach Toler Goodwin in this category. Costaglio took an inexperienced club from 2017-18 that didn’t win a game and guided the 2018-19 team to a record of 11-3-6 and the No. 3 seed in CIF Division III. Goodwin celebrated his 20th year at the helm of the Islander Girls Basketball Team with one of his best teams, which weighed in with an overall record of 22-7 and a trip to the Division IV Semi-Finals. Honorable mention goes to Girls Water Polo Head Coach Alicia Began. Her team compiled an overall record of 11-15 against some of the best teams in the state of California and earned the No. 3 seed in the CIF San Diego Section Open Division. The Islanders went on to be the Runner-up in the SoCal Division II Regionals.

CHS Male Team Coach of the Year – Alex Cade and the Islander Boys Lacrosse Team began their season facing a re-building year, as they were hit hard by graduation. Still, Cade scheduled some of the toughest opposition he could find from across the nation and led Coronado to a record of 11-9 and the No. 4 seed in the CIF San Diego Section Open Division. The Islanders will be ready to do some damage next season.

CHS Male Team Rookie Coach of the Year – Mackenzie White, a nutritional expert who works with the United States Olympic Committee, took over the reins of the Islander Boys Tennis Team, and guided them to the No. 7 seed in Division I. After a sluggish start against a tough non-conference schedule, the team posted a 5-5 record in the highly competitive Western League and compiled an overall record of 6-9.

CHS Female Team Rookie Coach of the Year - Northwestern University student-athlete and NCAA Women’s Lacrosse National Champion Kirstyn Atkinson was in her first year at the helm of the Islander Girls Lacrosse program. She coached the team to an overall record of 12-6 and the No. 7 seed in the Open Division. The Islanders more than held their own against the major programs in San Diego County.

Islander Coaching Milestones of Note–Former Islander Girls Lacrosse Head Coach Jessica Battle-Morris, was inducted into the San Diego Hall of Champions as a High School Coaching Legend. Islander Track Head Coach George Green has stepped down from that position but will remain as a Track assistant coach and at the helm of the Boys and Girls Cross Country Teams. Long-time high jump Coach Kerry Elders has retired from that position after assisting Alysah Hickey in winning the State Title in that event. And former Water Polo Head Coach Randy Burgess has retired from his teaching position at CHS.

Most Enjoyable Game of the Year – The Girls Lacrosse Teams from Coronado High and Poway High have played each other for decades and the night game played April 25, 2019, featured a renewal of that rivalry. The contest was tied 6-6 at the half, but with 12:08 left in the game, Coronado trailed 9-7. The Islanders calmly and deliberately scored the next four goals to pull away and win 11-9. The game featured four goals from Catie Ward, three goals and an assist from Camden DeMaio, two goals from Kat Green and single goals from Josie Morrissey and Allie White. Goalie Kendall Chapko recorded 10 saves. Nobody panicked on the Islanders bench, they maintained their intensity throughout the game and pulled off the victory against a perennially good program.

Fun Sporting Moment – Senior Champ Walker is better known for playing football, but the closing minutes of the Islander Basketball Team’s 73-45 home win over Clairemont belonged to the Walker, a reserve on the team. He scored 10 points in the final few minutes, igniting the student section and his teammates as well. It was a fun moment.

Best Defensive Effort of the Year–Junior Regina Czerewko earned a well-deserved reputation as a fine on-ball defensive player through the early portion of the basketball season. However, in 46-16 home win over Crawford, she picked up her defensive game with 13 steals while playing against the Colts starting point guard. She created at least two more turnovers, forced the player to pick the ball up in the backcourt numerous times and singlehandedly destroyed the Colts offense. By comparison, the NBA record for steals in a single game is 11 and is jointly held by Larry Kenon and Kendall Gill. Keep in mind an NBA game is 48 minutes long, as opposed to 32 minutes in high school.

Team Special Mention – The CHS Boys Longboard Surfing Team consisting of Liam Casey, Cole Quinlan and Santi Girault, coached by Mike Gillard, won the California State title in that event for the second consecutive year. Quinlan captured the State Individual Longboard title as well.

Future Comeback Player of the Year Award – In 2018, then sophomore Raden Perry posted an 8-2 won-loss record and an ERA of 1.39 as the ace of the Islander Baseball Team’s pitching staff. In the process, he was named to the All-CIF Second Team, which is relatively rare for an underclassman in that sport. Perry was also a contributor on the Islander Basketball Team. He sustained a major knee injury last year and missed both sports in 2018-19. Here’s hoping Perry can return to form in 2019-2020.

Fun Fact of the Year – Senior two-time State Champion Alysah Hickey scored enough points in the high jump and long jump events in 2018 that she finished eighth in the team standings at the California State Track & Field Meet. She nearly flipped that result in 2019 with a first in the high jump and third in the long jump, as she personally tied Roosevelt High School for eighth place in the State.

On My Soap Box Award-Your Natterer is a fan of Lacrosse, both Boys and Girls. But two rule changes are needed in the sport. First, there is an inordinate level of importance placed on draw-controls (Girls game) and face-offs (Boys game) that are held after every goal is scored. Basketball had a center jump after every basket was scored until the end of the 1930’s, when that concept was deemed repetitive and unnecessary. In Basketball, Soccer, and Water Polo to name a few sports, the team that is scored upon gets possession of the ball. Second, although the Boys game has a rule in place which restricts stalling, some form of a shot clock is necessary in the sport, particularly on Girls Lacrosse. As it stands now, a one-goal lead late in the game in either Boys or Girls Lacrosse is almost impossible to overcome.

Freshman Girl of the Year Award– It’s rare for a freshman to earn a varsity letter in two sports, but Allie White pulled that feat off in Basketball and Lacrosse. She also participated in Cross Country and dabbled in Track for a couple of meets. White was among the Lacrosse team leaders in goals scored and assists. Other freshmen who made an impact on their sport were Michelle Croteau and Katherine Wastila in Water Polo and Swimming; Zoe Johnstad in Volleyball; Riley McGrath and Ella Oden in Soccer; and Marianne Akre and Anna Wong in Softball.

Freshman Boy of the Year Award– Same concept here as Ryan Ward earned varsity letters in Basketball and Baseball. Ward is athletic to the point he dunked in a varsity basketball game, which separates him from most freshmen. Ward was also a standout on the diamond, playing second base and shortstop this season. His future appears to be bright in both sports. Other freshmen athletes of note include Mikee Frese, who looks to be the next in a long line of talented Coronado Water Polo athletes; Easton Phillips and Jake McLaughlin were the two best players on the Islander Golf Team, with Phillips earning Team MVP honors; and Landon Mullins was a factor in both Cross Country and Track.

Sophomore Girl of the Year Award – The Co-Winners in this category last year and again in 2019 are the Cross Country/Track Combo of Abigail Hundley and Sofia Van Arsdale. During the Cross Country season, they nearly always finished in closed proximity to the other. In Track & Field, Van Arsdale, the granddaughter of three-time NBA All-Star Dick Van Arsdale, competed very well in running events including the 200, 400, 800 and 1,600-meter distances. Hundley’s main event is the 1,600 meters, although she like Van Arsdale can compete successfully at nearly any distance. Following our Co-Winners is Courtney Williams from Basketball and Softball. A front court player in Basketball, Williams was also a slick-fielding third baseman and power hitter for the Softball team. Other Sophomores of note include Samantha Lorr from Golf; Sinaia Haskell and Jolee Barr from Tennis; Marla Steele from Tennis, who combined with Junior Alejandra Gonzalez to have the best doubles record (24-2) in the Western League; and Shelby Linde from Soccer and Softball.

Sophomore Boy of the Year Award – Teddy Oliver repeats as the winner here also. Oliver is one of the best Water Polo goalies in San Diego County and kept the Islanders in numerous games last year with his outstanding play. Oliver is a Division I-level talent in his sport. Sophomores who positively impacted their team last year include Colton Mutty from Soccer; Matthew Wastila from Water Polo and Swimming; Luke Meloche and Tobey Brown from Baseball; Peter Olson and Josef Schuller from Swimming; and Jorge Yanez and Isaac Del Rincon from Tennis.

Junior Girl of the Year Award– Lauren White is the older sister of Freshman Axey Award Winner Allie White, so the White Family seems to have a pretty good handle on sports at their house. Lauren lettered in Golf her Sophomore year but decided to run Cross Country this past fall. She effectively played numerous positions in Basketball this year, from power forward to point guard, and she was a stalwart defender in Lacrosse. White is an increasingly rare three-sport athlete at the Varsity level. Sitting at a very close 1A level to White is Crista Izuzquiza, who was named to the All-CIF First Team in Golf, won the City Conference Tournament against 56 competitors from 13 teams, and she competed in the CIF Golf Regionals. Her freshman year, Izuzquiza lettered in Tennis, so she also has a high level of athletic ability. Other juniors who made an impact include Rose Czerewko in Volleyball, Basketball and Track; Olivia Strong in Tennis; Alejandra Gonzalez who paired with Marla Steele for the best doubles record in the Western League; Gianna Spatafore from Basketball; Janessa Hudson from Rugby and Softball; Anayansi ‘Pita’ Lopez, who was the City League MVP in Softball; Julia Williams and Sydney Neibert from Soccer; Kendall Chapko, the very accomplished goalie in Lacrosse; Catie Ward who earned All-CIF Second Team honors in Lacrosse; and Camden DeMaio from Lacrosse.

Junior Boy of the Year Award- James Witthoft is one of those athletes who makes things happen in the sports he plays. In his case the sports include playing both ways on the Islander Football Team and as an Attack on the Islander Lacrosse Team. For his efforts, Witthoft was named Offensive MVP on the Football Team and Attack MVP in Lacrosse. Physical play in both sports is his hallmark. Others making an impact on their sports include Devin Shulte, who was the Middie of the Year and leading scorer in Lacrosse; Casey Harris and Cole Mullins from Cross Country and Track; Kai Concepcion and Team MVP Colter Maldonado both from Football; Jack Irvine from Boys Soccer; Kyle Phin who was named to the All-Eastern League First Team in Baseball; Andres de la Lama from Tennis; and Calvin Peckham from Water Polo.

Senior Girl of the Year Award–This will be one of the two least suspenseful category winners in this column, the other being the Senior Boy of the Year Award. Alysah Hickey has won the Axey Award all four years of her high school career. The University of Oregon-bound Hickey won the State Long Jump and finished fourth in the State in the High Jump in 2018. In 2019, she won the State High Jump and finished third in the Long Jump. Although she didn’t compete in the event at the Section or State levels, Hickey is among the handful of the best 100-meter sprinters in the state. In her younger days, she was also a fine softball, soccer and volleyball player. There are many Seniors who stood out this season and they include: State Qualifier and Swim Team MVP Samantha McNall; Summer Vu who was Tennis MVP; Regina Czerewko from Cross Country, Basketball and Track; Theresa Perez who won the Western League in Cross Country, was named Cross Country MVP, and qualified for the State Meets in Cross Country and Track; Ruthie Grant-Williams, a multi-event threat in Track and Field; Sarah Barnes, Basketball MVP plus being a hurdler and sprinter in Track; Avery Dozier Soccer Co-MVP and three-time Soccer Team Co-Captain; Madison Shanks, Soccer Co-MVP and Co-Captain; Kat Monk, a four-year Varsity Basketball Team member; Kate Buzby from Rugby and Football; Jenna Roulan who was Softball MVP; Sabrina Ladd from Golf; Cassidy Zolla and Lily Sawi from Softball; Victoria Perez, who owns the CHS records in the  Shot Put and Discus; Reese Oliver, All-CIF First Team in Water Polo; Sheila Tomlin, All-CIF First Team in Water Polo; Ryan Sund-All-CIF Second Team in Water Polo; Kat Green who was All-CIF First Team in Lacrosse; and Madden Hundley, a four-year Cross Country and Track standout.

Senior Boy of the Year Award-Andy Rodgers from Water Polo is also a four-time winner of this award. The first year or two it was for his fine play, and a promise of things to come. His junior year Rodgers scored both the game-tying and game-winning goals in Coronado’s CIF Open Division Water Polo Championship victory over La Jolla, and he was named CIF Player of the Year. Rodgers also had a fine summer of 2018, competing with the U.S. Men’s Youth National Team. Rodgers had another fine season this year, as the primary scoring threat for the Islanders. Rodgers has signed to attend UCLA and will continue his Water Polo career there. Other Seniors of note and there are several include: Griffin Book and Brayden Austin from Volleyball; Caden Gentry from Football and Basketball, where he was Co-Captain and Co-MVP; Bruen Roulier, Basketball Co-Captain and Co-MVP; Juleon Weimann from Football, Rugby and Volleyball; Shane Alihan from Football and Track; Water Polo Co-Captain and Center-Forward Hector Martinez; Brad Busby Cross Country MVP and Track; Nicholas Dunn from Football and Track MVP; Bryce Alexander Football and Basketball; Connor Jaynes from Cross Country and Track; Nathan Mutty and Nic Woods from Boys Soccer; Luke McCollough, Dylan Miller, Jared Pratt and Bobby Zajonc from Baseball; Joe Walsh Lacrosse MVP and All-CIF First Team Selection; Andrew Bell All-CIF Second Team in Lacrosse; Brandon Lee and Alberto Garza in Water Polo and Swimming; Jake Lamb Tennis MVP and Ryan Wood, also from Tennis.