State Girls Athlete of Year: Kyla Ross

Kyla Ross, a junior from Aliso Niguel of Aliso Viejo, performs a routine on balance beam, which may be her strongest event. Photo: USA Gymnastics.

Kyla Ross, a junior from Aliso Niguel of Aliso Viejo, performs a routine on balance beam, which may be her strongest event. Photo: USA Gymnastics.

Since the prerequisite for this honor is for the athlete to simply attend a California high school (not compete for one of its teams), the all-around silver medalist from last October’s World Artistic Gymnastics Championships and a leader of USA national team becomes too much for any other girl to beat.

For the rundown on the other 2013-14 State Girls Athletes of the Year, CLICK HERE.
For a rundown of every 2013-14 State Player of the Year or Performer of the Year in every CIF girls sport, CLICK HERE.

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In any honor handed out such as State Girls Athlete of the Year for California high schools, the criteria is as important as going through the accomplishments of the various finalists.

For this one, it was established more than 30 years ago that actually competing for one’s high school is not necessary. Anyone who attends a regular California high school can be selected.

That made sense especially for the early years – such as the 1940s, 1930s and even earlier — when Cal-Hi Sports founder Nelson Tennis did his research. Most females just didn’t even have high school teams to play for.

Today, it’s more complicated. Many of the top high school age golf and tennis players, for example, don’t go to high schools. They take classes on-line or are home-schooled, which does make them ineligible for athlete of the year honors.

Ross has a chance to become the greatest female gymnast ever from the state of California. Photo: USA Gymnastics.

Ross has a chance to become the greatest female gymnast ever from the state of California. Photo: USA Gymnastics.

Compared to boys, girls also can be part of U.S. Olympic teams at a much earlier age so therefore those girls are not only the best of the best among teenagers but sometimes among the best in the world period at what they do.

This brings us to the 2013-14 State Girls Athlete of the Year. Some may scoff because she doesn’t compete for her school, but Kyla Ross from Aliso Niguel High of Aliso Viejo (in Orange County) seems to be trying to be as normal of a teenage girl as possible. Recent tweets included going to prom and dissecting a pig in biology class. There also isn’t a girl athlete in the state right now who approaches what she has already done in her sport of gymnastics.

Ross still has one year to go before she graduates from Aliso Niguel, but she’s already won an Olympic gold medal – she was won of the Fierce Five for Team USA at the 2012 Olympics held in London – and at the 2013 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships she won three silver medals and would have gotten a gold in team scoring except that for that event no team medals were handed out.

Probably the most prestigious medals in women’s gymnastics are given for the all-around competition in which competitors are judged for uneven bars, balance beam, floor exercise and vault. At Antwerp in Belgium last October, Ross competed against the best from countries well-known in the sport such as China, Romania and Japan and finished second in the all-around. The only person to score higher in the combined four events was USA teammate Simone Biles, a 16-year-old from Texas.

But Ross didn’t just medal in the all-around. She also added silver medals in uneven bars and balance beam and finished tied for fifth in floor exercise.

With Ross and Biles combining for seven medals between them, the USA team total of 12 (including men) allowed the Americans to finish with the highest medal count at a world or Olympic competition for the first time since 2005.

Later during the 2013-14 school year, Ross won two gold medals and three silvers at the Pacific Rim international competition. Her top finishes were for team and balance beam while her second-place showings came in all-around, uneven bars and floor exercise. She did not compete at the 2014 American Cup in North Carolina due to a back injury.

Obviously, the future is bright for Ross and the rest of the USA’s female gymnasts. With herself, Biles and possibly the return of all-around gold medalist Gabby Douglas, the U.S. team will probably be one of the most hyped heading into the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Chelsea Chenault was the honoree for last year. Photo: Jonathan Hawthorne (SportStars Magazine).

Chelsea Chenault was the honoree for last year. Photo: Jonathan Hawthorne (SportStars Magazine).


(Selected by Cal-Hi Sports)

2013-14 – Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo Aliso Niguel (gymnastics)
2012-13 – Chelsea Chenault, Concord Carondelet (swimming)
2011-12 – Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo Aliso Niguel (gymnastics)
2010-11 – Maggie Steffens, Danville Monte Vista (water polo)
2009-10 – Ashton Purvis, Oakland St. Elizabeth (track)
2008-09 – Jordan Hasay, San Luis Obispo Mission Prep (track)
2007-08 – Jordan Hasay, San Luis Obispo Mission Prep (track) Jr.
2006-07 – Alix Klineman, Manhattan Beach Mira Costa (volleyball)
2005-06 – Jayne Appel, Concord Carondelet (water polo, basketball)
2004-05 – Jessica Hardy, Long Beach Wilson (swimming)
2003-04 – Candice Wiggins, La Jolla Country Day (volleyball, basketball)
2002-03 – Alyson Felix, North Hills L.A. Baptist (track)
2001-02 – Julia Pitts, Torrance North (volleyball, basketball, track)
2000-01 – Lashinda Demus, Long Beach Wilson (track)
1999-00 – Monique Henderson, San Diego Morse (track) Jr.
1998-99 – Rometra Craig, San Jose Mitty (basketball, tae kwon do, track) Jr.
1997-98 – Amanda Freed, Garden Grove Pacifica (volleyball, soccer, baseball)
1996-97 – Tayyiba Haneef, Laguna Hills (volleyball, basketball, track)
1995-96 – Kerri Walsh, San Jose Mitty (volleyball, basketball)
1994-95 – Marcy Crouch, Huntington Beach Marina (soccer, softball)
1993-94 – Suzy Powell, Modesto Downey (basketball, track)
1992-93 – Marion Jones, Thousand Oaks (basketball, track)
1991-92 – Marion Jones, Thousand Oaks (basketball, track) Jr.
1990-91 – Marion Jones, Oxnard Rio Mesa (basketball, track) Soph.
1989-90 – Lisa Leslie, Inglewood Morningside (basketball, track)
1988-89 – Janet Evans, Placentia El Dorado (swimming)
1987-88 – Janet Evans, Placentia El Dorado (swimming) Jr.
1986-87 – Michele Granger, Placentia Valencia (softball)
1985-86 – Terri Mann, San Diego Point Loma (basketball, track)
1984-85 – Elaina Oden, Irvine (volleyball, track)
1983-84 – Wendy Brown, Woodside (basketball, track)
1982-83 – Wendy Wyland, Mission Viejo (diving)
1981-82 – Denean Howard, Granada Hills Kennedy (track)
1980-81 – Cheryl Miller, Riverside Polytechnic (basketball)
1979-80 – Sherri Howard, Granada Hills Kennedy (track)
1978-79 – Cynthia Woodhead, Riverside Polytechnic (swimming)
1977-78 – Tracy Austin, Rolling Hills (tennis)
1976-77 – Linda Fratianne, Van Nuys Valley Professional (figure skating)
1975-76 – Jill Sterkel, Hacienda Heights Wilson (swimming)
1974-75 – Barbara Reinalda, Cerritos Valley Christian (basketball, softball)
1973-74 – Mary Decker, Orange (track)
1972-73 – Keena Rothhammer, Santa Clara (swimming)
1971-72 – Mable Fergerson, Pomona Ganesha (track)
1970-71 – Laura Baugh, Long Beach Wilson (golf)
1969-70 – Cathy Rigby, Los Alamitos (gymnastics)
1968-69 – Debbie Meyer, Sacramento Rio Americano (swimming)
1967-68 – Debbie Meyer, Sacramento Rio Americano (swimming)
1966-67 – Debbie Meyer, Sacramento Rio Americano (swimming)
1965-66 – Charlotte Cooke, Compton (track)
1964-65 – Peggy Fleming, Pasadena (figure skating)
1963-64 – Sharon Stouder, Glendora (swimming)
1962-63 – Donna de Varona, Santa Clara (swimming)
1961-62 – Carolyn House, Los Angeles Marshall (swimming)
1960-61 – Billie Jean Moffitt, Long Beach Poly (tennis)
1959-60 – Chris von Saltza, Los Gatos (swimming)
1958-59 – Karen Hantze, San Diego Mission Bay (tennis)
1957-58 – Sylvia Ruuska, Berkeley (swimming)
1956-57 – Barbara Ann Roles, Arcadia (figure skating)
1955-56 – Mimi Arnold, Redwood City Sequoia (tennis)
1954-55 – Mimi Arnold, Redwood City Sequoia (tennis)
1953-54 – Carol Tait, Atherton Menlo-Atherton (swimming)
1952-53 – Barbara Stark, Lafayette Acalanes (swimming)
1951-52 – Paula Jean Myers, Covina (diving)
1950-51 – Maureen Connolly, San Diego Cathedral (tennis)
1949-50 – Maureen Connolly, San Diego Cathedral (tennis)
1948-49 – Marlene Bauer, L.A. unknown (golf)
1947-48 – Zoe Ann Olsen, Oakland (diving)
1946-47 – Zoe Ann Olsen, Oakland (diving)
1945-46 – Zoe Ann Olsen, Oakland (diving)
1944-45 – Nancy Chaffee, Ventura (tennis)
1943-44 – Jean Doyle, San Diego Point Loma (tennis)
1942-43 – Ann Curtis, S.F. Washington (swimming)
1941-42 – Ann Curtis, S.F. Washington (swimming)
1940-41 – Ann Curtis, S.F. Washington (swimming)
1939-40 – Margorie Gestring, Los Angeles (diving)
1938-39 – Esther Williams, L.A. Washington (swimming)
1937-38 – Margorie Gestring, Los Angeles (diving)
1936-37 – Margorie Gestring, Los Angeles (diving)
1935-36 – Peggy Graham, Beverly Hills (golf)
1934-35 – Margaret Osborne, S.F. Commerce (tennis)
1933-34 – Florence Chadwick, San Diego Hoover (rough water swimming)
1932-33 – Dorothy Poynton, L.A. Fairfax (diving)
1931-32 – Evelyn Furtsch, Tustin (track)
1930-31 – Alice Marble, S.F. Polytechnic (tennis)
1929-30 – Georgia Coleman, L.A. Polytechnic (diving)
1928-29 – Gloria Russell, Berkeley (track)
1927-28 – Georgia Coleman, L.A. Polytechnic (diving)
1926-27 – Georgia Coleman, L.A. Polytechnic (diving)
1925-26 – Helen Jacobs, Berkeley Miss Anna Head’s School (tennis)
1924-25 – Eleanor Garatti, San Rafael (swimming)
1923-24 – Helen Jacobs, Berkeley (tennis)
1922-23 – Helen Wills, Berkeley Miss Anna Head’s School (tennis)
1921-22 – Helen Wills, Berkeley unknown (tennis)
1920-21 – Helen Wills, Berkeley unknown (tennis)
1919-20 – Helen Wills, Berkeley unknown (tennis)

Note: All selections prior to 1978-79 done retroactively through research by our founder, the late Nelson Tennis.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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