Since the Cal-Hi Sports state record book lists players and performers of the year in various sports going back through the years, we’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of each State Player of the Year or State Performer of the Year in each particular sport for the 2013-14 school year. Some of the picks already have been announced – such as Mr. Football, Mr. Basketball and Mr. Baseball – but others weren’t determined until this week.
Cross Country: Blake Haney (Stockdale, Bakersfield) Sr.
Whether it was on the trails or on the track, Haney was among the best in the state. He actually could have been the state’s best in both sports, but we’ll honor him in this category. He already was named the Gatorade State Cross Country Runner of the Year earlier this year. Headed to the University of Oregon, he didn’t win a title at the CIF state meet, but finished in second-place at the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon. Haney’s overall distance running career also was plenty strong enough to make him a state POY.
Football: Adoree’ Jackson (Serra, Gardena) Sr.
He won out for Mr. Football State Player of the Year honors over a strong field that also included Folsom’s Jake Browning and St. John Bosco’s Josh Rosen, both juniors. Jackson plays next for USC.
Water Polo: McQuin Baron (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) Sr.
While Stanley Johnson is one of the top basketball recruits in the nation, you could have an interesting debate that he’s not the best athlete at his school and that’s because of this 6-foot-8 goalie for the water polo team. Named as the CIF Southern Section Division I Player of the Year, this USA Men’s Junior National Team Member had 277 saves and 47 assists this season as the Monarchs had their 105-game winning streak come to an end in the championship game despite his 12 saves. During his four-year varsity career, Baron had 1,203 saves and 162 assists during three CIFSS championship seasons. He will be playing next at USC.
Basketball: Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) Sr.
Our 2014 Mr. Basketball honoree was considered for the overall State Athlete of the Year honor despite only playing one sport. After all, he didn’t just lead the Monarchs to one state title, but was part of four and was the clear leader in the last two. The only reason we weren’t able to choose him for any of the categories is that he was basically behind Nick Nevills of Clovis for seniors and for Division I schools.
Soccer: Tim Mehl (Loyola, Los Angeles) Sr.
We’re going with Mehl as the soccer honoree for being the CIF Southern Section Division I player of the year on a team that finished 30-0-6 was No. 1 in the nation in the Student Sports FAB 50. Mehl has been listed on the All-CIFSS Division I team for three straight years and was regarded as an elite national recruit as a defender. He signed with 2012 NCAA champion Indiana and has trained during the summer with club teams in Germany. Mehl also was MVP of the Golden State Invitational and South of Torrance tournaments.
Wrestling: Nick Nevills (Clovis) Sr.
No other wrestler from California at the end of the 2013-14 season was ranked No. 1 in the nation in his weight class by InterMat. Obviously, Nevills also is our overall State Athlete of the Year.
Baseball: Brady Aiken (Cathedral Catholic, San Diego) Sr.
Our Mr. Baseball Player of the Year has certainly had an interesting week with news that the Houston Astros could not sign their No. 1 overall pick from June’s free agent draft. He’ll always be the No. 1 pick, though, and the reasons he went that high and the reasons he was State Player of the Year haven’t changed, either.
Track & Field: Nate Moore (Castro Valley) Sr.
It was a close call between Moore, distance runner Blake Haney and Mater Dei sprinter Curtis Godin for this honor but we decided to give it to Moore. Haney is listed for cross country anyway while Godin’s sprint double already have been recognized as part of Mater Dei being State School of the Year. Moore, who is heading to Oregon in the fall (along with Haney), repeated as the state champion in both the long jump and triple jump. In fact, he became the first boy in state history to win both in back-to-back seasons. Moore also just soared to a wind-aided mark of 53-7 in the triple jump at the USA Junior Outdoor finals. It’s the longest mark in state history in all conditions. Moore also was No. 1 in the nation in the long jump with his best of 25-8 ¾.
Volleyball: T.J. DeFalco (Huntington Beach) Jr.
While he hasn’t been playing volleyball for long, DeFalco has more than made up for missed time as he helped the Oilers capture their second straight CIFSS Division I championship and end the season as the top team in the nation. Committed to Long Beach State last summer, he won a bronze medal in Portugal at the FIVB Beach Volleyball U19 World Championships. Just a junior this year, he has a chance to become even more prominent in the sport since he only began to play during his sophomore year.
Swimming: Curtis Ogren (St. Francis, Mountain View) Sr.
This was a close call between Ogren and Kyle Gornay of Redlands. Both are on the USA Junior National Team and either one could break through in international events later this summer. Basically, Ogren was ranked higher as a recruit by one web site while Gornay was higher in another. Ogren had a time in the 200 individual medley, however, that was No. 1 for the nation and set a new independent or private school national record. Gornay didn’t lead the nation in any one of his events, his most promising for the future being the 100-yard backstroke. Ogren will swim next for Stanford. Gornay will swim next at Cal.
Tennis: Victor Pham (Menlo School, Atherton) Jr.
This is probably the hardest category to choose given the high number of top-ranked junior players who eventually will all skip finishing their high school careers. Pham happens to be a top 10 U16 player by the USTA and last month won the NorCal 18-16 Sectional Championship. Complicating this choice is that Pham was the No. 2 singles player at Menlo School (which won its fourth straight CIF NorCal team title) behind No. 1 singles player David Ball, a senior. The two just played each other at the NorCal tourney and Pham won 6-3, 6-2. It’s understandable why an outstanding four-year varsity player and senior like Ball was No. 1 singles at Menlo and received all the local honors. But Menlo still won the high school title with Ball at No. 1 while Pham was winning the USTA May National Selection Tournament at Stanford. Ball would be a good choice here as well, but it’s fairly obvious that Pham just happens to be a better player and that’s why this choice was made. Top SoCal player Taylor Fritz, by the way, no longer attends Torrey Pines of San Diego and is being home-schooled.
Golf: Justin Suh (Evergreen Valley, San Jose) Jr.
No difficulty with this one since Suh won the CIF state title on June 4 with a 67 at San Gabriel Country Club. He shot 4-under par for the day and won by one shot over Victor Ponte from Rio Mesa of Oxnard and Jimmy Castles of San Jose Bellarmine. Suh also shot a 66 when he won at the CCS championships. The junior, who already is committed to USC, also was No. 19 in the most recent Golfweek junior boys rankings (which includes international players plus all classes from 2014 and higher). The only Californian higher was No. 8 Cameron Champ of Sacramento, who was home-schooled and did not attend or compete for a high school.