When you go through all of the various sports in which girls from California high schools are all among the best in the nation and in some cases best in the world, there really is no place like it. This year’s choices to lead the juniors, sophomores, freshmen and those from each of five competitive equity plus enrollment-based divisions shows that once again. Sports represented include wrestling, water polo, track and field, softball and basketball.
For announcement of the Cal-Hi Sports Girls State Athlete of the Year for 2018-19, CLICK HERE.
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Congratulations to the following girls for being selected as a 2018-19 Cal-Hi Sports State Athlete of the Year:
Haley Jones (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose)
With four returning starters plus the addition of a tremendous freshman class headed by Jones, Stanford may be knocking on the door with Baylor and UConn as the top NCAA women’s teams next season. As with most years, Jones was not an easy choice as the top overall selection and for Division I. For other seniors and who should have been considered runner-up, please check the D1 list below and the other lists underneath each CIF division.
Sarah Willis (Norco) Softball, Basketball
After being recognized as State Sophomore of the Year last season for softball, Willis received the nod as the overall top female junior athlete this year after demonstrating excellence in more than one sport for the Cougars. She was almost the Ms. Softball State Player of the Year (lost in a close call to teammate Kinzie Hansen) and she was almost the State Junior of the Year in softball (falling just short to Pleasanton Foothill’s Nicole May), but Sarah still nabs a significant state honor. The University of Washington commit helped Norco (31-1) capture back-to-back CIF Southern Section Division 1 titles, pitching a three-hitter with eight strikeouts May 17 in a 2-0 win over Great Oak in the championship game. Willis became the first pitcher in program history not to allow an earned run in the playoffs, throwing three shutouts and allowing a pair of unearned runs in a 9-2 semifinal victory over Huntington Beach. She also became the first pitcher to earn the win in consecutive CIFSS Division 1 finals since Marina’s Marcy Crouch in 1994-95. The all-state first-team selection finished 22-1 with a 0.82 ERA, amassing 196 strikeouts in 153 innings, in addition to hitting .350 with four home runs and 20 runs batted in. The Riverside Press-Enterprise Girls Athlete of the Year also earned Big VIII League first-team honors in basketball, averaging 11 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.8 steals for the Cougars (13-14). Willis isn’t the first Norco softball player to get a state athlete of the year selection. Just two years ago, pitcher Taylor Dockins was the honoree for D1 schools (seniors).
More Junior Athletes of Honor:
Alexis Bishop (San Marin, Novato) Basketball, Softball
Ashley Chevalier (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) Basketball
Vanessa DeJesus (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) Basketball
Anieka Delgado (Santa Margarita, Rancho SM) Swimming
Bailey Doherty (Atascadero) Softball, Rodeo
Megan Edelman (Monte Vista, Danville) Soccer
Tiarre Jennings (St. Anthony, Long Beach) Travel Softball, Volleyball
Nicole May (Foothill, Pleasanton) Softball
Brianna Navarrosa (Mater Dei Catholic, Chula Vista) Golf
Alyssa Orr (Clovis North, Fresno) Track, Softball
Kaylee Pond (Acalanes, Lafayette) Basketball, Softball
Mia Tuaniga (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) Volleyball
Honnie Vandeweghe-O’Shea (Santa Margarita, Rancho SM) Water Polo
Whether it was helping the Eagles (20-8) capture their first CIF Southern Section Division 2 championship since 2014 or contributing to Team USA making history at the inaugural FINA World Championships Beach water polo competition in South Korea, Vandeweghe-O’Shea continued to demonstrate why she is perhaps the top player in her class in the country. She finished the high school season with 74 goals, 64 steals and 28 assists, including four goals and six steals in an 18-12 victory over San Clemente in the final, sharing Division 2 co-player of the year honors with junior teammate Caroline Christl. After helping the U.S. Youth National Team place seventh last September at the FINA Youth World Championships in Serbia, contributing seven goals in six matches, Vandeweghe-O’Shea was one of three high school athletes invited to compete with the Women’s National Team this year, scoring her first two international goals at the senior level in March against Japan and New Zealand at the FINA World Water Polo League Intercontinental Cup in Perth, Australia. She was also recently chosen as one of seven members on the U.S. women’s team that went undefeated in four matches July 12-17 at the first 4-on-4 beach water polo championship, held simultaneously with the FINA World Championships in Gwangju. With such a rich athletic history in her family – mother Tauna Vandeweghe competed in the 100-meter backstroke in the 1976 Olympics and was an alternate for the U.S. women’s volleyball team at the 1984 Olympics, uncle Kiki Vandeweghe was a 13-year NBA veteran who averaged 19.7 points in his career and half-sister Coco Vandeweghe won the U.S. Open women’s doubles title last year with Australian Ashleigh Barty – expect Vandeweghe-O’Shea to be a strong candidate to make the Olympic team next year to compete in Tokyo. She also is the third from Santa Margarita in the last four years to be named as a State Athlete of the Year. The other two have been Katie McLaughlin for Division 2 in 2015 (swimming) and Ella Ristic for freshmen in 2017 (swimming).
More Sophomore Athletes of Honor
Cheyenne Bowman (Rowland, Rowland Heights) Wrestling
Ashley Callahan (Rancho Bernardo, San Diego) Track (Pole Vault)
Zoe Campos (West Ranch, Valencia) Golf
Brooke Demetre (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) Basketball
Jacqueline Duarte (Chino) Track
Kami Miner (Redondo Union, Redondo Beach) Volleyball
Savannah Pola (Godinez, Santa Ana) Softball
Alannah Scott (San Ramon Valley, Danville) Lacrosse
Amit Elor (College Park, Pleasant Hill) Wrestling
Having won every USA Wrestling tournament she entered since 2016, in addition to capturing a women’s freestyle gold medal in the 66kg (145.5 pounds) class at the Pan American U15 Championships last summer in Mexico, it was no surprise to see Elor accumulate a 32-0 record and capture the 150-pound state title during her debut high school season. But the manner in which she accomplished the feat, pinning all five state tournament opponents in 15, 30, 17, 48 and 29 seconds, respectively, was what earned Elor the elite honor as the “Champion of Champions.” Elor, one of five freshmen to win a girls state championship this season after defeating La Costa Canyon’s Maddie Konopka in the 150-pound final, was selected for the award by a panel of all 14 individual weight-class winners. She finished the year as the top-ranked female wrestler in the country in the 152-pound division by USA Wrestling, FloWrestling and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum, one of four freshmen nationally to be recognized at the top of their weight class. Elor hasn’t slowed down since the state final, winning a Cadet Junior Folkstyle state title in March, before achieving a triple crown by capturing American Folkstyle, Greco-Roman and Freestyle championships at the Marines Western Regional in April. After dominating the 69kg (152.1 pounds) division at the Cadet World Team Trials in May, Elor participated in freestyle competition at the Cadet World Championships in Bulgaria, one of three California freshmen on Team USA, along with Buchanan’s Cristelle Rodriguez at 49kg (108 pounds) and Pitman’s Lillian Freitas at 65kg (143.3 pounds). Elor lost in the semifinals 3-1 to a two-time Cadet World champion from Japan, before rebounding to earn bronze with a 10-0 victory over African age-group champion Zaineb Sghaier of Tunisia. Rodriguez secured silver in her weight class. Freitas finished in a tie for seventh.
More Frosh Athletes of Honor
Isumeh “Ice” Brady (Cathedral Catholic, San Diego) Basketball
Delaney Karl (Sage Creek, Carlsbad) Volleyball, Beach Volleyball
Riley Chamberlain (Del Oro, Loomis) Cross Country, Track
Katie Crom (Tesoro, Las Flores) Swimming
Brianna Figueroa (Sunny Hills, Fullerton) Soccer
Megan Grant (Aragon, San Mateo) Basketball, Softball
Caelyn Harris (Upland) Track (LJ)
Londynn Jones (Santiago, Corona) Basketball
Ramsey Suarez (Great Oak, Temecula) Softball
Haley Jones (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose) Basketball
She’s prominently displayed on this site in a separate post as our 2018-19 State Girls Athlete of the Year. The other athlete that we’d say came the closest other than Jones to finishing on the top was soccer star Isabella D’Aquila from JSerra of San Juan Capistrano. D’Aquila was a two-time USA Today Player of the Year and was the CIF Southern Section Division I Player of the Year three times. It was a different choice, however, in the Gatorade National Player of the Year program as it went for Menlo School’s Sophie Jones. Instead of all the explaining required to write up D’Aquila, Haley Jones just became a better option.
More D1 Athletes of Honor (Seniors Only)
Hope Alley (Foothill, Pleasanton) Basketball, Softball
Angelina Anderson (Carondelet, Concord) Soccer
Natalie Berty (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) Volleyball
Isabella D’Aquila (JSerra, SJ Capistrano) Soccer
Kristin Fahy (La Costa Canyon, Carlsbad) Cross Country, Track
Kinzie Hansen (Norco) Softball
Amethyst Harper (Central, Fresno) Volleyball, Track (HJ)
Zoie Hartman (Monte Vista, Danville) Swimming
Tavi Heidelberg (McClatchy, Sacramento) Wrestling
Meagen Lowe (Buchanan, Clovis) Cross Country, Track
Devon Newberry (Marymount, Los Angeles) Volleyball, Beach Volleyball
Charisma Osborne (Windward, Los Angeles) Basketball
Brooke Seay (Francis Parker, San Diego) Golf
Jazlynn Shearer (Silver Creek, San Jose) Track
Ariya Spitz (Newport Harbor, Newport Beach) Swimming
Serena Starks (Edison, Huntington Beach) Soccer, Softball
De’Anna Nowling (Calabasas) Track and Field
After determining schools that could be D2 for these honors (and some that had to be D1), Nowling emerged as the choice in this category. Although the Coyotes didn’t have an opportunity to challenge for their first girls state team championship in the spring following a pair of athletes being ruled ineligible for the postseason by CIF Southern Section officials, that didn’t stop Nowling from returning to the top of the podium in May at Buchanan’s Veterans Memorial Stadium. Nowling ran 11.55 seconds to become the first female athlete to repeat as state 100-meter champion since former Long Beach Poly and University of Oregon star Ariana Washington won three straight titles from 2012-14. Her best wind-legal mark of 11.43 seconds ranked No. 19 in state history. That performance also helped Nowling become the first California female athlete to win the high school 100-meter dash at the prestigious Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays since 2006, along with becoming only the third girl from the Golden State to secure the title since the event was added to the meet schedule in 1987. Nowling’s wind-aided 11.40 performance in her season opener at the Nike Redondo Invitational was the No. 9 prep mark nationally this year under all conditions. The Miami (Florida) signee also clocked a wind-legal 23.64 in the 200, good for No. 11 in the country, and contributed to a 45.95 effort in the 4×100 relay, which placed Calabasas No. 13 in the nation this season.
More D2 Athletes of Honor (Seniors Only)
Abbi Hill (Dos Pueblos, Goleta) Water Polo
Simone Overbeck (Newbury Park) Basketball, Volleyball
Ashley Trierweiler (Carlmont, Belmont) Basketball, Softball
Sophie Wallace (Corona del Mar, Newport Beach) Water Polo
Ashley Yeah (Los Gatos) Tennis
Jewel Roemer (Acalanes, Lafayette) Water Polo, Swimming
It looks like we really like elite water polo players for this divisional category and when those players are earning spots in the U.S. National Team that becomes hard to beat. This marks the fourth time, in fact, in the last six years in which a water polo player has been named the D3 State Girls Athlete of the Year. The other three times before Jewel for this year, however, were from the same family – Makenzie Fischer of Laguna Beach (2014 and 2015) and Aria Fischer of Laguna Beach (2017). Roemer also was almost chosen as State Junior of the Year, but qualifies for D3 so we decided to write her up for that and not write her up twice. Having already been mentioned as the best girls water polo player to compete in Northern California since 2010-11 State Girls Athlete of the Year Maggie Steffens, Roemer got the opportunity to compete with the Danville of Monte Vista graduate in March when the junior standout was selected to join the U.S. Women’s National team for the FINA World Water Polo League Intercontinental Cup in Australia. That honor came after helping the Dons complete one of the most impressive years in CIF North Coast Section history, capping a 27-0 season with five goals in an 11-7 victory over Campolindo in the Open Division final in December. Roemer earned Diablo Athletic League MVP and NISCA All-America first-team honors, before joining Team USA in Perth in March, scoring goals against Japan and South Africa to advance to the tournament final, where she contributed her biggest goal at the senior level in a 14-12 win over Australia. Like State Sophomore of the Year Honnie Vandeweghe-O’Shea of Santa Margarita, Roemer also played for the Youth National team last year at the FINA Youth World Championship in Serbia, scoring eight goals in six matches for the seventh-place Americans, in addition to being one of the seven members of the U.S. squad that won the first FINA World Championships Beach water polo competition July 12-17 in South Korea. Although her swimming schedule was limited due to water polo commitments, Roemer did contribute to Acalanes placing fourth at the state final in the 200-yard freestyle relay in 1:35.13.
More D3 Athletes of Honor(Seniors Only)
Jadyn Matthews (Enterprise, Redding) Basketball
Alexa Melton (South Hills, West Covina) Golf
Sarah Shulze (Oak Park) Cross Country, Track
Jocelynn Budwig (Fowler) Track and Field
This one came down to two from the same section as Budwig’s dominance as a weight events performer edged three-sport standout Sydney Kuma from Washington of Easton. A starter on the Redcats’ girls volleyball team for multiple seasons, Budwig focused her entire senior year on weightlifting and throwing, and the commitment resulted in a pair of state titles and one of the strongest seasons by any CIF Central Section female athlete in the sport’s history. The Auburn signee won all 16 discus throw competitions and prevailed in 16 of 17 outings in the shot put, the only setback coming in May against Bakersfield Liberty talent Faith Bender – the top sophomore thrower in the country – at the Central Section Masters meet, which Budwig atoned for the following week at the state championships. Budwig finished No. 2 nationally this season among prep discus throwers with her 171-10 effort at the state meet, just shy of her personal-best 174-2 from last year, which ranks No. 16 all-time in California. Budwig achieved a personal-best 49-2.75 in the state final to elevate to No. 3 in the country this year, helping her become the first female athlete to repeat in the event since San Jose Valley Christian’s Elena Bruckner in 2015-16. The mark also helped Budwig ascend to No. 24 all-time in the state and complete the first sweep of both championships since Goleta Dos Pueblos’ Stamatia Scarvelis in 2014. In her lone hammer throw competition of the season in June at the state final at San Joaquin Delta College, Budwig placed second at 155-4, good for No. 22 nationally this year.
More D4 Athletes of Honor (Seniors Only)
Anna Hong (Canyon Crest, San Diego) Field Hockey, Lacrosse
Janessa Jasso (Dos Palos) Softball
Sophie Jones (Menlo School, Atherton) Soccer
Sydney Kuma (Washington, Easton) Volleyball, Soccer, Softball
Ila Lane (Woodside Priory, Portola Valley) Basketball
Stephanie Olawi (Oakland Tech) Basketball
Brooke Seay (Francis Parker, San Diego) Golf
Tehya Bird (Cloverdale) Softball, Basketball, Volleyball
One of the state’s elite three-sport athletes, Bird was exceptional at the plate and carried the Eagles in the pitcher’s circle during the spring, earning all-state small schools first-team recognition. The Oregon commit concluded her junior season hitting .754 with 60 runs, 48 runs batted in, 15 doubles and 13 home runs, the final one coming in a 6-1 loss to St. Mary’s of Berkeley in the CIF North Coast Section Division 4 quarterfinals. Bird finished 23-1 with a 0.88 ERA and 215 strikeouts in 144 innings, earning North Central I League MVP honors. In addition to surpassing 1,000 career points during the basketball season, Bird was also reported averaging 25 points, eight rebounds, three assists and four steals for the Eagles (27-6), also earning NCL I MVP recognition. Cloverdale advanced to the NCS Division 5 final and Northern California regional semifinals, losing both times to Eureka St. Bernard’s. Although the Eagles (9-17), didn’t qualify for the postseason in volleyball, Bird was still a first-team all-league selection as an outside hitter. She’s the first girl to be D5 State Athlete of the Year from the Redwood Empire since basketball player Erin Buescher of Rincon Valley Christian for 1996-97. Cloverdale had the D4 State Boys Athlete of the Year for 2009-10 when Robbie Rowland (averaged nearly 27 ppg in basketball and was No. 88 overall pick in the MLB Draft) edged three-sport star Aaron Judge of Linden.
More D5 Athletes of Honor (Seniors Only)
Eryn Cayetano (St. Anthony, Long Beach) Tennis
Lauren Harper (Trinity, Weaverville) Track
Adriana Lopez (Upper Lake) Wrestling
Anna Treder (California Lutheran, Wildomar) Volleyball, Basketball, Softball
Serena Ybarra (Coalinga) Basketball
Erik Boal has covered high school sports in California for 25 years, formerly serving as editor at the Glendale News-Press and Los Angeles Daily News. He is currently the editor for DyeStat.com and RunnerSpace.com, which focus on track and field, cross country and road racing, but has been a regular attendee at major Southern California high school sports events since the early 2000s.
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports