We have two repeaters among this year’s state athletes of the year as wrestler Richard Figueroa of Selma and golfer Luke Potter (now at Classical Academy of Escondido) gain the top honors for juniors and sophomores after taking the same as a sophomore and freshman, respectively. We also have swimming represented for D1 with Sacramento McClatchy’s world-ranked Luca Urlando while multi-sport athletes get chosen for D3 and D4.
For announcement of the Cal-Hi Sports Boys State Athlete of the Year for 2019-20, CLICK HERE.
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Congratulations to the following boys for being selected as a 2019-20 Cal-Hi Sports State Athlete of the Year:
Nico Young (Newbury Park)
Our 2019-20 Boys State Athlete of the Year also has been named as the Gatorade Cross Country National Performer of the Year and it would stand to reason that he’ll be in the running to be the Gatorade national winner for track & field. And then if that happens, how could Nico not be the Gatorade National Boys Athlete of the Year. We don’t often agree with Gatorade picks for California (different criteria), but will be rooting for Nico to get as many deserving honors as possible.
Richard Figueroa (Selma)
The brother of 2018 Girls State Athlete of the Year Grace Figueroa continued on the same path as her with a third consecutive CIF state wrestling title and stayed on path to go four-for-four in CIF state finals next year. Although doing that four-for-four trip in state wrestling has happened a few times in recent years, Figueroa also has additional success nationally and internationally. He was the No. 1 ranked 113-pound wrestler in the nation for 2019-20 despite being a junior and including all seniors. And after Richard won his third CIF crown with a 5-3 triumph over local rival Joey Cruz from Clovis North of Fresno, that put his season record at a perfect 38-0. Making the night more memorable for him is that senior Selma teammate Tristan Lujan also captured a CIF state title at 120 pounds. Figueroa was a 2018 Cadet World Championship silver-medal winner and was looking forward to competing at the junior world championships this year. The last state junior athlete of the year from the CIF Central Section was in 2017 and it was also a primary wrestler, but Seth Nevills of Clovis also played football. Figueroa wasn’t happy after his final high school match of the season, telling reporters he shouldn’t have given up any points. He also was the sophomore athlete honoree for 2018-19 and will be tough to dislodge from the top spot as a senior, but it has happened before.
More Junior Athletes of Honor:
Jackson Adelman (St. Margaret’s, SJ Capistrano) Cross Country, Track
Zach Brooks (Davis) Football, Wrestling
Tyler Buchner (Bishop’s, La Jolla) Football
Zach Buckey (Garces, Bakersfield) Football, Track
J.T. Byrne (Carmel) Football, Basketball, Baseball
Luke Casper (Bellarmine, San Jose) Tennis
Mikey Ficher (Tulare Western, Tulare) Football, Basketball
Korey Foreman (Centennial, Corona) Football
John Lester (Amador Valley, Pleasanton) Track & Field
Colin Peattie (Bellarmine, San Jose) Cross Country
Maximo Renteria (Buchanan, Clovis) Wrestling
Malik Thomas (Damien, La Verne) Basketball
Xavier Worthy (Central, Fresno) Football, Track
Ceyair Wright (Loyola, Los Angeles) Football, Track
Luke Potter (Classical Academy, Escondido) Golf
The spring sports season (including golf) was taken away for everyone this year and by all indications Luke was looking forward to defend the CIF state individual golf title that he won as a freshman. He was playing for La Costa Canyon of Carlsbad then and has transferred to Classical Academy. He was listed on the golf team’s roster, which is important for these honors because most boys golfers with the obvious talent of Luke tend to do online high school or academies and then can no longer be considered for high school awards. While he didn’t do any high school golf, Potter continued to look like one of the most phenomenal golfers to come out of California in many years. At the Simplify Boys Championships held at The Woodlands, Texas, in February, Luke crushed the field with a three-round total of 20 under par. That is the lowest score under par in the history of the American Junior Golf Association, which is old enough to have had players like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth in its events. He also broke the course record by shooting 62 on the second day to go with 67 and 67 for his other rounds. In all AJGA events of the year so far (before the shutdown), Luke is ranked No. 4 in the nation. He is in front of all others from the Class of 2021 and 2022 and is only behind three graduating seniors. The last time the state sophomore athlete of the year was a golfer was Rickie Fowler from Murrieta Valley of Murrieta for 2004-05. The last time it went to someone from the CIF San Diego Section it was in 2003-04 for Chase Budinger of La Costa Canyon (basketball, volleyball).
More Sophomore Athletes of Honor
Amari Bailey (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) Basketball
Isaiah Givens (Pasadena) Track
Domani Jackson (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) Football, Track
Reyshon Luke (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) Football, Track
Jadyn Marshall (St. Mary’s, Stockton) Football, Track
Jackson Matos (Foothill, Tustin) Water Polo
Malcolm Moore (McClatchy, Sacramento) Baseball
Griffen Price (Sacred Heart Prep, Atherton) Water Polo
Colin Sahlman (Newbury Park) Cross Country, Track
Mikey Williams (San Ysidro) Basketball
He was not only the State Freshman of the Year in his sport, but Williams also is regarded by some as the top freshman in the nation and was runner up for CIF San Diego Section Player of the Year.
Williams, who also has a 3.5 GPA, was among the state scoring leaders with 29.9 ppg. He also had averages of 4.7 assists and 6.7 rebounds and led San Ysidro to its first CIF San Diego Section title (in Division 3) and to its first-ever state playoff win.
It was just last year when San Diego had the State Freshman Athlete of the Year for the boys with golfer Luke Potter (La Costa Canyon) getting the nod. This year’s top frosh winner for the girls also is from San Diego — basketball player Breya Cunningham (La Jolla Country Day). Mikey is only the third basketball player in the last 23 years to be named State Freshman Athlete of the Year. The other two have been Tyson Chandler from Dominguez of Compton for 1997-98 and Onyeka Okongwu of Chino Hills for 2003-04.
Williams scored 41 points and 50 points in his first two varsity starts for San Ysidro. It then didn’t take long for him to break the CIF San Diego Section for single-game scoring with 77 points in a game vs. Kearny of San Diego at the Imperial tourney. That also set a new record (according to our own record book) for single-game scoring in state history for a freshman.
More Frosh Athletes of Honor
Ian Duarte (Chaminade, West Hills) Football, Baseball
Jacob Hudson (Valley Christian, San Jose) Baseball
Maxximus Martinez (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) Wrestling
Kurt Miller (Bellarmine, San Jose) Tennis
Drayden Ponte (Montgomery, Santa Rosa) Soccer
Leo Young (Newbury Park) Cross Country, Track
Luca Urlando (McClatchy, Sacramento) Swimming
With a shoulder injury that he suffered in January and with his goals well-beyond high school competition, we doubt if Luca was going to be swimming much in high school competition this year even with the season being canceled. But for these honors it’s always been for those who are going to a California high school, not just competing in California high school sports. Urlando qualifies and actually was the closest to Nico Young for the top. And putting McClatchy in D1 also made it possible for us not to have to get into the debate once again between prominent football quarterbacks D.J. Uiagalelei and Bryce Young. Luca has just been that impressive. Most of what Urlando did last summer in his mercurial rise in U.S. swimming came after the 2018-19 athlete of the year honors were determined. He wasn’t in the CIF state swimming championships as a junior, but was in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section finals where he broke the U.S. public school national record in the 100 butterfly. Later on in the summer, Urlando set a new 17-18 age-group national record in the 200 fly that had been held by the legendary Michael Phelps. Then at the junior world championships in Hungary, Luca won five gold medals (two individual, three on relays). He also became eligible for this honor by competing in two TYR Pro Swim Series events during the 2019-20 school year. In one of those, he took first in the 200 freestyle at Greensboro, N.C. The postponement of the Olympic Games in Tokyo from 2020 to 2021 actually seems like a good thing for Urlando because of that injury. He was considered the No. 1 or No. 2 ranked college swimming prospect in the nation and will attend the University of Georgia in the fall. His father, Alex, still holds a discus record in track and field there. Luca’s grandfather, Gianpolo, competed in the Olympics three times in track-and-field for Italy. His mother, Milissa, was a swimmer who was coached by Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Famer Debbie Meyer. Simply put, Luca ranks as the most impressive boys swimmer from a California high school since 2001-02 State Athlete of the Year Aaron Piersol of Newport Beach Newport Harbor.
More D1 Athletes of Honor (Seniors Only)
Vince Bianchina (De La Salle, Concord) Football, Baseball
Brandon Boston (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) Basketball
Hunter Escorcia (Vista Murrieta, Murrieta) Football, Track
Justin Flowe (Upland) Football
Caleb Foster (Clovis North, Fresno) Track & Field
Anthony Grover (JSerra, SJ Capistrano) Cross Country, Track
C.J. Hutton (Folsom) Football, Baseball
Jared Jones (La Mirada) Baseball
Lance Keneley (Mission Viejo) Football, Basketball, Track
David Mitzner (Servite, Anaheim) Soccer
Max Rajcic (Lutheran, Orange) Baseball
Nate Rutchena (Monte Vista, Danville) Football, Basketball
Matt Strangio (Jesuit, Carmichael) Cross Country, Track
Daniel Susac (Jesuit, Carmichael) Football, Baseball
Nicholas Tierney (Harvard-Westlake, Studio City) Water Polo
Luke Turner (Loyola, Los Angeles) Volleyball
D.J. Uiagalelei (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) Football
Ziaire Williams (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) Basketball
Bryce Young (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) Football
Nico Young (Newbury Park) Cross Country, Track
Our State Athlete of the Year (overall) could have been listed for D1, but we really wanted to feature Luca Urlando so we went with the Panthers for D2. That also was the division in which they won a team title at the CIF state finals at Woodward Park. Nico’s college choice of Northern Arizona may not seem appropriate for anyone who only follows football, basketball or baseball, but the Lumberjacks are indeed a national powerhouse for cross country and distance runners love the training at the high altitude of 6,900 feet in Flagstaff, Arizona.
More D2 Athletes of Honor (Seniors Only)
Justin Anderson (Menlo-Atherton, Atherton) Football, Basketball
Jace Aschbrenner (Newbury Park) Cross Country, Track
Emilio Corona (San Luis Obispo) Football, Basketball, Baseball
Aidan Elbettar (Newport Harbor, Newport Beach) Track & Field
John Humphreys (Corona del Mar, Newport Beach) Football*
Will Kloster (Lemoore) Football, Wrestling
Tyson McWilliams (St. Augustine, San Diego) Football, Basketball
Arturo Ojeda (San Jacinto) Football, Wrestling
Kyrie Wilson (Pacifica, Oxnard) Football, Track
Jamar Marshall (St. Mary’s, Stockton) Football, Basketball, Track
If there was one athlete in this year’s evaluations for these honors who was robbed the most by spring sports being canceled, it would be Jamar. We easily could have picked someone else for D3 if we considered St. Mary’s to be D2 or D1 for these honors, but have had the Rams in D3 in some sports over the years and certainly wanted to highlight Marshall’s prep career. The CIF state track champion from last year in the 110-meter high hurdles (and No. 2 on the all-time national list) only got to compete in one event this year (he clocked 14.17 wind-aided at the Viking Invitational in Roseville) and that was that. Our friend Erik Boal of DyeStat.com thought Jamar probably would have broken the national record at some point this season and of course we’ll never know what he might have done at the CIF state finals. He was our 2018-19 State Junior Athlete of the Year based on track and basketball and this year he went back to playing football after not playing football as a junior. Marshall played receiver and defensive back and was one of the team’s top players. In basketball, Jamar became more of a leader of a Rams’ team that went 25-10 and went far in both the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section and NorCal D2 playoffs. The senior point guard averaged 15.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists. He had 34 points with seven rebounds and six assists in a NorCal D2 playoff win vs. Whitney of Rocklin and he had 23 points in a 48-42 win vs. Jesuit of Carmichael where the other point guard was junior Isa Silva (Stanford commit and one of the highest ranked junior point guards in the nation). Marshall will head next to Arizona State on a track scholarship. There haven’t been that many D3 State Athletes of the Year from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section but just two years ago the honoree was Manteca High three-sport standout Gino Campiotti.
More D3 Athletes of Honor(Seniors Only)
Davon Booth (El Monte) Football
Mac Dalena (San Joaquin Memorial, Fresno) Football, Baseball
Jalen McMillan (San Joaquin Memorial, Fresno) Football, Baseball, Track
Matt Meredith (Miramonte, Orinda) Football, Basketball
Joseph Ruddell (Morro Bay) Basketball, Track
Colton Swinth (Maria Carrillo, Santa Rosa) Cross Country, Track
Giancarlo Woods (Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa) Football, Basketball
Andrew Valverde (North, Torrance) Soccer
Carson Yates (Leland, San Jose) Football, Baseball
Ben Yurosek (Bakersfield Christian)
It was only one month ago when Yurosek helped start our annual end-of-school-year awards by being named Grid-Hoop State Player of the Year. He’s now adding to his list with this D4 state athlete of the year honor. In becoming the first-ever state athlete of the year recipient from Bakersfield Christian, Yurosek became hard to beat both for D4 and as a grid-hooper by being named Player of the Year in both sports by the Bakersfield Californian. A 6-foot-5, 220-pounder who has signed with Stanford for football, Yurosek shined for the Eagles in their march to the CIF D3-A state championship in football. The three-year standout had 741 yards and 11 TD catches on offense while on defense he dominated with 18 sacks. In the CIF D3-A state final vs. Rancho Cotate of Rohnert Park, Yurosek caught six passes for 102 yards and three TDs. He also had 236 tackles, 46.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles, two interceptions and two blocked punts in his prep career. On the court, after the team got out to a 3-4 start, Yurosek led Bakersfield Christian to a 22-1 record for the rest of the season. This included a road win vs. Palisades (Pacific Palisades) for the CIF SoCal D4-A title. Yurosek averaged 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists per game. His team’s game vs. Brookside Christian of Stockton for the CIF D4-A state title was canceled, but the Eagles were No. 1 in the final D4 state rankings. The last D4 state athlete honoree for the boys from the CIF Central Section was Tim Smith of Coalinga (multi-sports) for the 1994-95 school year.
More D4 Athletes of Honor (Seniors Only)
Ethan Hu (Harker Academy, San Jose) Swimming
E.J. Kreutzmann (La Jolla Country Day) Football, Baseball
Cory McIntyre (Sutter) Football, Baseball
Evan Mobley (Rancho Christian, Temecula) Basketball
Dirk Nelson (Central Valley Christian, Visalia) Football, Track
Jesse Vasquez (Excelsior Charter, Victorville) Wrestling
For purposes of state athlete of the year, Excelsior Charter would definitely go down as D5, which also makes Vasquez kind of a no-brainer pick for the division. He was, after all, only the fourth four-time CIF state champion in wrestling in state history. The primary point to make about him, though, is that he’s was up there with Nico Young, Luca Urlando, Jamar Marshall and the two football quarterbacks from St. John Bosco and Mater Dei at the top of our list of boys athletes for the 2019-20 school year. Vasquez won his first CIF state title in wrestling while as a freshman at St. John Bosco and then went to Santiago of Corona as a sophomore. For the last two years, Jesse has been attending a Corona satellite campus of Excelsior Charter, which is based in Victorville, and that’s the school he represents. He won his fourth straight CIF state title last March with a 10-3 victory in the 145-pound finals over Jaden Le from Rancho Bernardo of San Diego. Vasquez also was named as the winner of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award for California by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Vasquez will wrestle next at Arizona State University.
More D5 Athletes of Honor (Seniors Only)
Boubicar Coulibaly (San Gabriel Academy, San Gabriel) Basketball
Brima Kamara (Dunn, Los Olivos) Soccer
Taehon Song (Discovery Christian, Anaheim) Golf
J.T. Stinson (East Nicolaus, Nicolaus) Football, Wrestling
Lane Thrap (St. Bernard’s, Eureka) Football, Basketball, Baseball