THE UNION’S PREP SPORTS AWARDS: Nevada Union’s Meadow Aragon, Garrett Gough named 2018-19 Athletes of the Year
To be an elite athlete, one needs an abundance of physical talent and skill, a tireless work ethic, an ability to lead and an unrelenting drive to succeed.
The Union’s 2018-19 Prep Athletes of the Year boasted those qualities and more as they dazzled across multiple sports.
Earning the award for Female Prep Athlete of the Year is Nevada Union basketball and volleyball standout Meadow Aragon. Running down the Male Prep Athlete of the Year award is Nevada Union cross country and track and field star Garrett Gough.
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
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Aragon’s highly decorated senior year of athletics featured impressive on-court efforts, eye-popping stats and deep playoff runs.
“Her leadership, especially this year, was unbelievable,” said Jenn Krill, who coached Aragon on the Lady Miners basketball team. “She went from always being the kid who didn’t feel like she had the place to say anything, to leading us not only statistically but in the locker room, and in practice … She was always the first one to talk and the first one to root her teammates on. She was really amazing. She grew into a great leader. And, positive, always positive.”
Aragon’s blend of size, strength, skill and coordination made her shine on the basketball court where she was a team captain and averaged 19.8 points per game to go with 12.1 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 2.0 blocks. The 5-foot, 11-inch Western Oregon University bound forward was named the Co-MVP of the Foothill Valley League and led the Lady Miners to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinals.
On the volleyball court, Aragon helped the Lady Miners win 33 matches and reach the Section’s D-III semifinals. The talented middle hitter was a captain, led the team in blocks, was third in kills and earned All-FVL Honorable Mention.
“I’m going to remember all the friendships I made, just working hard everyday and spending time with my teammates,” said Aragon, who also thanked her family, friends and Krill for helping her achieve all that she did during her high school career.
Female Athlete of the Year Honorable Mention: Sarah Aanenson (Bear River basketball, track and field), Sophia Christen (Bear River tennis), Vanessa Enriquez (Nevada Union softball), Eliza Hales (Ghidotti/Nevada Union tennis, track and field), Amber Jackson (Forest Lake Christian cross country, basketball, volleyball, track and field), Faith Menary (Nevada Union volleyball, track and field), Mackenzie Morgan (Nevada Union cross country, wrestling, track and field) and Lily Sween (Forest Lake Christian volleyball, basketball, track and field).
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
For Gough, much of his senior year was spent at the front of the pack, be it on cross-country courses or on the track. The talented distance runner set multiple NU records on courses throughout the section and collected a treasure trove of medals along the way.
In the fall, Gough won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III Championship in cross country with a time of 15 minutes, 23 seconds, which was more than 34 seconds faster than the second place finisher. Gough went on to place fourth at the state championships. Gough won six of the eight races he competed in during the cross country season with a personal best 5K time of 15:17.
“He’s so determined every race,” NU coach Sara Freitas said in November. “He’s got a goal and he will come just short of killing himself to match that goal. He’s done it every single race this year.”
Gough also impressed during the track season. He was especially strong in the 3,200-meter race, winning eight of the 11 times he competed in the event. In addition to winning the 3,200 title at the Sacramento Meet of Champions, the FVL Championships and the Sac-Joaquin Section D-III Championships, he placed second in the event at the Section’s Masters competition and took 23rd at the State meet.
Gough, who will head to the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York after graduation, was quick to credit his coaches for helping him achieve all he did.
“I want to thank my cross country and track coach Sara Freitas, and my head track coach Kevin Selby. Both of them have been paramount and really helpful in fostering my development in sports … Over these last four years I’ve been able to not only grow as a runner but as an individual with their oversight and support,” said Gough. “I really enjoyed meeting all the people who joined cross country and track, really getting to know them. I’m going to look back on all the fun times we had, driving back from long cross country meets and track meets and just really getting to see everyone try their best and push their limits.”
Male Athlete of the Year Honorable Mention: Dawson Fay (Nevada Union football), Colton Jenkins (Bear River football, baseball), Calder Kunde (Bear River football), Tre Maronic (Bear River football, Gold Country lacrosse), Jordan Mills (Nevada Union basketball, volleyball), J.R. Molloy (Forest Lake Christian basketball), Trae Nix (Bear River football, wrestling), Nick Noll (Nevada Union baseball), David O’Looney (Nevada Union basketball, golf), Jace Rath (Bear River basketball, volleyball), Dylan Scott (Bear River football, Gold Country lacrosse) and Brekyn Vasquez (Bear River cross country, basketball, volleyball).
TEAM OF THE YEAR
This year’s top squad is the Forest Lake Christian girls volleyball team. The Lady Falcons not only soared to great heights on the court, but off as well.
After losing the first three matches of the season, the Lady Falcons reeled off 21 wins in their next 23 contests to finish second in the Central Valley California League. They went on to reach both the Sac-Joaquin Section D-VI and NorCal D-VI title games and finished 25-7 overall.
In addition to Forest Lake Christian’s on court prowess, the team was inspirational in its effort to help their NorCal semifinal opponent, Paradise Adventist Academy, during their time of need.
While coping with the devastation and tragedy caused by the Camp Fire, the Cougars from Paradise Adventist Academy made their way to Forest Lake Christian for their semifinal match. When the Cougars arrived they were greeted with brand new custom jerseys, shorts, knee pads and socks as well as truck loads of donated clothes and more than $16,000 in cash and gift cards. All of which was pulled together by the Forest Lake Christian community in less than 24 hours.
“One of the biggest takeaways is through sports you never know what kind of impact you will have in people’s lives,” FLC head coach Travis Smith said. “It’s those moments like we had with Paradise Adventist that are so much of what this life is about. The vehicle of sports allowed us to be able to help a team and help a community in a way we never thought possible.”
Team of the Year Honorable Mention: Bear River baseball, Nevada Union cross country, Bear River football, Forest Lake Christian girls basketball, Bear River swim team, Nevada Union boys volleyball, Bear River boys volleyball, Bear River co-ed tennis, Nevada Union girls tennis, Forest Lake Christian track and field.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Nevada Union’s boys volleyball coach Lance Mansuetti and Bear River’s boys volleyball coach Jon Good are the Co-Coaches of the Year after leading their respective teams to Sac-Joaquin Section championships.
With Mansuetti at the helm, the Miners went 29-3 overall, won the Foothill Valley League title and brought home the program’s first-ever Sac-Joaquin Section championship after topping El Camino in five sets in the D-II title game.
Under the leadership of Good, the Bruins brought home their first Section banner in boys volleyball after beating top-seeded Ripon Christian in the D-III championship game. The Bruins went 27-6 overall, had a 16-match winning streak at one point and won the Golden Empire League.
Coach of the Year Honorable Mention: Sara Freitas and Angela Marino (Nevada Union cross country), Ted White (Nevada Union baseball), Terry Logue and Scott Savoie (Bear River football), Eric Van Patten (Bear River baseball), John McDaniel (Forest Lake Christian girls basketball), Ethan Green (Bear River swimming) and Travis Smith (Forest Lake Christian girls volleyball).
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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