The Mariposa Gazette held its first ever Sports Stars awards ceremony on June 3 at Mariposa County High School.
Awards were given to the top male and female athletes in each sport the school offers. Awards were also given to the top coach and the overall male and female athletes of the year.
The following were recipients of awards in their respective sports:
• Ryan Leonard, football — The hard-hitting, ferocious linebacker, lineman and fullback was named the team’s MVP following the conclusion of the season, and also led the league in tackles. He was named to the FrontRowPreps.com small-school All-Region Team. He was an All- League performer. He plans to attend Cabrillo College to study and play football.
• Izamary Marquez, volleyball — Known for her hard work and for staying late to perfect parts of her game, Marquez was an Honorable Mention in the Southern League volleyball ranks. She was also a Southern League Scholar Athlete.
• Milea Appling, girls basketball — The accolades are almost endless for Appling, who intends to play basketball at Fresno City College. She was the MVP of the Southern League, set the MCHS all-time scoring record and led the team to the section finals. She was named an All-State performer by CalHiSports and played in the Modesto College Six County All-Star Basketball game. She was named to the FrontRowPreps All-Region small-school girls basketball team.
• Devon Acker-James, boys basketball — Like Appling, Acker-James is a special talent. He, too, holds scoring records for basketball at MCHS. He was the MVP of the Southern League and was selected to play in the Six County All-Star Basketball Game. He was a Southern League Scholar Athlete and a FrontRowPreps All-Region small school honoree.
• Ava Dunlavey, girls soccer — If you talk to her coach, Adam Finney, he will rave about her versatility. She was a key part of the team’s success over the last two years and is sure to be a cornerstone of the team moving forward. She was an All-Southern League selection.
• Ramiro Marquez, boys soccer — The scrappy Marquez finished third in the MVP voting for the Southern League. His coach, Miguel Ramirez, says he is the hardest worker on the team.
• Jade Seymour, girls wrestling — Her last name is Seymour. For those who have been in Mariposa a while, they know the Seymours flat out know how to wrestle. She placed eighth at this winter’s masters tournament.
• Lonnie Breshears, boys wrestling — The physically imposing Breshears earned the league’s heavyweight title and improved greatly, his coaches said.
• Kiya Smith, softball — Smith is a tremendous power hitter and possesses a strong batting average. She batted .488 over her time in high school, with 29 home runs. She was the 2019 Outstanding Offensive Player for the Southern League. She intends to play college softball at Lake Erie College.
• Leo Kari, baseball — The season didn’t end the way Kari would have liked it to, but he was a major part of the team’s success this year, serving as the team’s ace pitcher. He batted .351 and went 12-1 as a pitcher, tossing 70 innings with a 1.19 ERA.
• Rosie McKenna, girls track and field — McKenna saved her best work for the end of the season, setting PRs at divisionals. She was a strong discus thrower for the Grizzlies and advanced to divisionals thanks to her hard work.
• Gabe Katz, boys track and field — Katz was a welcome addition to the team this year, breaking into the top 10 in the school’s all-time discus distance. He was a team MVP and All-Southern League recipient.
• Elona Brocchini, girls golf — She was one of the few female golfers on the MCHS team this season, a team which exceeded many expectations of observers and coaches alike.
• Matthew Fryer, boys golf — An all-league selection, Fryer was the top golfer and helped the team finish second in the league.
• Coury Jones, girls swimming — Whether she was finishing first in the 100 meter butterfly, 500 freestyle or 200 freestyle, Jones was sure to be near the top of the results in each race she competed in. Along with her sister, Parker Jones, Coury added strength to the girls side this year.
• Jonah Dacanay, boys swimming — He went the furthest of any MCHS swimmer this year, qualifying in the 500 yard freestyle event for the CIF San Joaquin Section Swimming Championships. He swam his personal best high school time for the freestyle event (5:24.69 minutes) during the section championships meet, dropping six seconds from seed time (5:30.28). He placed 28 th out of freshman/sophomore swimmers in that event.
• Jaq Quinn, Male Athlete of the Year — One of the few three-sport athletes at MCHS, Quinn was a standout in baseball, basketball and football, starting for all three teams. He was a Southern League honorable mention in baseball, was selected to the Senior Showcase game in basketball and was a Second Team performer as well. In football, he was a Second Team league selection and was named Outstanding Varsity Offensive Lineman by his coaches.
• Samantha Matlock, Female Athlete of the Year — Her coaches praise her for her leadership. She was a strong performer in both volleyball and softball. She was a First Team Southern League standout in both sports. She received the CIF Spirit of Sport award for her exemplary sportsmanship, community service and leadership.
• Trace DeSandres, Coach of the Year — DeSandres was one of the inspiring stories of the 2018-19 school year, taking the girls hoops team to the section finals in his final year of coaching. He also guided the golf team to one of its best finishes since 2016. He is beloved by his players.