There are fewer multisport athletes in high school athletics today because of year-round programs, club and travel-team commitments, personal coaches and the fear that too much bouncing around could lead to injuries, which could ruin a scholarship opportunity in a particular sport. The old-school multisport athlete, though, still lives.
That’s why, for the fourth consecutive year, this newspaper has selected a boys and girls Athlete of the Year, a distinction that honors the athlete who competes and excels in more than one sport.
The 2010-11 Tribune athletes of the year are Bishop Amat High School junior Rio Ruiz, a football and baseball standout, and Northview senior Khalalah Todd, who excelled in soccer and track.
In football and baseball combined, Ruiz’s teams had a record of 38-5.
Ruiz was the starting quarterback on the football team and a first-team selection in the prestigious Serra League, arguably one of the toughest leagues in the country.
Ruiz, also a second-team All-Area football selection, helped the Lancers to a 9-2 finish and a fourth seed in the Pac-5 Division playoffs.
The first-year quarterback threw for 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns, averaging 181 passing yards per game.
Ruiz helped Amat to a 9-0 start and had one of the best single-game performances in Lancers history, threatening legendary Pat Haden’s 1969 single-game record of 470 yards passing in a win over Pius X.
In the Lancers’ 52-7 win over Notre Dame, Ruiz completed 22 of 24 passes for 346 yards and five touchdowns in just three quarters of work.
Ruiz completed 20 consecutive passes during the contest, tying a CIF-SS record for consecutive completions in a game set in 1978 by La Ca ada’s Paul Gagliardi and matched in 2000 by Crescenta Valley’s Hudson Gossard.
In baseball, the left-handed-swinging third baseman helped the Lancers to the Division 4 title, belting a two-run homer in the championship game at Dodgers Stadium, a 7-0 win over top seed Palm Desert.
Ruiz, who already has verbally committed to USC on a baseball scholarship and whom many scouting services predict could be a first-round selection in next year’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, was among the area leaders in just about every statistical category despite playing against one of the toughest schedules in California.
Ruiz batted .455 with three home runs, 35 RBIs, 29 runs scored and 14 doubles. By the end of the season he became the team’s closer, and a very good one. In seven pitching appearances, he threw 11 innings and struck out 18 without allowing a run.
His personal and team accomplishments resulted in Ruiz being named the Del Rey League MVP and the Division 4 and Tribune baseball Player of the Year.
He also was named ESPN Rise’s top junior in California, and was a finalist for ESPN Rise Cal-Hi Sports’ Mr. Baseball – an award that goes to the top high school baseball player in California.
Earning the CIF-SS Division 4 Most Valuable Player award was a goal of Ruiz, a benchmark that players at Bishop Amat must achieve in hopes of having their number and jersey retired and displayed at the school.
Todd, on her way to New Mexico State on a soccer scholarship, finished a brilliant four-year career with one of the best single-season performances in area girls soccer history.
Todd led the CIF-SS in goals scored with 48 to go with 17 assists. Her 48 goals scored were the second-most in California.
Northview, whose girls soccer program was virtually nonexistent prior to Todd’s arrival, finished 20-5 and tied with San Dimas for the Valle Vista League title.
Todd was named the Valle Vista League Player of the Year and was a Tribune and Division 6 first- team selection.
Todd’s 132 career goals left her just four shy of cracking the CIF’s top-10 career goal scoring list – a list Todd surely would have made had she not been out nearly all of her sophomore year with a knee injury.
What makes Todd’s scoring accomplishments unique is that most girls soccer scoring records happened during the 1980s and ’90s, when there was much less parity. Since the 2000 season, only two players have scored more than 132 goals in a career.
Todd also had a stellar season in track, earning Tribune All-Area second-team honors.
Todd won the Valle Vista League 400-meter title in 1:00.81, and anchored the Vikings’ league- champion 1,600-meter relay team.
Todd also finished second in league in the 200 meters (25.32), an event in which she advanced to the CIF-SS Division 3 finals.