TRIBUNE PREP ATHLETES OF THE YEAR: Donovan Holmes, Nikki Wheatley earn top honors

2008: Glendora’s Michael Edwards, Northview’s Hannah Fraijo
2009: South El Monte’s Manny Acosta, San Dimas’ Ariel Shore
2010: South Hills’ Dakota Behr and South Hills’ Melinda Gomez
2011: Bishop Amat’s Rio Ruiz, Northview’s Khalalah Todd
2012: Glendora’s Donovan Holmes, Bonita’s Nikki Wheatley

By Fred J.Rolbedo

For the fifth consecutive year, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune is recognizing the area’s boys and girls Athletes of the Year.

With specialization taking over and year-round club teams the norm, the Athlete of the Year awards were created to honor the multi-sport athletes who excel in at least two sports.

That’s why letterman jackets were created and there is nothing more gratifying than the throwback athlete who works hard to make a school’s athletic program the best it can be.

This year’s honorees are Glendora High School senior Donovan Holmes, a Baseline League first-team selection in football and baseball, and Bonita High’s super sophomore Nikki Wheatley, the Tribune’s Player of the Year in basketball and Athlete of the Year in track and field.

Holmes was arguably the Tartans’ best overall player in football, earning a spot on the Baseline League first team, no easy task considering the Baseline was one of the toughest leagues in the CIF-Southern Section.

Holmes, a two-way player at running back and defensive back, rushed for 645 yards and five touchdowns, and was among the team leaders in tackles with 48.

Holmes helped the Tartans’ baseball team to a co-league championship and was named to the Tribune’s All-Area first team in addition to earning Baseline League first-team honors.

The second baseman batted .455 with 13 doubles, 33 runs scored and stole 33 bases while helping his team reach the CIF-SS Division 2 quarterfinals.

“I think football came easier to me because I got more opportunities,” Holmes said. “Baseball I had to work harder at, so I was really proud of what I was able to accomplish my senior season.”

Not only was Wheatley just a sophomore but she’s the first Athlete of the Year winner to be a Tribune Player/Athlete of the Year in two different sports.

Wheatley helped the Bearcats’ basketball team reach the CIF-Southern Section divisional and state playoffs by averaging 17.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.9 steals per game.

She also was selected the Hacienda League’s Most Valuable Player and named to the CIF-SS Division 3AAA first team.

In track, Wheatley won the CIF-SS Division 3 long and triple jump titles with leaps of 18 feet, 3 inches and 39-8, respectively, and was seventh in the high jump.

She qualified for the state finals in the triple jump, finishing eighth to cap a remarkable season.

With two years to go, Wheatley is not interested in focusing on one sport, she wants to continue getting better at both.

“Playing basketball helps me in track and running track helps in basketball, they feed off each other and keep me in good shape,” Wheatley said. “I’m starting to really think about a double scholarship, I would like to do both in college if possible.”

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  • John Marquez

    Garrett Horine should be athlete of the year Hacienda League MVP in 2 sports and ALL CIF IN BOTH this is a injustice

  • Lousafur

    I agree w/ John M. Garrett had an unbelievable year. All CIF and All Valley in 2 sports ( the 2 biggest sports ) . No offense to Donovan but his football #’s are not that impressive. Many kids across the valley have those #’s.

  • Videoman

    This kind of thing is always a tough call with so many great athletes in the area. As a Glendora observer I will say that Donavon’s football numbers would have been much different if he didn’t play in the Baseline League. Also with Glendora having a pretty plain offense that relied heavily on the run he was keyed on a lot, plus he missed at least one game with a concussion. With a balanced offensive attack and playing outside the Baseline League his numbers would could been much different.

    As for Nikki–wow!!! and only a sophomore.

    Congratulations to both.

  • Anonymous

    Fred here is some news for u oaks christian and Norte dame gets into a fist fight at the under the lights tournament. Two suppose to be prestigious schools brawl at a passing league game. Hey if it was a shv school it would be publicized like it was a street crime against a peace officer

  • Frank C.

    Tough to disagree with a decision once it’s done and nothing can be done about it now. When Hagerty turned Bishop Amat around and had the crowds back and won a league title it was clear he deserved Coach of the Year honors. When Bonita’s Coach Podley put on a coaching clinic and kept his team together after losing a star Qb, managing his replacement, suffering a blow out to eventual League and CIF Champion West Covina and bringing them to a dropped INT from a CIF Title win against the same team that destroyed them weeks earlier, he should have won Coach of the Year but didn’t. When news can out that he’d done the whole thing while on painkillers and in great pain, well, it only made the injustice worse. When he retired earlier this year it only brought to light an old adage from sports, ‘There is NO tomorrow”.

    This year I congratulate both winners for what they have accomplished in their high school careers. Ms. Wheatley I’ve seen, Mr. Holmes I have not. I do know that Ms Wheatley comes form great stock as both her parents are stellar. I’m sure Glendorians would say the same of their athlete but somehow I expected to see Garrett Horine win this award, he did not….and that’s about as sad as it gets because Mr. Horine does it the right way, for the right reasons and does it with such quiet grace it’s almost as if he’s trying to stay out of the spotlight…maybe that hurt him.

    Garrett, it’s been a pleasure watching you play all out, all the time. Putting the team’s needs ahead of your own and probably being the most coachable and unselfish player I’ve ever seen, or been around. Your parents raised a fine young man and wherever you play next year I know they’ve got themselves a winner.

    I hope that’s not disrespecting the Holmes family and friends it’s just my biased opinion having watched him play two sports at the highest level and being recognized All CIF, League MVP and All Area for his efforts. Food for thought here Fred, Garrett earned All Area as a Soph so you know he’s been doing it forever.

    Best of luck to all and to the Wheatley family….this is only the beginning ! Can’t wait to see what she does for an encore.

  • SGV 4 30 Years

    First congrats to both AOY’s good choices. Bonita people you had to know that Wheatly was gonna easily be the female AOY. It will be hers to lose for the next 2 years. She pretty much sealed it that Garrett wasn’t going to get it. Any of us who have followed the Tribune over the years, know that they want to spread awards around and not have 2 athletes from the same school to get the award. The Trib looks for the “feel good story” first. Maybe it’s time they filled the rest of us in on their criteria for their awards. Or maybe they need to ask some of the local coaches for some help. Just a thought.

    SGV430 Ouuuttt!

  • wc

    I’ve watched Nikki Wheatley since she was a tiny little girl and I can say that without question, she is one of the greatest basketball players I’ve ever seen. She could excel playing with boys (she actually played quite a bit of travel ball on a boys team and dominated them as well). A Division 1 basketball coach said she could start for his team now — and that was after her frosh season.

    All these accolades and you’d never know it speaking to her. She’s unassuming and very polite…somewhat surpising for an athlete of her caliber. If somebody told her the wealth should be passed around and the award should go to somebody else, she’d be the first to to tell you to give it to them. Someone mentioned she comes from good stock and she does, but she takes nothing for granted. As hard as she trains for basketball and track, she’s equally adept in the classroom. On and off the court (or track) you’d have to visit another planet to find a more deserving recipient.