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.”

626-962-8811, ext. 2161

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Damien’s Jason Haney and Ayala’s Ashley Tse rose above the rest to earn Tribune boys and girls Swimmers of the Year honors

All-Area Swim Story: Damien High’s Jason Haney and Ayala’s Ashley Tse earned swimmer of the year honors after a great showing at the CIF-SS Division 2 swim finals

Photo Gallery: Watchara Phomicinda’s All-Area Swimming Photo Gallery

Swimmer of the Year: Jason Haney, Damien
Coach of the Year: Andrew Gates, Damien
Carson May, Damien
Sean Kao, Diamond Bar
Austin Miller, Damien
Austin Garcia, San Dimas
Derek Kao, Walnut
Ken Takahashi, Diamond Bar
Michael Forbes, Damien
Dylan Tarazona, Claremont
Adam Nelson, Damien
Edward Sanchez, South Hills

Swimmer of the Year: Ashley Tse, Ayala
Coach of the Year: Danny Feola, San Dimas
Christina Vu, Walnut
Cori Casper, Ayala
Rosemary Garcia, Glendora
Sammie Keehn, St. Lucy’s
Amy Patrick, San Dimas
Sarah Le, Walnut
Millie Moro, Bonita
Danielle Hebert, San Dimas
Theresa Lo, Walnut
Brea Cook, Glendora

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Damien High’s Jarrett Gonzales and Bonita’s Nikki Wheatley stood above the rest to earn track athlete of the year honors

All-Area Story: Damien High’s Jarrett Gonzales brought home a state title and Bonita’s Nikki Wheatley proved she’s much more than just a hoop star to earn track athlete of the year honors

Photo’s: San Gabriel Valley Tribune All-Area Track photo gallery

Track Athlete of the Year: Jarrett Gonzales, Damien
Coach of the Year: Dan Luna, Rowland
Andrew Fischer, Diamond Ranch
Nick Rivera, Rowland
Klyvens Delunay, Claremont
Toure McCully, Bonita
Logan Tracey, Damien
Darren Andrews, Bishop Amat
Josh Webster, South Hills
Dillon Nobbs, Bonita
David Galvez, Rowland

Athlete of the year: Nikki Wheatley, Bonita
Coach of the Year: Mae Wong, Covina
Marissa Scott, Bonita
Jaela Williams, Ayala
Rocky Bartholomew, Glendora
Cassie Ramirez, Northview
Emily Sanchez, Covina
Makayla Jacoub, Glendora
Candace Williams, South Hills
Brittany Fulton, Los Altos
Emily Hubert, Bishop Amat
Micaela Lamb, Glendora
Dre Mercado, Covina

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It’s official, Bishop Amat’s Rio Ruiz $igns with the Houston Astros for $1.85 million, then belts a couple homers at Minute Maid Park

Story: Former Bishop Amat High School baseball slugger Rio Ruiz said it was going to take a lot to get him to bypass his dream of playing baseball at USC for an early chance at a professional career. On Monday, the Houston Astros gave Ruiz nearly two million reasons why he should do just that.

After the Big River inked a deal for $1.85 million with the Houston Astors, the fourth round draft pick took batting practice and belted two home runs at Houston’s Minute Maid Park, according to his father, Rudy Ruiz. We’ll have a story on Rio’s signing in tomorrow’s paper. It’s been a wild ride covering Ruiz, starting with our first blog post before he arrived in high school, titled, “The Next Great One at Bishop Amat.” He won a CIF title with the Lancers, was a CIF player of the year and this newspaper’s player of the year, and today’s signing shows he was everything he was advertised to be.

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Diamond Bar Sophomore WR/DB Cordell Broadus, the son of rapper Snoop Dogg, received his first offer from UCLA

Bow wow wow yippy yo yippy yay: Diamond Bar coach Ryan Maine Tweeted that WR Cordell Broadus received his first offer from UCLA. Broadus, the son of rapper Snoop Dogg, is a 6-foot-2, 185-pound sophomore expected to play WR and DB for the Brahmas. Broadus could join Justin Combs, the son of rapper Sean “Diddy”Combs, who will be playing at UCLA in the fall. This is an exciting time in the Valley. USA Today already has picked up this story and the spotlight is only going to grow. I can’t ever recall covering a celebrity’s son or daughter of this magnitude in our own backyard.

Below: Looks like Snoop and Coach Maine are getting along just fine …

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Bishop Amat’s Rio Ruiz expected to sign with the Houston Astros on Monday for approximately $1.85 million, according to sources

Bishop Amat’s Rio Ruiz has agreed to terms with the Houston Astros and is expected to ink a deal for approximately $1.85 million according to sources and other published reports. Ruiz, a fourth-round draft choice in this month’s Major League Baseball draft, was a projected first-round pick but missed most of his senior season due to a blood clot near his right shoulder area. He was recently cleared by family doctors and is on his way to Houston to take a physical before signing on Monday, according to sources. Ruiz’s family said all along the USC commit would attend college unless they received an offer they couldn’t refuse.

Baseball America is also reporting that Ruiz has agreed to terms with the Astros: That’s ($1.85 million) the biggest bonus compared to assigned pick value thus far in the 2012 draft, coming in at $1,489,800 over the $360,200 allocated for the 129th overall pick. Ruiz beats the standard set by fellow Astros draftee Lance McCullers Jr., who signed for $2.5 million as the 41st overall pick.

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Hall of Fame, East 46, West 34: Frazier, Virnala help East hold off West to win Hall of Fame All-Star Football Game

Keith Birmingham’s Hall of Fame All-Star Photo Gallery

By Steve Ramirez
– The 33rd San Gabriel Valley Hall of Fame All-Star Game has had an East flavor over the years, and that didn’t change Friday.

But the West died hard.

Former Los Altos High School quarterback Shane Virnala accounted for 207 yards and a touchdown and the East held off a late West charge for 46-34 victory at West Covina High School.

West Covina’s Jimmy Frazier earned East MVP honors after rushing for 81 yards and a touchdown. Frazier and Azusa’s Desmond Reed ran for scores of 42 and 45 yards, respectively, to secure the win.

Monrovia’s DeShawn Ramirez accounted for two touchdowns, including an 86- yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter to lead the West.

Arroyo’s Steven Rivera threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns.

“We take pride in it,” Virnala said. “I don’t know what the record it is, but the East has had the upper hand. So yes, we take pride in it. You have to take pride in your school, your area.

“You know it’s not going to be easy in these all-star games.”

The East jumped out to a 39-14 lead before the West closed to within 46-34 on an 80-yard pass from Rivera to Richard Bradford and Ramirez’s 86-yard kickoff return.

“Both teams have a lot of firepower,” Rivera said. “They were fortunate to come out on top. But we have a lot of character and discipline over here, and we weren’t going to give up.”

Friday’s encounter was all about big plays, and the East made most of them during the first half for a 22-14 advantage.

The first came during the middle of the first quarter when Virnala threw 30 yards to Garrett Horine for a first down at the West 30-yard line before throwing 15 yards to Adam Sanchez for a first-down at the 14.

Nogales’ Diego Lopez kicked a 20-yard field for a 3-0 lead with 3:41 left in the quarter.

But the West believed it could match the East play for play and proved it on the first play of the second quarter when Muir’s Tyquwan Glass intercepted a Billy Livingston pass near the goal line and returned it 50 yards to the East 49.

San Gabriel’s Andy Guerrero and Ramirez, who were opponents in last season’s CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division championship game, gave the West the lead.

Guerrero ran 25 yards to the East 25 before passing 19 yards to Ramirez for a 6-3 lead with 10:37 left in the half. A bad snap forced a botched conversion attempt.

It didn’t take long for the East to respond.

It needed all of 12 seconds, in fact, when Diamond Ranch’s Chris Miller took the kickoff in the end zone and returned it 104 yards for a 10-6 advantage.

Next up was Rivera, who needed just two plays to show his big-play ability.

Rivera, who threw for 115 yards in the first half, hooked up with Monrovia’s Marquiese Bias for 20 yards to the West 40. He then hit a wide-open Riian Simpson (Pasadena) in the flat for a 60-yard catch and run to give the West the lead at 14-10. Rivera passed to San Gabriel’s Alex Villalobos on the conversion attempt.

But again the East struck back by scoring twice in the final three minutes of the half for its 22-14 lead.

Virnala passed 37 yards to West Covina’s Lonzell Barnett to the West 14 before scoring on a keeper for a 16-14 lead. The conversion failed.

Virnala, who threw for 150 yards in the first half, then tossed 25 yards to Sanchez to the West 48 before a 23-yard pass to Covina’s Vinny Venegas to the 25. He then hit Scott Tibbs (Los Altos) at the 5.

Glendora’s Corey Victoria then swept around end from the 5 for a 22-14 lead with 21 seconds left in the half.

Los Altos’ Justin Fa’aola, following an interception, had a 1-yard run to make it 29-14 with 8:45 left in the third quarter. Lopez had a 47-yard field goal to push the advantage to 32-14 at 2:51.

626-962-8811, ext. 3061, 2296

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Hall of Fame Game Tonight: East coach Dale Ziola confident his secondary can hold up vs. Guerrero/Rivera QB combo for West

Robledo’s Prediction: East 42, West 14

What: San Gabriel Valley Hall of Fame Game
Who: East vs. West
Where: West Covina, High School
When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.

There’s absolutely no secret what the West team is going to try to do in Friday’s Hall of Fame All-Star Game in order to get some respect back for its side of the Valley. And, of course, it’s also no secret what the East will try to do to keep its recent string of series dominance in tact.

The top recently graduated high school football seniors will renew the East vs. West rivalry tonight at West Covina High. Introductions are 7 p.m. and kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

When rosters for the game were announced earlier this month, the huge advantage the West had at quarterback was glaring. Tribune Player of the Year Steven Rivera of Arroyo and Star-News Player of the Year Andy Guerrero of San Gabriel combined to throw for 6,669 yards and 67 touchdowns last season.

Now teammates, both quarterback have been very vocal about getting the West back some respect after the East increased its series lead to 20-10-2 with a 7-6 win last season. It’s a sentiment that has obviously trickled down to the rest of the roster.

“I definitely think we have the right approach and attitude about the game,” said West coach Jude Oliva, who led San Gabriel to a 9-5 record last season. “A lot of the kids have a great understanding of the history of this game and know the West hasn’t been successful the last couple years. They’ve come in here and have been talking about trying to end the streak.”

Wisely, Oliva is making no bones about his team’s desire to air it out tonight and ride the arms of Guerrero and Rivera as far as they can. That means a host of West weapons should see plenty of chances to make big plays.

Muir running back Tairen Owens and Monrovia’s Marquise Bias headline the backfield. Monrovia all-purpose threat De’Shawn Ramirez and San Gabriel speedster Alex Villalobos could have huge nights if Guerrero and Rivera have their way.

Trouble is, East coach Dale Ziola said his team is well aware of the firepower the West has stockpiled and will look to counteract it with a talented secondary and fierce pass rush. Ziola led Los Altos to a remarkable turnaround in his first season, taking the program from 0-10 in 2010 to 8-4 last season.

“One of the parents had mentioned that they’re (the West) going to be going no huddle and how we better get in shape,” Ziola said. “The way you stop the no huddle is to force incomplete passes. I think we have the defensive backs to stop routes, get in people’s faces and disrupt timing so much that we can afford to put our linebackers on their quarterbacks.

“Our plan is to keep their receivers where they’re supposed to be.”

It’s easy to see why Ziola is confident in his secondary. Charter Oak’s Herman Akins is a hybrid who can run with receivers or play near the line. Bonita’s Garrett Horine has East coaches thinking he might be the best player on the field. Rowland’s Terry Ford and West Covina’s Lonzel Barnett are so fast and quick that it’s hard to imagine anyone finding room on them.

And when the East has the ball, it will be using its run game to also play defense by eating the clock and keeping Guerrero and Rivera off the field.

“We expect to play very physical,” Ziola said. “They’re talking about speed on the West side, but I’ve seen the size of their defense on their roster and I’ve seen the size of the guys we have and the running backs we have, so we’re going to be a ground and pound football team. The boys we have on this side give us a big advantage to go out and do that.”

The East’s backfield is downright frightening. There’s speed and quickness in West Covina’s Jimmy Frazier and Azusa’s Desmond Reed. There’s a bruiser in Los Altos’ Justin Fa’aola. There’s a combo of speed and physicality in Glendora’s Corey Victoria and Bonita’s Cameron Griffin.

“All the running backs expect to have a good night,” Ziola said of his running backs. “There’s nobody out there expecting to relinquish what the East has done in the past. They’re all expecting to get their fair share of carries and do great things with it.”

If the West is to win, it may have to force a faster tempo than the East wants to play. And there’s no better way of doing just that than by getting Guerrero and Rivera off early and possibly a lead a on the scoreboard.

“They’re both great at passing the ball and using their feet,” Oliva said of his QB tandem “We kind of have a little mixture of run and pass stuff for them depending on what the East is doing defensively. It’s not a surprise, we’ll throw the ball. We definitely have got some guys who can play.”

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Boys Tennis All-Area: Ayala’s Tomas Aranguiz and Arroyo coach Anthony Lim share top honors

All-Area Tennis story: Ayala’s Tomas Aranguiz proved he belonged among CIF-SS elite

All-Area Boys Tennis photo gallery

Coach of the year: Anthony Lim, Arroyo
Tennis player of the year: Tomas Aranguiz, Ayala
First team Singles
Sam Ho, Arroyo
Alan Leahy, Claremont
Anthony Sanchez, Nogales
Erik Martinez/Lyle Regalado, Ayala

Second Team Singles
Victor Doung, Sierra Vista
Chris Ogams, Wilson
Kevin Vuong, Rowland
Ryan Li/Andrew Liang, Wilson

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All-Area Softball: Chino Hills’ Nikki Innamorato and coach Mike Southworth take top honors

All-Area Story: Chino Hills’ Nikki Innamorato caps her senior season with CIF-SS title to earn player of the year; Huskies’ Mike Southworth named coach of the year

San Gabriel Tribune All-Area Softball Photo Galllery

Player of the Year: Nikki Innamorato, Chino Hills, Sr.
Coach of the Year: Mike Southworth, Chino Hills
Pitcher: Danielle O’Toole, St. Lucy’s, Sr.
Pitcher: Sabrina Anguiano, Bishop Amat, Jr.
Catcher: Kaylea Snaer, Rowland, Jr.
Infielder: Ashley Diaz, South El Monte, Fr.
Infielder: Nikki Girard, Chino Hills, Sr.
Infielder: Brandi Harkness, St. Lucy’s, Sr.
Infielder: Danielle Mavridis, St. Lucy’s, Sr.
Outfield: Nicki Sprague, Charter Oak, Jr.
Outfield: Patricia Parks, Chino Hills, So.
Outfield: Alyssa Villalpando, Los Altos, Sr.
Utility: Lexi Gonzalez, Bishop Amat, Jr.
Pitcher: Kaysie Gatlin, Duarte, Sr.
Pitcher: Jennipher Solis, Los Altos, Sr.
Catcher: Britney Rodriguez, South Hills Sr.
Infielder: Laura Swan, St. Lucy’s, Sr.
Infielder: Sarah Moore, Ayala, Sr.
Infielder: Corrina Liscano, Bonita, Jr.
Infielder: Sumer Knight, West Covina, Sr.
Outfield: Mariah Midyette, Los Altos, Sr.
Outfield: Taylor Castro, West Covina, Sr.
Outfield: Erinn Jaramillo, Northview, Jr.
Utility: Janell Wheaton, San Dimas, So.

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Hit and Hustle Camp hosted by Bishop Amat head coach Steve Hagerty coming Fri. and Sat.

Bishop Amat is hosting a youth football camp Friday evening from 6-9 p.m. and Saturday morning from 9 a.m.-noon. Youth entering grades 3-8 are invited to attend.

The cost is $75, which includes six hours of instruction, group photo, hot dog lunch, t-shirt, and certificate of participation.

Contact Coach Hagerty with questions at 626-962-2495, ext. 6001, or email him at

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Bonita’s Justin Garza finishes sensational career with Tribune player of the year honors; Bearcats coach John Knott named coach of the year

ALL-AREA STORY: Bonita’s Justin Garza earned the San Gabriel Valley Tribune baseball player of the year award and the Bearcats’ John Knott coach of the year. Read the full story along with all the first-team selections.



Player of the Year: Justin Garza, Bonita, Sr.
Coach of the Year: John Knott, Bonita

Pitcher: Daniel Zamora, Bishop Amat, Sr.
Pitcher: Ty France, South Hills, Sr.
Catcher: Steven Camberos, Los Altos, Sr.
Infielder: Donovan Holmes, Glendora, Sr.
Infielder: Danny Sheehan, South Hills, Sr.
Infielder: Joe Munoz, Los Altos, Sr.
Infielder: Adam Alcantara, Bishop Amat, Jr.
Outfield: Thomas Castro, Bonita, Sr.
Outfield: Wyatt Wood, Glendora, Sr.
Outfield: Erik Gonzalez, Nogales, Jr.
Utility: Tyler Heslop, Bonita, Sr.

Pitcher: Parker Merritt, Bonita, Jr.
Pitcher: Kevin McKelvey, South Hills, Sr.
Catcher: C.J. Saylor, South Hills, Sr.
Infielder: Adrian Guzman, Nogales, Jr.
Infielder: Justin Row, Bonita, Jr.
Infielder: Grant Hockin, Damien, So.
Infielder: Giovanni Rivera, Sierra Vista, Sr.
Outfield: Shawn Kennedy, San Dimas, Sr.
Outfield: Scott Hurst, Bishop Amat, So.
Outfield: Jake Grijalva, Northview, Jr.
Utility: Henry Omana, Diamond Bar, Sr.
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Los Altos’ Joe Munoz signed and delivered to the Arizona Diamondbacks for more than half a million; Shortstop already in Rookie League

Los Altos High School’s Joe Munoz, who was drafted in the second round and 90th overall in Major League Baseball’s Amateur Draft by Arizona, has signed with the Diamondbacks instead of heading to San Diego State, where he had planned to attend college. Munoz is already in the Arizona Rookie League after signing a deal worth $520,500, according to his family. Let’s wish him well and hopefully he’ll be in the Bigs soon. Below are pictures of Munoz signing and a picture with his family. A proud moment for sure.

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