ATHLETE OF THE YEAR WINNERS
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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