Your 2012 Senior Athletes of the Year are…

Gilroy's Savannah Silacciwas on the cross country and track and field teams and Willie Fox was on the wrestling team.

Dear Reader, So, I thought, ‘Hey, why don’t I set up an online vote for Senior Athletes of the Year?’ It isn’t unheard of. However, I did not contemplate the energetic response the endeavor received.

Voting began May 23 and ended June 4 at 11:59 p.m.

Drum roll, please: There were 5,961 votes cast. Wow. That number broke records.

A huge thank you to all who voted, expressed opinions and dropped their two cents worth of suggestions for the future. This set the bar (graph) high and should only build momentum for next year.

The race for CHS male Athlete of the Year had the most action. The leader flip-flopped a few times during the voting process. The chase for GHS’s female winner also had a couple of lead swaps.

The closest result came in the CHS female Athlete of the Year poll. The winner was decided by less than 100 votes.

And the winners? Another drum roll, please.

Your 2012 Senior Athletes of the Year are Christopher High’s Bryant Cid and Aly Olvera and Gilroy High’s Willie Fox and Savannah Silacci. Congratulations to the four of you. The honor is well deserved.

The athletes took the time to answer a few questions via email – and they did not disappoint. Their responses, which were left unedited, perfectly highlighted their personalities. Read their Q & A’s inside.

Though there were only a handful of nominees, there were boat loads of other senior athletes who put forth take-a-bow worthy seasons for their respective teams.

The 2011-12 season had some special moments and standout performances. It’s difficult to gather everything into a tidy group and tie a bow on it. To rattle them off – all of them – is impossible. But search the archives and assuredly you will find something on your favorite athlete or stories that start you down memory lane.

Pieces of everything I watch tend to flash through my mind as I sit at my desk, or bask under the sun at a game.

Images frozen in time such as Christopher High’s Patrick Mank, playing through a back injury that will never fully heal, going through a series of stretches in between snaps sometimes. Anything to get back onto the field.

I see another Niko Fortino-to-Jourdan Soares deep touchdown pass for Gilroy High. Cross country runners, literally foaming at the mouth, exhausted but happy to have finished. How about that electric drive to the hoop by DJ Campos; or shake-and-bake punt return by Marcus Harrell; a towering Bubu Garcia home run; a Dillon Babb sack; Athena Alarcon and Ashlee Williams leading a short-handed GHS girls basketball team to two upset wins against North Salinas and San Benito – two bright spots in a rebuilding season; GHS field hockey made its second section final in as many years and goalie Marissa Mazzone helped the Mustangs get there, making a monumental save in the second round of penalty strokes versus Los Gatos in the semifinals.

That minutely scratches the surface.

The Gilroy vs. Christopher matchup in any sport. It will only get better and better.

League championship-clinching victories.

Losses that leave scars.

I see coaches pulling for their players, celebrating and hurting right alongside the teenagers they consider extended family.

It’s all happening at the high schools here.

Special moments spring up at the most unexpected times. Some go unnoticed by the masses, sure, but never unappreciated.

To all the seniors moving on in sports and/or academics, congratulations on finishing out your high school careers. Never forget that respect is earned often times by respecting others. Good luck in your journeys.

Sincerely, Josh Weaver, Dispatch sports editor


Savannah Silacci

Sports: Cross county, track

Headed to: Sonoma State

In 2011-12: Placed a team-best 14th at the CCS cross country meet at Crystal Springs Uplands in a personal best 19 minutes, 24 seconds on that course. As an 800-meter specialist in track this season, she was a TCAL finalist. She set a personal record in the 800 (2 minutes, 22 seconds) in the last league dual meet of the season.

After a grueling 2.95-mile run up, down and around the Crystal Springs course in Belmont at the 2011-12 Central Coast Section Cross Country finals, Savannah Silacci gave this quote:

“Everyone pushed themselves to their best. We’ve been working so hard, and I think everyone put it out there for sure,” she said.

Every sport takes a certain commitment. As a distance runner, Silacci, a former cross country state qualifier, maintained that head-down-and-go attitude with ease. Her peers took notice of her sportsmanship and dedication. Silacci plans to study nursing at Sonoma State.

Presenting Savannah:

What will you miss most about high school athletics?

I am really going to miss all the people I have met throughout my high school athletics career. We have all become a little family in cross country and track and I am going to miss every one of my fellow runners! We all died together during our killer workouts I’m really gonna miss them! I am also going to miss my coaches and the crazy workouts they gave us. Even though I hated the workouts at the time, it’s going to be really weird not having to run every day! I have had so many memories with my team during all of our insane workouts and that’s what I am going to miss the most.

What lessons have you learned through high school that you will take with you to your next stop?

I have definitely learned to never give up and to always try for something better. Both in cross country when I was trying to make state and in track when I was trying to break the record, I could never give up. No matter how hard my workouts were and how much I wanted to just give up and quit I knew that I couldn’t. My mama taught me that no matter what, if I had a goal I needed to work my hardest to try to reach it. I never settle for what is easy, if I want something I give it my best to try to achieve it. What I have learned on the track has definitely shaped my academic career as well… I hate B’s!!

Who has been your biggest influence?

My mama and my little sister have definitely been my biggest influence. My mama has been a role model and always leads by example. She has taught me to always strive for my best and to not give up or quit. She has supported me at every race and is always my #1 fan. My sister has shown me that anything is possible and I love her to death. She is always gives me special notes or draws me pictures before my race and it makes me run even faster. I always want to make her proud.

What one area in your life can you improve upon in college?

One area I can improve on going to college would probably be to control my stress level. I am going to have to learn to just relax and not get so stressed out over little things. But most of all I need to start realizing that getting a B is not the end of the world!

List your top-three memorable moments from your senior season.

My top three moments from my senior season are when I finished 14th at the CCS championship meet, when we had a party at my coaches house and I basically broke my thumb from going so hard at foosball. it was so fun!!, and lastly in track when I was trying to break the school record and everyone at the meet was cheering so loud for me.

How can you best describe finishing a race?

Finishing a race is such a relief. When you are running a race, you are using every last bit of energy you have to make your legs go as fast as they can. You cant breathe, your legs feel like they weigh 200 pounds, each, and you are just trying your best to move as fast as you can. Its pretty intense. So once you cross the finish line and you don’t have to run yourself to death anymore, its quite a relief!

If you could meet one celebrity/historical figure, who would it be?

I would love to meet Mia Hamm because she has been my role model since I can remember! I also play soccer and Mia Hamm is like the best player ever. I love her and I would love to meet her and tell her about my high school sports career.

Quick hitters:

Dream vacation? Maui!! I love that place! Who doesn’t? Favorite music/artist/group? I don’t really have a favorite artist but I do kind of have Beiber fever! Pepsi or Coke? I’ll take a Coke any day!

Bryant Cid

Sports: Football, baseball

Headed to:  De Anza College

In 2011-12: Recorded nine interceptions and named the Monterey Bay League’s Most Outstanding Defensive Back, for the second straight season. Caught 45 balls for 880 yards and 11 touchdowns. Selected to first team All-Monterey Bay League in both football and baseball. Team leader in in home runs (4) and RBIs (27).

During his junior year, Bryant Cid gave football opponents a glimpse into what to expect come his senior season. Those lasting impressions turned to bruising realities for some, as Cid’s reputation, not only as a ball hawk in the Cougars’ stingy defense, but also as a mere presence in the middle of the field.

He was a human stop sign – or detour – at times, halting wide receivers in their tracks and altering routes.

He knew how to play the game, and much like his cohorts on defense, he went 100 percent whistle to whistle.

Cid will play at De Anza College in the fall – the first step in chasing down his ultimate dream of playing football for the University of Oregon.

Presenting Bryant:

What will you miss most about high school athletics?

What I will miss most about high school athletics is playing with friends that I have been playing with for 10 plus years.

What lessons have you learned through high school that you will take with you to your next stop?

The lessons that I have learned through high school is to work hard and strive to get better every day – to be the best I can be at what I do.

Who has been your biggest influence?

My biggest influence has been my family for being so supportive of me and being with me every step of the way.

What one area in your life can you improve upon in college?

An area in my life that I can improve upon in college is focusing on my studies.

List your top-three memorable moments from your senior season.

My top three memorable moments from my senior season are: 1. Beating Gilroy in both football and baseball. 2. Our senior night for football. 3. Stealing home when we played Gilroy in baseball

Which is a better rush: Hitting a home run or hitting a receiver over the middle?

Hitting a receiver over the middle because I like listening to the crowd react to the hit.

If you could meet one celebrity/historical figure, who would it be?

If I could meet one celebrity it would be Michael Young from the Texas Rangers because I grew up watching him play baseball and he is one of my favorite players.

Quick hitters: Dream vacation? Cruise to the Caribbean Islands. Favorite music/artist/group? Luke Bryan. Pepsi or Coke? Dr. Pepper.

Aly Olvera

Sports: Volleyball, softball

Headed to:

Vanguard University

In 2011-12: Collected 14 wins and 136 strikeouts as pitcher for MBL co-champion Cougars softball team…led the team with 28 hits…voted MBL Player of the Year and All-MBL first team.

Factors in a league championship team often included a band of players that can collectively get the most important job done – win. Pieces need to fit just right. In a situation such as that, it can be tough to pinpoint the nucleus or the catalyst. But, in regard to the CHS softball team, one need to look no further than the center of the diamond and at pitcher Aly Olvera.

The team’s success was usually linked to Olvera’s poise and stamina in the circle. As one of the first four seniors for the softball program – Kayla Medrano, Mariah Martinez and Olivia Barajas the others – Olvera leaves behind a legacy, including the first to hit a home run at the CHS field. She is the third sister in her family to attend and play at Vanguard University.  

Presenting Aly:

What will you miss most about high school athletics?

What I’m going to miss the most about high school athletics is seeing my mom and dad on the sidelines or bleachers almost every game cheering me on. It’s nice to know they’re supporting me even if I screw up.

What lessons have you learned through high school that you will take with you to your next stop?

The lesson I’ve learned most from high school sports is to do your absolute best because you never know when your last game could be. I’ve also learned not to leave a pitch hanging down the middle or it will end up getting hit right back at you.

Who has been your biggest influence?

My biggest influences would have to to by two older sisters Jenn and Patty, they both worked their butts off in the sports they played, have tons of awards and have finished school.

What one area in your life can you improve upon in college?

An area I can improve on is my mental game – softball is 90-percent mental and 10-percent physical.

List your top-three memorable moments from your senior season.

The top three memorable moments in my senior seasons hands down would be beating Seaside in the fifth match 15-13, hitting the first home run at Christopher high school and beating our rivals Monterey in 11 innings.

If you had the time, which other sport would you have liked to have played in high school?

If I had time I would have played gymnastics. I did gymnastics for about seven years when I was younger and really wished I never stopped.

If you could meet one celebrity/historical figure, who would it be?

If I could meet one historical figure it would be Babe Ruth. Even though he’s not alive anymore it would be awesome to hear how he became one of the greatest first hand.

Quick hitters: Dream vacation? Yearlong cruise around the world with my family and friends. Favorite music/artist/group? Drake Pepsi or Coke? Lemonade… I’m not a fan of soda.

Willie Fox

Sport: Wrestling

Headed to: United States Naval Academy

In 2011-12: Posted a 52-1 record with seven tournament championships.

A man of few words whose message of hard work ultimately equals results was clearly heard throughout a remarkable senior year at Gilroy High.

Willie Fox’s quiet off-the-mat personality made watching his actions on that mat that much more alluring.

Challenged by past demons in the form of three straight Central Coast Section runner-up finishes and subpar performances on the state meet stage, Fox entered his senior campaign with a vengeance. His intentions weren’t often vocalized, but the agenda was illustrated in his eyes.

Fox helped lead the GHS team to it’s 10th consecutive CCS title, and in his penultimate prep meet, he secured that elusive CCS crown. One week late, he captured the ultimate – a CIF state championship. Fox leaves for the United States Naval Academy on June 28.

Presenting Willie:

What lessons have you learned through high school that you will take with you to your next stop?

I have learned to try your best at everything. If you’re going to do anything at all you might as well do it the best you can or else it’s not worth doing at all.

Who has been your biggest influence?

My parents have been the biggest influence on me. They have guided me through everything I have done in my life and they’ve given me years of useful advice and they’ve shown me the best way to be a parent.

My coaches also have been a great influence. They have also pushed me better than I ever could’ve done by myself; they’ve invested a lot of their time and skills in order to help me become the best I could be and I could never repay them for everything they have done for me.

What one area in your life can you improve upon in college?

My entire life I haven’t really been in charge of my own life; I haven’t had to make any major decisions in my life. In college I will have to do all of that and that will be what I will most improve upon in college.

List your top-three memorable moments from your senior season.

Winning the state tournament.

The team winning our 10th CCS title in a row.

Winning Doc B because that was the first time I realized I could do really well this season.

What is your favorite food to chow down on after a long wrestling meet?

Pretty much anything, but mostly burgers, chinese food, and pizza.

Do you have a favorite sport other than wrestling?

Not really but I really like playing pool.

If you could meet one celebrity/historical figure, who would it be?

Harry Houdini because he was the first man (besides Jesus) who people genuinely thought had magical powers. He could escape from anything he was locked up in. He was a genius at creating mind-blowing illusions and he was the greatest entertainer and magician that ever lived.

Quick hitters:

Dream vacation? Hawaii. Favorite music/artist/group? Maroon 5. Pepsi or Coke? Pepsi. It is a lot sweeter than Coke and doesn’t leave a weird taste in your mouth after.

Christopher High
1. Marty Ettema – track and field – 4.22
T2. Claudia Ferreira – volleyball, track and field – 3.91
T2. Peter Hilkene – basketball, golf – 3.91
3. Patrick Mank – football, lacrosse – 3.89
4. Scott Willard – baseball – 3.87
5. DJ Campos – basketball, lacrosse – 3.76
6. Marga Garcia – water polo, swimming – 3.71
7. Ryan Tabilas – volleyball – 3.67
8. Haylee Peterson – field hockey, basketball, track and field – 3.62
9. Brandon Pickens – football, baseball – 3.52
10. Kayla Medrano – softball – 3.38
Gilroy High
1. Justin Cho – volleyball – 4.28
2. Kyle Collett – cross country, track and field –  4.25
3. Roya Lillie – field hockey –  4.18
4. Andrew Mikkelsen – cross country, track and field –  4.09
5. Lucas Gravell – basketball, volleyball – 4.02     
6. Leticia Esparza – volleyball – 4.0
7. Kayla Guardino – volleyball, basketball – 4.0
8. Ashley McDermott – volleyball – 3.96  
9. Willie Fox – wrestling – 3.96  
10. Kade Pourroy – track and field – 3.88
11. Kristina Chuck – field hockey – 3.78

Leave your comments