All-Empire awards ceremony: Area’s top athletes shine

By PHIL BARBER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Recipients of the All-Empire Athletes of the Year scholarships, from the top left to right, St. Helena's Richard Hoppe, Cardinal Newman's Taylor Young, Mendocino's Justin Garcia, Sonoma Academy's Kiana Herold, from the bottom left to right, Cloverdale's Madison Stewart, Maria Carrilo's James Pierpoint and Piner's Allison Lopez pose with their awards during 19th annual awards ceremony at the Friedman Center in Santa Rosa on Wednesday. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

Recipients of the All-Empire Athletes of the Year scholarships, from the top left to right, St. Helena’s Richard Hoppe, Cardinal Newman’s Taylor Young, Mendocino’s Justin Garcia, Sonoma Academy’s Kiana Herold, from the bottom left to right, Cloverdale’s Madison Stewart, Maria Carrilo’s James Pierpoint and Piner’s Allison Lopez pose with their awards during 19th annual awards ceremony at the Friedman Center in Santa Rosa on Wednesday. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

A star shortstop headed to the University of Massachusetts. A three-sport standout who has already studied abroad in Paris. A swimmer who will compete alongside four-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin next fall.

Yeah, these kids are going places.

The Press Democrat handed out dozens of medals Wednesday night at its 19th annual Athlete and Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards ceremony at the Friedman Event Center, and the recipients were predictably amazing.

See who won here and photos from the ceremony  here

Each high school in the Redwood Empire was encouraged to select standout male and female athletes and scholar-athletes, and eight of those students emerged as 2013’s Best in Show:

Sonoma Academy’s Kiana Herold, Small-School Girls Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Mendocino’s Justin Garcia, Small-School Boys Scholar-Athlete.

Piner’s Allison Lopez, Large-School Girls Scholar-Athlete.

Maria Carrillo’s James Pierpoint, Large-School Boys Scholar-Athlete.

Cloverdale’s Madison Stewart, Small-School Girls Athlete of the Year.

St. Helena’s Richard Hoppe, Small-School Boys Athlete.

Cardinal Newman’s Taylor Young, Large-School Girls Athlete.

Analy’s Darin Newman, Large-School Boys Athlete.

Each received a $500 college scholarship to recognize their achievements — and what achievements they were.

Herold overcame a torn knee ligament as a junior to become a first-team all-NCL II cross country runner and co-MVP of the league in basketball, then set the Coastal Mountain Conference high marks for the year in long jump and high jump. She has a 4.91 GPA and plans to attend Amherst College.

Garcia is a three-time all-league and team-MVP golfer, co-captain of the Mendocino cross country team and first-team all-NCLII basketball player.  He’s headed to Cal Poly San Luis Obisbo in the fall to study environmental sciences.

Lopez, MVP of the Piner volleyball team and an all-Sonoma County League performer in softball and soccer, is the president of her senior class and holds a 4.42 GPA. She received a Santa Rosa Parks and Recreation Award for community service, and studied in Paris.

Pierpoint, raised in England before coming to Santa Rosa at the age of 5, scored 34 goals as a senior to lead the Pumas soccer team to the North Coast Section championship game. Carrying a 4.57 GPA, he plans to play soccer and study sports medicine at UC San Diego.

Stewart was a four-year varsity athlete in three sports, helping Cloverdale challenge for NCL I titles in soccer and basketball before competing in track and field. She’ll attend UC Davis and major in psychology while minoring in kinesiology.

Hoppe quarterbacked St. Helena to a 28-5 record over three years (he was invited to the prestigious Elite 11 national quarterbacks camp), holds a trio of school records in basketball and is a four-year starter at middle infield positions in baseball.

Young competed at the U.S. Olympic trials last summer. She entered ranked 136th in the nation in the 100-meter breaststroke and moved up nearly 100 places to finish 43rd. She’ll swim with Franklin at UC Berkeley next year.

Newman, bound for the University of Massachusetts, was a first-team All-Empire quarterback and an SCL honorable-mention hoops player who is batting over .400 as a shortstop this spring. He couldn’t attend the awards ceremony Wednesday — he was busy trying to complete the third undefeated season of his senior year.

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