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Montoya wins Sun/Rotary top honors for third time; Cibola runner Huston, San Luis soccer coach McDougall victorious as well
As master of ceremonies John Blabe announced Bernie Montoya's name for the boys track and field player of the year award, something Montoya had never seen started happening.
People rose to their feet as they applauded the three-time Yuma Sun/Yuma Rotary Club Male Athlete of the Year. Cibola runner Monica Huston won female Athlete of the Year, and San Luis soccer coach Ian McDougall won coach of the year.
“For me it was a bit emotional,” Montoya said. “Without the city and the support that it's given me, I don't know if I'd be at the level I am. When I'm out there training and competing, it's really for the city, for the community and for these people. For them to support me like this, it gets emotional. I was almost wanting to tear up right there, but it's definitely a huge honor. It makes me feel very good.”
Montoya won 11 state titles at Cibola, three coming in cross country and eight in track and field. More importantly to Montoya, however, is getting out there and letting people know where Yuma is on the map.
“When you go out there to compete, you put a name out there where you're from. All the powerhouse distance runners are up in Phoenix, but we can be a powerhouse program down here in Yuma or any other events in track and field.”
The other nominees for male athlete of the year were Cibola's Brett Boyer (tennis, basketball) and Jordan Mitchell (football, basketball), Gila Ridge's Nathan Mendivil (wrestling) and Yuma High's David Stiles (track and football).
Montoya is headed to Arizona State University in the fall where he hopes to continue his representation duties.
“The nice thing is I'll still be here in Arizona. You have a sense of pride about where you're from. I'm not only representing Yuma, but now I'm representing the state of Arizona at the collegiate level. I take a lot of pride in that. I'm definitely excited to be training with the Sun Devils. I'm stoked, pumped and ready to go.”
Montoya's counterpart Huston won her first athlete of the year ward Monday after being nominated each of the past three years.
“I'm just honored to be standing up there with (all the other girls),” she said. “This is my last year and it was just a moment of all my hard work.”
Huston's high school running career all came together at the state meet May 11 when she broke her personal record in the 1,600-meter race by six seconds with a 4:52.79.
“It's exciting,” Huston said. “It's just a sense of relief that you did everything you could do. You reached your goals potential. Instead of having a bad race or talking about the things you did wrong, it's just everything went right.”
The other nominees for female athlete of the year were Yuma Catholic's Madison Brazeel (volleyball, basketball, track), Kofa's Jacky Fuentes (volleyball, basketball) and Nicole Hartman (soccer, track), and Cibola's Baylee Lakey (volleyball, basketball, track).
Huston is headed to Brigham Young University in the fall.
“I feel like this is the end of my high school career but it's the beginning of something new,” Huston said. “I'm excited to go to BYU and be among the amazing athletes. I'm not going to be the fastest one there, I'll be a little fish in a big pond. I'm excited, it'll be fun.”
When McDougall took over the boys soccer program at San Luis in 2011, it was a very young team.
The Sidewinders started their season off with a 2-0 loss at Cibola, and McDougall was less than pleased.
“After the game I was just livid. I asked the guys, ‘What we're you doing out there?' And little sophomore Marlon Atondo, he's the only one brave enough to speak. He goes, ‘Coach, we were afraid.'
“Do you have any reason to be afraid?” McDougall asked them.
The team mostly composed of freshmen agreed that they didn't have anything to be afraid of, and from that point on, they played like it.
McDougall started seven freshmen against Brophy in the first round of the state playoffs that year.
Brophy's assistant coach walked across the field to McDougall to exchange lineups. He glanced at McDougall's with a raised eyebrow.
“Are you really going to start six freshmen?” he said.
“Yes, I am,” McDougall replied.
“He looked at me like we're going to murder you. And they did,” McDougall said. “But I guarantee every one of those freshmen that lived on that field that day, that died on that field that day, came back this year and they knew what it took to win. They knew hunger, they knew fight.”
San Luis came back this season and went 13-3 then went on to the state tournament where it upset No. 7 Alhambra in the first round and No. 2 Corona del Sol in the second round before losing to No. 3 Desert Vista 3-1 in the semifinals.
“I finally found out how to get the best out of those guys and they grew immensely,” McDougall said. “I think it was a lot less me and a lot more them. Raul Ordorica figured out what to do, Leo Moreno put the ball in the net. I'm excited for what we did, but part of me is already trying to put that behind me and look at what's going to happen next year.”
The other nominees were Gila Ridge's David King (wrestling), Yuma Catholic's Alyssa Rhodes (softball) and Rhett Stallworth (football), and Kofa's Marisela Velasquez (soccer).
One of the biggest thrills of all for McDougall is now his name will be up in the Sidewinder gym alongside his mentor and former San Luis soccer coach Tim Conroy.
“I learned so much from him in three years,” McDougall said. “He gave me the confidence that it wasn't about coaching. It's about taking the kids to the next level, winning games and winning titles. That's the mentality that I got from him. I definitely couldn't have done any of this without his wisdom and his help.”