Senior Spotlight Series: Celebrating the area's top senior student-athletes

Senior Spotlight Series: Celebrating the area's top senior student-athletes

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Our 'Senior Spotlight' series is aimed at highlighting senior student-athletes who have had their final year of high school disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak. The athletes featured here were their school's nominee for Athlete of the Year or Student Athlete of the Year for the Northern Santa Barbara County Athletic Round Table's end-of-year banquet that has been canceled due to the outbreak.

(32) updates to this series since Updated

As featured on

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After schools statewide closed in March, so did all team workouts. So Dulay has developed a solo workout routine — well, not exactly solo. Her father, Santa Maria Reds president Rob Dulay, hits ground balls to her off the hitting tee — of her own.

"Monday, Tuesday and Thursday are my usual workout days," said Rianna.

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Colter Knight, the son of veteran Righetti High School water polo coach Rob Knight, was a driver and captain for a Righetti team that made a CIF Southern Sectional divisional final in 2013 and 2014, Colter Knight's senior year.

He continued his water polo career at UC Davis. Since then, he has followed his wine making career around the world.

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As a child in Manila, Callado wrote that he "wasn't exposed to high speed internet, cellphones, video games or any social media platforms. All I had was the company of my friends." The activity with his friends included running.

He immediately took to running when he came to Fairlawn Elementary in Santa Maria. "I was on the fourth, fifth and sixth grade track teams at Fairlawn," Callado said.

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“My athletic director (Claudia Terrones) saw that. She pulled me into her office and talked to me.”

Simmons said she had two conversations with Terrones “and the one we had before my senior year, the second one, helped me turn the corner.”

She said those discussions helped her to shift her outlook from an ideal of perfection, which she could never achieve, to “live for me,” Simmons wrote in the essay.

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Pioneer Valley seniors Lauren Carandang and Christian Morin are the 2020 NSBCART Female Athlete of the Year and Joni Gray Heart and Soul Award winners respectively.

Lompoc seniors Ryan Morgan and Amy Bommersbach are the Male Athlete of the Year and Female Scholar Athlete of the Year scholarship winners respectively. Righetti senior Kai Karamitsos earned the Male Scholar Athlete of the Year scholarship.

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Pioneer Valley softball coach Kristina Sewell saw to it that her seven seniors got some recognition.

Wednesday night, she gave each of the seven their own drive through parade at each of their homes. The seven seniors on the Pioneer Valley softball squad are Leticia Perez, Serenity O'Nan, Monique Gomez, Lisette Guzman, Breanna Galaites, Gizelle Melero and Amanda Casares.

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Nipomo's Nick Kimball is the seventh Player of the Decade nominee. The rest of the Player of the Decade nominees, from Northern Santa Barbara and South San Luis Obispo counties, will be released in the coming weeks. He joins the previous nominees, Arroyo Grande grads Bradley Mickey and Seth Jacobs, former Lompoc High standouts Lavon Coleman and Ainuu Taua, former Santa Maria quarterback Blake Truhitte and former Santa Ynez receiver Gabe Prendergast.

Once all the nominees have been announced, readers will have the opportunity to vote for Player of the Decade.

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McIntyre played basketball and volleyball at Cabrillo. She was the school's nominee for the 2020 Northern Santa Barbara County Athletic Round Table Female Scholar Athlete scholarship award. The organization awards its scholarships at its annual awards dinner. The NSBCART cancelled its 2020 dinner because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Round Table then announced its scholarship winners last week, handing out the awards at a short ceremony in Santa Maria.

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A future first-generation college student, Righetti High School senior Emily Lopez had zeroed in on Santa Barbara City College as her school of choice for awhile.

She will indeed go there for the 2020-21 school year, pursuing her career goal of being a teacher and looking to continue her water polo career as well.

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Xavier Cooper will follow in the footsteps of former fellow Hancock College basketball players Shane Carney and Matt Willkomm and play his next basketball at Arizona Christian University.

Former Hancock point guard Grant Johnson and shooting guard Mike Mensah are also continuing their playing careers at the four-year level, joining former teammates Mayowa Akinsanya, DJ Searcy and Kyle Harding who have all signed with four-year schools.

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Brother and sister Ethan and Maggie Usher were among the four Cal Poly rodeo team members who had qualified for the 2020 College National Finals Rodeo, Maggie in goat tying and Ethan in steer wrestling. The Machado brothers, Righetti High School graduates Chance and Cutter, had also qualified. The Machado brothers met the standard in team roping.

The 2020 CNFR was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The St. Joseph football team is slated to return to campus for conditioning and weight training on Monday, June 22, while the athletic directors from the two Lompoc Valley schools, Cabrillo's Gary West and Lompoc's Claudia Terrones, have also developed plans to have their student-athletes return to campus. 

At Lucia Mar, the team of Edwards and Field submitted a plan to the district cabinet members last week and will finalize and submit that plan to the school board on June 23. If the school board approves the plan, it will go to the SLO County Health Department for approval. If the district receives county approval, it will spend a week getting acclimated with the aim of returning student-athletes to campus by July 6. 

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The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District said the plan "adheres to guidance provided by the State of California, SB County, California Department of Education (CDE), National Federation of High Schools (NFHS), and the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF)," and that "athletic directors will begin holding coaches meetings to review new rules with an implementation start date of July 6-17."

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"Babe Ruth parents, players, coaches and managers, I'm sorry to report that the board has made the decision to officially cancel this season," the league announced on Facebook Thursday. "With the uncertainty of where we are at, we believe we have no other choice. The board will be meeting next Thursday, July 2nd at 6:00 to discuss refunds and moving forward for next year.

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