Seoul American’s David Smalls entered the football season on a mission, and he accomplished it, leading the Falcons to the Class AA title.
Kristia Suriben simply continued the mission she began on E.J. King’s tennis courts in 2005 as a sophomore, beating all comers en route to her second straight Far East tournament singles and doubles championships.
Their awards haul now includes being named Stars and Stripes high school Athletes of the Quarter.
“David regularly demonstrated outstanding leadership traits, but more importantly, he could always be counted on to serve as a positive example for the rest of the team,” Seoul American coach Julian Harden said.
The senior running back led the Falcons to a 7-1 mark, including a 12-6 overtime victory in the Class AA title game over Kadena of Okinawa. He led the Pacific with 20 touchdowns and rushed 168 times for 1,465 yards, the region’s second best.
Suriben, a junior, improved on her 2005 Far East championship performance, going 12-0 in singles and teaming with her sister, freshman Rizalina, to go 6-0 in doubles during the DODDS-Japan season.
In the Far East tournament, Suriben blanked Elissa Mason of Kadena 6-0, then the Suriben sisters beat Elizabeth Ko and Esther Kim of Seoul American 8-2 for the doubles title.
“Kristia dominated” the tournament, said her former coach Rick Kendall, now with Kubasaki on Okinawa. “Same as last year. Her game is complete. No flaws. She adjusts her game to whomever her opponent is, finds their weakness and then uses her confidence in her athletics” to win.
The other Stars and Stripes’ fall sports awards:
Outstanding team: American School In Japan’s girls volleyball squad squashed any and all opponents this season, going 24-0, dropping just three sets, two of them at the Far East Class AA tournament, which they won for the first time since 1991.
Outstanding program: In addition to Class AA football, Seoul American repeated as Far East tournament team tennis champion and its girls volleyball program, thought to be rebuilding, placed two spots higher in the Class AA tournament, fifth, than it did in 2005.
Most improved programs: Guam High’s girls cross-country program, led by juniors Cecilia Bickley, Johanna Jorgensen and Sarah Jagodzinski, finished a school-best second place in the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam season, and also took second in the girls team standings in the Far East championships.
Best football performance: Larynzo Abernathy’s astounding three-game season-closing run: 943 yards, 8 TDs, 95 carries. He set the Japan Football League single-game record of 362 yards on 28 attempts on Oct. 20 in Kinnick’s 34-6 victory at Zama American.
Volleyball players of the quarter: Senior Catherine Thornton (263-for-289 serving with 105 aces, 195 spike kills in 450 attempts) paced American School In Japan to that elusive Class AA title. Junior Ashley Muller (398 kills in 1,007 attempts) powered Morrison Christian Academy of Taiwan to its second Class A tournament crown. And senior Kat Barennes (197 kills in 566 attempts, 66 aces, 300 defensive digs) and sophomore Ariel Rhoda (243 kills, 604 attempts, 78 aces, 319 digs) lifted Seoul Foreign (22-1) to another Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference and Asia-Pacific Activities Conference championship.
Cross-country runners of the quarter: Sophomore Nadine Mulvany brought another school first to Kinnick, winning the Far East girls title. Sophomore Matt Coon ended Kubasaki’s 18-year drought, winning the boys race, joining Andy Blenkle (1988) as the school’s only two such champions. Sophomore Brant Casteel of Kadena (16 minutes, 29 seconds) and Kubasaki freshman Julie Monti (19:38) clocked the Pacific’s best 3.1-mile times this season on Oct. 26 in the Okinawa Activities Council championship meet.
Best DOD athletes at non-DODDS schools: Junior Anna Novick of St. Maur International in Japan, daughter of Peter Novick, with emergency management at Yokosuka Naval Base, repeatedly threatened the 13-year-old 2.1-mile record of 13 minutes, 3 seconds at the Tama Hills Recreation Center course in western Tokyo, her fastest time a 13:06. Senior Changmi Silvia, daughter of Camp Casey social worker Daniel J. Silvia, shattered any and all International Christian-Uijongbu of Korea school records for serving by going 295-for-319 with 131 aces.