Junior David Heitstuman of E.J. King School at Sasebo Naval Base, Japan, has been named Stars and Stripes' 2006-07 Pacific high school male Athlete of the Year.

Junior David Heitstuman of E.J. King School at Sasebo Naval Base, Japan, has been named Stars and Stripes' 2006-07 Pacific high school male Athlete of the Year. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

Junior David Heitstuman of E.J. King School at Sasebo Naval Base, Japan, has been named Stars and Stripes' 2006-07 Pacific high school male Athlete of the Year.

Junior David Heitstuman of E.J. King School at Sasebo Naval Base, Japan, has been named Stars and Stripes' 2006-07 Pacific high school male Athlete of the Year. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

Kadena senior Zori Drew served as captain of the volleyball team, led the Panthers to the Class AA girls basketball championship and helped the softball team wrap up its fifth straight district title. She is headed to Brigham Young-Hawaii on a basketball scholarship.

Kadena senior Zori Drew served as captain of the volleyball team, led the Panthers to the Class AA girls basketball championship and helped the softball team wrap up its fifth straight district title. She is headed to Brigham Young-Hawaii on a basketball scholarship. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

Athlete of the Year honors are becoming old hat for Kadena students.

Senior Zori Drew became the latest Panther to join that pantheon, but E.J. King junior David Heitstuman has ventured where no Cobra has gone before.

Heitstuman, a cross-country runner, wrestler and soccer defenseman, has been chosen as the first Stars and Stripes Athlete of the Year in the Sasebo high school’s history. He also becomes only the fourth boys athlete from a Class A school to be honored.

Drew, a spiker, guard and shortstop, becomes the fourth Panther to earn the honor in five years.

After captaining the volleyball team, she averaged 15 points, five assists and six steals per game in powering Kadena to a 27-4 basketball record and the fifth Class AA title in school history. The Panthers beat American School In Japan 85-39 in the title game — the largest margin in Class AA Tournament final history.

She batted .290 with four home runs and 19 RBIs and made only two errors all season as Kadena won its fifth straight Okinawa Activities Council district softball title, sweeping Kubasaki 2-0 in the best-of-three championship series May 18-19.

“She could be going to college on a softball scholarship as easily as a basketball one, she is that good,” said softball and basketball coach Ken Hudson. Drew, who has a a 3.6 grade-point average, earned a full ride to Brigham Young-Hawaii for basketball.

“She has come into her own” as a senior captain of Hudson’s teams, he said. “Through these responsibilities, she has learned leadership, not just by example but in deed. Zori Drew reflects all that embraces the term ‘student-athlete.’”

Heitstuman earned All-Far East honors by finishing sixth in the DODDS-Pacific Far East cross-country meet in October on Okinawa. He then went 23-0, winning the gold in the 135-pound class in the Far East Wrestling Tournament in February, and anchored a defense that paced the Cobras to their first Class A soccer title last month.

“We would not have [won Class A] without his defense and hustle,” said Heitstuman’s soccer coach, Michael Erickson. “He’s a tremendous student and athlete.”

With defense sometimes taking a background role on a soccer team, the likes of Heitstuman are “often overlooked,” said E.J. King physical education instructor Bridget Vertin. “David is an excellent student, athlete and young man. He is a leader in the school and he has a bright future ahead of him.”

Heitstuman will return for his senior year; his father, Tom, runs E.J. King’s Junior ROTC battalion.

Coach of the year: Seoul American’s Julian Harden. He coached the Falcons to the Class AA football title, took wrestlers to Far East dual-meet and freestyle team titles and led the softball team to a DODDS-Korea title.

Team of the year: American School In Japan girls volleyball ran over any and all foes, going 24-0, dropping just three sets, two of them on their way to the Mustangs’ first Class AA tournament title since 1991.

Program of the year: Four more DODDS-Pacific Far East tournament banners now hang inside Falcon Gym at Seoul American High School. The Falcons won the Class AA football crown, repeated as Far East tennis team champions and won the Far East wrestling tournament freestyle and dual-meet team crowns.

Honorable mention: Kadena of Okinawa took its third Far East Cross Country Meet team banner in four years, won the Girls Class AA basketball title for the fifth time and finished no lower than third in every other Far East tournament except girls volleyball.

Most improved team: Matthew C. Perry girls soccer. The Samurai went 1-36-1 the previous three seasons. But thanks to a crop of freshmen — striker Taylor Dunphy, midfielders Heather Hyson and Karla Stroud, and goalkeeper Kate “Berlin Wall” Cutshall — the Samurai went 8-11-1 and reached the Class A championship game.

Honorable mention: Edgren football (4-4, victories in three of its last four games and first Class A title); E.J. King boys soccer (0-13-1 in 2006 to 9-9-3 and first Class A title); Zama boys basketball (see Most Improved Program); and Taegu American girls soccer (7-9-4 in 2006 to 12-7-1 and first Class A title).

Most improved program: Zama American, whose boys basketball team enjoyed its finest regular season, winning its first Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools title in 13 years and the DODDS-Japan crown. The soccer teams went from a combined 14-23-6 in 2006 to 26-20-4 this season. The Trojans softball team went 20-2 to capture the DODDS-Japan title.

Game of the year: Zama’s boys basketball team appeared destined to end its 44-year Class AA title drought, winning its first 34 games. Then the Kubasaki Dragons stunned the Trojans 76-75 in overtime in the semifinal on Feb. 23 at Seoul American.

Honorable mention: Taegu American’s 2-1 overtime victory over Perry in the Girls Class A Soccer Tournament title match.

Play of the year: Sophomore Joe McLean caught the winning TD pass in OT, then ensured victory by forcing and recovering a fumble, catapulting Seoul American past Kadena 12-6 in the Class AA football title clash on Nov. 11.

Honorable mention: Striker Kat Nufable’s half-field run to score that overtime goal for Taegu against the Samurai.

Comeback athlete of the year: American School In Japan senior Catherine Thornton garnered MVP honors in the Class AA volleyball tournament, All-Tournament props in Class AA basketball and helped the Mustangs capture the Kanto Plain girls track and field team title. All that after knee surgery in February 2006.

Best newcomers: They had played club ball together in Virginia before arriving at Zama American, and freshmen Whitney McWherter (12 goals, 7 assists), Anna Park (15, 5) and Aubrey Ashliman (50, 9), made Trojans soccer a future Class AA force to be reckoned with.

Best family act: Junior Kristia and freshman Riza Suriben anchored an E.J. King girls basketball team that won its first DODDS-Japan title, while Kristia repeated her girls singles title and teamed with Riza to earn the girls doubles crown in Far East tennis.

Honorable mention: Freshman Stanley and junior Helen Schrock of Kadena, the first brother-sister duo to capture the Golden Boot (Stanley) and Best Goalkeeper (Helen) awards in the same Class AA Soccer Tournament week.

Biggest history makers: Osan American senior Carlos Albaladejo won the 158-pound gold in Far East wrestling — the first Cougar to win gold in the school’s 13-year history and the first Class A wrestler to do so. Kadena striker Jen Abel broke season and career goals records (83 and 192), standards that will be tough to top.

Athlete of the Year judging criteria Criteria used in selecting Stars and Stripes’ Athletes of the Quarter and Year include, but are not limited to:

Athletic achievement, individual and teamCommitmentLeadershipAcademic achievementSportsmanshipCommunity citizenship2006-07 Athletes of the Year David HeitstumanJunior, E.J. King High School, Sasebo Naval Base, Japan.

Sixth place, Far East High School Cross Country Meet, running 3.1-mile individual race in 17 minutes, 33 seconds, 30 seconds behind winner Matt Coon of Kubasaki.Wrestling team captain for two seasons. 135-pound individual weight-class gold medalist in Far East High School Wrestling Tournament, capping 23-0 season.Sweeper and stopper for Cobras boys soccer team that won school-first Far East Class A Tournament title, improving from 0-13-1 in 2006 to 9-9-3 in 2007. Selected All-Tournament and named team’s Defensive Impact Player Award winner.4.06 cumulative grade-point average student taking three Advanced Placement courses. DODDS-Pacific Model United Nations delegate. Recently promoted to Junior ROTC commanding cadet officer. Inducted in National Honor Society. Is a National Merit Scholar.Involved in Boy Scouts at Sasebo Naval Base, holding rank of Life Scout and serving as a junior scout leader. Volunteers as a base swimming-pool lifeguard.Zori Drew

Senior, Kadena High School, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa.

Team captain, Panthers girls volleyball team.Team captain, Panthers girls basketball team, averaged 15 points, 5 assists and 6 steals per game, paced Kadena to 27-4 overall record, four-game sweep of Okinawa Activities Council season series with Kubasaki, fifth Class AA Tournament title in school history, 85-39 win over American School In Japan, biggest margin in Class AA championship game history.Team captain, Panthers girls softball team, batted .270 and recorded a .980 fielding percentage at third base and shortstop, led Kadena to fifth straight Okinawa Activities Council championship over Kubasaki, 2-0 sweep on May 18-19.3.6 grade-point average student. Recent inductee into National Honor Society.Involved in community service at Camp Shields, working with the Drug Education for Youth program. Volunteers as a coach with 18th Services youth activities at Kadena Air Base.Athlete of the Year nominees

x-Catherine Thornton, senior, volleyball, basketball, track and field, American School In Japanx-Leo Kobayashi, sophomore, soccer, Christian Academy In Japanx-Demond Dean, senior, soccer, E.J. King, Japanx-Kristia Suriben, junior, tennis, basketball, softball, E.J. King, Japanx-Kirk Long, senior, basketball, Faith Academy, Philippinesx-Dylan Pablo, senior, wrestling, Guam Highx-Leyna Arbour, junior, volleyball, basketball, Sacred Heart, Japanx-Zori Drew, senior, volleyball, basketball, softball, Kadena, Okinawax-Quinton Mason, junior, football, basketball, Kubasaki, Okinawax-Matt Coon, sophomore, cross country, track and field, Kubasaki, Okinawax-Garren Dial, sophomore, tennis, Nile C. Kinnick, Japanx-Nadine Mulvany, sophomore, cross country, soccer, Kinnick, Japanx-Carlos Albaladejo, senior, football, wrestling, soccer, Osan American, South Koreax-David Smalls, senior, football, basketball, track and field, Seoul Americanx-Katrina Nufable, senior, soccer, Taegu American, South Koreax-Breyana Anderson, senior, soccer, Yokota, JapanDavid Heitstuman, junior, cross country, wrestling, soccer, E.J. King, JapanKeith Williams, junior, baseball, basketball, E.J. King, JapanGabriel Singletary, senior, baseball, basketball, E.J. King, JapanDevin Weaver, senior, basketball, track and field, Guam HighJennifer Abel, senior, cross country, basketball, soccer, Kadena, OkinawaAlex Mierzejewski, senior, football, basketball, soccer, Kadena, OkinawaManuel Duran, senior, football, track and field, Kadena, OkinawaBudislav Soskic, junior, volleyball, basketball, soccer, Korea Kent ForeignAkira Takahashi, junior, volleyball, basketball, soccer, Korea Kent ForeignJulio Rodriguez, junior, basketball, soccer, Matthew C. Perry, JapanAshley Taylor, senior, volleyball, basketball, M.C. Perry, JapanCharlemagne Cameron, senior, tennis, basketball, soccer, Kinnick, JapanChris Tobiere, senior, cross country, soccer, Robert D. Edgren, JapanSong Ho Downes, senior, tennis, swimming, Seoul AmericanSarah Yance, senior, cross country, swimming, Seoul AmericanJustin Stokes, sophomore, football, wrestling, Seoul AmericanRemco Rademaker, junior, tennis, soccer, Seoul ForeignSarah Eades, sophomore, cross country, basketball, soccer, Taegu American, South KoreaAllora Bellanger, senior, volleyball, basketball, softball, Yokota, JapanKyle Shimabukuro, senior, football, wrestling, baseball, Yokota, JapanJoseph Choi, senior, volleyball, basketball, Yongsan International-SeoulCristina Eustaquio, senior, tennis, basketball, softball, Zama, JapanLaura Morales, senior, volleyball, basketball, softball, Zama, JapanAndrew Quallio, sophomore, track and field, Zama, Japanx-Automatically nominated as MVP or individual champion of a DODDS-Pacific Far East tournament or Asia-Pacific invitational, or as Athlete of the Quarter during school year.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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