Senior wrestlers Carlos Albaladejo of Osan American and Dylan Pablo of Guam High each garnered a school-first Far East tournament championship. Senior Zori Drew, a point guard, helped direct Kadena to a 26-4 season record and the most one-sided margin of victory in a Class AA tournament title game.

History-making — that’s the common thread shared by Stars and Stripes’ Pacific Athletes of the Quarter for the 2006-07 winter high school sports season.

Wrestling since his freshman year, beginning at a scant 80 pounds, Pablo slowly rose up and became a force, both in Far East tournaments and in the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam.

He lost just one of 52 bouts the past two seasons, taking third place at 101 pounds at Far East in 2006 and winning the title last month at Yokosuka Naval Base, and has gone unbeaten the past two years in Guam competition.

“Because of his dedication, determination and discipline, he was finally able to achieve what he wanted in wrestling — to be a champion,” coach Ed Paz said.

Albaladejo’s season record wasn’t as glowing as Pablo’s. He missed the first two weeks of the DODDS-Korea season after suffering a neck stinger in the Class A football championship game, a 23-0 loss Nov. 4 at Robert D. Edgren.

The second-year wrestler began his season on Dec. 16 and won his first three bouts, but lost three of four late-season bouts and almost quit the team at midseason, said Cougars assistant coach Jon Powell, who proceeded to talk Albaladejo into remaining on the mat.

Staying with the sport paid great dividends for Albaladejo. He scored four decisions and one pin during the individual freestyle portion of the Far East tournament, winning the gold medal.

He also became the first wrestler from a Class A school to be voted by the coaches as the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler.

“He’s an excellent athlete, shows outstanding citizenship in the community and school and is always willing to help others achieve their goals,” coach Charles Tadlock said of Albaladejo, also Osan’s football and soccer team captain and a first-grade tutor at Osan Elementary School.

Yokota coach Brian Kitts called Albaladejo “a first-class kid, an outstanding wrestler in a very tough weight class.”

“Carlos has shown that even though we face adversity in life, that we don’t quit and we continue to strive for excellence,” said Albaladejo’s soccer and football coach, Tony Alvarado.

Drew’s achievements didn’t show up much on the statistics sheets, at least not in the scoring column. But she did average six assists and five steals, sacrificing scoring “to involve her teammates in the offense which overall made us a better team,” coach Ken Hudson said.

“It all ran through her,” Hudson said of Drew, who scored 11 points but whose playmaking helped free up Brooke Hudson and Aja Walker for big scoring games as Kadena romped 85-32 over American School In Japan in the Class AA title game.

“She is an outstanding student, person and is highly motivated. Zori is very quiet and simply lets her play speak for her. She has moves you don’t normally see at this level,” Hudson said.

Drew has accepted an offer to play Division II ball at Brigham Young-Hawaii next year, “and no player is more deserving,” Hudson said.

Coach of the quarter: Jon Fick, 29, in his first season at Kubasaki’s helm, became one of the youngest coaches in Far East Boys Class AA Basketball Tournament history to win a title. Thought to be rebuilding, the Dragons finished 17-13, upsetting pre-tournament favorite Zama American 76-75 in overtime in the semifinals and host Seoul American 75-71 in the championship game.

Team of the quarter: Guam High wrestling had a school-best 11 wrestlers place at Far East, finished fourth in the individual freestyle team standings and sixth in the dual meet tournament, also school bests.

Basketball game of the quarter: Thomas Brooks hit the game-tying and game-winning shots as Taegu American’s boys won the Pacific’s longest game in seven years, edging Yongsan International-Seoul 79-77 in triple overtime in the Class A tournament. The Warriors had lost to the Guardians three times.

Wrestling bouts of the quarter: Justin Stokes proved golden at 180 pounds for Seoul American. He pinned Kubasaki’s Ricky Jones in 3 minutes, 10 seconds, to clinch the individual freestyle team title, then in the dual-meet tournament sealed the Falcons’ title sweep by pinning Karsten Hendrickson of Kadena in 1:00.

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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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