Pacific athletes of the quarter: Alexander, Baldevia get fall athletic honors
Every now and then, athletes come along who help lead their teams into uncharted territory.
Seniors Johnell Alexander and Celine Baldevia were that type this fall, helping Robert D. Edgren football and Osan American volleyball — indeed, DODDS-Pacific volleyball in general — go where no Eagles gridders had gone in a long time and no Cougars spikers had ever gone.
For their exploits, they share Stars and Stripes Pacific high school Athlete of the Quarter honors for the fall season.
Alexander’s Eagles not only captured their third straight Far East Class A title — they finished 7-2, their finest in 10 years, and beat 10-time DODDS-Japan champion Yokota for the first time since 1999.
Along the way, Alexander amassed a school-record 1,903 yards on 197 touches and 20 touchdowns, plus 57 tackles and 5 interceptions.
"Johnell was the complete player [on] offense, defense and special teams," coach Chris Waite said of the Eagles’ team MVP.
"Every coach would live for a long time if more kids were like him. He never wanted to leave the field. … He’s quiet. He leads by example. He’s one of those all-around good kids, who (other) kids can see and say, ‘Hey, that’s how I want to do things.’ He does it right."
Baldevia’s Cougars did what no other DODDS-Pacific volleyball team, large or small school, has ever done — repeat a Far East tournament title.
The Cougars went 11-3 during the regular season, then won 14 of 17 postseason matches, including a 10-1 ledger and a four-set championship-match victory over Morrison Christian Academy in the Class A tournament at Daegu, South Korea.
Baldevia — all of 5-foot-3 — had 180 spike kills in 539 attempts, served 65 aces, had 195 set assists (102 in the Class A tourney) and 180 defensive digs, and even had 21 blocks in the Far East tournament despite her height. She earned Class A tournament Best Setter honors for the second straight year.
"Celine is an all-around amazing young lady. Her athletic abilities constantly amaze me. She has an unbelievable gift for sports," said her coach, Cari Pease. "I know she has the ability to play at the next level if she is given the opportunity. Her shoes will be very difficult to fill."
The rest of the 2008 fall season awards:
• Coach of the Quarter — Taking on what he termed the "mother of all rebuilding jobs," Seoul American volleyball coach Denny Hilgar cobbled a team around newcomer Destinee Harrison and somehow managed a seventh-place Far East Class AA finish on Guam.
• Team of the Quarter — Going 25-0 without dropping a set, Seoul Foreign’s girls volleyball team completed the finest season in school history with Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference regular-season and tournament and Asia-Pacific Activities Conference tournament titles.
• Most Improved Team — In just two years, Nile C. Kinnick girls volleyball, eighth in the Far East Class AA tournament, has gone from five regular-season victories to 22, and managed an eight-match improvement over the 2007 season.
• Program of the Quarter — American School In Japan won its second Far East Class AA volleyball tournament title in three years, swept the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools regular-season and postseason and Asia-Pacific Invitational tennis and cross country meet titles, and went 4-2 in football, best finish since 2005.
• Most Improved Program — Besides volleyball, Seoul American won the Class AA football title after losing last year’s semifinal. Cross country rose from the ashes of a controversial 2007 season to win the Far East Class AA title; a tennis team thought to be rebuilding shared the Far East team title with Kadena.
• Football players of the quarter — Besides Alexander, Seoul American senior Trinadai Stansel (691 yards, 3 touchdowns, 77 carries last five games) helped propel the Falcons. Yokota won its 10th straight DODDS-Japan and Kanto titles behind sophomore Derick "Rookie" Seward (1,302 yards, 12 TDs, 131 carries; 1,671 all-purpose yards).
• Volleyball players of the quarter — Senior Gwen Thornton (183 kills, 600 attempts) joined her ASIJ alumnus sister Catherine as Class AA tournament MVP. KAIAC and APAC tournament MVP senior Brittney Rader had a Seoul Foreign school-record 334 kills in 648 attempts plus 71 aces, 111 digs and 44 block points.
• Cross country runners of the quarter —Zama American senior Andrew Quallio became the first DODDS-Pacific boys runner to win two straight Far East meet individual races, and shattered the 22-year-old Kanto 2.9-mile Tama Hills Recreation Center record. Kinnick senior Nadine Mulvany became the first runner to win Far East meet races in non-consecutive years.
• Tennis players of the quarter — ASIJ senior Kanoka Hayashi made it four straight undefeated Kanto Plain girls tennis seasons without dropping a set, and won the doubles title in the Asia-Pacific Invitational tournament at Chiba, Japan. Kadena juniors Kyle Sprow and Elissa Mason became the first DODDS players from one school to win the Far East tournament singles titles.
• Game/play of the quarter — They saved the best for last, and Seoul American’s 22-21 Far East Class AA football title game victory over Kadena came down — as it should — to the very last play, when Stansel stuffed Panthers fullback Jordan Ray on a two-point conversion attempt. It should be noted that an illegal motion penalty was called on the play and refused by Seoul, but it was a clutch play by Stansel nonetheless.
2008 fall Athletes of the Quarter nomineesx-Andrew Quallio, senior, cross country, Zama American, Japanx-Nadine Mulvany, senior, cross country, Nile C. Kinnick, Japanx-Kelly Langley, sophomore, cross country, St. Mary’s International, Japanx-Jennifer Stolle, senior, cross country, American School In Japanx-Kyle Sprow, junior, tennis, Kadena, Okinawax-Elissa Mason, junior, tennis, Kadena, Okinawax-Rina Fujiwara, senior, tennis, Senri International, Japanx-Gwen Thornton, senior, girls volleyball, American School In Japanx-Celine Baldevia, senior, girls volleyball, Osan American, South Koreax-Brittney Rader, senior, girls volleyball, Seoul Foreignx-Max Negami, sophomore, tennis, American School In JapanKanoka Hayashi, senior, tennis, American School In JapanAnna Lorentz, senior, girls volleyball, American School In JapanRebekah Wyche, senior, girls volleyball, Daegu American, South KoreaJessica Bergman, junior, girls volleyball, Robert D. Edgren, JapanCaleb DeVries, senior, cross country, International Christian-UijongbuJordan Ray, senior, football, Kadena, OkinawaVince Coronado, senior, football, Kadena, OkinawaBrandon Harris, senior, football, Kadena, OkinawaAlex McClintock, junior, baseball, E.J. King, JapanTyree Hunt, senior, football, Nile C. Kinnick, JapanJon Bollinger, senior, football, Nile C. Kinnick, JapanMary Niemeyer, junior, girls volleyball, Nile C. Kinnick, JapanAndre Bugawan, senior, tennis, Matthew C. Perry, JapanSean Kincaid, senior, cross country, Seoul AmericanPam Code, sophomore, cross country, Seoul AmericanTrinadai Stansel, senior, football, Seoul AmericanClayton Baker, junior, boys volleyball, Seoul ForeignAlex Kim, senior, tennis, Seoul InternationalDerick Seward, sophomore, football, Yokota, Japan
x-automatically nominated for earning individual championship or MVP honors in a DODDS-Pacific Far East, Asia-Pacific Invitational or Asia-Pacific Activities Conference tournament.