3 Cougars Earn News Group Top Athlete Award

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JIM STEVENS/STAFF

Jessi Gunn, Staff Writer

Three star varsity athletes, Annie Shurtz, Annika Jensen and Aidan Goltra were named “Athlete of the Year,” for their respective fall sports by the Bay Area News Group.

“It was pretty awesome that I was recognized for all my hard work, but also my team, because it is a team sport,” said volleyball outside hitter Annie Shurtz.  According to Shurtz, the squad’s main goal for the season was to perform and achieve as a team. Bay Area News Group also put together 1st, 2nd, and 3rd team selections, made up of the best players in the East Bay. They honored two of Shurtz’ team mates, senior Sophie Seiberth (1st team), and senior Cassidy Abel (3rd team).

Campolindo’s girls’ volleyball coach, John Vuong, was named “Coach of the Year.”

Regarding Annie Shurtz’ accolade, Vuong said, “She was recognized as ‘Player of the Year’ not only by the numbers she produced on the court, but also by her leadership to our younger athletes.”

Shurtz explained, “Everything just came together and it was just the icing on the cake that everybody was getting recognition.”

The next step in Shurtz’ journey is choosing a college program where she can continue her athletic development. “I’ve been talking to some schools and have been going on some visits,” she said.

According to Shurtz, the award put her above her competition in terms of being scouted by schools.

Center defender for the girls’ water polo team, Annika Jensen, was named East Bay Girls’ Water Polo “Player of the Year” by the Bay Area News Group.  She said she was surprised when she “got a call” from the reporter about the honor.

“I think I got this award because I have been playing water polo since 4th grade and it’s one of the biggest things in my life,” Jensen explained.  “I think the season went perfectly. We only lost one game and we ended up winning NCS.”

Some of her teammates were also recognized for their achievements. Junior Natalie Seidemann was selected to the 1st team, senior Sam Flower made the 2nd team, and their coach, Kim Everest, won East Bay Girls’ Water Polo “Coach of the Year.”

Yet another star athlete, state champion runner Aiden Goltra won the Bay Area News Group’s Boys’ Cross Country “Runner of the Year.”

“I’m surprised that I got it, frankly, because there was a case for 2 other guys because they accomplished a lot also,” admitted Goltra. “I’m very happy with how my season went, and I think other people saw my success,” he explained.

According to Goltra, his performance at the state meet was the biggest factor. It was a “really big performance.”

“It was a season I’ve been looking for for a while,” and it “couldn’t have gone better,” the junior said.

Goltra’s coach, Chuch Woolridge said, “I was happy to see Aidan be recognized given the amount of work he put into his season and the positive impact he has had on his teammates.”