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A final farewell to 2012
January 01, 2013, 05:00 AM Julio Lara, Daily Journal Staff
For those of us who cover high school sports, legitimate cloning technology cannot come soon enough. Seriously.

Jotting down notes for a Year in Review kind of story is already a daunting task considering the amount of games, athletes and stories we get to cover daily. But even after building a solid bit of memory-jogging momentum you eventually get hit with the cold fact that some of the best moments of 2012 go missed because there is only one of me.

Still, we forge ahead and go through the games, athletes and stories that made the last 365 days of coverage special.

TEAM OF THE YEAR: The list of candidates here is legitimate — from the Sacred Heart Prep volleyball team that took home a double, the Aragon boys’ cross country team that made the state meet for the first time in 50-plus years or the inspiring run of the Menlo-Atherton boys’ water polo team (the mustaches play, boys. They play).

But my Team of 2012 is the Aragon girls’ soccer team, who took home a piece of the CCS Division II title by shocking the Goliath that is Archbishop Mitty. From Rachel Killigrew’s dagger of a free kick, to Ashley Lentz’s superhero-esque saves and Angela Knowles’ kiss of a volley (in Spanish, we call it a "sombrerito”) — It was a wild and fitting finish for a team full of passionate personalities and without a doubt, they were the team that was the most fun to cover in 2012.

AWESOME INTERVIEW OF THE YEAR: My voice recorder gets cleared every 200 or so sound bites. And in 2012, I cleared that thing out three times, meaning over 600 conversations with athletes and coaches.

But the one that sticks out was my postgame chat with Carlmont girls’ soccer coach Tina Doss who, after defeating Burlingame 2-0 to clinch the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division title, did her best to fight back tears of joy. And after a couple silent seconds, Doss explained why the tears were inevitable: "I’m just really proud of them. They’ve really worked really hard for it. I’ve taken them out of their comfort levels, I’ve pushed them as far as they can go. There are definitely times in the season when they hated me because I was pushing and I was pushing because I knew that we were talented enough and we can do it. And the attitude the whole season was, ‘One game at a time.’ And it worked.”

STUDENT SECTION OF THE YEAR: This was a three-horse race all year along. The defending champion Serra Padres are always early front-runners and get the year started off right thanks in large part to the Jungle Game which remains the single-best game-day atmosphere on the Peninsula.

Menlo School came on strong near basketball season’s end and, when it comes to football homecoming games, there isn’t a better experience than the Knights’.

But as far as consistency throughout the entire school season, the 2012 nod goes to Gator Nation and Sacred Heart Prep. And it isn’t just the students — parents, administrators, little brothers and sisters — SHP’s group of support at game time is second to none.

INDIVIDUAL GAME PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR: I tend to judge this honor a little differently. More than numbers, there has to be something inspiring about a particular athlete during a specific sporting contest. Off the top of my head, I can go with Jennifer Kirst of Menlo-Atherton and her hat trick against Capuchino; Ronald Chen’s final day in the San Mateo pool against Hillsdale; Terilyn Moe’s swagger on the basketball court in the PAL tournament’s final game against San Mateo High School.

But Serra’s Eric Redwood had a game for ages against Bellarmine College Prep on Oct. 13. The man ran for 180 yards on 22 carries and scored four touchdowns against arguably the second-best team in Northern California. Aside from the statistics, Redwood ran with such conviction and heart that it was hard not to root for No. 2 on that particular day. But the cherry on top was the dignity and class he carried himself with after being stopped in overtime on a 2-point conversation that would have gave the Padres the win. The man was all apologies despite leaving his heart on the field. It truly was inspiring to watch.

MOMENT/PLAY OF THE YEAR: There is no way to pick just one, but we’re going to try. You can go with Aldo Severson from Nat Blood against Terra Nova in the closing seconds in an Aragon make-or break upset; Knowles’ almost-game-winning Goal of the Year against Mitty in the CCS title game; Henry Caruso’s alley-oop dunk against the Monarchs that almost tore the roof off the Serra gymnasium; Ben Burr-Kirven’s complete annihilation of a Soquel High School player on a kickoff return; Chia Santiago’s opposite field beauty of an RBI double in a CCS semifinal game against Soquel; Payton Smith and her kill down the line to give SHP the CIF NorCal championship.

But the moment that still has me thinking it didn’t quite happen was Freddy Avis’ absolute bomb of a home run in Menlo’s loss to Pacific Grove in the CCS Division IV baseball championship. In that game, Avis hit a fourth inning pitch over the right centerfield wall at PAL Stadium in San Jose. Knights’ head coach Craig Schoof agreed with me after the game: It was the farthest ball we’ve ever seen hit in a high school baseball contest. And Schoof has been around the sport a lot longer than I have.

FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: It’s too hard too choose just one: Terilyn Moe of Terra Nova is a local legend; the fielding and hitting of Capuchino’s Jennifer Lewis that almost carried the Mustangs to another CCS title; Killigrew whose soccer team embodied her mental toughness and swag; Sonia Abuel-Saud, aka the heart and soul of a CCS and NorCal championship volleyball team.

But the Daily Journal gave its highest athletic honor to Burlingame’s Charlotte Pratt for a reason. Pratt is an athlete with a magic scoring touch and there wasn’t a single occasion during the water polo or lacrosse seasons when the sports desk didn’t come back to the DJ offices after watching her play and weren’t in awe.

MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: There were a lot of great ones: Justin Ewing of Capuchino; Avis of Menlo; Nick Manesis and his consistency for Terra Nova; Justin Chang and his leadership for Menlo tennis; and will we ever see a better golfer in these parts than the Knights’ Andrew Buchanan.

But I’m going Redwood for my 2012 choice. No one ran harder, with more heart and against tougher competition than No. 2.

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