Heart in Sole Santa Rosa, CA
adidas/Heart and Sole Redwood Empire Athletes of the Week!



In an effort to recognize the hard work and achievements of many track and field athletes throughout the Redwood Empire, we have joined with adidas to launch our Redwood Empire Athlete of the Week award! Each week, one boy and one girl will be awarded a custom silkscreened tech shirt in recognition of that week's accomplishments. So, without further ado, our 2012 adidas/Heart & Sole Redwood Empire Athletes of the Week!


Athletes of the Year

LuisLuna, Piner, senior

Luis Luna - photo credit Michael Lucid

State-meet medalist? Check. NCS MOC Champ? Check. North Bay League Champion? Triple-Check. Last year's Athlete of the Year Luna did pretty much everything possible, making him the clear choice to again be named adidas/Heart & Sole Athlete of the year. Already the Empire Record-Holder at 3,200m from last year, Luna was #1 on the yearly list by over 20 seconds, thanks to his huge indoor race at the Brooks PR Meet. But he moved up on other lists too, as he is now #5 on the 1,600m list (#2 if you count his unattached race at the Festival of Miles), and even made the list at 800m, sitting at #35. He was #2 for the year in that event, and even made it for 400m, as the 11th-fastest in the Empire. But it wasn't just his fast times; Luna won big. He was a triple-winner at the North Bay League Championships, becoming only the 4th boy to win the 1,600m-800m-3,200m triple. He crushed the 3,200m fields at both the NCS Redwood Empire qualifier and the NCS Meet of Champions, running away with both titles on the last lap, to earn a trip to the State Championships. And while he wasn't able to vie for the title, he closed hard to finish in 5th place, and earn some State hardware.

KyraJohnson, Piner, senior

Kyra Johnson- photo credit Michael Lucid

Last year Johnson had to share AotY honors - this year she gets them all to herself. While she failed to make the final at the State Championships, where she earned a medal last year, everything else about the season went well for Johnson. In her main event, the 300m hurdles, Johnson won titles at the North Bay League Championships, the Redwood Empire Qualifier, and the North Coast Section Meet of Champions. And while she didn't run faster than her 43.32 from last year, (#2 ever in the Empire) she solidified herself as one of the top performers in Empire History, as she has run the 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 10th fastest performances in Empire History. Johnson also made some noise in the short hurdles, winning the NBL and Redwood Empire titles, as well as finishing 5th - one spot out of state-qualifying - at the NCS MOC. Her 15.18 in the 100m hurdles was an Empire Best by over a second for the year, and is number 5 on the Fully Automatic Timing list in Empire History


NCS Meet of Champions - Girls

MorganBertsch, Santa Rosa, sophomore

Morgan Bertsch - photo credit Press Democrat

Bertsch led off for the Empire contingent at Day One of the 2-day NCS Meet of Champions, with a win in the high jump. Bertsch, the NBL and Redwood Empire Champion, won the MOC crown by a mere inch. And it took a PR to do so. While she had already gone a yearly-leading 5'4" three times this year, including at the season-opening Big Cat Invite, By clearing 5'5" Bertsch not only took the MOC title, but now solely owns the yearly Empire Lead, and moved to a tie for 8th on the all-time Empire List. In the last ten years, only three athletes have jumped higher.

MariaBarragan, Healdsburg, junior

Maria Barragan - photo credit Michael Lucid

Barragan had some very solid performances in the 800m last year and this year, moving into the top-20 all-time for the Empire, but never fully exploded onto the big scene. That all changed at the NCS Meet of Champions, where Barragan ran a nice PR to qualify for the California State Championships. Actually, the PR didn't even come in the final. That's right, on Day One, Barragan clocked a 2:15.33 in the qualifying rounds to advance to the final. That time finally put her in the top-10 all-time, as she now sits at 9th on the All-Time Empire List. Even more impressive, that came shortly after running a 59.75 in the 400m! It was probably beneficial that she didn't qualify to the finals in that, though, as Barragan improved upon her 5th-place-seed in the final to nab the 4th-and-final State qualifying spot.


NCS Meet of Champions - Boys

NolanNagle, Cardinal Newman, junior

Nolan Nagle - photo credit Michael Lucid

Nolan Nagle was not the North Bay League Champion in the shot put. Nor did he throw the farthest from an Empire Athlete this year. He wasn't even the farthest thrower on his team! But, none of that mattered when he stepped into the ring at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions. One week after popping a big PR to win the NCS Redwood Empire Qualifier, Nagle competed with the best to earn a spot to the California State Championships in the shot put. With the top-3 battling in the mid-50 foot range, Nagle was in a fight for the final qualifying spot, with 4th through 8th all within one-and-a-half-feet. It took one of his best throws of the year, 49'3", to eek out that 4th-place finish, and earn a chance to surprise yet again at the California State Championships next week. Additionally, he also competed in the discus, finishing 8th.

AlexConner, Sonoma, senior

Alex Conner - photo credit Thomas Benjamin

While overshadowed by Luis Luna of Piner, Alex Conner was running some incredible times the past 12 months. After earning 2nd team All-NorCal honors last Cross Country season, Conner was expected to do some big things on the track this year. With multiple 9:3X performances, as well as a 4:22.27 1,600m at the SCL Finals, Conner was ready to finally pop the big one. And he couldn't have picked a better occasion. After doing the work for the first half of the 3,200m at the NCS Meet of Champions Conner got passed by the trio of favorites. But while many others would have been demoralized, Conner held tough to run a personal best 9:25.42 for 4th, earning a trip to State. Not only was that a PR, but also broke his own school record and moved him to 22nd on the All-Time list. One spot - and 5/100th of a second - ahead of him? Last year's Big West Conference Champion at 10,000m. That's some good company. But Conner still has one more chance to move even higher; a 6-second PR would move him to 10th on the all-time list


NCS Qualifying

JujuanLawson, Casa Grande, sophomore

Jujuan Lawson - photo credit Michael Lucid

At the SCL Championships, where Casa Grande won by a mere point, Lawson proved he'll be a force on the local scene for a long time, as he won both sprint titles, as well as ran legs on both winning relays. At the NCS Redwood Empire Meet, he proved that he'll be a key player at a much higher level for years to come. In the 200m, Lawson won his heat, clocking 22.57 for the 3rd fastest time of the day. That makes him 9th on the all-time FAT wind-legal list, and tied for 2nd on the yearly Empire List. While he was 2nd in his heat in the 100m, that was still the second fastest time of the day at 11.21. That moves him to a tie for 13th all-time FAT wind-legal, and tied for second on the year. O, and his relay teams took third for both the 4x100m and 4x400m. Not a bad day.

AllisonScranton, Petaluma, freshman

Allison Scranton - photo credit Michael lucid

Most athletes should expect to drop a place or two going from their league championships to the NCS Qualifier. Well, no one must have told freshman Allison Scranton. After taking second in both throw's to Windsor's Nicole Purter at the SCL Championships, Scranton only moved forward at the NCS Redwood Empire Meet. This team she finished ahead of her SCL rival in the discus, and lost only to the 2-time NBL Champion, as she threw 109'6", making her the 4th-farthest thrower of the year. That also moves her to #5 on the all-time Freshman list for the Empire. Then, in the shot put, Scranton popped a huge 37'3.75" to take the win over a ton of upperclassmen. Oh, and that also shattered the Freshman Record by nearly 2 feet, and puts Scranton 24th All-Time in Empire History. This is certainly an athlete to remember for years to come.


North Bay League Champs

DeziraeJohnson, Piner, senior

Dezirae Johnson - photo credit Press Democrat

Recently overshadowed by her sister, Dezirae Johnson proved she's still one of the top athletes in the Empire (and household!) with her dominating sprint performance at the North Bay League Championships. First off was the 100m, where she won by over a third of a second, clocking 12.61. That time is faster than any other girl in the Empire this year. In the 200m, she won by nearly a second, clocking 25.94. That, again, is faster than any other athlete has run in the Empire in 2012.

AlexNetherda, Maria Carrillo, freshman

Alex Netherda - photo credit Michael Lucid

Going into the 2012 season, the freshman record for the long hurdles was 42.35 by Ft. Bragg great Caleb Cunha. at Friday's NBL meet, Netherda didn't just break 42, he broke 41. Stopping the clock at 40.77, Netherda won the NBL title, and became the only freshman to make it onto the all-time Empire list. In addition to his historic 300m hurdle win, Netherda also placed 5th in the 110m hurdles at 16.83, still good enough for 10th on the yearly Empire List.


Sonoma County League Champs

BrycenPoarch, Casa Grande, junior

Brycen Poarch - photo credit Press Democrat

For Poarch's senior year, he'll be competing in the North Bay League. But beforehand, he made sure that Casa Grande had a great send-off party, as the Gauchos won the SCL title by just one point. And many, many of those points came from Poarch. He ran 3rd-leg on the winning 4x100m relay team, before taking two individual wins and one third-place finish. His third came in the high jump, where he cleared 6' even, where the wins were in the vertical jumps. In the long jump of 21'8.25 puts him 2nd on the yearly Empire list, while the 43'11.75" is second only to his own 44'-even earlier this year. With that, he's also #4 all-time in Empire History.

NicolePurter, Windsor, junior

Nicole Purter - photo credit Press Democrat

Purter was a double-winner at the Sonoma County League Championships, taking both shot put and discus titles. The shot was a close competition, with Purter's 35'8.5" outdistancing second by only 7.5 inches. But it was no contest in the discus throw, where she hurled it out 114'1". She was the only athlete to break 100'. While not her farthest throw of the year, that would still make her 2nd on the yearly list, if she hadn't already thrown 120". In the shot, Purter still has the longest throw of the year, and 21st farthest of all-time, at 37'7.5"


Coastal Mountain Conference Champs

MelissaFrench, Sonoma Academy, sophomore

Melissa French - photo credit Jim Crohurst

French was busy at the CMC Champs, competing in the 100m hurdles, 300m hurdles, and long jump. While third in qualifying for the 100m hurdles in only 19.32, French stormed back in the finals to clock 18.15 for 2nd place. Then, in the long hurdles, she defeated the short-hurdle champ, as she was the only athlete to break 50 seconds, stopping the clock at 49.01. Finally, French took a close win in the long jump, where her 14'10" outdistanced second place by only 4 inches.

TutuiGomez, St. Helena, senior

Tutui Gomez - photo credit Jim Crohurst

Even before the finals rolled around, Gomez had made CMC history. In his heat, and despite a wind of -2.2 mps, he clocked a Meet Record 22.57, to make the finals. In the finals, while not running quite as fast, Gomez still was a run-away winner, clocking 22.60 (wind -0.9mps) to win by over a second. Then, het set another Meet Record in the 400m, running 49.83. That's also #2 ever for a CMC athlete.


Week Nine

HughPegan, Ukiah, Sophomore

Hugh Pegan - photo credit Michael Lucid

Competing in the last league meet of the season, Pegan was a triple-winner against Montgomery and Santa Rosa. While overshadowed earlier in the year by upper-classmen trio of Forman, Kozel, and Nunez, the sophomore from Ukiah put down some very solid marks in both sprints, as well as the triple jump. On Wednesday, he took a close win in the 100m, clocking 11.57w, before clocking 23.0h in the 200m. His time in the 200m was over a second faster than all but the runner-up, and would be good enough to put him on the yearly Empire list, if he wasn't already sitting at number 4. Pegan's final, and most dominant, win came in the triple-jump, where soared to 40'1.75". That mark was nearly 5 inches ahead of the runner-up. This year, only 9 Empire athletes have jumped over 40 feet, with Pegan himself having a 41'6" best. This triple sets him up nicely for this week's NBL Championships, where he's seeded top-5 in all three events.

DarciWhyte, Santa Rosa, sophomore

Darci Whyte- photo credit Michael Lucid

Whyte is officially back after a basketball injury blew her knee out for months. While she's the top returner at 100m, 200m, and the long jump from 2011, the knee rehab has led to more speed-endurance, and, as such, she's currently tearing up the 200m and 400m. Case in point, at her last league meet of the season, Whyte first took a huge win in the 400m, clocking 58.80 to win by over two seconds. This year, that time has been bettered only by teammate Sadia Ibrahim, and Whyte's own 57.45 from the Viking Invite. Then, in the 200m, Whyte won by half a second in 26.2h, good enough for T-3rd in the Empire for 2012.


Week Eight

KathleenDurand, Maria Carrillo, junior

Kathleen Durand - photo credit Press Democrat

As last year's NBL Champion in both throws, it is no surprise that Durand is tearing up the Empire in 2012. She had a busy weekend, throwing both implements in both her Wednesday league meet and the weekend's Viking Invite. On Wednesday, she uncorked a massive 132" in the discus to climb to 5th on the all-time Empire List. Doubling back, her 34'7" in the shot put makes her 5th on the yearly list. Then, at the Viking Invite, she had another solid shot, hitting 34'2.5" for 4th. But again, it was the discus where she excelled, hitting 120" to win by over 10 feet.

NickDeSoto, Rancho Cotate, senior

Nick DeSoto- photo credit Michael Lucid

DeSoto started the week off by competing in 4 events for a league win over Montgomery, contesting the long jump, high jump, discus, and shot put. In the LJ he went 19'7.5" for 2nd, and that was his worst performance of the day. The shot put was a close win, as he threw 43'8", the high jump was a bit more clear-cut as he was the only jumper to go over 6 feet, and in the discus he blew away the competition, throwing 150'10", winning by over 30 feet. Then, at the Viking Invite, DeSoto pulled off the same quadruple, this time going 20'.5" in the long jump (9th), 44'5" in the shot put (8th), and taking second in both the discus (152'5") and high jump (6'2"). DeSoto is now 11th on the yearly long jump list, 5th on the yearly shot put list, 2nd in the discus, and #1 for the year in the high jump. Do we have the making of a future Decathlon star?


Week Seven

DanteHay, Maria Carrillo, sophomore

Dante Hay- photo credit Michael Lucid

Hay stormed onto the middle-distance scene from the get-go last year, running the fastest time ever for a frosh 2-lapper. He's proving that last year was no fluke, as at the UC Davis Woody Wilson Invite he clocked a scintillating 1:56.05 to finish in 2nd place. That mark gives him the yearly lead, makes him #27 on the all-time Empire list, as well as putting him 3rd on the all-time sophomore list. The runner he just displaced? Empire Recordholder and sub-1:50 man Dan Aldridge. And at the state level, he's the new sophomore #1. Hay also played a role on the MCHS 4x400m relay, which ran a 3:25 to move to 28 on the all-time Empire list.

DanielleSteffen, Petaluma, senior

Danielle Steffen- photo credit Michael Lucid

Steffen was a three-event winner in her SCL dual versus Sonoma, capturing the long jump (15'9,5"), triple jump (33'9"), and pole vault (11'0"). To round things out, Steffen also placed 3rd (4'4") in the high jump. Steffen is now in a tie for 2nd on the yearly Empire list in the triple jump, and sitting in 6th for the long jump. But her main event is the pole vault, in which she again jumped 11'6" at the Woody Wilson Invite. That was good enough for third at the prestigious meet, and would be good enough to place her 5th on the All-Time Empire list, if she wasn't already sitting at #3 from her 11'9" earlier this year.


Week Six

NicoleLane, El Molino, senior

Nicole Lane - photo credit Michael Lucid

This fall's XC Runner of the Year, Lane has unsurprisingly been the top distance runner in the Empire this season. While most distance runners only drop big marks at invitationals (which she has done, too), Lane dropped some very fast times in the 1,600m and 3,200m at her Wednesday SCL meet. First off, she clocked 5:15 in 1,600m, winning by over 20 seconds. While not a new Empire Best, only Lane herself has run faster this year. Then in the 3,200m, she won by over a minute, clocking 11:11 for a new Empire Lead, and to move to 28th on the All-Time Empire List.

IsaacBrown, Ukiah, senior

Isaac Brown - photo credit Michael Lucid

Brown was a double-winner in his dual versus Piner, easily capturing the shot put and discus double. His DT of 153'7" won by nearly 50 feet, and moved him to Number 1 on this year's Empire List. In the shot, he had a closer competition, but still came out on top with a put of 45'9", moving him to 4th on the yearly list. Then. breaking out of the big-weight-man-stereotype, Brown placed second in the 100m, clocking 12.4h.


Week Five

AlexiTaylor, Cardinal Newman, senior

Alexi Taylor - photo credit Press Democrat

Taylor may have been a double-winner in his Wednesday dual versus Montgomery, but it was his work on the weekend that earned him AOTW honors. Racing at the prestigious Stanford Invitational, Taylor placed third in the mile, clocking 4:19.22. Converted to the 1,600m (4:17.72), that moves Taylor to 18th on the all-time Empire List and to second in Cardinal Newman history.

SadiaIbrahim, Santa Rosa, junior

Sadia Ibrahim - photo credit Press Democrat

While many consider her an 800m runner, Ibrahim is still the reigning champ at 400m, and she won't let you forget it. At this weekend's prestigious Stanford Invitational, Ibrahim blitzed a 58.14 to place 4th in the tough field. That time would move her to 10th on the all-time Empire list, except she's already sitting 5th from last year's post-season. Considering how fast she's starting this season, don't count out a Juantorena-esque performance this post season!


Week Four

MackenzieAlbrecht, Sonoma, freshman

Mackenzie Albrecht - photo credit Michael Lucid

The first underclassmen to earn Athlete of the Week honors this year, Albrecht was a double-winner in her Wednesday dual with Cardinal Newman. She made big noise in the 400m, clocking an SCL-leading 61.4h to win by an incredible 6.6 seconds. In addition to now leading the SCL, that mark also puts her 3rd on the yearly Empire List, with those first-two having sub-60 credentials from 2011. Albrecht also won the 200m in 27.4h, beating out her teammate by a mere 1/10th of a second.

DavidForman, Rancho Cotate, junior

David Forman - photo credit Press Democrat

After losing AotW honors by a lean to Healdsburg's Andrew Kozel, Forman did one better by running an Empire-Leading 11.13 to defeat Kozel's 11.21. But it isn't just best for the year, as that bumps him up to 9th on the all-time FAT list in Empire History. Considering that it was run with no tail-wind whatsoever, Forman has to be thinking that sub-11 mark will crack soon.


Week Three

BryanNunez, Cardinal Newman, senior

Bryan Nunez - photo credit Michael Lucid

Nunez was one of three sprinters to run 10.9h in the 100m dash at the Gold Rush Relays, but he had the pleasure of doing it alone. Running in the slowest of three heats, Nunez won by a full second to tie for the Empire Lead for 2012, as well as putting him in a tie for 50th on the all-time Empire List. But that wasn't enough for Nunez, as he anchored Cardinal Newman to the win in the Sprint Medley Relay. The time there was 1:37.5, which was a new school record and 4th on the all-time Empire all-conditions list..

KyraJohnson, Piner, senior

Kyra Johnson - photo credit Michael Lucid

Already one of the top hurdlers in Empire History, Johnson continued her dominance at her home Gold Rush Relays. She she easily captured the long hurdles, clocking 45.3h to win by a ridiculous 5 seconds. That would make her a top-10 performer ever in the event, if she weren't already number 2. And already this year, she's run 44.38, good for 21 on the yearly national list. In addition to her long hurdle race, Johnson played a role on the record-setting co-ed 4x800m, which went 8:59.3.

AndrewKozel, Healdsburg, junior

Andrew Kozel - photo credit Michael Lucid

Kozel was one of three sprinters to run 10.9h in the 100m dash at the Gold Rush Relays, and in doing so he had to defeat a key rival. Crossing with the same time was Rancho Cotate's David Forman, the top Empire returner from 2011. But Kozel, despite rocking the mohawk, was able to edge the star junior. In doing so, Kozel tied for the 2012 Empire Lead, and moved into a tie for 50th on the all-time Empire all-conditions list.. Kozel also anchored the Healdsburg SMR team which took third in 1:39.5


Week Two

LuisLuna, Piner, senior

Luis Luna - photo credit Press Democrat

The 2-time All Empire Runner of the Year for Cross Country, Luna's first individual races of the outdoor season went exactly as expected: fast times and big wins. Well, maybe better than expected. The 3,200m standout started out with the 800m run, an event where he didn't even hold the Empire lead for 2011. But a smart race brought him home with the win in 1:56.46, edging out two other runners by less than 1/3 of a second. That time moves him to 33rd on the all-time Empire list. Luna then ran his main event, the 3,200m, avenging his NCS XC defeat by running 9:12.34 to rival Thomas Joyce's (Campolindo) 9:16.83. While not a PR for Luna (he's run under 9), this time puts him 2nd on the Outdoor National List for 2012!

SiobhanAnderson, Maria Carrillo, senior

Siobhan Anderson - photo credit Michael Lucid

The North Bay League's pole vault Champion, as well as a State qualifier, last year, Anderson proved she'll be going much, much higher this year at the Dan Gabor Festival this weekend. While those accolades were earned while she was a 10'8" jumper at best, Siobhan cleared 12'0", a huge PR over her earlier-this-season 11'6", to take second in the meet. But, to be fair, her 12'0" mark was 5" higher than the old meet record! On the local level, this makes her the second highest jumper in the history of the Redwood Empire, just 3" off the mark set by Michelle Stone in 2010. And while the season is early, that mark also puts her on the National List, where she's in a tie for 9th in the country!


Week One

LaurelSheppard, Maria Carrillo, junior

Laurel Sheppard - photo credit Press Democrat

Sheppard has won both the long jump and triple jump at the North Bay League Championships, but is yet to be a double-NBL-Champ. Saturday, at the Big Cat Invite, she made it clear that this could change in 2012. First, she won the long jump at 16'7", almost the exact same mark which saw her take home the NBL title as a freshman. And while she won handily, it was in the triple jump where Sheppard really dominated, leaping to a 34'0.75" win, over one-and-a-half feet past her closest competitor, and more than 6" further than her 2011 NBL winning jump. And while she's already on the all-time Empire list for the long jump, if she weren't she'd be 9th all-time from this very first meet alone.

AdamLundquist, Casa Grande, senior

Adam Lundquist- photo credit Michael Lucid

Last season, Lundquist became one of the better hurdlers in Empire History. Even after just one meet so far, he's even better. He was an easy double-winner at the Big Cat Invite, taking both hurdle races. First was the 110m hurdles, where he scorched a 14.77, just off his personal best of 14.64 from last summer's Junior Olympics. Then he came back in the 300m hurdles, clocking 39.73, winning by over two seconds! This was also his first sub-40 clocking, and moved him to 17th on the all-time Empire list. Additionally, this makes him the first Northern Californian to break the 40-second barrier this year, and puts him on the top-50 list for every HSer in the USA!

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Athletes of the Week are picked solely by the Heart and Sole Staff, but we greatly value input from local COACHES. If any coach from the Empire has an athlete they wish to nominate, please contact us.