Nisqually Valley News Recognizes Athletes of the Year

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The Nisqually Valley News has recognized the athletes of the year for the 2021-22 school year. 

Coaching Staff of the Year:

Yelm Football

Jason Ronquillo’s Tornados had their best season in 83 years. Yep, you read that right. Yelm finished the year undefeated (6-0) for the first time since 1938 (8-0-2) with a 28-7 win over North Thurston.

Yelm Girls Basketball

Russ Riches went out the best way possible, leading the Tornados to an undefeated (14-0) season before retiring after 25 years at the helm.

Yelm Fastpitch

Lindsey Walton’s Tornados inflicted maximum damage on opponents all year, reeling off a 14-game win streak to finish the season undefeated. Their run differential was 187 to 41.

Boys Athletes of the Year:

Jeremiah Nubbe, Rainier

Nubbe set the state junior discus record with a toss of 196 feet at a meet in Tenino on April 19. A lock to win the state title had the meet happened this year, Nubbe also briefly held the longest discus throw in the nation.

Bryce Cerkowniak, Yelm

The Gonzaga-bound, long-distance runner won the mile by six seconds and the two mile by 38 seconds at the 3A SSC track and field championships. At XC districts, he was second with a time of 16:26.3.

Kyler Ronquillo, Yelm

Ronquillo, the co-MVP of the 3A South Sound Conference, took over as QB halfway through the season and scored eight touchdowns, helping the Tornados to an undefeated season. He also won the 110 hurdles at the district track and field meet.

Girls Athletes of the Year:

Selena Niemi, Rainier

Niemi was a triple winner at the 2B District 4 track and field championships (800, 1600 and 3200) to help the Mountaineers win the district title. She was second at the district XC meet.

Abigail Carlson, Yelm 

Carlson was crowned the 3A SSC conference champion in high jump her senior year with a 5’4 jump and took second in the 100-meter hurdles with a 17.24-second dash.

Brieanna Dell, Tenino

Dell established herself as one of the most prolific scorers in the state the past four years, culminating in a school-record 106 career goals this season. She also owns the Beavers single-season record of 42.

Boys Basketball Player of the Year

Ian Sprouffske, Rainier

The do-it-all junior led the Mountaineers with 18.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, four assists and 1.5 steals per game.

Takari Hickle, Tenino

Hickle used his intimidating physical presence to dominate the post for the Beavers this season.

Jeshua Hardie, Yelm

Hardie, a 6-foot-2 junior, was the Tornados leading scorer. He had 21 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists on average.

Girls Basketball Player of the Year

Bayleigh Harder, Yelm

This year’s 3A SSC MVP who helped the Tornados go undefeated (14-0) in coach Russ Riches’ final season, averaged 14 points per game, 11 rebounds and 2.5 assists. She totaled 198 points scored over 14 games.

Ashley Schow, Tenino

The co-MVP of the 1A Evergreen Conference, Schow led the Beavers with 19 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, 2.5 steals and 2.5 assists per game.

Kaeley Schultz, Rainier

The junior averaged 14.2 points, 10 rebounds, 3.2 steals and 1.5 assists per game for a Mountaineers’ team that went 9-6 overall and 7-3 in league.

Boys Track Athlete of the Year

Jeremiah Nubbe, Rainier

Nubbe set the state junior discus record with a toss of 196 feet at a meet in Tenino on April 19. A lock to win the state title had the meet happened this year, Nubbe also briefly held the longest discus throw in the entire nation.

Bryce Cerkowniak, Yelm

The senior long-distance runner won the mile by six seconds and the two mile by 38 seconds at the 3A SSC track and field championships.

Ryan Lange, Yelm

The junior broke the two-minute barrier (1:59:97) with a victory in the 800-meter run at the 3A SSC track and field championships. He finished second in the mile and was third at XC districts.

Girls Track Athlete of the Year

Abigail Carlson, Yelm

Carlson showed no rust coming off a second-place state finish in the high jump. The Tornado senior took the championship title at this year’s 3A South Sound Conference while also clinching second in the 100-meter hurdles.

Selena Niemi, Rainier

Niemi was a triple winner at the 2B District 4 track and field championships (800, 1600 and 3200) to help the Mountaineers win the district title.

Kaeley Schultz, Rainier

Schultz captured the javelin at districts, then followed up with a second-place finish in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and was third in the high jump.

Boys XC Athlete of the Year

Bryce Cerkowniak, Yelm

The Gonzaga-bound senior was the top area finisher at the South Sound League championships, placing second in a time of 16:26.3.

Sam Hill, Tenino

Hill captured his second-straight 1A Evergreen Conference individual title to help the Beavers win their second-consecutive district championship. Hill won his race by a margin of 18 seconds (17.50).

Ryan Lange, Yelm

The junior ran the 5000-meter race at the South Sound League championships in a time of 17:30.7 to place third behind teammate Bryce Cerkowniak.

Girls XC Athlete of the Year

Selena Niemi, Rainier

Niemi, a junior, was the top area finisher this year, placing second at the district cross country meet in a time of 21:22.

Kya Ramirez, Yelm

The senior finished out her prep career with a fourth-place finish at the South Sound League championships with a time of 23:27.2.

Claire Scibelli, Tenino

Scibelli, a junior, finished eighth at the 1A Evergreen Conference meet with a time of 27:00.1.

Football Player of the Year

Kyler Ronquillo, Yelm

Ronquillo, the co-MVP of the 3A SSC, took over as QB halfway through the season and scored eight touchdowns, helping the Tornados to an undefeated season.

Dylan Jemtegaard, Yelm

The University of California-bound lineman earned Lineman of the Year honors in the 3A SSC after bulldozing opponents during a shortened six-week season.

Ray Wright, Yelm

The sophomore racked up 67 tackles, four sacks and 10 tackles for loss to earn co-defensive MVP of the 3A SSC.

Volleyball Player of the Year

Molly Corak, Yelm

The junior libero was named to the 3A South Sound Conference first team.

Natalie McLaughlin, Yelm

The senior outside hitter was selected to the 3A South Sound Conference first team.

Jaelynn Carrier, Yelm

The junior outside hitter teamed up with McLaughlin to form a fearsome hitting duo. Carrier was a first-team all-league pick as well.

Baseball Player of the Year

Mikey Green, Rainier

Green hit .333 with 10 RBI, 11 runs, four doubles and two triples while playing excellent defense behind the plate to earn first-team all-league honors.

Jake Jeske, Rainier

Jeske, a sophomore, was a second-team all-league pick after hitting .417 with 13 stolen bases, 11 runs and two doubles. He also had 18 Ks in 11 innings on the mound.

Ethan Gonzalez, Rainier 

A second-team all-league pick, the junior struck out 20 batters, had a 1-1 record and posted a 2.10 ERA as the Mountaineer’s ace.

Softball Player of the Year

Emily Baxter, Tenino

Baxter led the entire state with 208 strikeouts and three no-hitters, finishing with a 1.09 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 18 earned runs in 155 innings.

Ashlyn Aven, Yelm

The junior infielder belted four home runs and tallied 19 hits, 20 runs, 20 RBI and seven doubles for a Tornados team that went undefeated on the year.

Bailey Elwell, Rainier

Elwell mowed down batters all year, finishing with 121 Ks in 55 innings, which included seven double-digit strikeout games and a 19-K performance against Stevenson on March 26.

Boys Wrestler of the Year

Gage Nelson, Yelm

Nelson went 6-0 this season and tallied five forfeits and helped lead the Tornados to an undefeated season. At the 2020 Mat Classic, Nelson wrestled to a rousing second-place finish.

Girls Wrestler of the Year

Madisyn Erickson, Yelm

The freshman standout went 13-0, tallied 22 takedowns and nine pins in the 120-pound weight class and up.

Boys Soccer Player of the Year

Chris Ramez, Tenino

Ramez, a first-team all-league midfielder, helped the Beavers to their first district win in at least 11 years and a fourth-place finish in the tournament.

Girls Soccer Player of the Year

Brieanna Dell, Tenino

Dell established herself as one of the most prolific scorers in the state the past four years, culminating in a school-record 106 career goals this season. She also owns the Beavers single-season record of 42.

Jordyn Rabalais, Yelm

The junior forward was a first-team all-league selection in the 3A South Sound Conference.

Megan Thomas, Yelm

The senior forward, a first-team all-league pick, teamed up with Rabalais to provide the Tornados with an effective scoring punch.

Girls Bowler of the Year

Miranda Hunt, Yelm

Hunt, a freshman, finished the season with a 137 average over eight games and was an honorable mention in the South Sound Conference.

Boys Tennis Player of the Year

Oliver Busina, Yelm

Busina, the Tornados’ No. 1 singles player, lost just two matches all year and helped Yelm to a 5-3 record.

Girls Tennis Player of the Year

Megan Letts, Tenino

Letts capped off her undefeated season with a district singles title to help the Beavers win the district championship as a team.

Grace Vestal, Tenino

Vestal finished second in singles at the district tournament, with her only loss of the season coming to teammate Megan Letts in the title game.

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