“It was really, truly a historic year athletically,” said Antioch Athletic Director Will Whitney. “Hats off to our coaches. It’s nice having some talent like the Simarro twins and Dallas Butterfield and Evan Grimes. We have an incredible talent pool, that’s been helpful. It’s nice as an athletic director having a comprehensive athletic program.”
One half of the Simarro twins, Kaitlin, was selected as Antioch High’s Female Athlete of the Year. “There was a lot of talent with the female athletes in our school,” said Whitney. “But the fact that Kaitlin was the league MVP (in tennis) persuaded the coaches to vote her way.” Simarro, along with her sister Meghan, also excelled in soccer and softball and were valedictorians.
Grimes was selected as the Panthers’ Male Athlete of the Year after finishing fourth in the state in the long jump and helping lead the basketball team to the North Coast Section (NCS) playoffs.
Several seniors received athletic scholarships for next season: Nicholas Novero was awarded a football scholarship to Pacific University in Oregon; Butterfield received a soccer/track scholarship to William Jessup University; Melissa Holmes is headed to Soccer College of Idaho; Tatjana Pitts will participate in track for Domingo Hills State University and Grimes is leaning toward Northridge State University for track and field.
Butterfield was also in the running for Athlete of the Year, having participated in three sports: track, where she qualified for NCS; soccer, where she excelled; and football, where she was one of the few three-year girl starters in the country as a field goal and extra-point kicker. “She kind of broke a gender barrier there,” said Whitney. “I don’t know of another team with a girl. That’s not an easy thing to do at the varsity level; that was pretty impressive.”
Looking to step into Butterfield’s kicking shoes is another girl, Gianna Lucido, who kicked for the JV team and is the daughter of the new football coach, John Lucido. “She will be kicking for varsity next year, keeping the tradition going there,” said Whitney. “So that’s nice to have.”
Another female standout this year was Paris Imholtz, the starting pitcher for the softball team. “She’s a junior, and somewhat dominated the league with her pitching skills,” said Whitney. “I’m really impressed with her.” Also notable is Amanda Dwyer, a cross country and track star who won the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award for excelling in academics (she’s a valedictorian), athleticism and involvement with activities helping the community.
Another standout for the senior boys was Anthony Cress, who was an NCS wrestling champion and qualified for the state meet. “He was a leader with our wrestling team that finished strong this year,” said Whitney.
The AD is particularly proud that more than 120 of the school’s scholar athletes earned a 3.5 GPA or better. “All five of our valedictorians played athletics this year,” he noted. “So I was impressed with that.”
As a result of so many players doing well, many teams did likewise. “For the first time in school history, our boys tennis team not only went undefeated but won the league championship,” said Whitney. “Our boys soccer team for the second year in a row won the league championship. They look strong for this upcoming year. I would say they are favorites to win league again; they may have a three-peat. I would not be surprised – that’s how much talent they have on the soccer team. The wrestling team won the BVAL tournament.”
Nine Antioch teams qualified for the NCS playoffs this year, which Whitney said might be a first for the Panthers: track, girls tennis, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, wrestling, boys basketball, boys tennis and softball.
The athletes, of course, were essential to this year’s success, but so were the coaches. Track Coach Josh Tezeno helped not only Grimes, but two other athletes qualify for the state meet: Pitts in the discus throw and Shamawn Wright in the 200-meter race. “Antioch High School in over a decade hasn’t had anyone qualify at the state level” in track, said Whitney. “An impressive year for Coach Tezeno in his first year to have that number of people go to state and North Coast. So we are real impressed with him.”
Girls soccer Coach Scott Joseph led the team to a school record with 13 wins and qualified for North Coast.
About tennis Coach Larry Johnson, Whitney said, “Wow, what a year he had. He had not only an undefeated varsity boys tennis team, but his girls finished second in league. And last year he led the girls for the first time in school history to the league championship in tennis. So that’s back-to-back championships (for him). The boys tennis team had an incredible year.”
John Woolery, the boys basketball coach, has guided the team to three NCS appearances in a row, which is another first for Antioch. Wrestling Coach Brett McNair’s team “not only won the BVAL tournament, but he had the second largest girls wrestling team,” said Whitney. “We hosted a girls wrestling tournament, and it was a big success. He’s broken some gender barriers there. So hats off to him.”
Whitney also noted that several girls teams donated gate receipts from some games to promote breast cancer awareness and for the Richmond gang-rape victim.
“So, all in all, Panther pride is alive and well,” he said. “We had a number of history-making events. We have a 55-year history at Antioch High School with over 100 league championships. Things look promising for next year. We have a number of programs that look strong, and others that are building in numbers and size and talent. I’m excited about next year for our athletic program.”