The 2016 Rio Olympic Games will have a hometown connection when the marathoners line up for the start after Mebrahtom Keflezighi and Desiree Linden qualified by finishing second at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Los Angeles. . The first three finishers qualified.
With their performances, the two were among 17 professional, amateur and high school athletes honored as Stars of the Month for February by the San Diego Hall of Champions.
Meb, 40, showed the younger runners that he hasn’t missed a step as he overcame a quality field and warm weather to secure his ticket to Rio in 2-hours, 12-minutes, 20-seconds. It will be his fourth Olympic Games as compared to the second for Hilltop High grad Linden who is better known locally by her maiden name, Desiree Davila. She finished second at 2:28:24.
San Diego Sockers standout Kraig Chiles was honored after he helped lead his team into the playoffs with eight goals and five assists in three matches, all victories.
Jimmie Johnson was selected when he moved into a tie for seventh on the all-time NASCAR win list with his 76th victory. He captured the Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500 in Atlanta.
On the amateur front, a pair of record-setting UCSD swimmers, Michael Cohn and Colleen Daley, were two of seven athletes selected. Joining them were USD women’s basketball standout Maya Hood and Torero softball player Olivia Sandusky as well as Point Loma Nazarene University baseball player Ryan Garcia, San Diego Christian College basketball player Dalante Dunklin and Cal State San Marcos baseball player Tyler Place.
High school Stars of the Month were Bishop’s water polo goalie Cassidy Ball, Kearny boys basketball star Robby Robinson, San Marcos wrestler Jett Moy, La Jolla Country Day basketball standout Mai-Loni Henson, La Costa Canyon girls soccer player Hayley Mayne and Mount Miguel basketball ace Satera Bates.
2016 FEBRUARY STARS OF THE MONTH:
KRAIG CHILES, Soccer, Sockers, Poway High alumnus—With 8 goals and 5 assists in 3 matches, Chiles led the Sockers to the No. 2 seed in the Ron Newman Cup playoffs. This included a 5-point night against Dallas and a 6-point night against Turlock. The Sockers’ won all the games in which Chiles played.
MEB KEFLEZIGHI, Running, Marathon, San Diego High alumnus—Those who figured at age 40, Meb was ‘over the hill’ didn’t realize that he eats up hills—and straightaways, too. Keflezighi qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics by placing second in the U.S. Marathon Trials, clocking a time of 2-hours, 12-minutes, 20-seconds.
DESIREE LINDEN, Running Marathon, Hilltop High alumnus—The former Desiree Davila, like Meb Keflezighi, overcame the heat in Los Angeles to finish second in the women’s U.S. Olympic Trials race, qualifying her for her first Olympics. She finished second in 2 hours, 28-minutes, 24-seconds to earn her ticket to Rio this summer.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, Motor Sports, NASCAR, Granite Hills High alumnus—A short, strategic pit stop and late yellow flag helped Johnson win the Folds of Honors Quiktrip 500 at Atlanta Speedway, earning his 76th NASCAR victory to tie the late Dale Earnhardt for seventh on the all-time list.
MICHAEL COHN, Men’s Swimming, UCSD—The junior won three individual events in leading fourth-ranked UCSD to its eighth straight conference title, earning Male Swimmer of the Meet. He won the 500-yard freestyle, 200 free and 200 backstroke. In the backstroke he broke his own school record and automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships.
COLLEEN DALEY, Women’s Swimming, UCSD—School records in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle didn’t stand a chance against the senior who clocked times of 22.98 and 50.29 en route to sweeping the conference sprints. She also anchored the Tritons’ school-record setting performance in the 200 and 400 medley and 400 free relays.
MAYA HOOD, Women’s Basketball, USD, La Jolla Country Day alumnus—A junior, Hood averaged a double-double with 11.6 points and 10.9 rebounds-per-game. Hood managed to score in double figures in five of the seven games, highlighted by a 24-point and 10 rebound performance in the regular-season finale. She shot 51 percent from the field.
OLIVIA SANDUSKY, Softball, USD—Centerfielder Sandusky, a junior, hit .465 with a .556 on-base percentage, both of which led the WCC. She was also among the top three in the conference in runs scored (14), home runs (4), hits (20) and RBI (12). Sandusky reached base in 14 of USD’s 15 games, earning conference Player of the Week honors.
DALANTE DUNKLIN, Men’s Basketball, SD Christian, Francis Parker alumnus—The former multi-sport standout at Francis Parker, now a senior, led the NAIA school to its most wins, 11, since 2007, averaging 24.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists per game.
TYLER PLACE, Baseball, CSUSM—A sophomore out of Fullerton, Place led the CCAA with a .475 batting average with 28 hits and a .492 on-base percentage. He also scored 20 runs and stole 7 bases. During the month he had 9 multi-hit games.
RYAN GARCIA, Baseball, PLNU, El Camino High alumnus—Hitting .385 with 3 doubles, five home runs, driving in 24 runs and scoring in all 14 games, Garcia led Point Loma Nazarene University to an 11-game winning streak and 11-3 overall record. He was named the NCBWA West Region Player of the Week.
CASSIDY BALL, Girls Water Polo, Bishop’s—A junior goalie, Ball led the Knights to their sixth consecutive section championship as a first-year starter. She had 58 saves in the Open Division playoffs, giving her 123 saves for the month in 11 games, 18 coming in the title game, a 5-4 win over La Jolla.
ROBBY ROBINSON, Boys Basketball, Kearny—A 6-foot-8 junior, Robinson helped boost the Komets to an unbeaten Central League title and a 7-0 record which included a pair of impressive playoff wins over Westview and Escondido. Robinson averaged a team high 15.4 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.
MAI-LONI HENSON, Girls Basketball, La Jolla Country Day—With the University of Washington-bound senior leading the way, the Torreys dominated with a 6-0 record, wrapping up the Coastal League title. Henson improved on all of her season stats, averaging 16.1 points, 10.3 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.
JETT MOY, Wrestling, San Marcos–The Knights enjoyed their best season in school history with divisional and dual-meet team titles. Moy, a senior, was the leader. Competing at 154 pounds, Moy pinned his first two opponents, scored a 3-0 decision and then rolled in to the Masters championship, 13-3.
SATERA BATES, Girls Basketball, Mount Miguel—When the Matadors girls won their 16th straight league title, Bates was the go-to player, averaging 20.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.2 steals per game. The 5-foot-6 junior guard led the team to a 7-1 record and that Grossmont Hills title.
HAYLEY MAYNE, Girls Soccer, La Costa Canyon—Scoring 32 goals and contributing nine assists on the season, the Mavericks’ senior led LCC to a 7-0 record in February, including a 6-0 win over Steele Canyon in the Open Division quarterfinals. LCC had an 11-game win streak at the start of March.