It's a hard job, but we decided it had to be done:
Take every varsity high school male athlete who's flexed his muscles since August, stir them all into one large bowl, and use a colander to sift through and leave behind a magnificent seven.
A field of thousands has been whittled into seven
finalists for our Varsity Xtra male athlete of the year, a transcendent
group of players both athletically and competitively.
They've succeeded and taken others with them down rewarding roads during the 2009-10 school year, but come next week, only one will win.
Ramon Abreu: Marcos de Niza football
The Arizona State-bound senior isn't the biggest player in the state, or the fastest. But all he does is make plays. Abreu played offense, defense and special teams for Marcos this past season, excelling in every aspect. He had 141 tackles, four interceptions, three sacks and two fumble recoveries on defense. He had 898 yards rushing, 500 yards receiving and 16 touchdowns on offense, and also punted and blocked a pair of kicks. His most memorable game was in the semifinals, when Abreu had 17 tackles on defense to help lead the Padres to a stunning upset of Peoria Centennial. Abreu was also a starter on the Marcos de Niza basketball team that advanced to the state semifinals, and would have played baseball if not for an injury.
Sherod Hardt: Queen Creek cross country/track
The Bulldogs senior had quite the legacy to live up to after big sisters Kari and Whitney Hardt had illustrious careers at Queen Creek. He did so, winning the 4A-I cross country title in the fall and then coming back to win the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs during track season this spring. His time of 4:10.67 in the 1,600-meter run at state was the best mark in the event this year, regardless of class. Hardt helped the Queen Creek boys team cruise to the 4A-I state title in track, scoring 30 of the team's 108 points by himself.
Scott Hoffman: Desert Ridge baseball
With current Arizona State relief pitcher Jake Barrett at the forefront, Desert Ridge's pitching staff last year was deep and talented, leaving Scott Hoffman mostly on the sidelines. The junior right-hander took advantage of his first shot at playing time this season, going 13-0 with a 2.02 ERA. It was against top-notch competition, too, as Hoffman beat state semifinalist Gilbert and state runner-up Mountain Pointe three times each. He was also dangerous at the plate, batting .457 with 10 home runs. Hoffman played a major role in the Jaguars' second state title in as many years.
Tevin Hood: Hamilton football/wrestling
The 6-foot-1, 275-pound senior was the anchor of the defensive line for the Huskies' football team, which went undefeated and won the 5A-I state championship. He had 106 tackles and 19 sacks on the season as one of the state's toughest defensive linemen to corral. He was just as dangerous on the wrestling mat, pinning his first three state tournament opponents and defeating Corona del Sol's Mike Howard in a 7-2 decision to capture the heavyweight crown. Hood also excels in the classroom, and is planning to walk on at Duke in the fall.
C.J. Kim: Hamilton golf
In this state or out, it was tough to beat Kim. The senior won his second straight individual title by shooting a 143 in the 5A-I tournament, and also dispatched national competition by shooting a 10-under at the Bart Granger Memorial in Fort Worth, Texas, finishing first out of 250 golfers. Kim's career resume was impressive, as well. He won four team titles in his time at Hamilton. He will play golf next year for the University of Denver.
Shane McGough: Desert Mountain wrestling
It's a good thing Shane McGough is heading to Arizona State in the fall, because he clearly has nothing left to prove on the high school level. The 125-pounder won his third straight state title this year, finishing 43-0. He won all four matches in the state tournament by pin, the final one over Tucson Sunnyside's Raul Moraga in just one minute, eight seconds. Over the summer, McGough participated in the Freestyle Junior Nationals and finished fifth in the 125-pound division, becoming the first All-American wrestler in school history.
John Wojciechowski: Brophy swimming
With all of his visits to prospective colleges, it wasn't a make-or-break season for John Wojciechowski, so it was put slightly on the backburner. Despite the lack of a set routine, the Brophy senior kept one thing consistent: his winning.
Wojciechowski captured state titles in the 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter butterfly this year to cap off a stellar career. As a junior in 2008, he set the state record in the 100-meter butterfly. ‘Wojo' won five individual titles in his career. He will swim at Michigan.