James Marvel and Sasha Wallace separated themselves from the rest this spring.
BAY AREA SPRING 2012 MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
James Marvel • Baseball • Campolindo-Moraga
For those who followed the four-year varsity career of Marvel, it’s hard to imagine anything else in his hands than a baseball or a bat.
But of all things, he could’ve just as easily been holding a hockey stick.
In an alternate reality based upon him and his parents staying in Connecticut and not moving back to California before his sixth grade year, Marvel could just as easily been heading to his mom’s alma mater (University of Minnesota) dreaming of one day playing in the Frozen Four. Instead, he’s heading the opposite direction across the country — going back to the East Coast in hopes of one day making the College World Series as a member of the Duke Blue Devils.
And that’s just fine with him. Even though he can still admit that giving up hockey was extremely tough.
“I was a really big hockey player,” Mavel said. “If I’d stayed back there it might have been hockey (as my main sport). When we moved out here it’s just a different culture, and hockey just wasn’t going to be quite the same. I still miss it, but it turned out great for me. The baseball out here is some of the best in the country and I was fortunate to learn from it.”
Campolindo was fortunate to have him.
Marvel tossed a four-hit shutout in the 2010 NCS Division II championship as a sophomore — beginning a championship run that would yield three consecutive NCS titles. The Cougars were the first East Bay program of the NCS modern era (which began in 1975) to win three straight crowns.
This season, in his final campaign, Marvel batted .433 with 39 hits, 26 RBI and a team-leading .544 on base percentage. Some arm fatigue led to him only starting 9 games but he still went 5-2 with a 1.81 ERA and 59 strikeouts over 58 innings. He was the designated hitter in the NCS final, finishing 3-for-3 with three runs scored and two stolen bases.
“It was an amazing experience,” Marvel said. “So much of that success has to go to (coach) Max Luckhurst … But we were really lucky to have such a great group of guys over the years. … We’re going to look back and realize just how successful we were, but we won’t remember the wins and losses as much as we’ll cherish the relationships we made.”
— Chace Bryson
THE MARVEL FILES
• THE STATS: Batting — .433 average, 32 runs, 39 hits, 26 RBI, 7 doubles, 3 home runs, .544 on base percentage. Pitching — 9 starts, 58 innings, 5-2 record, 1.81 ERA, 59 strikeouts, 23 walks/hit batsmen.
• SIGNATURE PERFORMANCE: Filling the DH role for the NCS Division II championship, Marvel went 3-for-3 with a walk, three runs scored and two stolen bases. Campolindo beat Dougherty Valley-San Ramon 6-3.
• HIS BASEBALL ROUND TABLE: Asked what three baseball people he’d invite to a conversation, he chose Derek Jeter, Roy Halladay and his personal pitching coach Jeff Pick. “I’m all about learning and continuing to get better. If you can’t get better sitting at that table, I don’t know what you’re doing.”
• THE NEXT LEVEL: Despite having Major League suitors, Marvel never wavered in his intention to attend Duke and get an education. “My parents always stressed academics first. … Duke is a great school in the ACC, one of the best baseball conferences. Why not go play great baseball in a great part of the country while going to a great school? It doesn’t get much better than that.
BAY AREA SPRING 2012 FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Sasha Wallace • Track & Field • Holy Names-Oakland
It’s impossible to pinpoint one event or meet that served as Sasha Wallace’s coming out party for 2012; one would be better off simply picking one at random.
Maybe it was the NCS Meet of Champions on May 25, where the Holy Names junior effortlessly hopped, skipped and jumped her way to the triple jump title with a distance of 42 feet, 3 1/4 inches, electing to forgo her third attempt and winning by more than five feet.
What about the CIF state championships in Clovis on June 2? One will recall Wallace not only winning the 100 meter hurdles, deemed her second best event, but setting the national high school girls mark with a time of 13.33 seconds. That surprising victory, coupled with another triple jump crown, made her the only Bay Area athlete to win two state titles.
Or, the USA Junior Track & Field Championships in Indianapolis on June 17? Wallace placed third in the triple jump, losing only to two collegiate athletes, and finished fifth in the 100 hurdles.
The sum of these accomplishments led to Wallace as a no-brainer selection for SportStars’ Spring 2012 Female Athlete of Year.
“I’m pretty proud of how far I went this year,” Wallace said, a couple days after returning from Indiana. “I was able to sustain the whole confidence level throughout the season. I had my eyes on the prize this season.”
The only prize that eluded her this year was a ticket to Spain, site of the World Youth Championships. Still, with all of the victories she piled up, Wallace will need a trophy room for all of the prizes she collected in the last several weeks.
“This season was pretty long,” Wallace said, who trains at East Oakland Youth Development Center and competes for the club during the summer. “I was happy with what I did this year. My performance in Indiana was pretty bittersweet, but I know I can do better. It would’ve been nice to go to Spain but I can’t say anything bad about it.”
With only the top two finishers qualifying for Worlds, Wallace has been on the cusp the last two years, finishing third in the triple jump both times. How will she make sure she punches a ticket for Worlds in 2013?
“I pretty much got a lot of advice from family and coaches coming into this season,” said Wallace. “I worked really hard. … The only thing that’ll take me to Worlds is just to work harder. Pretty much that and keep my eye on the prize.”
— Erik Stordahl
THE WALLACE FILES
• STATS: Wallace picked up four gold medals in the span of two weeks, sweeping the triple jump and 100 hurdles at both the NCS Meet of Champions and the CIF State Track and Field Championships.
• SIGNATURE PERFORMANCE: As the national leader in the event, her triple jump state title seemed a foregone conclusion. It was her 100 hurdles performance at state that truly produced her “Wow” moment. She blew away the field and set a national-best time of 13.33.
• ALL IN THE FAMILY: The sporting life runs deep in the Wallace Family. Sasha’s dad, Joaquin, is the head women’s basketball coach at San Francisco State. Her older sister Jameelah was a Junior Olympic gold medalist in the 400 meters.
• SERIOUS POTENTIAL: Will you see Wallace in Team USA gear one day? Her coach Curtis Taylor thinks so. “I think she’s operating on 60 percent of her talent right now. If she sticks to it with her passion and keeps learning … She can be in the Olympics.”
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