The Santa Ynez Pirates put the icing on the cake that was their very successful high school track season last Friday night.
The Pirates held their annual end of the year team banquet in the school’s new gym, honoring the girls Channel League championship team while singling out several outstanding girls and boys 2019 season contributors.
Freshman Neta Ofiaeli was named the team’s Most Valuable Player and the girls’ team sprint MVP.
Junior Quincy Valle was named the MVP of the girls’ field events.
On the boys’ side, seniors Jasper Kadlec (track) and Sam Villa (field) were named the MVPs.
And senior Hanni Richter won the Pirate Pride award.
Head coach Ashley Coehlo said everyone on the boys’ and girls’ squads had a hand in the team’s success.
Everyone on the girls’ team definitely had to contribute.
Santa Ynez is, by far, the smallest school in the league and, with only 21 girls on the squad, many had to compete in several events.
The tiny squad with a huge heart rolled through the Channel League season with a perfect 5-0 record (6-0 overall).
“We didn’t just win — we won big,” said Coehlo right before the CIF Southern Section playoffs. “We put ourselves in the same league as those bigger Division 2 schools.”
Coehlo likes to point out that many athletes, while not advancing to the CIF playoffs, had outstanding seasons, setting personal records throughout the year.
Still, the award winners were leaders both on and off the field.
“Neta deserves all the honors she gets. The kid is an outstanding athlete,” Coehlo said shortly before the team banquet. “She’s just a freshman and she’s already a three-time All-League athlete. She was outstanding in three events — the 100, 200 and triple jump.”
Ofiaeli was the only Pirate to win an individual CIF-SS championship, claiming the Division 4 triple jump crown. She is also the only Pirate to win a spot in the Southern Section Masters Meet where, competing with a nagging calf injury, she finished 10th.
“Neta also plays soccer and she’s an excellent student — an honors student. Overall, I’d say she’s a pretty well-rounded student,” said Coehlo.
Ofiaeli has a larger-than-life personality — outgoing, friendly with a constant smile on her face.
“Some people say I’m energetic, bubbly. I’m me — I’m unique. Some people say ‘is she the next Beyonce?’” said Ofiaeli shortly before the CIF-SS playoffs. “But this was a big step up from junior high. At first, I didn’t think it was going to be hard but it was.”
Ofiaeli is also in one of Coehlo’s math classes.
"There isn’t a day that goes by that she doesn’t make me laugh,” said Coehlo.
Valle is a three sport athlete — football, basketball and track.
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The junior will likely be the Pirates’ football kicker in the fall.
“She’s an inspiration to all the girls,” said Coehlo. “She’s a pioneer.”
While Valle was finishing spring practice with the varsity on Friday, the junior varsity was welcoming three girls who will try to make that team.
Coehlo, by the way, also coaches the junior varsity football team and the JV girls basketball team.
“Quincy is determined to continue with sports in college,” said Coehlo. “She’s a potential threat to Sarah Perkins’ shot put school record. I know she’s going to try to break it.”
Valle competed in both the shot put and pole vault, advancing out of the CIF-SS preliminaries in the shot.
“Quincy is really passionate about sports. We want to help her continue on her path.”
Jasper Kadlec earned spots in four events at the CIF-SS prelims – the 100, 200, long jump and triple jump.
“Jasper (also a star on the football team) is by far one of the most talented athletes I’ve ever coached,” said Coehlo. “In his sophomore year, I had to share him with coach (Warren) Dickey because he played baseball and ran track at the same time. The last two years, he’s concentrated on track. I could throw him in any event and he’d pick it up. I like his drive. He really studies his sports, puts a lot of effort into all of it outside of the practice field.”
Kadlec will head to San Diego State next year where he'll be a 'preferred walk-on' for the Aztecs' football team.
Sam Villa is heading to Hancock College next year where he’ll continue his throwing career.
“Sam will still do the shot and discus,” said Coehlo. “I think he’ll pick up the hammer throw. I think he should also try the javelin. I think he’d be a phenomenal javelin thrower.”
Coehlo also singled out senior discus and shot thrower Alaynna Garza and high jumper Madison Holbrook, who along with the others made it to the CIF-SS finals, before turning her attention to Richter, who qualified for the CIF-SS finals in the 1600 and 3200.
“Hanni won the Pirate Pride award. That goes to someone who always puts the team first. She's truly inspirational,” said Coehlo. “A perfect example was when she ran the 800, 1600, 3200 and then the anchor leg of our 4x400 relay team in one meet. She did it for the team.”
That meet was against Lompoc and Cabrillo on March 20.
“Hanni Richter deserves athlete of the track meet today," said Coehlo right after Santa Ynez defeated both former Los Padres League foes in the March 20 meet. "She helped us beat Cabrillo and Lompoc in the 1600, she picked up points against Cabrillo and Lompoc in the 800, and helped us beat Cabrillo and Lompoc in the 3200. She did not stop there. She knew it was a close meet and offered to help run the 4x400 relay which follows (immediately after) the 3200 and she finished the race with us beating both Lompoc and Cabrillo. Hanni is a team captain and it really showed today with her efforts on the track!”
“I am surprised at how well I did but after the 3200, there was no time to rest and recover. And there was a lot of pressure in the relay.” said Richter after the race. “There was so much stress. I didn’t know I was going to be in the two-mile until this morning. I didn’t find out I was going to run in the 4x400 until a minute before that race."
Santa Ynez High held a separate senior awards ceremony last Wednesday night.
Alaynna Garza and Keller Haws were named the Most Inspirational Athletes and Lita Wright and Juan Sanchez the Athletes of the Year.
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