Salem Sports and Breakfast Club Senior Fall Athletes of the Year

By Jeremy McDonald

jeremymcdonald73@gmail.com

The Salem Sports and Breakfast Club named their Senior Fall Athletes of the Year. Sarah Kivett (South Salem, Volleyball), Evan Gonzales (South Salem, Boys Cross Country), Jazmine Libel (McKay, Girls Cross Country), Alexis Luna (South Salem, Boys Soccer), Aspen DeConcinI (Sprague, Girls Soccer), Adrian McConnell (West Salem Football), Nate Garcia (West Salem Football) winning honors for the six-week Fall Sports Season.

Here is the Press Release:

Salem Sports and Breakfast Club (since 1954)

Les Schwab (since 2013) Senior Fall Athletes of the Year

April 22nd, 2021

Congratulations to Sarah Kivett, Salem Sports and Breakfast Club Senior Athlete of the Year for Volleyball.

From South Salem head volleyball coach Matt Leichty, “Often defensive players aren’t as recognized for awards in volleyball as they don’t usually make the big play that wins the point, but their contribution towards getting that point is critical… Sarah Kivett was outstanding for us as our libero from start to finish this season, and provided a solid anchor for our defense. She started the season well, but continued to make better and better reads and plays defensively throughout the season, and there were numerous times where she kept us in points by somehow making a great dig. Her consistency also helped our offense to be able to run smoothly, and made us much more difficult for opponents to predict. It isn’t often that teams are able to be “in system” (good pass/dig with the opportunity to set whichever hitters we want) out of defense at the high school level, but we were often “in system”, largely due to Sarah’s play in the back row. Her consistency playing at a high level in the back row every night played a key role in us being able to finish the season undefeated at 12-0…Sarah proved herself with her hard work. [She’s] a good teammate and senior leader in the program. Additionally, Sarah is a very good student and has maintained a 3.88 cumulative GPA during her 4 years.”

Sarah’s statistics this season:

1.90 Passer Rating (out of a perfect 3) on 165 Receptions with 32% Perfect Passes (#1 on the team in both);
242 Digs with an average of 6.2 digs per set;
116/124 Serving – 93.5% Serving Pct. with 13 aces.

Coach Leichty also provided statistics for South’s toughest matches:

In the 3-2 win over West Albany, Sarah passed a 2.19 and had 23 digs.
In the 3-0 win over McNary, Sarah passed a 2.29 and had 34 digs.
In the 3-0 win over South Albany, Sarah passed a 1.96 and had 15 digs.

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Congratulations to Evan Gonzalez, Salem Sports and Breakfast Club Senior Athlete of the Year for Boys Cross Country.

Evan Gonzalez placed first in all cross country meets this season. He was South Salem’s leading runner, helping them to a 1st place finish at the district meet with a score of 16 points, one point shy of a perfect score. Evan showed great improvement over the course of his senior season, improving his 5000 meter time by 35 seconds from 16:20 to 15:45 and his 3000 meter time by 15 seconds from 9:19 to 9:04, leading all Salem-Keizer runners and the Mountain-Valley Conference and Salem-Keizer Conference. From South Salem Cross Country head coach Alisha Murdoch: “Evan was a team captain and dedicated to South cross country.”

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Congratulations to Jazmine Liebl, Salem Sports and Breakfast Club Senior Athlete of the Year for Girls Cross Country.

From McKay head cross country coach Arch Zellick: “Jazmine [Liebl] has been a foundational pillar for our girls’ cross country program over the last 3 seasons.”

Jazmine finished 2nd at the 2021 Salem-Keizer championship meet. She was the top runner for McKay in 2021, a season in which the Royal Scots, for the first time, were cross country conference champions. She is the school record holder in the 3000 meters at 10:54 and third all-time for McKay in the 5000 meters with a time of 18:54. She is only the the 3rd female runner in McKay history to break the 19:00 mark in 5000 meters. And, she was the top runner on the 2019 McKay Girls Cross Country team, the first in school history to qualify and compete at the OSAA State Cross Country Championships.

Jazmine is also an AP student-athlete that carries a 3.8 GPA while holding a job to help finance her future college career. She is planning to study nursing and, hopefully, compete in cross country and track and field at the collegiate level.

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Congratulations to Alexis Luna, Salem Sports and Breakfast Club Senior Athlete of the Year for Boys Soccer.

Alexis Luna, second year team captain for the South Salem Boys Soccer team, started all 12 matches in 2021 and 26 of 27 over the 2019 and 2021 seasons, missing only a single match due to a concussion and the resulting stiches. This season he led the Saxons in scoring with 13 goals and 2 assists for 28 points. During his two year career at South, Alexis scored 21 goals and added 4 assists for a total of 46 points. His 21 career goals tie Alexis for 15th on the all-time Saxon Boys Soccer career goals scored list. His 46 career points place him at 20th on the Saxon Boys Soccer career points list. His 13 season goals for 2021 tie him for 9th. And finally, his 28 season points tie him for 14th. Alexis has definitely left his mark.

Alexis was 1st team all-conference for the second year in a row and was voted conference Player of the Year by the coaches.

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Congratulations to Aspen DeConcini, Salem Sports and Breakfast Club Senior Athlete of the Year for Girls Soccer.

Aspen DeConcini’s strong attacking performance has afforded the Sprague Girls Soccer team an eight-win, two tie, and three loss season. Aspen‘s performance over the last week-and-a-half of the season propelled the Olympians to their strongest finish in the past ten years. In matches versus North Salem and McNary Aspen had back-to-back “hat tricks”. She single-handedly took on the Olympians’ attack. In Sprague’s first “cross over” match against Corvallis, Aspen scored the Olympian’s lone goal that ended in a 1-1 tie. And in her final match as an Oly – versus Crescent Valley – she scored two goals and assisted on another. Sprague Girls Soccer Coach Kevin Plechl said “Aspen really came alive in the second half of our season. Every time she touched the ball in the attacking third, something exciting was about to happen. She’s been an exciting player to watch and develop over the years and will be greatly missed.”

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Congratulations to Adrian McConnell, Salem Sports and Breakfast Club Senior Defensive Athlete of the Year for Football.

West Salem senior defensive end Adrian McConnell was an imposing force at the heart of the West Salem defense and integral to the Titans 6-0 season. He finished with 32 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 3 pass deflections, 2 fumbles caused, and 1 fumble recovered as part of a defense that gave up only 10 points per game, including two shutouts. Coming into this year Adrian had only two years of football experience. From assistant coach and defensive coordinator Damien Ramirez: “With limited experience he set a goal to improve himself physically and mentally. He committed himself in the weight room and on the practice field and his efforts showed Friday nights! Adrian is also special because he is very coachable and a great teammate. He makes the players around him better with his level of play and effort. It’s been rewarding watching his growth over the past three years and all of his coaches are grateful that he got to showcase himself and his team during his senior year!”

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Congratulations to Nate Garcia, Salem Sports and Breakfast Club Senior Offensive Athlete of the Year for Football.

Senior running back Nate Garcia was a work horse for the Titans during their 6-0 2021 season. He finished the season averaging 6.5 yards per carry, toting the ball 126 times for 816 yards. He also scored 14 TDs in 6 games for an offense that put 231 points on the board, an average of 39 points per game. As a kick returner he averaged 45 yards per return with a long of 95 yards. These numbers were compiled even when not participating in the second half of several games due to lopsided scores. From his position coach Dustin Bolen: “[Nate] came to practice every day with a contagious positive attitude and was a leader through his actions…Nate may not be the most physically imposing player but he most certainly embodies toughness. [In] a limited season, Nate produced substantial numbers and helped carry the Titans to an undefeated season. More importantly Nate was a great teammate. When the backup running backs were in the game nobody was cheering louder or harder than Nate…He is the walking personification of the Titan Way.”

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