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All City

The562.Org’s All-City Athletes of the Year 2023-24

We’re once again presenting the All-City Awards, a revival of a beloved city tradition. This week we’ll be presenting our individual All-City Athletes of the Year awards to the top performers in each sport, then next week we’ll name our top boy and girl athlete of the year, as well as begin announcing other awards including Top Moments, Coach of the Year, Game of the Year and more.

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Football: Ryan Pellum, Millikan / Darius Curry, Long Beach Poly 

Ryan Pellum was a showstopper on and off the field for Millikan. The senior Moore League Player of the Year signed with Oregon as a signing day flip from USC, after an All-American campaign that saw him solidify his status as the highest-ranked Millikan recruit in the modern era. Pellum helped elevate Millikan to a destination school in his four years with the Rams. In his senior season Pellum had 1,015 total yards and 12 touchdowns.

Darius Curry was a consummate leader for Long Beach Poly as a junior and senior, leading the Jackrabbits to two Moore League titles and a 20-3 overall record with two wins over Mission Viejo and Serra. Curry, the 2023 Moore League Offensive Player of the Year, had 3,200 yards passing and 41 touchdowns his senior year.

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Flag Football: Tiare Ho-Ching, Long Beach Poly

The Jackrabbits put together an unbeaten season to secure the first Moore League title in flag football, with Ho-Ching leading the way. The league’s Player of the Year was a natural at wide receiver, but was also a game-changer on defense and even filled in at quarterback when her team needed it. She had two TD passes and a pick-six in the Moore League opener against Lakewood, setting the tone for a successful season.

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Girls’ Volleyball: Chloe Pravednikov, Wilson / Taylor Mercado, Long Beach Poly 

Co-Moore League Player of the Year Chloe Pravednikov was Wilson’s leader this year, putting up big stats as an outside hitter. Pravednikov, an outstanding club player as well, is also Wilson’s valedictorian and has signed a scholarship with Pepperdine.

Long Beach Poly senior libero Taylor Mercado was also Moore League Co-Player of the Year, and was a show-stopping libero with great range and passing ability. Mercado led the Jackrabbits to a Moore League title this year and also signed a scholarship with Georgetown. 

Jason Parra

Boys’ Cross Country: Jason Parra, Millikan

For the fourth year in a row, Parra claimed the Moore League individual title, but this year was special. Not only did Parra set a new league record with a time of 14:30 at league finals, he also helped the Rams win their first team title since 1992 and became the league’s first four-time champion since 1991. He then cemented his legacy with a CIF-SS and CIF State championship for the Rams.

Nadia Mejia

Girls’ Cross Country: Nadia Mejia, Millikan

The Millikan sophomore hit the scene with an impressive win at El Dorado, setting the course record in a time of 17:26.66. Mejia then impressed at league finals, claiming the Moore League individual title with a 17:37, winning by nearly a minute over the field.

Shaw Golf

Girls Golf: Samantha Shaw, Wilson 

A year after finishing second in the Moore League individual final, Shaw used a dramatic playoff victory to take the title this season. Shaw took a lead on the back nine of the final round at El Dorado Golf Course, only to see Poly’s Kate Montemayor pull even on the 15th hole. Then Shaw and Montemayor both delivered clutch shots to force a playoff, and Shaw took the title on the second extra hole well after the sun had set.

Oliveros Tennis

Girls’ Tennis: Mandy Oliveros, CAMS 

A dominant performance at the Moore League finals in October earned Oliveros the first CAMS singles title since 2019. The freshman defeated Wilson’s Vivian Hall 6-3, 6-0 in  the championship match. She didn’t even know if she’d play tennis in high school, but said after the match, “I’m really glad that I decided to play. It’s been a good experience. It’s been an exciting season.”

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Boys’ Water Polo: Wyatt Mitchell, Wilson 

The aquatic history at Wilson is not lost on Mitchell, and he proved it during water polo and swimming season against league rivals Poly. When the two met in October for the league title game, Mitchell scored a hat trick as Wilson came back to score five of the last seven goals and emerge victorious 11-10. The win clinched a 16th consecutive league title for the Bruins, and Mitchell said afterwards, “Both of my parents went to Wilson, and my dad coached at Wilson, so he knows like every alum since like 1985, so it’s amazing to be a part of that history.”

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Boys’ Basketball: Jovani Ruff, Long Beach Poly / Quincy Phillips, St. Anthony 

Moore League Player of the Year Jovani Ruff led the Jackrabbits to a Moore League title and a CIF-SS runner-up finish. Ruff, who recently verbally committed to Cal, is a four-star recruit who excelled in both scoring and passing this year, earning All-CIF honors.

Quincy Phillips was amazing for St. Anthony in a CIF Southern Section championship win with 20 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists, leading the team in scoring and rebounding. Phillips signed with The Masters University to continue his basketball career; he was also named CIF-SS Player of the Year.

All City Bennett

Girls’ Basketball: Ryann Bennett, St. Anthony 

St. Anthony senior Ryann Bennett led her Saints to a CIF-SS championship this year. She was held without a field goal in the first half of the championship game but exploded for 14 points in the second half to lead a comeback CIF-SS title, along with seven rebounds and five assists. Bennett earned CIF-SS Player of the Year honors for her efforts.

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Girls’ Basketball: Nyemah King, Lakewood

The Moore League Player of the Year was the city’s top scorer overall and led Lakewood to a historic CIF-SS championship appearance. She put up eye-popping scoring stats including multiple 30-point games this season, and will be the top player in the city heading into 24-25.

Stewart Soccer

Girls’ Soccer: Audrey Stewart, Millikan 

Stewart leaves Millikan as one of the most successful girls’ soccer players in school history while helping the Rams win a pair league titles. She led the team with 30 goals this season and was named Moore League Offensive Player of The Year after scoring the game-winning goals in massive results at Long Beach Poly and Wilson.

De Leon Soccer

Boys’ Soccer: Aaron De Leon, Millikan  

Not only did De Leon lead the Rams with 21 goals this season, 13 of which came in league play, he was also key to the Rams’ tactics. For example, when Millikan needed a boost in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 boys’ soccer playoffs, coach Jeff Schofield changed the formation to free up De Leon. He made his coach look like a genius and scored twice in the second half to help the Rams win 2-0 and advance to their first quarterfinals since 2015.

Odea H2o Polo

Girls’ Water Polo: Katherine O’Dea, Wilson 

O’Dea has been an integral part of all the Bruins’ success over the last four years while playing for her dad and coach, Barry O’Dea. Last season, she played multiple positions because of team needs and helped Wilson reach a CIF-SS championship game. This season she stepped up as an elite perimeter scorer once again. O’Dea has also been training with the USA Youth National Team.

Chris Anguiano

Boys’ Wrestling: Chris Anguiano, Millikan

The freshman had a phenomenal debut in the Moore League wrestling world, winning a league title at 150 pounds with a pin of Lakewood’s Daniel Quezada. After that performance, Anguiano took third at the CIF-SS Championships, one of three boys from the league to advance to the Masters meet, where he finished fourth in his weight class.

Ashley Wafer

Girls’ Wrestling: Ashley Wafer, Lakewood

The Moore League’s Wrestler of the Year was the runner-up at league finals in the 235-pound weight class, then excelled in the postseason. Wafer was one of three girls’ wrestlers from the league to post a runner-up finish at the CIF-SS Championships, then she earned her way to the CIF State meet and earned a fourth-place finish as Long Beach’s lone representative.

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Baseball: Anthony Pack, Millikan / Taylor Kirk, Wilson

Millikan put together an unbeaten season on the diamond, and Pack was a huge part of that success. The junior Texas commit did it all for the Rams as a standout center fielder with an exciting hit tool from the left side to go along with terrific speed.

Wilson’s Taylor Kirk was co-Moore League MVP with Pack, and for good reason. There was no better tablesetter in the league this year, as Kirk was a .434 hitter with a stellar .495 on-base percentage. He also stole 25 bases and scored 23 runs for the Bruins while playing a premium position at shortstop.

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Softball: Ki’ele Ho-Ching, Poly / Ava Schaffel, Millikan 

It’s fair to share the accolades between Moore League Player of the Year Ki’ele Ho-Ching of Long Beach Poly and Moore League Pitcher of the Year Ava Schaffel.

Ho-Ching put up some eye popping statistics this season at the top of the Jackrabbits order. In 23 games she hit .625 with an incredible 1.853 on-base plus slugging percentage. She hit nine home runs, eight doubles and a pair of triples while scoring 41 runs. Ho-Ching also hit .586 with runners in scoring position while driving in 34 runs. The middle infielder even moved positions as her sister worked back from injury and still recorded a .937 fielding percentage.

A year after losing most of her season due to an arm injury, Schaffel came back stronger for her senior year and was Millikan’s ace during a fourth consecutive Moore League championship campaign. The senior righty had a 1.12 ERA this season with 87 strikeouts in 69 innings. She was also fantastic in a pair of wins over rival Lakewood and didn’t give up an earned run to the Lancers. Schaffel is on her way to pitch at San Diego State University.

All City Eckenrode Adams

Beach Volleyball: Kate Eckenrode/Simrin Adams, Wilson 

Wilson’s standout duo of Kate Eckenrode and Simrin Adams didn’t capture the Moore League pairs title this year, but they were the city’s best tandem across the whole season. The pair went 22-3 overall and finished ninth in the CIF pairs tournament for the city’s best finish. They also led Wilson to the team beach volleyball league title.

All City Ricks

Boys’ Track & Field: Xai Ricks, Long Beach Poly 

Long Beach Poly senior Xai Ricks led the Jackrabbits to their first CIF State team title since 2011. Ricks, a Georgia signee ranked the No. 5 recruit in the nation by MileSplit, won the state title in the 400 with a California-leading mark of 46.79. He also ran on Poly’s state-leading 4×200, their No. 2-ranked 4×400, and their state-leading sprint medley relay. 

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Girls’ Track & Field: Loren Webster, Wilson  

Junior Loren Webster was the star of the meet for the Wilson Bruins as she led her squad to a CIF State championship. Webster won an individual state championship in the long jump with a 20-5.25, winning by more than a foot. She also ran on the Bruins’ sixth-place 4×100 to help earn them enough points for the state crown. Her leap of 20-9.5 at Moore League Finals was the third-best mark in the country this season.

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Boys’ Swimming: Wyatt Mitchell, Wilson 

It’s a very rare double up for Mitchell who is All-City water polo and swimming for both his performance and leadership. The Wilson boys’ swimming program took back the Moore League title after having its 49-year league winning streak snapped last year. Mitchell won the 200 and 100 freestyle races. He also helped the Bruins win the 200 Freestyle relay.

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Girls’ Swimming: Sammie Hamilton, Wilson

There’s not a lot that Hamilton didn’t win this season. The senior repeated as league champion the 200 and 500 freestyle with two league records and All-American standards. She then won the CIF-SS Division 1 championship in the girls’ 500 freestyle, posting a time of 4:46.63, and won the CIF State title in the 500 freestyle. Hamilton is on her way to University of Kentucky.

Fiona Lobedecis

Diving: Fiona Lobedecis, Long Beach Poly

The junior was one of the best divers in California this year, finishing second at the CIF State Championships with a score of 508.20 in the finals. That mark set a new school record for the Jackrabbits, and Lobedecis also had a sixth place finish at the CIF-SS finals during her highly successful campaign.

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Gymnastics: Eva Esqueda, Millikan

The Rams won another Moore League team championship thanks in large part to the overall skill of Esqueda. She was second in the vault with a score of 8.700 and was also top 10 on the bar, beam and floor. Her overall individual score of 35.800 was good enough to finish second overall behind St. Joseph’s Kate Bell. Millikan edged the Jesters 178.100-170.5 in the final team score.

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Boys’ Lacrosse: Bennett Hreschuk, Millikan

The Moore League Player of the Year helped lead the Rams to a flawless league record and the program’s second league title in the last three years. Hreschuk was team captain and an attacking machine for the Rams, scoring 50 goals while racking up a league record 45 assists in his senior season.

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Girls’ Lacrosse: Megan Ligenza, Wilson

The Bruins shared the Moore League title with Downey this season, and the sophomore Ligenza was a big reason why. She brought tons of lacrosse experience to the field, leading the way for the Bruins’ offensive attack. Ligenza’s highlights from the year include five-goal games against rival Long Beach Poly and against Lakewood in the regular season finale.

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Boys’ Volleyball: Ian Nolte, Wilson 

Wilson senior Ian Nolte is one of the best boys’ volleyball players in the nation, a fact that he proved repeatedly throughout his senior season. Nolte, an Ohio State signee, led the Bruins to a Moore League title and earned Moore League Player of the Year honors with his all-around skill set. An excellent attacker, blocker, and aggressive server, Nolte delivered all year long for the Bruins.

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Boys’ Tennis: Nolan Alvarez, Millikan

During his four years at Millikan, Alvarez never failed to reach the Moore League finals for boys’ singles. In 2024, the senior won his second consecutive individual title with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Wilson’s Douglas Smith. Alvarez also won a league title in boys’ doubles alongside partner Eric Carranza, winning an exciting final match by a score of 4-6, 6-4, 10-5.

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Boys Golf: Bryson Barnes, Wilson

Barnes played his best golf at the best time and put together a fantastic season that included multiple championships. The senior helped Wilson win an 18th consecutive Moore League title and then won the individual title last month. He went on to win the CIF Southern Section Southern Regional Individual qualifier and became the first Bruin to reach CIF State competition since Tyler Schafer in 2018.

All City Jain 1

Boys’ Badminton: Abhishek Jain, Wilson 

Wilson’s Abhishek Jain once again claimed the Moore League boys’ singles title, defending his championship as he took down Poly’s Nick Jensen 21-9, 21-13. Jain won last year as well and still wanted more hardware–he and partner Susana Martinez won the mixed doubles Moore League title.

All City Ramos

Girls’ Badminton: Jasmin Ramos, Cabrillo 

Cabrillo senior Jasmin Ramos led the Jaguars to a historic team Moore League title this year, and also captured the Moore League singles title with a win over Poly’s Nga Pham 21-17, 12-21, 21-18. Ramos’ teammates also claimed league titles in the boys and girls doubles championships.

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Nina Fife
Nina Fife is a freshman at Pepperdine University majoring in journalism. She began working with The562 in the inaugural intern class before being hired as their Social Media Director and now Assistant Editor. Nina is a proud Long Beach schools alum who graduated with valedictorian honors.