Becker gets CIF coaching honor

June 16, 2002|By ERIC GALVAN

Sports Writer

Southwest High School track and field coach Mike Becker doesn't coach for individual awards or accolades. He coaches because he loves to coach.

So when Becker was recently named CIF San Diego Section Division II girls track and field coach of the year, the award he received didn't mean as much to him as the accomplishment of his girls team, which won the CIF San Diego Section Division II championship in May.

"It's nice to be recognized by your peers, but when it comes right down to it, it's the kids that did all the work," said Becker. "To me, I'm just the guy that gets the reward, the handshake and the pat on the back. But I'm just the coach. I couldn't have done this without the kids on the team and definitely not without all the assistant coaches."


Helping Becker earn Division II coach of the year were Jennifer Black and Rashauna Amos, who earned CIF Division II first- team honors with victories at the section finals in May. Amos won the 100 and 200 meters. Black got the CIF first-team nod with her victory in the 300 hurdles.

"When I first started I just wanted to be a coach because I enjoyed track and field when I was in high school. Never in my wildest dreams did I think about getting an award like this," said Becker. "Really, I'm just humbled by all this. And again, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to receive this without the girls."

Joining the Eagles on the CIF Division II first team was Brawley Union High's Cynthia Flores, who was victorious at the section finals in the shot put.

The CIF San Diego Section accolades for Southwest didn't end with the track and field team. The school's softball team got into the action as freshman Melissa Lerno and junior Jessica Conway received CIF San Diego Section Division III first-team honors.

"It's a really big honor to be named first-team CIF because not many people get picked for it. Just knowing that I was one of the few that got chosen for this really is an honor," said Conway, the Eagles' first baseman. "Looking at some of the other girls that had been chosen before, I didn't think I was going to get it because I really felt there were a lot of other girls in the San Diego Section that were a lot better than me."

Conway's season was impressive, both at the plate and at first, but what she thinks may have played a part in earning Division III first-team honors was the success of her team.

Southwest finished as Imperial Valley League champion, going 10-2, and made it to the finals of the San Diego Section Division III championship, where it lost 2-0 to Serra High in May.

"I think getting this was a combination of both, what the team accomplished and what I was able to do. But I think that if the team didn't make it to the finals of CIF, I probably wouldn't have gotten first-team CIF," said Conway.

The team's success may have played a part in Conway and Lerno making the first team, but their individual statistics didn't hurt.

Conway finished with a .419 batting average, 36 RBI, six home runs and 12 runs while Lerno, had an 0.85 ERA, 112 strikeouts and an 0.00 ERA in four playoff games.

"I was really surprised that I got first-team CIF because usually there's a lot of upperclassman that get it. And being only a freshman I wasn't really expecting it," said Lerno. "When I'm out there pitching, I'm not trying to get an award like this. I'm just looking to play ball."

While Conway and Lerno were the only two Valley softball players to earn CIF San Diego section honors, seven local baseball players earned section first- and second-team honors in Divisions II, III and IV.

Brawley senior Brandon Burnett and Imperial's Aaron Hartsock, another senior, were the only first-teamers in baseball from the Valley, with Burnett earning the spot in Division III and Hartsock taking it in Division IV.

Burnett finished with a .390 batting average, 35 RBI, five home runs and was 7-2 on the mound with a 1.79 ERA with 57 strikeouts. Hartsock had a 3.00 ERA, 70 strikeouts, 16 RBI and 14 runs.

As much as the award means to everyone, for Hartsock, it means a little more as he becomes a second-generation CIF San Diego Section first-teamer, following the footsteps of his father, Scott, who earned the honor during his senior year in high school as well.

"It's kind of special because both of us got this our senior years and we both were pitchers and played shortstop," said Hartsock. "When I told him he was just real happy for me and pretty excited.

"It's a real honor to get this honor. But I know I couldn't have gotten this without my teammates. Getting this with the teammates that I had and the season we had in my senior year … I couldn't ask for anything else," said Hartsock.

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