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Netters, spikers lead 2012 awardees

posted Feb 14, 2013, 6:20 PM by NMI Volleyball   [ updated Feb 14, 2013, 6:40 PM ]
Reprinted from the Saipan Tribune, February 14, 2013:

Northern Mariana Islands Tennis Association and Northern Mariana Islands Volleyball Association shared the limelight in the 2012 NMASA Annual Sports Banquet as their athletes and officials were honored in the awards ceremony last night at the Kanoa Resort.

Tennis collected three coveted awards, while volleyball took home two, and athletics completed the 2012 individual honor roll. 

From left, Mikayla Lopez, Jeff Race, Laurie 
Peterka, and Clay McCullough-Stearns 
pose with their trophies after the NMASA 
Annual Sports Banquet held at Kanoa 
Resort last night. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Delivering three awards for NMITA were Jeff Race, Mikayla Lopez, and Todd Montgomery, while Laurie Peterka and Clay McCullough-Stearns won for NMIVA. Lia Rangamar was the lone athlete from Northern Marianas Athletics to make it on the elite list.

Second award for Race

Race was named Coach of the Year for steering the CNMI Junior Tennis Team to a successful campaign both in the 2012 North Pacific Qualifying Tournament in Guam and in the 2012 Pacific Oceania Junior Championships in Fiji. It was race's second Coach of the Year award. He won his first in 2007 and with his twin awards, he now ties the record of coaches Elias Rangamar (2004 and 2008) and Tony Rogolifoi (2010 and 2011).

In the NPQ in June, Race's wards faced Palau, Guam, and Federated States of Micronesia players and nearly swept the competition, winning five of the six titles at stake in the annual tournament. It was a complete domination for the Commonwealth bets, as 17 of its players made it to the Top 4, 10 claimed slots on the North Pacific Team, several players recorded perfect marks in the tournament, and the CNMI posted the highest win percentage in the field.

The CNMI bets went on to continue the show in Fiji in August, besting 17 other island-nations that joined the POJC. The Commonwealth had the most semifinalists in the regional tournament with five of its players advancing to the Final Four. Powerhouse Fiji had only three semifinalists. The CNMI also won one singles crown and two doubles titles.

Flawless Lopez

Lopez was part of the CNMI Junior Team that played in the NPQ and POJC and her impressive performance in both tournaments earned her the 2012 NMASA/TSL Foundation Female Student Athlete of the Year plum.

Lopez clinched the girls U15 title in the NPQ and had a flawless record in the qualifier in Guam. The Marianas High School student went on to finish No. 1 in the Pacific after ruling both the singles and doubles events in POJC.

To cap her awesome 2012 performance, Lopez stunned the CNMI's No. 1 U18 player Thea Minor in the Tan Holdings Classic in November, handing the latter her first loss in a local tournament in about four years.

NMIVA's pride

Sharing the top student honors with Lopez was McCullough-Stearns, who earned NMASA members' nods for leading Saipan International School to title wins both in the Coalition of Private School Sports Association and Marianas Interscholastic Sports Organization volleyball leagues.

McCullough-Stearns and his SIS Geckos avenged their 2011 loss to Grace Christian Academy, winning the 2012 finale, and the high-leaping player went on to win the MVP award in the league. He also took the prestigious individual award in the MISO league after lifting SIS to another title win incidentally over GCA again.

In local events, McCullough-Stearns topped several tournaments, earning him two NMASA monthly awards.

McCullough-Stearns and other Saipan players managed to participate in interscholastic and regular competitions in 2012 through the efforts of NMIVA, which is led by Peterka.

The NMIVA president helped organized competitions, referees and coaches clinic, youth players clinic, and other events to ensure the continued development of volleyball in the CNMI and her tireless work earned her the Sports Administrator of the Year award.

Peterka is only the second recipient of the elite award, joining inaugural winner Rose Igitol of baseball.

Athletes of the Year

Montgomery and Rangamar were named Athletes of the Year for their outstanding performance in separate tournaments.

Montgomery, who was off-island and was not able to attend last night's ceremony, was selected for winning two titles in the 12th Annual PIC Tennis Championships. He teamed up with Tim Quan in beating Christian Miller and Bobby Cruz in the doubles finals and then won the singles crown against the latter.

Rangamar, who also missed the awards night, was honored for resetting a CNMI national record in javelin throw during the Oceania Regional Championships 2012 in Australia. She was also part of the first CNMI relay team that competed in the regional event and helped the squad win the bronze medal in the 4x100m race.

See more photos here!