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Top Senior Athlete Honors Recognize Cougar Quartet
Senior awards
Top award winners for the Class of 2017 at Escalon High School included, from left, Blue Capps and Ashleigh Strand, Hall-Loureiro Most Inspirational Senior Athletes; Yajaira Salinas and Zachary Gardner, Lloyd. C. Engel Most Outstanding Senior Athletes. - photo by Marg Jackson/The Times

Capping their high school careers with the top senior sports awards, a quartet of Escalon students claimed unique hardware at the recent spring Sports Awards Night.

The Hall-Loureiro Most Inspirational Senior Athlete of the Year for the Class of 2017 honorees were Blue Capps and Ashleigh Strand, while the Lloyd C. Engel Most Outstanding Senior Athletes were Yajaira Salinas and Zachary Gardner.

“These four have been Trans-Valley League Scholar-Athletes, they received numerous scholarships on Senior Night … this was a very solid class,” said Escalon Athletic Director Mark Loureiro.

Capps participated in football for four years at Escalon High School, played basketball for three years and wrestled for one year. He said while he didn’t set out to be “inspirational,” he did like setting the tone for teammates.

“Everyone in the weight room looked up to me a lot,” Capps admitted, spending the time necessary to prepare for sports throughout the year. “I liked the role.”

He also was honored to have won the award and will move on from Escalon High School to play football and study kinesiology at Cabrillo College.

For Strand, who participated in track and field, cross country, basketball and cheerleading over the years at EHS, she said sports provided a safe haven.

“I want to make myself better,” she explained of pushing herself to excel in whatever activity is in front of her. “I do feel inspirational ... through everything I’ve been through, sports was a ‘go to’, it kept me going through high school.”

She will start her college career at Modesto Junior College and will begin coursework to go pre-med.

Salinas ran both cross country and did track and field all four years at EHS, setting school records along the way.

“It’s just amazing,” she said of being singled out as the top female athlete for the Class of 2017. “I feel honored to be recognized.”

The standout student athlete will major in Biology and plans to attend Stanislaus State, where she will continue her athletic career as well.

Taking part in cross country and setting new standards in golf at EHS, Zachary Gardner said being tapped as the outstanding male athlete is not something he anticipated.

“It’s pretty cool, knowing some of the other people that have won this award … being compared to those people, it’s an honor,” Gardner said.

Though he hasn’t finalized his college choice yet, he does plan to major in Business and hopes to continue golfing at the collegiate level as well.

The foursome were the final award winners at the May 31 Sports Awards Night, capping off the school year.


“All of them are leaders in their sports, in the classroom and leaders on our campus,” Loureiro pointed out. “They are great role models as athletes and students; you don’t replace kids like these.”