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Senior Athlete Foursome Capture Top EHS Awards
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Escalon’s varsity Lady Cougars were all smiles after claiming the first-ever volleyball section title for EHS, making history on Saturday, Nov. 9 by winning the Division 4 blue banner. Senior female athlete award winners pictured here are, Mya Beary, fifth from left, back row, and Hannah Boyd is front row, third from left, displaying the banner. Marg Jackson/The Times

As the new school year gets underway, although through distance learning and not on local campuses, the final major awards of the 2019-2020 school year have been presented.

These are honors for the top male and female athletes in the Class of 2020.

The Lloyd C. Engel Most Outstanding Senior Male Athlete award was presented to Colton Panero while Hannah Boyd earned recognition as the Lloyd C. Engel Most Outstanding Senior Female Athlete.

This year’s honorees for the Bob and Mark Loureiro Most Inspirational Senior Athlete, Male and Female, Awards were Jacob Walden and Mya Beary.

“They were selected based on a combination of their athletic accomplishments, their academic performance, their leadership qualities, and specifically for the Most Inspirational Award, how they inspired others during their time at Escalon High School,” explained EHS Athletic Director Nate Bartelink.

Collectively, the senior year for these four student-athletes proved to be a memorable one. Though campuses were abruptly shut down in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, each of the honorees had already accomplished major goals during the year.

Both Boyd and Beary were members of the Section-title winning volleyball team, helping bring the first ever blue banner to Escalon for the sport of volleyball, capturing the Division 4 crown.

Panero and Walden, meanwhile, not only won a Section blue banner in football as members of the team but carried their season all the way through to a state championship.

Following is a look at some of the activities for each student-athlete, along with comments from coaches.

Mya Beary has been busy throughout her high school years in clubs, activities, student leadership and sports. She was an award-winning tennis player, played soccer, served as tennis captain her junior year and soccer captain her senior year and helped the Lady Cougars bring home the Division 4 Section crown in volleyball.

Leadership activities have ranged from Key Club to Academic Decathlon, Interact Club and Director of Student Body Activities. She also is the reigning Miss Escalon.

“Mya Beary has been an amazing athlete to coach. She was injured her junior year, and had to sit out the majority of the season. She still came to every practice and game and was a huge inspiration to her teammates,” said varsity volleyball coach Teresa Williamson. “Mya is a team player that carries a positive attitude both on and off the court, and she truly understands the importance of team work.”

Similar accolades came from varsity soccer coach Jamie Peoples.

“I have had the privilege of coaching Mya for many years, starting in rec soccer. She was a four-year varsity soccer starter in high school, co-captain and has won both team and league awards,” noted Peoples. “Mya is a leader both on and off of the field. She is upbeat and has a positive attitude. She always encouraged, helped and pushed her teammates to be their best. She is a great three-sport star athlete but more importantly an amazing young lady who inspires others. Congratulations to Mya, this award is well deserved.”

Fellow ‘inspirational’ honoree Jacob Walden has an equally impressive résumé, playing football all four years, basketball for two, involved in band, FFA, Ag leadership and more. He has worked as an assistant in a local special needs classroom, coached Youth Club basketball teams and helped with youth football as well as serving as the head of the FFA Community Service Committee his junior year. He has a long list of academic and athletic awards through the years, including being a four-year EHS Scholar Athlete and earning Trans-Valley League Defensive Lineman of the Year honors his senior season.

“Jacob isn’t the typical “rah-rah” inspirational athlete. He inspires others through his actions and perseverance when faced with challenging and tough times,” said EHS varsity football coach Andrew Beam. “Jacob is a 4.0 student and all state athlete, but it is his courage and maturity that most impresses me.”

Walden played basketball during his freshman and sophomore years, when Bartelink was coaching at the JV level.

“I had the pleasure of being Jacob’s basketball coach for two years. He is a high caliber individual with top notch character. Jacob was a great athlete and got the most out of his athletic ability. He worked extremely hard and did so with a great attitude,” Bartelink explained. “Not everyone knows about some of the difficult things that Jacob endured during his time at EHS. He wouldn’t want it any other way. He showed up to work every day, gave his absolute best effort at all times and did not want sympathy from anyone. Given his difficult circumstances and how he was able to achieve at such a high level in the classroom and in athletics, he has been a true inspiration to others. EHS is a much better place because Jacob was a student there.”

Outstanding female athlete Hannah Boyd missed out on the chance for a fourth straight section title in softball, as they did not get to have a season this year. But she has three section crowns under her belt in that sport and added a fourth with the volleyball title this past season.

“Hannah has been a leader for the past two years on my varsity team. Hannah performs at the best of her abilities and possesses many qualities and skills of a true competitor,” volleyball coach Williamson said. “As a three sport athlete, Hannah mastered playing volleyball, basketball and softball, in which she excelled in all three areas.”

Williamson added that both Beary and Boyd “are going to be greatly missed” on the volleyball court and in the hallways and classrooms of EHS.

Active throughout her four years of high school, Boyd has been involved in Friends Helping Friends, PIT, volunteered with Relay For Life and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department.

Athletically, her list of accomplishments includes scholar-athlete, Trans-Valley League recognition as Defensive Player of the Year in varsity softball as a sophomore. Serving as catcher, she was the backbone of the team as they played their way to back-to-back-to-back Division 5 Section titles in her freshman, sophomore and junior years.

In volleyball her senior season, she was named the Most Valuable Offensive Player of the Year and was selected as a member of the All-Star Volleyball Team representing small school North division. On the basketball court, she also has earned league recognition.

“It has been a pleasure coaching Hannah for the past several seasons. I was in a unique position to coach her as an eighth grader at El Portal and she played varsity three years for me,” said EHS varsity girls basketball coach Joseph Dalpogetti. “Her senior year she was a captain and the leadership she provided to the underclassmen was the best I’ve seen in my 13 years of coaching high school basketball. We could always count on Hannah to step on the court and compete at her highest level every single night. My favorite memory of Hannah’s was watching her hit back to back 3’s on a sprained ankle to beat Amador in overtime. Between section titles and all-league honors you’d have to check the EHS record books to find a more successful female athlete. I am incredibly proud of her and I know her future is bright.”

Outstanding male athlete, Colton Panero, maintained a full schedule of sports and activities throughout high school as well, playing football and basketball all four years. He also was involved in FFA, and served on the FFA Livestock Judging Team as a sophomore. He joined the AP Psychology Club as a senior. He was varsity football team captain his junior and senor years, after having been the JV team captain as a sophomore.

Among his honors, FFA Greenhand, Chapter and State degrees, scholar-athlete recognition, Rotary Student of the Month and several athletic honors, from TVL All-League Linebacker of the Year as a senior to the Burlsworth Character Award, to go along with the football D6 Section title, D4A NorCal championship and D4A state championship.

“Colton Panero was one of the most special student-athletes I have ever had the opportunity to coach and teach. Colton goes above and beyond as a leader, competitor, and is the ultimate team player,” said Beam. “Colton is a great selection for Lloyd C. Engel Most Outstanding Senior Male Athlete.”

Through the years, Panero has also served as a Cub basketball coach, volunteered at the San Joaquin AgFest, been involved in Escalon Park Fete clean up and assisted the 4H swine group, as well as working with Panero Farms Shredding and Panero Farms Show Pigs.

“I had the pleasure of coaching Colton for three years in basketball. While he was a very gifted athlete, no one outworked him or competed harder than him. He was a key part of the basketball program’s recent success,” noted Bartelink. “He brought a lot of intangibles to our team that often go unnoticed, but everyone that saw him play regularly knew how important he was to our team. He was a leader, a great teammate and the ultimate competitor. On top of that, you won’t find a better person at his age than Colton. He has left a legacy at EHS and he will be missed.”

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Walking to midfield to shake hands with their opponents before the game while serving as two of the Cougar captains, Colton Panero, left, and Jacob Walden received the top male senior sports honors for the year – both were key to the Cougars run to the state football Division 4A title this past season. Marg Jackson/The Times