The GSPN Athlete of the year for 2018 has been awarded to 18-year-old rugby star Alejandra ‘Ale’ Ada, the youngest AOY winner and just the second female winner in the history of the award!
“I am both surprised and humbled to be selected as the GSPN Athlete of the Year. 2018 has been filled with so many milestones and memorable events for me and to be given this honor brings it full circle and caps off such an amazing year!,” said Ale on her reaction to being selected.
Ada made a big splash over summer after announcing she would commit to play Division I rugby at the prestigious Dartmouth College, a college that is challenging enough to get in to on academics alone.
Ale did not only make the roster, she was a difference maker for the team all season long. She racked up team awards such as “Female athlete of the week” and “Lifter of the week” in just her freshman season. Ale’s best game would come against Army where she posted two tries in the win.
Ale and the Big Green of Dartmouth would go on to defeat Harvard 19-14 for the NIRA National Title, the first ever NIRA title for Dartmouth.
Ale reflects on being named the 2018 GSPN AOY
“For me, this is more than an award – it represents my hope that it also becomes an inspiration to others to go for their dreams, their aspirations. I truly believe that anything is possible if you believe in yourself and you put in the work necessary.”
“I’d like to thank God through whom all things are possible. I’d like to thank my parents and siblings for the unending support. Thank you to all my coaches and teammates both former and current, who pushed me to go above and beyond what I thought I could achieve.”
“And finally, thank you to GSPN for presenting me with this Award and for giving all of Guam’s athletes in the various sports the opportunity to shine and be recognized.”
*The former winners of the GSPN Athlete of the Year Award played part in the selection process*
GSPN ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
2012 – Jon Tuck (MMA/UFC)
2013 – Zach Pangelinan (USA National Rugby)
2014 – Eddie ‘Barefoot Bandito’ Vega (100 Barefoot Marathons)
2015 – Guam Men’s Basketball Team (Pacific Games Gold)
The Annual ND Alumni Volleyball Tournament concluded over the final weekend of 2018 at the ND gym in Talafofo, where a familiar set of volleyball veterans took on a much younger generation of talent in the championship game.
The first ever Alumni Tournament winners in team Mix Plate, comprised of key members of coach Blaine Afaisen’s volleyball dynasty, battled to a nail-biting 5th set, but the fresher legs of the new kids in Wow6 outlasted the veterans 19-25, 25-21, 18-25, 26-24, 25-20.
Not exclusive to just ND Alumni, led by coach Vicente Flores, Wow6 took down last years champions in IGY6 in the semifinals to earn their title shot. Mix Plate defeated a red hot Mosa’s team to also secure their spot, but the tournament teams saw a dip in rosters after National Volleyball members had to attend an event UOG before the playoff matches Sunday evening.
Every year GSPN spends the last days of the closing calendar year counting down the most clicked, read, like, tweeted and shared stories on the website and our social media as well as their impact on Guam Sports. We’ll be revealing a new story every day before ringing in the New Year!
Today we continue with the top story of 2018.
Top 10 Stories of 2018
#1 – Guam Basketball’s Tony Thompson passes away: The most shocking story of 2018 came so sudden that the passing of Guam Basketball President and FD Principal Tony Thompson in April is still hard to believe. A pioneer for the sport of basketball on Guam, Thompson helped Guam Basketball reach new heights as well as being a role model and mentor for many he came in contact with. Thousands attended Thompson’s memorial service held at the FD Phoenix Center from alumni to family and friends. Guam Basketball and the FD students all sported ‘T2’ or ‘TT’ patches on their jerseys in the Micro Games, Asia Pre-Qualifiers and every high school jersey to keep the memory of Thompson with them every step of the way
#2 – Kid Yamamoto passes away on Guam: The legend Norifumi ‘Kid’ Yamamoto succumbed to his long battle with cancer late 2018, passing away in the care of his good friend Melchor Manibusan. The former UFC bantamweight’s passing garnered the most social media attention in the history of GSPN along with the feature story from GSPN’s Patrick Lujan about Manibusan’s last moments with Yamamoto. The featured story was asked to be taken down, but prior to it, the story had been the most trending story on social media.
#3 – Men’s Basketball dominates FIBA Pre-Qualifiers: The biggest accomplishment by Guam sports in 2018 came from the Men’s National Basketball team as the dominated the FIBA Asia Pre-Qualifers while also attaining the highest FIBA rank (76) in history. Guam was introduced to Earnest Ross, who was also named the tourney top’s performer! Guam’s win in Thailand assured their spot to defend their Pacific Games Title in 2019, but their win also granted them an invitation to the Qualifiers in 2020.
#4 – Friars extend win streak to 40 games: The longest winning streak in Guam high school football was extended in 2018 as the FD Friars took their 30-game bench mark in 2017 and added to it, going 40-0 to finish off another IIAAG season with their fourth straight title. The title game against GW was one of the most exciting football games as it ended in a wild overtime victory for the Friars. Had the tables been turned, the Geckos denying the Friars their 40th win in the title game would have also made its way as one of the biggest sports stories of 2018.
#5 – Martinez fights the legend Crop cop: Arguably the biggest fight in Guam MMA history, Heavyweight Roque Martinez got in the ring with the MMA Croatian legend Mirko Cro Cop in Rizin 13. News of the fight accumulated some of the biggest social media reactions in everything leading up to the big event. GSPN’s Patrick Lujan flew to Japan to cover Martinez’s fight first hand. Martinez ended up losing after suffering a cut on his temple where the doctor deemed Roque ineligible to finish, giving Cro Cop the win. Martinez stated his MMA journey is still not yet over as he is still in his prime!
#6 – GDOE contemplates leaving the IIAAG: News broke in November in a press release from GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez that GDOE will be looking into the possibility of breaking away from the IIAAG for high school sports. GSPN followed up with Fernandez on the situation and he further explained what sparked the idea to leave and what might be in store if that possibility becomes a reality. If the decision to leave is upheld, the split between private and public high school sports can happen as early as January 2019.
#7 – Guam shows out in Micro Games Yap: Guam’s participation in the 2018 Micro Games was followed heavily as GSPN’s Robert Balajadia and Michael Ebio were the only media from Guam to venture to the small island of Yap. Guam sent 11 total teams and captured 53 total medals 29 Gold, 12 Silver and 12 Bronze. GSPN is full of photos and story recaps including ALL of the action so feel free to search up the Micro Games section for the entire two-week recap of action!
#8 – Bubba Nickles’ first trip to Guam: The softball star with a chamorrita bloodline made her first trip to Guam over the summer of 2018. UCLA softball super star Madilyn ‘Bubba’ Nickles had always embraced her Guam heritage and her first trip to the island included a softball clinic, participating in the first annual APL Women’s All-Star Softball Game and a tour around the island with her parents! Nickles assured that her visit to the island isn’t a one-time deal after receiving such warm welcomes from softball fans all-around the island.
#9 – Knights capture elusive basketball title: A title that was four years in the making; longer if you consider how long the core of the 2018 St. John’s Knights basketball team had been playing together. The once group of talented middle school stars put the IIAAG on notice behind the mature game of Michael Min and sharp shooting of Takumi Simon right from their freshman season. The talented group only got better as each year passed, but the only thing missing was getting a IIAAG trophy as the group had never even reached the finals. Head coach Fred Peters considered their senior season ‘all or nothing’ and the group settled in to their potential to finally bring home a high school basketball title to St. John’s where they snapped a 37-game win streak by the St. Paul Warriors.
#10 – Zach Banner and Larry Ogunjobi host clinics on Guam: Guam’s football community were exposed to training of the highest level in football as the NFL’s Zach Banner and Larry Ogunjobi of the Cleveland Browns. Guam son Zach Banner has made it a point of emphasis to be involved with Guam football as much as he can and during 2018’s off-season, Banner called on former teammate Larry Ogunjobi, a stand out rookie, to assist in hosting clinics for Guam football from youth to adults while even having a two-day session with Guam’s coaches.
The JFK Islanders wrapped up a perfect season, just in time for the holidays, winning the 2018 IIAAG Boys Soccer title over the Harvest Eagles 3-1 at the GFA Field Wednesday evening. Down 1-0 at halftime, the Islanders deployed a more aggressive attack as they scored all three goals in the second half to keep their unbeaten season spoiler free.
The biggest factor in the Islanders in-game turnaround is no stranger to big moments. Striker Eddie Cho was named the MVP of the match after assisting on a go-ahead goal before putting one in himself while fighting off a triple team to go up 3-1.
“This year was special since it was my last one,” said Cho putting on his hero cape in the big game. “We dominated this season going 14-0 and we didn’t want to end it without a championship.”
“That guy has got a big heart,” said Islanders head coach Eladio Manansala on Cho. “That’s why I chose him as one of our captains. You tell him one thing and he goes out and does that and more. He really wanted it this year after losing the title last season.”
Cho, who has the make-up of the protagonist in your favorite anime, scored the game-winning goal his sophomore season in the finals against St. John’s in 2016. Cho was one of the two scorers for the Islanders in a shoot-out loss to FD in last years finals. 2018 was Cho’s last shot at a title, being his senior year, and the big game was just begging for another big-moment from Eddie.
Tied at one goal each, Cho broke down the Eagles defense after getting loose up the left sideline before sending a perfect pass to wide open teammate Noah Mueller for the go-ahead goal 2-1 in the 63rd minute.
Moments later, Cho took a through ball past two defenders and used his quickness to put a soft tap on the ball after getting the Eagles keeper to commit, scoring the Islanders third goal of the night to go up 3-1 late in the game.
“Our offense was fine, we just needed to change our formations. Coach gave us a really good pep talk at halftime and that boosted up our confidence,” said Cho.
A different second half
Coach Manansala admitted to playing too defensively in the first half. A shift to move Mueller up to push the pace made all the difference as JFK unloaded 15 total shots at goal in the second half alone.
“I was tired of playing defense. We scored 70 goals all season so I figured it was time to go back to playing to our strengths. Let’s stop playing defense and start scoring goals. We pressured them and once we scored that first one we knew that was it,” said Manansala.
Bonner would put JFK on the board after scoring off his own rebounded attempt to start the Islander comeback. Cho would grab the pretty assist to Mueller for the 2-1 lead before giving the team some breathing room on his solo-score.
The Islanders were also caught up in the early game emotions, but coach Lad never allowed his boys mental toughness to waver despite trailing 1-0 at the half.
“They had to want it more than Harvest. They were getting frustrated and it was taking them out of their game in the first half. I told them that we needed to get back to playing Islanders soccer. I told them 40 minutes is a lot of time,” said coach Eladio.
The Eagles scored the games first goal off a corner kick as Sung Wu Kim caught Islander keeper Allan Aranas off-guard after Micah Hennegan crossed it in. Kim’s score put the Eagles ahead and Aranas knew he could have played it better.
“It bothered me a lot. There were a lot of ways I could have played that ball better. I told myself I needed to wake up and keep my communication up with my defenders,” said Aranas on the first half goal.
Aranas spent the whole second half proving his abilities with seven total saves. But none were bigger than his block on Eagles leading scorer Hennegan in PK fashion in the games final minutes. Hennegan has been money all season kicking penalties and he was setting up for a routine trip to the box to try and get his team back from the 3-1 deficit. Hennegan’s shot was center left and Aranas pounced on the shot to deny the score.
“I didn’t know where he was going to shoot it, but I just looked at the direction of his foot. I just trusted my reflexes then to try and catch the ball,” said Aranas.
The blocked shot would keep the two-goal lead intact for JFK as four minutes of extra time officially expired to put JFK back on top of the IIAAG Boys Soccer world.
The Untalan Wildcats finished their championship season in style Tuesday evening, netting a 5-0 victory over the visiting FBLG Hawks at the Tiyan High field. Winning the title with the best record in the GDOE league for the second straight year, the Wildcats finished the season much like they started, in dominant fashion.
Striker EJ Sablan led the way with a hat-trick, scoring two of his three goals within the first 15 minutes of the game. Adding to the scoring was Ashton Aguon, who scored from the right wing midway through the first half. Sablan scored his final goal off the crossbar late in the second half and teammate Arthur Manglona added the finishing touches for the final goal in the closing minutes.
“Since this was my last game I had to go out and try and make all of my shots. Chemistry has been so good and our team has played so well this season almost scoring double digits each game,” said Sablan.
EJ is an 8th grader which means his next venture will be high school soccer. Sablan will be following in his older brother Sean Sablan’s footsteps to play for the FD Friars.
Head coach Sam San Gil knew he had a group of special players but the goal to bring home a second straight GDOE title was the only thing on the Wildcats minds.
“We always came with this end in mind, which is a championship. The boys knew that we had to put our work in to get here. I always tell them wish, will, want and work. We proved to have the will power to put the work in during practice and you can see now that all the boys are enjoying themselves.
The group was tasked to continue to play soccer in the outside leagues to help sharpen their skills and coach San Gil gave credit to all those organizations such as the Sidekicks, Islanders, Tumon and all the clubs alike.
“When you coach them good in practice then you don’t need to coach them during the game. You just guide them and give them minor points and these boys already knew what they had to do,” added San Gil.
The Hawks came close to avoiding a shutout on a penalty kick, but the Wildcats keeper played spoiler denying the shot.
The JFK offense proved to be too much for a determined St. Paul defense, as they move on to the Championship game after a 5-1 win over the Warriors. A strong defensive start by St. Paul kept the game scoreless for much of the first half, but Islander Christian Kido was able to break the silence with a shot that was narrowly missed by the Warrior’s keeper.
The Harvest Eagles defeated the FD Friars 2-1 setting up a finals match between the JFK Islanders and Harvest Eagles.
“When I scored the first goal, I remembered that we had to get this [win] because last year we choked,” said Kido on his thought process. The motivation certainly paid off as the Warriors were now forced to play aggressively.
As the Warriors began to attack the goal more, their tight defense was forced to spread out, which is exactly what Tayler Bonner needed to sink in another shot before time expired in the first half. Now up comfortably with a 2-0 lead. The Islanders were then more relaxed.
“In the second half, we were more relaxed as a team and we were weren’t forcing our balls through the defense. We were just working together more,” commented Bonner on the Islander’s productive second half.
In the second half, the Islanders started to play to their strengths and repeatedly attacked Warrior’s keeper, Saena San Nicolas. To his credit, the sophomore blocked shot after shot, but when JFK’s Eddie Cho broke away with the ball, the ball slipped through his hands as the Islanders went up 3-0.
The Warriors refused to go quietly as Warrior’s Phoenix Pahl would avoid the shut-out by dancing his way through the Islander defense and putting a goal in the back of the net. The Warriors began to rally off of this shot, as they would be close to scoring multiple goals, but any chance of a comeback would be taken away as Tayler Bonner received a crossing pass from Eddie Cho and scored his second point of the night, making the score 4-1.
“When they scored their goal, we were calm and collected and we just wanted to get more,” said Cho on the goal.
The Islanders would score one more goal in the end to make the final score 5-1 and secure their spot in the championship game, where they will be facing the Harvest Christian Academy Eagles.
When asked how they will prepare for their final test, Kido said, “We’re gonna work on finishing and developing more team plays.”
Eagles deny Friars title repeat
By GSPN staff
The Harvest Eagles played spoiler to a rematch of last years title game by once again defeating the Friars in a close contest.
Eagle Micah Hennegan scored the first goal early in the game and added his second on a PK for a 2-0 Harvest lead.
Friar Morgan McKenna scored the lone goal for his team in the second half, but FD couldn’t tie the game in the final moments granting the Eagles the ticket to the finals.
It was an early ending for the 2018-2019 IIAAG Wrestling All-Island Meet with a low number of participants due to the absence of the Sanchez Sharks. After the all-day event, the FD Friars celebrated their fourth straight championship and the GW Geckos girls celebrated their championship hours after the GW boys team won the baseball title.
GW rallies to win girls championship
It was a three team race with three matches remaining in the all-island girls meet between the regular season record leader Tiyan Titans, the AOLG Cougars and the Geckos.
A clutch come-from-behind pin by freshman Alanah Balabagno in the 168-pound division helped push the Geckos within three points of the-then team point leader Cougars. McKenzie Quitugua followed with victory via pin fall in the 184-pound division to take the lead and clinch the championship.
“For the longest time, GW has been close to winning a title but was always coming up short. Knowing that I helped the team get closer with my victory makes me feel really good,” said Balabagno. “I’m glad I decided to join wrestling; I’m really indebted to our coaches who helped us this season.”
The Cougars came close once again and almost made history coming up short of a championship. Lauren Lujan, Andrea Salas, and Annabelle Basto each won gold medals for the Cougars. Lujan and Basto won the light and heavy weight MVP honors for the season after the coaches voted after the event.
Salas wins thrilling match
“Before every match, I tell myself that I have to want it more than my opponent,” said Salas. Salas was tested early but overcame adversity and won via pin to give Academy the point lead mid-way through the meet.
Academy finished in a respectable second place, their highest finish in school history and are looking strong for next season.
“Academy in the past has been at the bottom of the rankings but now that we have more wrestlers coming out and wrestling under coach Terry Debold, we are doing much better,” said Salas.
Debold’s Dynasty Continues
The Father Duenas Friars once again walked away with a convincing win to claim their fourth straight title, continuing the dynasty under head coach Terry Debold. The Friars had nine total wrestlers in the gold medal matches and scored 139 total points.
Boys Final Team results:
FD Friars – 139 points
Southern High – 87 points
GW Geckos – 84 points
Okkodo Bulldogs – 76 points
Guam High – 39 points
Tiyan Titans – 38 points
JFK Islanders – 11 points
Caleb Laserna, Thomas Pool, Matias Calvo and Kobe Onedera each won gold medals for the Friars. After a disappointing finish last year, Laserna returned to wrestling and won his match in the 113-pound division via pin.
“I felt motivated after what happened last year. I decided to continue wrestling and push myself to go for the gold,” said Laserna who finished the season undefeated.
FD team captain Calvo (14-0) and teammate Pool (11-0) also finished their season undefeated.
Galarpe, Bonnette win MVP honors
Lance Galarpe from Tiyan won the lightweight MVP honors. Galarpe held off FD’s Kaleb Gamabala in the 120-pound gold medal match to finish his with a 13-1 record. Bonnette pinned GW’s Devin Benavente in the 160-pound gold medal match and finished his season with a 12-1 record.
Girls IIAAG Wrestling results:
97: Tiara Fernandez, Tiyan (Gold), Emma Reese Gutierrez, AOLG (Silver), Elenice Leon Guerrero, GW (Bronze)
The GW Geckos are champions of baseball for the third time in four years after completing a perfect playoff sweep, beating the Sanchez Sharks 6-4 while holding off a furious rally at the Okkodo Field Saturday evening.
GW was sitting in the drivers seat in the double-elimination playoffs meaning a loss would still guarantee them one more game. The Geckos had no intentions of playing the ‘IF’ game by turning in a strong defensive performance while holding down the upstart Sharks.
Pitcher Jaren Gumataotao went all seven innings and went into the bottom of the 7th inning up 6-1 after just extending his teams lead after an RBI single. After two dropped balls on fly outs, the Sharks would load the bases for a two out rally that hung rain clouds over the Geckos celebration party.
Sanchez got an RBI single from Jadein “Cheeseburger” Evangelista to carve into the lead 6-2 with the Sanchez dugout pouring on the cheers. An altercation on a stolen base from Shark Ethan Palnia and Gecko third baseman Kyle Quichocho fired up both sides even more and Sanchez responded with another RBI single from Jacob Toves to really put the pressure on Gumataotao.
A timeout would be called to settle the team down as Jaren was still facing loaded bases.
“They just told me to pitch to my strengths and hit the strike zones. I really wasn’t thinking much of anything, I tried to block everything out to try and finish the game,” said Gumataotao.
Another base hit from Jeremiah Sablan scored another run for the Sharks while facing elimination for a 6-4 deficit. Shark Tyler Santos couldn’t keep the wild streak going as his hit stayed in the infield as Gumataotao was able to scoop up the grounder for an easy toss to first baseman Ethaniel Cali for the final out.
Errors would hurt the Sharks giving up three unearned runs early on for a 4-1 deficit.
GW back on top of baseball
After taking over as head coach last season, Dan Leon Guerrero reiterated what he promised his boys in 2018.
“I told you that we’re taking back the title this year,” shouted Leon Guerrero to his team in the post game huddle.
The Geckos peaked at the perfect time despite having a rough start to the season.
“We had some players who hadn’t come out yet at the beginning of the season and it took a while for the team to work together. They are all a bunch of new players and they haven’t played together so it did take time. That’s what we focused on all season, working fundamentals and to get them to gel and towards the end they all just started to click,” said Leon Guerrero.
They were the hottest team entering the playoffs and not even the undefeated FD Friars could extinguish their flames as the Geckos handed the Friars their first loss all year.
“We let these guys know that fundamentals is going to win games. They all executed defensively and it was more of the execution while trying to keep the errors to a minimum. We had a whole week off and the communication was there in practice all week and we knew what we needed to get done to win it today,” added Leon Guerrero.
Gumataotao takes the win for GW and pitcher Rico Miner takes the loss for the Sharks. League MVP Sigfrido Sanchez relieved Miner in the 6th inning.
The JFK Islanders cruised in the opening round of the playoffs after netting 11 goals over the Tiyan Titans. After a slow start, the Islander offense started to take form, much like they have all season, scoring 6 straight goals to blow the game open.
GSPN’s Michael Ebio captured all the action in the gallery below.
The Sanchez Sharks fell back on their defense during Wednesday evenings IIAAG Baseball playoff game against the FD Friars, knocking the defending champs out of title contention in a closely contested 6-5 game at the Okkodo Field. Wednesday’s game was also the 3rd place game with the winner advancing to face the GW Geckos on Saturday while the loser is awarded 3rd place in the double-elimination format.
Trailing 5-3 in the 6th inning, the Sharks took full advantage of a pitching change for FD while getting three runs in the inning to take the 6-5 advantage. The pressure was on for freshman pitcher Jadein ‘Cheeseburger’ Evangelista as he had to keep FD off the scoreboard for two straight innings to secure the win.
“I was very nervous and my heart was pumping pretty good, but I just tried my best,” said Evangelista.
FD retired starting pitcher Noah Pereda after two walks in the 6th to bring on Sean Balauro. Balauro would struggle to find his pitch, walking two Sharks to tie the game at five before making his exit for Ethan Lobaton. With the bases loaded, it would be Evangelista to deliver a lead changing hit, securing an RBI single that took a fortunate in-field bounce to go up 6-5.
The defense rallied behind Evangelista in the 6th with one out away as FD’s Kobe Martinez connected to send his hit deep right, but Shark Rico Miner was sitting under it the whole way to grab the out. Friar Justin Leon Guerrero was held up at second and was advised to try and steal third after the out, but Miner’s throw was well ahead of Leon Guerrero as the MVP Sigfrido Sanchez grabbed and tagged the sliding Leon Guerrero for the double play.
FD ended the top of the 7th inning on a double play as well giving their offense a chance to tie or win the game.
With one out away, big hitter Aidan McDonald would get on base followed by a single from Jake Carbullido to really put the pressure on Evangelista. Friar Rowen Brantley would face a full count before Evangelista would get a big strikeout for the second out of the inning. McDonald would end up stealing third with batter Daniel Akimoto at bat.
Akimoto was facing a full count as well as Evangelista caught him out swinging for the final out to force the Friars to settle for 3rd place.
The Sharks were knocked into the losers bracket by the Geckos earlier this week and now they are tasked with defeating GW twice in order to win the 2018 title.
“We’re going to try our hardest and we’re going to go back to practice and work harder, but we’re going to the ‘chip,” stated Jadein.