As the end of the semester approaches, tension is high as everyone is cramming for finals and submitting last projects. And aside from that usual regime, the SF State Gator athletic teams patiently wait to see who will be deemed Athlete of the Year.
The Department of Athletics held its annual banquet last Wednesday on campus at Jack Adams Hall in the Cesar Chavez Student Center where wrestler Isaiah Hurtado and track and field member Tiana Wills both received Athletes of the Year.
Graduating senior, Tiana Wills, has been competing in track and field since her junior year of high school. A little unsure about what she wants to do after college, she is still excited to take on her future goals. And they are big ones.
“I might want to coach, but if everything works out right with track/high jump and I am able to jump 6’3”, I will be in San Diego training at the Olympic Training Camp,” said Wills. “If I am not able to jump 6’3”, then I will continue and go forward with becoming a high school history teacher.”
Wills claimed her fellow track and field teammates as her biggest athletic influences, and was pleasantly surprised to hear her name called.
“During the ceremony, I remember sitting there thinking to myself ‘it’s not going to be me’,” said Wills. “I was very surprised that I actually won.”
If Wills does not make the Olympic Training Camp as she hopes, she plans on moving back to her hometown of Moreno Valley after graduation.
Isaiah Hurtado had an exciting year. After placing eighth overall in the National Wrestling Championships and becoming the 62nd All-American at SF State, Hurtado was recognized as this year’s male Athlete of the Year.
The Sacramento native will also be graduating at the end of this month and will be off to fulfill his dreams of becoming a private investigator or elementary school teacher. Even though he has no future plans to continue his wrestling career, the sport pressured him to do his best in his academic career as well.
“Athletics have affected my academics tremendously ever since the start of my wrestling career,” said Hurtado. “Wrestling has always been a privilege so it influenced me to reach for academic success just so I could go out there and be able to wrestle.”
With many other athletes waiting to hear their own names called up to the podium, Hurtado was overjoyed and proud when he heard his name.
“It feels great to be recognized as Athlete of the Year,” said Hurtado. “It could have went to a number of different athletes from other sports, so I felt so honored to go up on the stage and receive the award.”
This is the wrestling team’s third consecutive year receiving an Athlete of the Year award and head coach Lars Jensen could not be any prouder of Hurtado and the rest to team.
“His hard work paid off in the end,” said Jensen. “Even with his biggest challenge of maintaining his weight, he was able to reach his goal of becoming an All-American and finally Athlete of the Year.”
Ending their college careers on a high note with an honorable athletic title, Wills and Hurtado are off to fulfill their hopes and dreams. Athlete of the Year is just another award to add to their long list of accomplishments throughout their SF State career.