Pauga pulls away to win boys athlete vote

Liberty senior 195-pound wrestler Luke Pauga, right, drills with a teammate on Jan. 30 at at Liberty High School in Peoria.[Jacob Stanek/West Valley Preps]

West Valley Preps

The year of the multi-sport athlete ended with another vote in favor of one.

A month after picking three-sport senior Kendra Fowler of Sunrise Mountain as girls athlete of the year, voters chose recent Liberty graduate Luke Pauga as the West Valley Preps Boys Athlete of the Year for 2018-19. Nearly 1,000 votes were cast in the month since June 18.

Paugua, a starting defensive end, 195-pound state wrestling qualifier on the Lions state title team and baseball made a late surge to win with 376 votes. In football, he picked up 28 tackles and 4½ sacks and finished sixth in the 195-pound division at the state Division I wrestling tournament.

More than anything, though, Pauga emerged as one of the state’s better baseball players in 2019. He was chosen the 6A Desert Valley Region player of the year and a first-time all-state 6A performer. He led the Lions to a spot in the top six of 6A with a .417 batting average, six home runs and 31 RBI this spring.

Pauga is likely to resume his baseball career in a couple of years, but later this year he will begin a two-year Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints mission.

Ironwood’s Stone Aguirre tackles Sunnyslope’s Willard Roland on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 at Ironwood High School in Glendale. [Jacob Stanek/West Valley Preps]
Ironwood graduate and two-sport star Stone Aguirre finished second with 292 votes. Aguirre started at linebacker in the fall for the third straight year, leading the Eagles defense again with 115 tackles.

Then Aguirre capped high school career with his first wrestling state title, at 195 pounds in Division II. Aguirre will continue wrestling in college, at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott.

Peoria graduate and three-sport star Cameron Torres finished third with 115 votes. He started the football season as a wide receiver but switched to defensive back midway through making 23 tackles and deflecting two passes.

Torres tried varsity soccer for the first time and earned second team all-West Valley Region honors at goalkeeper.

He led the Panthers baseball program to its first postseason appearance in 12 years with a .455 batting average, three homers and 17 RBI. Torres will continue playing baseball at the next level, starting with Glendale Community College next spring.

Cameron Torres
Peoria senior shortstop Cameron Torres fields a ground ball in between innings as a warmup against Desert Edge on April 2 at Peoria High School. [Jacob Stanek/West Valley Preps]

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