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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : sports : sports April 29, 2016

6/5/2014 1:02:00 PM
Calandra, Hanks win Athlete Of the Year
Heather Calandra and her parents. VVN/Travis Guy
Heather Calandra and her parents. VVN/Travis Guy
Dakota Hanks and his family. VVN/Travis Guy
Dakota Hanks and his family. VVN/Travis Guy

Travis Guy
Sports Reporter

Just because the track and field season is over does not mean that those athletes are not excelling and capturing even more awards.

On June 3, former Mingus Union athletes Dakota Hanks and Heather Calandra were named athletes of the year.

Track and field head coach Yancey DeVore, who was also one of Hanks' coaches on the football team, presented the awards. He could not say enough about the hard work both of the athletes put in over their four years at Mingus Union.

"I think it just speaks on behalf of the athlete," DeVore said. "Not only do you have two great athletes, and they were key parts of our teams this year. The boys came in fourth and Dakota was a big part of that, the girls won it all again [and] Heather, 18 points, how can you argue with that."

For Hanks, the award capped off a year where he lead the football team in rushing yards, and yards per game, and was a part of the gold medal 4X400 relay team, despite dealing with an injury.

In his final year as a Marauder Hanks accumulated 584 yards on 104 carries, averaging 58.4 yards per game rushing, making his way to the end zone five times. Defensively Hanks brought down 74 total opponents (third best on the team), with 17 solo tackles and had one sack for a loss of five yards. He also interrupted two passes caused, and recovered, a fumble, blocked a punt and blocked a field goal.

After football he was a late addition to the wrestling team. During the winter he had an up-and-down wrestling season that ended early for health reasons. While on the mat, Hanks went 2-1, all falls.

For his final season as a Marauder, Hanks helped his team squeak by Shadow Ridge High School to finish the Division-III state meet in fourth place with 41 points. Hanks ran the third leg of the race and was able to get in front of the pack before handing the baton off to Ryan Talbot for the final leg of the race. The Mingus graduate was hampered by a leg injury leading up to the meet, which affected how many events he was able to participate in. But during his leg of the relay no one could tell.

"I think it's a pretty nice honor to be voted into that from our coaches and its kind of a compliment," Hanks said.

Hanks will be attending Yavapai College in the fall.

Mingus' female athlete of the year, Heather Calandra, was a two-sport athlete, but really made her impact in the throwing events during spring.

Calandra was a part of the girls' basketball team in the winter. While the girls did not have the season they wanted, which would have included a trip to the post season, they did finish .500 with a 12-12 record. It was the best finish for the Marauders since the 2008-09 season. Calandra was a constant presence under the basket, always threatening to grab boards. And because of her work in the throwers circle, rarely was anyone able to over-power her and wrestle the ball from her hands.

It is not too far fetched to call Calandra one of the most, if not the most, winningest athlete that Mingus has ever produced. The four-time state champion rarely lost in the shot put her senior season. The only time she did not win gold was at the Chandler Rotary Invitational, during the elite session (she finished third behind Chandler's Biannca Finn and Ky Westbrook, second and first at D-I state respectively.).

"It is a compliment and I think its something that a lot of people have a goal for and it's really cool to be the one to achieve it."

Calandra scored 18 of the Marauders' 68.33 points at the state meet. At Mesa Community College, the thrower threw a personal best of 44 feet 6.25 inches in the shot put to win gold and finished second in the discus with a toss of 107 feet 2 inches.

Following her stellar season, and career, at Mingus Union, Calandra will be traveling to the east coast to attend the University of Maryland, Baltimore County on a full-athletic scholarship.

"They show up everyday to practice, they work hard, they get better and it shows," DeVore said. "That's why Heather's going to a D-I college as well. Its just excellent."

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