Year That Was 2021

Bravo-Young, Jimenez 2021 Southern Arizona male, female athletes of year

The athletes listed are those who are either attending a high school in Southern Arizona or graduated from one:

Top 5 Male Southern Arizona Athletes of 2021

1. Roman Bravo-Young

Roman Bravo-Young won his first NCAA title on March 20 (Penn State photo)

Sunnyside High School wrestling legend Roman Bravo-Young added a national championship to all of his accolades on March 20. The Penn State junior, the No. 2 seed in the 133-pound bracket of the NCAA tournament, defeated top-seed Daton Fix of Oklahoma State by a 4-2 sudden-victory decision at St. Louis. His quick takedown of Fix, an Olympic hopeful last year when he redshirted, in overtime brought him the title. “I was hanging on there at the end, but I just moved my feet and hit an angle,” Bravo-Young told ESPN2 about his takedown. “I don’t care what happened in that match. A national title is a national title. It feels amazing. I put a lot of work into this. It’s a lot of pressure sometimes but I got it done and now I’m a national champion forever.” Bravo-Young, who won four state titles at Sunnyside and went 182-0 in his career with the Blue Devils, also became a three-time All-American by advancing to the NCAA Tournament semifinals. Bravo-Young also earned his first Big Ten title defeating Iowa’s Austin DeSanto by a 5-2 decision on March 7 at University Park, Pa.

2. Andre Jackson

Andre Jackson while at Cienega (Andy Morales/

Former Cienega standout Andre Jackson was elevated form the Tulsa Drillers to the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers a recently and he took the next step with a spot on the 40-man roster for the Dodgers on Aug. 16. Jackson was a standout at Utah and he was taken in the 12th round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Every parent wants the best for their kid, but this was more than we could have ever asked for,” his mother Chach Jackson said. “He has made us so very proud. He has worked so hard and overcome so much to make it this far. To make his debut with the Dodgers at Dodgers stadium was an incredible experience. We are so thankful for our “village” that has supported him since his Little League days. That village was cheering loud and proud last night and we are honored to share this moment with all of them!”

3. Turner Washington

Turner Washington (ASU photo)

Canyon del Oro grad and former Arizona track and field athlete Turner Washington, now a redshirt junior at ASU, won the NCAA indoor shot put championship on March 12 with a throw of 70 feet, one inch at Fayetteville, Ark. Washington is the USTFCCCA West Region Field Athlete of the Year after shattering the NCAA indoor record for the shot put earlier this season at the Texas Tech Shootout. Washington went 71-8.25 on his final attempt in that meet for the record. Washington brought home the NCAA Division I championship with a mark of 21.10 meters (69 feet, 2.75 inches) in the shot put on June 10 at the Outdoor Championships taking place Eugene, Ore., and he followed that up with a championship in the discus with a toss of 63.42/208-1. His victory in the shot put and discus automatically qualifies him as a First Team All-American.

4. Francisco Manzo

Francisco Manzo

Former Salpointe standout Francisco Manzo was named the United Soccer Coaches Men’s Soccer Junior College Division II Player of the Year and the Pima Men’s Soccer Coaching Staff was named the Southwest Region Staff of the Year on Dec. 13. Manzo played and started in all 21 games scoring 12 goals and had eight assists. He scored the final penalty kick that secured the NJCAA Division II National Championship and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after he scored four goals at the Stryker Sports Complex in Wichita, Kan. “It means a lot to me to be named Player of the Year and it wouldn’t be possible without my teammates and the coaches that would push me to be better in practice and in games,” Manzo said in a release. “Being able to leave Pima after finally winning a national championship and to do it with all my teammates and some of my childhood friends was really special.”

5. Trevor Werbylo

Trevor Werbylo had an accomplished 2021 (Arizona graphic)

Former Salpointe and Arizona standout golfer Trevor Werbylo was named Forme Tour Player of the Year in September. Werbylo collected 981 points in eight events on the tour to earn the recognition. He won the Fuzzy Zoeller Classic at Covered Bridge Golf Club in August, earning $25,000 in the process. In all, Werbylo earned $39,800 on the Forme Tour. Golfers from 21 different countries took part in the newly-formed tour. He was an All-Pac-12 First-Team selection this year as part of a Wildcat lineup at Pac-12 Championships that won program’s first team title since 2004.

Top 5 Female Southern Arizona Athletes of 2021

1. Audrey Jimenez

Jimenez is the High School Athlete of the Year overall:

2. Delaney Schnell

Delaney Schnell (Arizona Athletics)

Arizona diver Delaney Schnell, a Tucson High grad, was crowned Pac-12 champion of the 1-meter dive on Feb. 24 and then broke the school and conference record in the platform-dive prelims on Feb. 26 at Arizona’s facility. Schnell won the 1-meter event by a landslide as she put up a score of 343.45, nearly 30 more points than the runner-up who scored 313.90. Her record score in the platform dive was 383.35. She would go on to win the platform final with a score of 364.50. The previous Pac-12 record for the platform dive was held by Eline Eggers from ASU when she scored 345.60 total points at the 2011 Pac-12 Championships. 

— Schnell and Jessica Parratto (Indiana) scored 930 points to claim the top spot at the Women’s Synchronized 10-Meter Platform trials held in Indianapolis on June 11, qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics. A day later, Schnell won the individual 10-meter Platform to qualify for the Olympics in that event. Schnell was in third place after the first round but she moved up to the second spot after round two, 14.3 points behind Murphy Bromberg. Schnell pulled ahead of the field in the next round by 3.85 points and she came away with the victory with 1021.90 points to 984.70 for Katrina Young.

— Schnell and Parratto won the Olympic silver medal in the Women’s 10-Meter Synchro Finals July 27 in Tokyo. It was the first-ever medal for Team USA in 10-Meter Synchro.

3. Alyssa Brown

Alyssa Brown is the best all-around girls basketball player to come out of Southern Arizona (Andy Morales/

Sahuaro senior forward Alyssa Brown finished her storied career as the No. 2 scorer in the state behind Catalina Foothills great Julie Brase, who scored 2,913 points from 1994-98. Brown ended with 2,680 points while leading the Cougars to the 4A state semifinals on March 17, when it lost at Salpointe. Sahuaro finished 17-2, about 10 games below its normal total of games. If COVID-19 protocol did not delay the season and wipe out those 10 games, Brown could have become the first 3,000-point scorer in state history. She is now playing for UNLV as a freshman.

4. Eva Bruce

Sabino’s Eva Bruce earned the honor of “Arizona’s Greatest Athlete” with her four state titles (Andy Morales/

Only a junior, Sabino track and field standout Eva Bruce brought home four individual state championships at the AIA Division III State Meet held May 14-15 at Phoenix Desert Vista High School. Her championships in the 100, 200, 300 Hurdles and Long Jump helped lead the Sabercats to a runner-up finish in team competition. Her times and marks are tops in Southern Arizona regardless of level in the 100 Hurdles and 300 Hurdles and second in the 100, 200, 400 and Long Jump. She solidified her position as the best in Southern Arizona, and the state, by winning the Heptathlon Championship held at Mesa Red Mountain High School. Bruce outdistanced Beatriz Razon of Centennial 4569 to 4513 and Catherine Littlewood of Queen Creek took third with 4390 points. Bruce earned the “Arizona’s Greatest Athlete” honor after her victory. The seven events include the 100 Hurdles (8), High Jump (5), Shot Put (2), 200 (2), Long Jump (2), Javelin (5) and 800 (1).

5. Kylie Wild

Kylie Wild of Salpointe is a two-time state champ (Andy Morales/

— Salpointe Class of 2023 standout runner Kylie Wild won the 3,200 (11:02.61) at the Division III state championships held at Phoenix Desert Vista on May 14.

— Wild picked up her second straight individual cross country championship in D-III on Nov. 14. She finished the course in 18:41.0.  Wild’s time was more than 15 seconds faster than runner-up Evelynne Carr of American Leadership Academy-Queen Creek. Wild and Carr finished first and second last year as well, with Wild winning with a time of 18:37.30, 0.2 seconds faster than Carr.







FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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