The Desert Sun's top fall athletes of 2016

The Desert Sun's top fall athletes of 2016

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The Desert Sun's top fall athletes of 2016

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Vera Markevich

One of the most intriguing athletes in the Coachella Valley in her four years at Xavier College Prep, Markevich is a Russian golfer who played in the World Amateur Championship for her native country in the middle of the 2016 high school season. As a high schooler, Markevich won a second Desert Valley League individual title for the Saints, then easily advanced through CIF-SS regional and final play and through the CIF-WSCGA play to reach the CIF state finals. She finished 23rd in the finals at Red Hill Golf Club in Rancho Cucamonga, capping off a successful career that should lead to a Division I school.

The top fall athletes of 2016.

The top fall athletes of 2016.

Xavier Prep standout golfer Vera Markevich was the valley's top girls golfer of the year, making it all the way to the state finals.

Xavier Prep standout golfer Vera Markevich was the valley’s top girls golfer of the year, making it all the way to the state finals.

Quote from coach Debbi Koyama: “She is very good at getting mad and forgetting about it, letting it go. She doesn’t dwell on it. A lot of people when they make a mistake, you see them out on the golf course and their head is down. She doesn’t seem to do that. She just gets it out and she is OK. She is very positive.”

College plans: Attend UCLA to play golf.

Rather be in a warm or cold winter: Warm weather for sure.

What you’re looking forward to over break: Going back to Russia to see my family I don’t get to see often.

Favorite professional athlete: Tiger Woods

Favorite sport other than golf: Tennis

Favorite class in school: Spanish

READ MORE: Vera Markevich finishes 23rd at state

Indio's Luis Barrera was the valley's top boys' cross country runner of the year.

Indio’s Luis Barrera was the valley’s top boys’ cross country runner of the year.

Luis Barrera

After the Rajahs ended their streak of consecutive Desert Valley League titles in 2014, it’s been Barrera that’s helped get Indio back on track. The senior dominated the three league meets this year, sweeping them all en route to a second consecutive league title, while his Rajahs followed suit with their second league title in as many years. Barrera helped Indio reach a second-consecutive CIF SS Division 3 finals, where they finished 11th, while he took 24th in 15:24, just nine seconds out of a state berth.

Quote from coach Santiago Briones: “Luis has grown into a self-motivated athlete. He voices his goals and holds himself accountable, and I feel that’s been the difference that set him apart from the other top runners in the valley.”

College plans: Attend Cal Poly Pomona to run cross country, and if not there, at Riverside Community College.

Rather be in a warm or cold winter: Cold

What you’re looking forward to over break: Going to Sonora, Mexico, to visit my dad.

Favorite professional athlete: Leo Manzano, an Olympic middle-distance runner for the USA.

Favorite holiday movie: Home Alone

Favorite sport other than running: I enjoyed watching all the sports in the Olympics, but I loved volleyball the most.

Favorite class in school: French

La Quinta High School cross country standout Akemi Von Scherr was our top girls cross country runner of the year.

La Quinta High School cross country standout Akemi Von Scherr was our top girls cross country runner of the year.

Akemi Von Scherr

The freshman broke onto the scene by running a sub-17 minute time at the Woodbridge Cross Country Classic before sweeping all three Desert Valley League meets in dominating fashion. She breezed through her CIF SS Division 1 prelims race in third place before qualifying for the state meet the following weekend with a 10th-place finish. In Fresno, she finished 12th in the state in the Division 1 race in 17:54 and was the second-fastest freshman. With no competitive running experience until this fall, it’s very likely this wasn’t Von Scherr’s last trip to the state meet.

Quote from coach Amanda Pierson:  “As just a freshman she took a leadership type role on the team and fit right in with the rest of the varsity girls. I admire Akemi as an athlete and teammate. She is positive and cheerful. She crosses the finish line and doesn’t hesitate a single second before going back to cheer on and encourage the rest of her teammates. To her, the success of the team was always most important.”

College plans: I want to go to UCLA, it’s my dream school. I want to run there, and I want to study to be a veterinarian or physical therapist.

Rather be in a warm or cold winter: Definitely warm, because I don’t like the cold.

What you’re looking forward to over break: Relaxing, sleeping and spending time with friends and family.

Favorite professional athlete: Usain Bolt or Alex Morgan

Favorite holiday movie: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Favorite sport other than running: Swimming

Favorite class in school: French

READ MORE: Akemi Von Scherr finishes 12th in state meet

Jolie Samuelson La Quinta High volleyball player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Jolie Samuelson La Quinta High volleyball player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Jolie Samuelson

The senior was a dominant force for the Blackhawks yet again this season, finishing second in the Desert Valley League with 332 kills in just 77 sets played. She averaged 4.3 kills per set and recorded the highest kill percentage in the league for those with more than 200 kills. Despite La Quinta’s 7-5 league record, with Samuelson on the court with her punishing kill around the net, the Blackhawks could always beat anyone on any night, including the team’s opening league match upset of Palm Desert, the Aztecs’ only league loss of the season.

Quote from coach Ronda Sommaripa: “She’s been a leader in several stats both on the team and in the league. Her knowledge of and court sense is amazing, and she is an absolute powerhouse in every position on the court.”

College plans: I’m looking at places up in northern California, around San Francisco. I want to major in marketing and definitely want to at least start playing volleyball.

Rather be in a warm or cold winter: Cold

What you’re looking forward to over break: Traveling up north to see family we don’t normally get to see.

Favorite professional athlete: Misty May-Treanor, because of all the influence and impact she’s had on volleyball.

Favorite holiday movie: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Favorite sport other than volleyball: Watching college basketball

Favorite class in school: English

Tatiana Harvey, Rancho Mirage High tennis player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Tatiana Harvey, Rancho Mirage High tennis player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Tatiana Harvey

The junior has become the most dominant valley player during her high school career, going undefeated in De Anza League action for a third consecutive year. Harvey hardly ever dropped a game in league or in the Rattlers’ CIF SS Division 5 title run, where she essentially gave Rancho Mirage a 3-0 cushion before the match would even start, proving to be pivotal points in the team’s 12-6 win over Hemet in the championship.

Quote from coach Owen McIntosh: “Her ability to set the tone for everyone else by consistently dispatching our opponents’ No. 1 player and essentially allowing us a 3-0 cushion going into matches is remarkably valuable and unprecedented.”

College plans: I want to play tennis in college on scholarship and stay in California, though I wouldn’t mind somewhere in Arizona. I want to major in kinesiology.

Rather be in a warm or cold winter: Warm weather, because it’s hard to play tennis in the cold.

What you’re looking forward to over break: Spending time with family and playing in some tennis tournaments.

Favorite professional athlete: Roger Federer or Maria Sharapova

Favorite sport other than tennis: Football

Favorite classes in school: Anatomy and Spanish

READ MORE: Rancho Mirage clinches school’s first team CIF title

Spencer Lowell, La Quinta High water polo player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Spencer Lowell, La Quinta High water polo player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Spencer Lowell

Others may have scored more goals, but no one was more integral to his team winning than Lowell. He helped the Blackhawks to a 22-game winning streak and an undefeated DVL run with his full-pool acumen as the quarterback of the team both on offense and defense. The junior was named the Desert Valley League’s MVP, and he lifted La Quinta to the second round of the playoffs in the loaded Division 4 field.

Quote from coach (and dad) Cal Lowell: “In spite of living and playing under the scrutiny of being a coach’s son, Spencer is loved by all his teammates and makes everyone feel important. To him, the measure of success comes less from personal achievement and more from the success of his teammates.”

College plans: I’m going to go on a two-year mission for my church, something I’ve always wanted to do. Afterwards, I’d like to play Division 1 water polo somewhere, and I want to study to become an OBGYN.

What you’re looking forward to over break: All out family is coming into town, so I’m looking forward to spending time with them.

Favorite professional athlete: I don’t know if I can narrow it down.

Favorite holiday movie: Christmas with the Kranks

Favorite sport other than water polo: Basketball, because it’s similar to water polo a little bit.

Favorite class in school: History and math

Tatiana Harvey, Rancho Mirage High tennis player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Tatiana Harvey, Rancho Mirage High tennis player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Tatiana Harvey, Rancho Mirage High tennis player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Tatiana Harvey, Rancho Mirage High tennis player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Spencer Lowell, La Quinta High water polo player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Spencer Lowell, La Quinta High water polo player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Spencer Lowell, La Quinta High water polo player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Spencer Lowell, La Quinta High water polo player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Spencer Lowell, La Quinta High water polo player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Spencer Lowell, La Quinta High water polo player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Spencer Lowell, La Quinta High water polo player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Spencer Lowell, La Quinta High water polo player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Luis Barrera, Indio High cross country runner on December 12, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Luis Barrera, Indio High cross country runner on December 12, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Spencer Lowell, La Quinta High water polo player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Spencer Lowell, La Quinta High water polo player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Luis Barrera, Indio High cross country runner on December 12, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Luis Barrera, Indio High cross country runner on December 12, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Jolie Samuelson La Quinta High volleyball player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Jolie Samuelson La Quinta High volleyball player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Jolie Samuelson La Quinta High volleyball player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Jolie Samuelson La Quinta High volleyball player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Jolie Samuelson La Quinta High volleyball player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Jolie Samuelson La Quinta High volleyball player on December 8, 2016 at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.

Xavier Prep standout golfer Vera Markevich.

Xavier Prep standout golfer Vera Markevich.

Xavier Prep standout golfer Vera Markevich.

Xavier Prep standout golfer Vera Markevich.

Xavier Prep standout golfer Vera Markevich.

Xavier Prep standout golfer Vera Markevich.

La Quinta High School cross country standout Akemi Von Scherr.

La Quinta High School cross country standout Akemi Von Scherr.

La Quinta High School cross country standout Akemi Von Scherr.

La Quinta High School cross country standout Akemi Von Scherr.

La Quinta High School cross country standout Akemi Von Scherr.

La Quinta High School cross country standout Akemi Von Scherr.

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