Women's soccer standout Serina Vargas and state champion wrestler Kahlil Tucker have been named Rio Hondo College Female and Male Athletes of the Year after impressive seasons for the Roadrunners this past fall season. The sophomore duo leads a list of nine outstanding Rio Hondo student-athletes for the 2019-20 season.
The additional honorees are Nicole Vasquez (women's volleyball), Jonathan Ortiz (men's soccer), Amanda Lee (women's basketball), Bryant Howing (men's basketball), Janine Coria (beach volleyball), Gabriella Tellez (women's tennis), and Madeline Peralta (softball).
Vargas, a two-time South Coast Conference first-team selection, helped lead the Rio Hondo women's soccer team to a conference championship in 2019 and a No. 2 seeding in the Southern California Regional Playoffs. She totaled 10 goals and 3 assists for a team that was ranked as high as No. 10 in the nation and No. 5 in the state.
She was a standout in the classroom as well. Vargas, originally from West Covina High School, was also twice named to the California Community College Soccer Coaches Association (CCCSCA) Academic All-State team. She was recognized as an honor roll student at Rio Hondo for five consecutive semesters, earning a 4.0 grade point average in three semesters. Her work in the classroom helped the women's soccer program capture its seventh straight United Soccer Coaches All-American Academic Team award.
"Serina has been an important part of the team earning awards for their soccer and academic results from national, state and conference associations," said women's soccer head coach Jennifer Tanaka-Hoshijo. "Her commitment to excel academically and her passion to help her team are qualities that the coaching staff has appreciated in Serina. She has earned a 4.0 GPA in three semesters, spent hundreds of hours at training and competitions, all while working part-time and finding time to spend with her family."
"We are proud of what she has contributed to the women's soccer program during her time with us," Tanaka-Hoshijo added. "She has consistently demonstrated a tremendous spirit and determination that we believe will help her be successful in all of her future endeavors."
Vargas is set to continue her academic and athletic career at nearby Cal Poly Pomona this upcoming fall and plans to major in sociology/criminology.
Tucker, originally out of Montclair High School, is the third consecutive wrestler to be named Male Athlete of the Year for the college. He earned All-American honors after capturing a California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) state championship at the 133-pound weight class.
Tucker went 3-0 at the state tournament and erased a 6-4 deficit with 1:15 left in the championship final match to beat Houston Scibek of Modesto Junior College for the title. His performance helped lead Rio Hondo to a ninth-place team finish at the tournament, the program's best showing since 2011.
"Kahlil did a great job this year," said Rio Hondo wrestling head coach Mike Tellez. "He went from not even qualifying for the state championship tournament his freshmen year to being the state champion his sophomore year. He worked hard in the wrestling room to improve his weaknesses."
Tucker was a first-team All-Southwest Conference selection and took second place at the Southern California Regional Championships. He is set to transfer in the fall to Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth on a full athletic scholarship.
2019-20 Rio Hondo College Outstanding Student-Athletes:
- Nicole Vasquez, Women's Volleyball: earned second-team All-South Coast Conference honors … named team most valuable player … earned a 3.6 GPA and recently received her AA degree in psychology … plans to transfer to Providence Christian College in Pasadena on an athletic scholarship.
- Jonathan Ortiz, Men's Soccer: second-team All-South Coast Conference selection … named team captain … totaled 8 goals and 5 assists for 21 points … earned a 3.0 GPA … plans to transfer to University of La Verne on a scholarship.
- Amanda Lee, Women's Basketball: named third-team All-State, first-team All-South Coast Conference … earned four all-tournament team selections, including being named MVP at one … compiled a 3.65 GPA and was twice named to the Dean's Honor Roll … was the Rio Hondo Female Athlete of the Year last season as a freshman.
- Bryant Howing, Men's Basketball: named first-team All-South Coast Conference as a sophomore guard … compiled a 3.4 GPA … plans to major in business administration.
- Janine Coria, Beach Volleyball: captured a top-10 finish at the 2019 conference finals … was twice named first-team All-South Coast Conference as a member of the indoor volleyball squad … compiled a 3.5 GPA and was named to the Rio Hondo Dean's List … recently received her AA degree in early childhood education … plans to transfer to Westcliff University in Irvine to play indoor and beach volleyball on an athletic scholarship.
- Gabriella Tellez, Women's Tennis: played primarily at the No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles position … two-year team member … recently graduated from Rio Hondo with an AA degree in business administration … plans to transfer to Whittier College this fall.
- Madeline Peralta, Softball: was Rio Hondo's top starting pitcher her two seasons, appearing in 39 of 40 games as a freshman and 18 of 20 in a shortened sophomore year … named to the 2020 California Community College Fastpitch Coaches Association (CCCFCA) Academic All-State team after graduating with a 3.92 GPA … plans to transfer to Dickinson State University in North Dakota.