By TRISTAN MALHOTRA
The Sword and Shield’s Female Athlete of the Year is Sarah Stern (Sr.), a multi-sport athlete who has excelled on the cross country, soccer and track teams at UHS.
She also received the Trojan of Character award her junior year. She has been a varsity runner in both cross country and track for all four years at UHS.
In cross country, Stern ranks 10th in UHS Girls’ Cross Country history with a 3-mile time of 17:40. Her other cross country accolades include being voted Most Improved Varsity as a freshman and Most Valuable as a sophomore and senior. Outside of school, she was one of seven All-County Sophomores and was All-League as both a sophomore and senior. Additionally, she competed in CIF Prelims as an individual in both her sophomore and senior seasons.
In track, her personal records are 2:21 in the 800 meter, 5:15 in the 1600 meter, 11:52 in the 3200 meter and a 4x400m relay split of 61 seconds.
In her senior year, Stern was part of a 4×400 relay team that became League champions this year and qualified to compete at CIF Prelims.
Stern said, “The sports are also very different, because cross country is a smaller, more tight-knit group that really feels like a family, and I love that. Track is larger, but there’s always something going on down on the field, always something exciting to watch and someone to cheer on.”
Stern was named both CIF Female Athlete of Character and UHS’s Female Scholar Athlete. Out of her numerous achievements, Stern regards her experience as a senior winning the 4×400 relay in the Pacific Coast League Finals to be the most important.
“No one, and I mean no one, expected us to win. It hadn’t even really crossed my mind either,” said Stern. “It was the loudest, most exciting race I’ve ever competed in, and the energy was incredible.”
Stern, along with Carmel Lee (Jr.), Caroline Werth (Sr.) and Paige Metayer (Fr.) won the race and helped the girls track team place second in the Pacific Coast League Finals.
Next year, Stern will be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study biology and pursue a career in sports medicine. Athletically, Stern is undecided.
As a highly-decorated, experienced athlete, Stern advises younger athletes to do two things: “Try everything, but also stick with it.”
She continued, “Sticking with it is about staying involved with athletics through your senior year.
At the end of your four years, you will be able to see how the experience has shaped your high school career for the better and how you have a chance to give back and make the experience just as great for your younger teammates.”
By MAVERICK FREEDLANDER
The Sword and Shield’s male athlete of the year is John Farah (Sr.), the captain of the wrestling team and an All-League honors member of the football team.
Having competed in the challenging UHS wrestling program since his sophomore year, Farah considers himself an extremely competitive person.
He said he has “always enjoyed competing mentally and physically against guys bigger than (him).”
He has won league in wrestling each of his three years in the sport. Farah was the first UHS heavyweight wrestler to go to state since 1988.
He is ranked in the top 20 in the state of California and won Pacific Coast League for three years. He totaled over 100 pins in his wrestling career and recorded 147 wins and 6 losses at UHS.
His favorite moment in wrestling was when he won league his sophomore year, despite other people doubting his abilities as a first year wrestler.
Of his favorite moments throughout his wrestling career, Farah said he would never forget competing in the CIF final against Newbury Park High School’s heavyweight, who was one of the top ten wrestlers in the state.
Farah won after getting a reverse when he was down by only one in the last thirteen seconds.
He advised all aspiring athletes to, “Be your own fan, motivate yourself, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t pursue your dreams.”
Farah also won league in the heavyweight wrestling class this year. He said, “Being in an individual sport like wrestling allows me to take full responsibility for the outcome of the match, whether it is a win or a loss.”
He also excelled as a football player, receiving all-league honors and leading the defensive line in tackles and sacks.
He said, “Wrestling makes me a better football player and football also makes me a better wrestler.
“Football was more of a brotherhood because you are constantly coordinating with your teammates to attain a common goal. In wrestling, it’s just you and the other guy, and you are responsible for whatever happens.”
One of his favorite phrases he uses to encourage other people to compete is “one clap and move on.”
He explained, “by one clap and move on, I mean if you win something then enjoy it but only for a short period of time. There’s always more work to do and more to achieve.”
He also plans to coach both wrestling and football at UHS next year.
Farah will be attending the University of California Riverside in the fall, and will continue to wrestle while at university.