The Northern Marianas Sports Association has honored Azriel Fatialofa, David Barnhouse, Beatrice Gross, Jazzroy Villagomez, Malou Malasarte, and Sefric Veloria with athlete of the month plums for their outstanding athletic performance in September and October.
Fatialofa, Barnhouse, Gross, Villagomez, Malasarte, and Veloria are eligible to be named Athletes of the Year and will be recognized at the annual NMSA Awards Banquet early next year.
Basketball player Azriel Fatialofa was named female athlete of the month for September. The 5’11” Fatialofa is a student of Grace Christian Academy and winner of the first Player of the Week honors in the IT&E Interscholastic Basketball League, Middle School Division. The Week 1 honors covered the Sept. 15 and Sept. 17 games and Fatialofa scored 34 points to lead the GCA Eagles to a 3-0 lead. She was such a dominant force in the league that, at one point when Hopwood Junior High School 1 (Sept. 29) was threatening to hand GCA its first loss, Fatialofa came off the bench and scored 20 of the Eagles’ 28 points. Fatialofa led GCA to an unbeaten record (7-0) in the regular season. Fatialofa is also part of the NMI National Basketball Program, attending select players’ training sessions on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.
David Barnhouse was named male athlete of the month for September after he successfully competed in the first-ever Oceania Weightlifting Championships to be tested via Internet. Competing in the 109+ kilogram category, he snatched 110 kg (242 lbs), clean and jerked 145 kg (319 lbs), for a total of 255 kg (561 lbs). His efforts earned him a silver medal and his first ever ranking in the Oceania Weightlifting Federation and International Weightlifting Federation. His accomplishments are particularly noteworthy because there were no crowds or audience to cheer/motivate his efforts. Additionally, Barnhouse is the head coach for the CNMI national weightlifting team, doing double duty as an athlete and as a coach.
Beatrice Gross was female student athlete of the month for October. This, after she was selected as the most valuable player in the Summer Season PSS Elementary Interscholastic Soccer League that ended on Oct. 6, 2021. The 10-year-old is a multi-sport student-athlete of Saipan International School. Playing as a goalie in the Summer Season of the ISL, her defense helped the SIS Elementary Team win the Championship against the Spring Season.
Jazzroy Villagomez, a 5th Grader at Garapan Elementary School, was named male student athlete of the month for October. He was the best player on the school’s team that won third place in the Summer Season PSS Elementary Interscholastic Soccer League that ended on Oct. 6, 2021. He was very dominant throughout the league and was the Golden Boot winner. He scored a total of 29 goals, including 10 goals in the quarterfinals match. He averaged almost five goals per match in league play. Villagomez is now a very active soccer player. He plays for Paire Football Club under two competitive divisions—the U-12 Coed Division and the U-15 Boys Division. Villagomez is also in the current batch of trainees of the NMIFA Junior National Academy. The academy is the pool of elite players being groomed to be future members of the NMI national teams.
Female athlete of the month for October Malou Malasarte reigned supreme in two divisions in the TakeCare Badminton Open 2021. She first clinched the women’s B singles title after beating Rowena Houck, 21-20, 21-5. Earlier in the semis, Malasarte was paired with the much younger and quicker Angie Ito and pulled off a 21-14, 14-21, 21-17 win to move into the singles finale. In the doubles, Malasarte teamed up with Hajin Oh and they topped Bracket A and eventually lorded it over in the division after beating Bracket B winners Lance Gallardo and Hannah Choi, 21-18, 21-10. Malasarte also played in the women’s B doubles, but she and Houck lost to Choi and Windy Fernandez in the semis.
Sefric Veloria was named male athlete of the month after he took home the men’s C singles and doubles events in the TakeCare Badminton Open 2021. He was undefeated in the single play, securing the championship following a 21-14, 21-18 victory over Paulo Quidato. In the doubles competition, he and Dez Antonio were unbeaten in four games to reach the finals. Veloria and Antonio lost to Leonard Manuel and Noel Waitwat in the first game of the finals, 17-21, but recovered in the last two, 21-12, 21-17, to win the division. Veloria is among many newcomers in the badminton community, but is able to improve his game quickly as he regularly trains with players in the Class A level. (PR)