The Star-News


Athlete of the Year: Stanko's leadership is a big factor in Titans' success

Fri, Jun 21 2013 11:51 AM Posted By: Phillip Brents

The FCH award is one of three awards presented annually at the Eastlake High School wrestling team’s awards banquet alongside the MVP and most inspirational awards.

FCH stands for focus, composure, heart. Senior Casey Stanko won the award both his sophomore and junior years.

“I can’t think of a word to describe it but it makes me proud that I have the right attitude in what I’m doing,” he said.

Stanko was one of two Eastlake wrestlers to advance to championship round matches at this year’s Metro Conference championship tournament, held Feb. 9 at EHS, and the school’s lone champion.

He defeated San Ysidro’s Roberto A La Torre, the top-seeded wrestler in the weight class, by a 9-1 major decision to win the 140-pound title.

Stanko, seeded second, finished 3-0 in as many trips to the mat to improve to 21-8 on the season. 

He also won a weight class title at the league tournament as a sophomore and was second as a junior.
He finished second in his weight class at this year’s San Diego Section Division I championship meet, held Feb. 16 at Otay Ranch High School.

At the team’s awards banquet, held in early April, Stanko was named the Titans’ MVP for the 2012-13 campaign.

The drum roll was only just building, however.

Stanko completed the 2013 spring boys lacrosse season with an even higher honor: He was named the Metro Conference Player of the Year.

He is The Star-News 2012-13 Male Prep Athlete of the Year.

Stanko’s next step is a big one: a cross-country junket to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

He reports to the East Coast military academy on Thursday.

“My ultimate goal is to go into naval aviation and be a pilot,” the soaring Titan said.

An Eagle Scout, Stanko received both congressional and presidential appointments to the Naval Academy. His father Mark is a retired commander in the Navy, and the younger Stanko feels the military life is also for him.

“I decided my freshman year that the military was something I wanted to do,” he said. “I had been fascinated with planes since I was little.”

He started the appointment process his junior year. He received the presidential appointment in June 2012; the congressional appointment came in September 2012.

Certainly, the qualities he’s exhibited while attending and competing for sports teams at Eastlake High School made him a desired recruit.

Stanko earned recognition as the boys lacrosse team MVP and team captain during the 2012 spring season. It was a humbling honor for Stanko, a county all-star pick, because, in his words, “it shows that people respect my abilities.”

During the 2012 fall cross country season, he received the team’s appropriately named Red Badge of Courage award.

“It had to do with the fact that I had a stress fracture in my leg and continued to run and came back to run in league and in CIF,” he said.

Courageous effort defined this spring’s lacrosse season.

Just five games into the Titans’ season, Eastlake co-captain Tommy Henderson died in a swimming pool accident. Henderson was a vocal leader on the team and also the first friend Stanko had made in elementary school upon moving into the EastLake community.

Stanko and fellow senior co-captain Devon Ballow continued to lead the team but always with Henderson’s presence in mind.

After making a pledge to win the league title in Henderson’s memory, the Titans did not lose a game the remainder of the regular season — a span of 15 games.

Stanko knew his friend was watching — and likely smiling somewhere in the hereafter — after the Titans upheld their pledge by defeating arch-rival Otay Ranch, 14-10, on May 8 to finish 14-0 in Metro play. The 14 victories set a league record and were part of an overall 16-game winning streak. 

Stanko, who led the team in scoring as a junior, finished the 2013 season as the Titans’ top goal-scorer, fittingly tied with Ballow with 46 goals, as well as Eastlake’s top face-off winner (96).

Stanko scored highest, however, in leadership ability.

And character.

Those are two traits U.S. military leaders are seeking in young men who want to defend and protect our country.

Stanko has answered the call.

The EHS senior standout, who carried a 4.33 weighted grade-point average into the spring semester, said he is “very excited” to be attending the Naval Academy. 

“I can’t think of a better way to serve my country than in the military,” he said. “It’s going to offer me a great education and it’s going to offer me an opportunity to travel the world. I think it’s a big honor.

“In serving your country, you (learn) a lot of respect for what this country offers to its citizens. No matter what has happened recently, we still live in the greatest country on Earth. I’m proud to be an American and serve my country.”



2013 Metro Conference All-League Boys Lacrosse Team

First Team
Casey Stanko (Eastlake) 12
Ryan Hayes (Eastlake) 11
Christian Haffner (Eastlake) 10
Jacob Weidner (Otay Ranch) 12
Peter Lindung (Otay Ranch) 10
Robert Rodriguez (Bonita Vista)
Brandon Tran (Mar Vista) 12
Alec Moreno (Hilltop) 12
Jaime Reynoso (Montgomery)
Jorge Guillen (Southwest)

Second Team
Jordan Vicente (Eastlake) 10
Eric Vega (Eastlake) 12
Cris Moran (Otay Ranch) 11
Andrew Ooi (Bonita Vista)
Giancarlo Dongo (Bonita Vista)
Jacob Schoenfeld (Mar Vista) 12
David Garcia (Mar Vista) 9
Jared Akers (Hilltop) 11
Alonso Francisco (Montgomery)
Ivan Jimenez (Southwest)

Player of the Year
Casey Stanko (Eastlake)

LEAGUE STANDINGS
x-Eastlake Titans        14-0
Otay Ranch Mustangs     12-2
Bonita Vista Barons        10-4
Mar Vista Mariners          7-7
Hilltop Lancers          6-8
Southwest Raiders          4-10
Montgomery Aztecs      3-11
Chula Vista Spartans      0-14
x-league champion


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