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Athlete of the Year: Otay’s Medina snares girls water polo, swimming gold Phillip Brents | Fri, Jun 21 2013 11:47 AM

Otay Ranch High School senior Sarah Medina has left an indelible mark on the east side Chula Vista campus. It’s written in both the school and the San Diego Section record book.

A four-year letter-winner on both the school’s girls water polo and swim teams, Medina helped guide the Mustangs polo team to four Mesa League championships and the swim team to two league titles.

She ended her high school career as a three-time Mesa League Player of the Year in girls water polo and a two-time Mesa League Swimmer of the Year.

She holds one San Diego Section record, has Top 20 submittable marks in 10 categories in the section record book and holds 13 of the school’s 20 water polo records.

Medina will attend the University of California-Irvine this fall on an honors scholarship.

She is The Star-News’  2012-13 Female Prep Athlete of the Year.

“I made great friendships with my teammates and we won team titles,” Medina said in reference to her stellar high school playing career. “Playing in the tough games and earning championships, I loved celebrating with my coaches Dad and Sis (father Ernie older sister Rachael).”

Alongside Sarah Medina during her four-year odyssey to greatness at Otay Ranch has been Ernie Medina, her father and head coach.

“Otay aquatics will miss Sarah as someone who we could count on,” the elder Medina summed up. “If we needed a steal and a quick goal, or if we needed an anchor in a relay to come from behind for a win, Sarah’s heart for the game and her team came out strong over and over again. Now it is time for UC Irvine to be blessed with such a person.”

Tough enough
At the beginning of the winter sports season, a very young Otay Ranch girls water polo team had no business whatsoever winning the 2012-13 Mesa League championship. But under the younger Medina’s leadership and a maturity of supporting players, the Mustangs defied the odds to do just that.

Sarah Medina finished the season with an astounding 322 points on 148 goals and 26 assists while also making 202 defensive steals.

The Mustangs finished the season deadlocked in a rare tri-championship with both the Eastlake Titans and Hilltop Lancers — all with 6-2 league records.

Otay Ranch advanced to the Division I playoffs, finishing the season 19-7 overall.

During the spring swim season, the younger Medina captured individual titles in the 50- and 200-yard freestyle events as well as on 200- and 400-yard freestyle relay teams at May’s league championship meet at Mater Dei Catholic High School.

What has been the secret of her success?

Pride and focus, leadership and strength of character, according to her coach.

“Sarah was blessed with great teammates and teachers who guided her,” Ernie Medina said. “It may be a long time before we see another swimmer/polo player/student like Sarah Medina in the school or in the league.”

“I feel that I just try my best in everything I do,” Sarah Medina said. “I like the challenge and what it takes to accomplish the challenge. I have trusted God to get me through.”

Above and beyond

The younger Medina made an impact from the time she first jumped into the pool.

She earned second team all-league honors as a freshman and was quickly elevated to first team — and player of the year — status her sophomore, junior and senior years in girls water polo.

She earned first team status in girls swimming as a sophomore, junior and senior. Besides swimmer of the year honors as a junior and senior, she received the Mesa League sportsmanship award as a sophomore.

At the San Diego Section level, Medina qualified for the championship finals in the 100  and 200 freestyle and the 400 freestyle relay as a junior. She swam in the consolation finals in the 50 and 100 free her senior year and was also a finalist in the 200 freestyle relay.

A member of the California Scholastic Federation, she received the President’s Diversity Gold Award by maintaining a 4.0 or higher grade-point average all four years she attended ORHS.

She also earned recognition as a High School Sports Association of San Diego scholar-athlete.

Medina also played in the Junior Olympic Nationals twice for San Diego Shores, earning a bronze medal. She has also earned U.S. Water Polo Academic All-American honors.

Shining star
Sarah Medina leaves ORHS as the highest-decorated and accomplished water polo player in the program’s nine-year history, ranking at the top along with alumni Cristina Allison (Sienna University), Roni Coffer (SDSU) and Alex Sanchez (Grossmont College), according to the elder Medina.

Sarah Medina’s name is among the most prominent of Metro Conference players in the section record book.

She holds the section record for career steals (506).

She is eligible for inclusion in the section record book in the following Top 20 categories: single-season assists (51), career assists (110), five-meters drawn in one season (19), five-meters drawn in one game (four), ejections drawn in one game (eight), single-game steals (13), single-season steals (181), goals in one game (12), goals in one season (140) and career goals (335).

All these are school records.

(Emma Cornwell holds the school’s goalkeeper records while Coffer is tied with Medina for ejections in a game and five-meters in a game.)

Medina also holds five school swim records: 200 freestyle (1:56.86), 50 freestyle (24.80), 100 butterfly (1:01.99), 100 freestyle (54.34) and 500 freestyle (5:26.65). She also holds records on the school’s 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay teams.

Perhaps foremost, the younger Medina excelled in the classroom.

She graduated with a 4.37 grade-point average and earned distinction as the school’s Female Scholar Athlete of the Year (along with softball player Sashel Palacios).

Medina served as the school’s Associated Student Body sports commissioner and also as a student aide for the special-needs students.

(Cross country/track and field runner Carina Gillespie received Otay Ranch’s Athlete of the Year award.)

Honor roll
Medina was accepted to UC San Diego, Whittier, Occidental, SDSU, Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine.

She chose Irvine because of its honors program and the financial package of scholarships and grants.

Besides UCI’s honors program, UCI’s School of Engineering has also attracted her interest.

She plans to walk on to the school’s women’s water polo program.

“I would like to play water polo at the next level, have a great college experience, be a college grad and have an important job and earn a good living,” she said.

“Whether Sarah becomes a student-athlete in college or takes a different path, I am sure she will approach it like she has approached athletics in high school,” the elder Medina said. “It is without doubt that Mustang swim and water polo has helped her prepare for the challenges ahead.

“Sarah has had some great teammates on her teams and teachers in the classroom.”

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