Welcome to something that is the first of its kind at SBLive Washington – the WaFd Bank 2019-20 senior male and female athletes of the year for each classification.
Because the SBLive crew gets so immersed in specific sports seasons, it is nice to take a step back to pick a statewide honor on a broader scale.
The criteria isn’t too expansive: The starting point is finding seniors who are all-league/all-state performers in two or more sports. Totality of career is also a factor. So is administrator/coach/fan recommendation.
Enjoy as we honor some of Washington’s top multi-sport senior athletes over the next week!
Isaiah Perez is an utterly dominant two-sport athlete.
As he leaves Othello High School, the two-time all-state defensive lineman and first-ever three-time 2A state wrestling heavyweight champion still feels the bitter loss of his final spring season, which was canceled due to COVID-19.
Why? Two sport dominance wasn’t enough.
“I really wanted to have a track season,” Perez said. “This was my last season to show up.”
Perez placed at state in throws as a freshman and his mom, Mandi Perez, is Othello’s track and field coach.
The accolades are impressive. But the mindset, work ethic and drive behind the awards are what makes Perez SBLive’s Class 2A Senior Athlete of the Year.
Perez is headed to BYU to play football. The same program two of his uncles played for will eventually mold Perez into a dominant defensive lineman. But first, he’s set to head to Brazil to serve his two-year LDS mission.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound three-star defensive end is the first of his kind in wrestling — a three-time Washington state heavyweight champion. But as Perez leaves high school etched into state record books, his legacy will extend far beyond the medals.
“He leads in a positive way by his examples and encouraging words to help build the performance of those around him,” Othello wrestling coach Rudy Ochoa said. “He always displays great class and humility in all he does. He is one of the hardest and smartest working athletes I’ve been around.”
Perez’s grip on the heavyweight class is striking.
After placing seventh at Mat Classic as a freshman at 220 pounds, Perez made the jump to heavyweight the next year and beat defending 2A state champ Cy Hicks of Tumwater 1-0 after pinning his way to the final.
As a junior, he pinned his way through the entire tournament to repeat. And in February, nobody got out of the first round with Perez. He won pins in 54 seconds, 1:19 and 42 seconds before meeting his friend Eduardo Mendez of Wapato in the final. Mendez took him the distance, but Perez won in a 6-3 major decision.
All in all, Perez pinned 10 of his 12 opponents inside the Tacoma Dome.
Facing Mendez in the finals was a highlight for Perez. When the official raised Perez’s hand as champion, Perez grabbed Mendez’s hand and raised it in unison.
“Seeing his growth throughout the year and seeing him be able to make it to the finals, it was just a fun match to finish off high school,” Perez said.
“His whole town cheered for him. That felt really good.”
Like many seniors across the state, Perez’s high school experience came to an unceremonious halt. But he’d already put a fitting bookend to his athletic chapter.
“I think it was good to end off on that good note to carry that on possibly through the college level,” Perez said.
ISAIAH PEREZ’S BIO
Sports: Football, wrestling
Next step: Signed to play football at BYU.
Senior year highlights: 2A CWAC defensive MVP, first team all-league running back and utility player … First team 2A all-state defensive lineman, per the Associated Press. All-classification honorable mention all-state selection by SBLive … Heavyweight state wrestling champion (became first to win three straight). League wrestler of the year. District champion. Regional champion. Gut Check champion.
Career accomplishments: Football: Three-time CWAC defensive MVP. Three-time CWAC first team defensive line. Three-time all-league selection at running back. Two-time first team all-state selection by the Associated Press. Wrestling: Three-time league heavyweight wrestler of the year. Four-time district champ, three-time regional champion, two-time Gut Check champion. Tri-State champ. Career stats: 143 wins, 16 losses, 121 pins.
School/community achievements: He was Othello’s ASB president as a senior, and attained a Seal of Biliteracy, taking several AP and college courses in high school … He worked the school’s “Little Huskie” football camp for two years and Little Guy wrestling club for four … served as an AVID tutor as a senior and worked with elementary, preschool and special education classes for three years.