As is the case in any year, it is difficult to single out an individual high school athlete amongst the numbers of local students who can stake a claim to a title such as “Athlete of the Year.” There are numbers of excellent athletes in their various sports within the city limits, and all deserve to be honored. And excelling in two sports is not uncommon as well. Such is the case with this year’s male and female athletes of the year, as we look back at both of their achievements in the past calendar year.
SEFO LIUFAU – BELLARMINE PREP
You would be hard-pressed to find a more devoted athlete than Liufau, who twice found himself deep in the state playoffs at Tacoma Dome – in separate sports.
Way back in February, Liufau helped guide the Lions’ basketball team deep into the state playoffs at the Dome after averaging 13 points, 10 rebounds and four assists per game. The Lions had earlier claimed a Narrows League championship and finished 13-1 in league play, with a 24-5 overall record. Liufau’s all-out effort was on display in a 22-point, 20-rebound game against Mount Rainier in the Lions’ opener at the Dome, an eventual 66-50 win on the way to claiming fifth place.
His dominance on the gridiron was even more impressive, as the University of Colorado-bound senior quarterback guided the Lions to the state title game this fall. Liufau passed for more than 2,500 yards and 24 touchdowns in his final campaign, while also rushing for eight more scores. Despite losing to Skyline in the state final, Liufau consistently demonstrated leadership, athleticism and character that was on display all year long.
TIA BRIGGS – WILSON
Briggs is another outstanding athlete whose character and humility almost contradict her dominant and imposing athletic skill.
She began her year on the basketball court as well, leading the Wilson girls to the Narrows 3A title with a perfect 10-0 league record last winter. The then-junior forward was the Rams’ go-to player in the post, averaging 14.4 points and 7.7 rebounds per game – not to mention a 31-point outing early in the season – on a roster full of talented players. The effort garnered Briggs the Narrows 3A MVP award, as the Rams advanced to the state regional playoffs with a 19-4 overall record.
But she was not done, helping the Lady Rams’ volleyball team to the district playoffs for the second straight year this fall by being a force up front. The senior middle blocker tallied 121 kills – second on the team – while adding 29 blocks. Her season earned her recognition on the All-Narrows 3A second team. With the way in which Briggs was able to combine her size and ability to move in both sports, she proved well-deserving of all of her accolades.