Swimming standout Phillip Kudela, and three-sport all-league star Taylor Burrall, have been named the Yosemite High School boy and girl athletes of the year.
Kudela, who has been swimming competitively since he was four, helped the YHS swim team win its 10th consecutive North Sequoia League Championship this past season.
The Badgers scored 571 points at the league meet held at Yosemite May 8 - with Kerman coming in a distant second with 328 points.
At the league championship meet, Kudela won two individual events and was on two winning relay teams. He won the 200 (1:49.48) and the 500 yard (4:59.13) freestyle races, and was a member of the winning 200 free and 400 free relay teams.
Yosemite (Kudela, Owen Bassett, Trevor Wood, Aaron Mulkey) won the 200 relay in 1:35.03, and the 400 (Kudela, Chance Bendz, Bassett, Mulkey) in 3:29.76, 40 seconds ahead of the Kerman team. In the 500 free, Kudela beat second place finisher Ryan Jones of Dos Palos by almost a full minute.
D-II Central Section Champion
Kudela qualified for the CIF D-II Central Section Championships at Central High May 16, where he won one of his individual events, and placed second in the other.
He won the 500 yard freestyle with a school record time (4:42.21), improving the record he set (4:45.11) last year by more than three seconds.
Kudela, a four year North Sequoia League Scholar-Athlete, was second in the 200 Individual Medley with another school record (2:00.19). The old 200 IM record was 2:01.74, set by Ian Whalley in 2012.
His times in the 500 free and 200 IM ranked him in the top five of all divisions in the Central Section.
In addition to his individual feats, Kudela was on the 400 freestyle relay team with fellow senior Aaron Mulkey, and sophomores Owen Bassett and Jayden Malcolm that placed second and broke the school record set in 2008, with a time of 3:22.24.
Kudella, a class valedictorian (4.02 GPA), and life member in the California Scholastic Federation, was also a member Yosemite’s 200 freestyle relay team, placing sixth at the Central Section meet with a time of 1:33.82. Team members were Bassett, Mulkey, and Chance Bendz.
The Yosemite team, captained by Kudela, placed 10th out of 33 schools at the meet.
Kudella is the son of Marty and Tammy Kudela. As a youngster, Kudela swam for the Yosemite Marlins Swim Club (formerly the Mariposa Marlins/Yosemite Swim Club), and on both teams was coached by his mother, who is now also an assistant swim coach for YHS.
Kudela is ranked in the top 5% of all high school swimmers in the nation, and in preparation to compete swim at that level, he worked out in the Yosemite High pool before classes began, and then traveled after school for three-hour workouts (six days a week) with the Clovis Swim Club, arriving back home about 9 p.m.
He will attend the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, study criminal justice, and join the university’s NCAA D-1 swim team. He will specialize in the 1,650 yard (one mile) freestyle, the 500 freestyle, and the 200 IM.
The team is a member of the Western Athletic Conference and competes against the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Seattle University, CSU Bakersfield, Chicago State, Utah Valley, New Mexico State, and Grand Canyon University.
Kudela said he is looking forward to college and is thankful to all the support he has received from coaches, family, teachers, friends, and the community.
Burrall stared in three sports at Yosemite
Burrall had an outstanding senior year, with all league performances in volleyball, and basketball, followed by a great track season.
The 6-foot-3 Burrall started her outstanding senior year as a member of the volleyball team, which finished the season with a second place finish in the NSL behind Sierra.
In the Badger’s second loss of the season to Sierra, Burrall had 16 kill shots. The team entered the CIF Central Section D-III playoffs, and defeated Sunnyside High of Fresno in it’s first play-off game. In that game Burrall had one of her best games of the season recording 13 kill shots, nine digs, and seven blocked shots.
The team lost to San Joaquin Memorial in the quarter-final round.
Burrall finished the season with 317 kills, 236 digs, and 184 blocked shots, and was named to the NSL first team All-League team.
National ranking in blocked shots
Burrall then transitioned to the girls basketball team, playing organized basketball for just her second year.
It was her shot-blocking abilities during basketball season that ranked Burrall No. 1 in the Central Section, and No. 2 in the state with 181 blocked shots, 17 behind Cydnee Kinslow of Freedom High in Oakley. She was No. 11 in the nation in blocked shots. The top shot blocker in the nation was Bayley Plummer, a junior at East Davidson High in Thomasville, N.C., with 230.
She was also the Badgers’ leading scorer and had her first career triple-double (10 points, 13 rebounds, 10 blocks) in the CIF D-II semi-final game against the eventual CIF Champions, Independence High School of Bakersfield. Independence, with an enrollment of 2,000 students, beat the Badgers 49-40.
Burrall set the school record for blocks in a game with 11 against Bella Vista. Her highest scoring game this season was 20 points.
She was also chosen for the NSL offense and defense All League first team, and was uncontested NSL Defensive Player of the Year.
The Lady Badgers ended the season with a 19-10 overall record (9-1 NSL), sharing the league title with Sierra.
This past spring, Burrall was on the 17-member Yosemite High girls track squad that defeated defending NSL champion Sierra on May 6, at Badger Stadium, the first league title in the past five years.
Burrall won four events to lead the Lady Badgers - the 100 meter hurdles (17.1), 300m hurdles (49.1), high jump (5-3), and the triple jump (34-6). Burrall’s triple jump is now No. 3 all-time at YHS. She advanced to the CIF Central Section Championship meet in the high jump and triple jump.
Burrall, the daughter of Paul and Cheryl Cliby, will attend Reedley Community College and play volleyball in the fall.