A former Waiakea High baseball standout and a longtime athletic volunteer have been named the 2012 Big Island Athlete of the Year and Sportsperson of the Year, respectively.
The honorees are ex-Waiakea pitcher Quintin Torres-Costa and sportsman Jay Sasan.
The annual sports awards are sponsored by Don’s Grill and owner Don Hoota under the ongoing athlete of the month program that also includes the Big Island Athlete of the Year and Sportsperson of the Year honors. The program was founded by the late Jack Matsui.
Torres-Costa, who is a freshman pitcher on the University of Hawaii baseball team this year, led Waiakea to the state baseball championship in 2012 as a senior. It was only the second time ever that a Big Island Interscholastic Federation school won the state baseball title; the first coming in 1985 when Hilo High was the state champion.
Torres-Costa, a southpaw, first helped lead Waiakea to the BIIF title and the talented Warriors entered the state tournament as the top-ranked team in the state. In the state final, Torres-Costa and lefty Kodi Medeiros combined on a no-hitter as Waiakea defeated Maui champion Baldwin 5-2 at Les Murakami Stadium and on statewide television.
In six innings, Torres-Costa struck out 13, including seven in a row at one point, in a dominant performance. In two tournament games, he struck out 21 batters in 13 innings and earned the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award.
Medeiros, a senior this year at Waiakea, no-hit the Baldwin the rest of the way in the title game. In the tournament semifinals, he tossed a three-hitter to beat Pearl City 2-1. He has given UH his verbal commitment to play for the Rainbows.
The Warriors, under head coach Kevin Yee, finished their championship season with a 19-0 record.
Sasan has been involved in sports for more than 50 years, including Little League baseball, football, judo, aikido and wrestling. He is a past Ka’u High School wrestling coach who coached the first Big Island high school student — Andrew Louis — to a state wrestling championship, according to Allyson Cortez, who nominated Sasan for the 2012 Sportsperson of the Year.
In high school, Sasan was a two-way starter on the Kalihi Thundering Herd and Chinen’s AC barefoot football teams. In one of his fondest memories, Sasan helped lead his young barefoot football team to a 6-6 tie with then powerhouse Kalihi Valley, which had been undefeated in the previous four years before that surprising tie.
In college while attending the University of Hawaii, he was an AAU wrestling champion on Oahu and also earned territorial wrestling titles. In 1950, he was named the outstanding wrestler in the territory and later was a headline featherweight boxer on Kauai. He often wrestled against standout wrestlers from the Navy and visiting collegiate teams in the territorial competition.
Sasan later moved to the Big Island and was employed by the Paauhau Sugar and Ka’u Sugar companies, helping support and promote athletics in the communities he worked and lived in.
“Jay Sasan is someone who has been active in sports nearly all his life,” Cortez wrote in her nomination letter. “He not only participated himself personally, but has encouraged, coached and organized his community, children, grandchildren and siblings in athletics.
“We thank him for his dedication and continued promotion of athletics and youth and community development as a way of life to make Hawaii a better place to live,” Cortez said.
Each month, the Don’s Grill selection committee names a Big Island athlete of the month. Then at the end of the year, the committee chooses an athlete of the year and accepts public written nominations for the sportsperson of the year. The committee then picks one of the qualified nominees for the award.
The Athlete and Sportsperson of the Year honorees receive a plaque and $100 gift certificate from Don’s Grill.
Members of the selection committee are Hugh Clark, Ramon Goya, Stan Costales and chairman Bill O’Rear.