High School Sports

One of the nation’s fastest sprinters among the top honorees at All-Broward awards

Boys' Basketball 6A-1A Player of the Year is NSU University School's Vernon Carey Jr.
Boys' Basketball 6A-1A Player of the Year is NSU University School's Vernon Carey Jr. snavarro@miamiherald.com

Anthony Schwartz ran faster on the track than any other sprinter in the country earlier this month.

Nik Bonitto chased down quarterbacks as Hall of Famer Jason Taylor watched and later offered insights on the sideline.

And both Femi Funeus and Erin Gutierrez dominated on the basketball court while leading their teams to the state championship tournament.

The talented quartet of elite athletes — each of whom will compete at the Division-I level in college in their respective sports — earned Athlete of the Year honors Friday morning at the Miami Herald’s All-Broward County Athletic Awards at the Signature Grand in Davie.

The event sponsored by Miami Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Baptist Health South Florida, the Orange Bowl and the Miami Marlins drew an audience of 850, who watched the top athletes and coaches in 17 sports get recognized for their achievements this season.

Gutierrez made a tremendous recovery from undergoing open heart surgery as a sophomore to starring on the basketball court, where she led the Nova girls’ basketball team within one victory of a state championship this year.

A Tulane University signee, Gutierrez won Class 9A-7A Female Athlete of the Year honors after averaging 18.3 points per game.

Schwartz, who earned Class 6A-1A honors and is headed to Auburn University, was a star wide receiver on the American Heritage football team, which repeated as state champions this year and won its fourth title in the past five years.

But on the track, Schwartz really made his mark shattering state records earlier this month at the Class 2A meet in Jacksonville and posting the fastest times in the nation in the 100 meters (10.07 seconds) and the 200 meters (20.41), which still ranks No. 1, according to Dyestat.com.

Schwartz also helped break the state finals record in the 400-meter relay as Heritage’s team ran that race in 40.14 seconds.

Bonitto, a menacing defensive end for football powerhouse Aquinas, took home Class 9A-7A honors. After starting his high school career as both as a football and basketball standout at University School in Davie, he transferred to Aquinas and got even better at his craft this past season under the tutelage of NFL Hall of Famer and ex-Miami Dolphin Jason Taylor, who coaches the defensive linemen at St. Thomas. Bonitto signed with the University of Oklahoma.

Funeus, who transferred to American Heritage her junior season and is headed to play basketball at Seton Hall, elevated the Patriots’ level of play over the past two seasons. Funeus helped the Heritage girls’ volleyball team secure a winning season in the fall and then averaged 22 points and 15 rebounds this season to lead the Patriots to a girls’ basketball state title.

American Heritage and St. Thomas each swept the All-Sports Trophy categories in their division, recognizing the most successful athletic programs in the county.

University School boys’ basketball coach Adrian Sosa won Male Sports Overall Coach of the Year honors after winning the school’s first state championship in basketball. The Sharks rose all the way to the No. 2 ranking in the nation and finished a runner-up at the Geico Nationals in New York in April.

Western softball coach Jeffrey Poole secured Female Sports Coach of the Year honors after his squad secured the first state title in the school’s history in the sport on Tuesday.

The Miami Herald also honored the victims of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High with the annual Leo Suarez/Walter Krietsch Courage Award. The honor is given to individuals in the high school sports community who exhibit extraordinary courage in the face of adversity.

In addition, one of them, Douglas athletic director Christopher Hixon, was honored posthumously with the Wrestling Coach of the Year award.

The Herald also recognized longtime Pine Crest swimming coach Jay Fitzgerald with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Fitzgerald, who has coached 53 individual state champions at the school and over 26 teams that have secured state runner-up finishes, retired after the season.