Meet The Desert Sun’s best winter sports enthusiasts for 2024

It is time to honor the top athletes from the winter sports season. These seven talents ensured the “victory” in the winter, winning a lot of hardware.

This group includes a state champion wrestler, the leaders of two different CIF-SS championship teams, historically good hoopsters and league champions on the field.

It’s time to meet the best of the best: our Desert Sun 2024 Top Winter Athletes:

Victoria Hyatt

Sport: Basketball

School: Shadow Hills

Why they: Hyatt finished her illustrious four-year varsity career with her best all-around season, filling the stat sheet with 20.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 4.8 steals and 2.2 blocks per game. That’s some work. Hyatt led the Knights to the Desert Empire League title with an undefeated 10-0 record and helped the Knights to the third round of the Division 2A playoffs. Hyatt was the DEL co-MVP and a Division 2A All-CIF performer.


Favorite music: “I love rap and R&B. I love Kanye.”

Favorite food: “I like chicken and pasta. Those are my two favorites, but not necessarily together.”

Binge watching: Nothing at the moment, but I like psychological films and thrillers. I just love everything in that genre.”

Dream vacation: “China. I’ve never been to an Asian country or that part of the world and I would like to see that culture.”

Sports idol: “Nneka Ogwumike (former WNBA and Stanford basketball star). I just love the way she plays and she has sisters who also play like me.”

Next year: “I have committed to running at Cal State East Bay. I am excited to commit to a school for a sport and experience a new environment, new weather, new area.”

Brock Mantanona

Sport: Wrestling

School: Palm desert

Why he: Mantanona made this a pretty easy choice, as he completed an undefeated senior season and capped it off with a CIF State title, the second of his illustrious career. Mantanona had to rally in the championship game, but ended his senior season in style. Along the way, he added another Desert Empire League title, CIF-SS title and Masters to his ledger.


Favorite music: “2000s Country and R&B like Usher, Chris Brown and Neyo”

Favorite food: “I like sushi and steak, those are probably my two favorites. I like Misaki for sushi, I even went there last night.”

Dream vacation: “We have family from Guam, so I would like to visit there.”

That state championship game: “Super relieved, I thought I was going to go out and dominate, but I gave up the first score and had to rally to win it. Huge relief. My junior year it was the same, a guy I already beat earlier in the year and I fell behind and lost.

Next year: “My brother Beau, who goes to the University of Michigan, is already there and he’s had a great experience, so I’m excited. He said it’s tough. Division I, Big Ten college wrestling is about the highest level you can Outside of the Olympics, it’s kind of like our professional level. I’m looking forward to it.”

Ryland risk

Sport: Football

School: Palm desert

Why he?: Risk led the Aztecs in both goals with 18 and assists with 15, earning the team a share of the Desert Empire League title. He was named the Desert Empire League’s Offensive Player of the Year. The junior was also named to the All-CIF-SS Division 2 first team.


Favorite music: “Rap, R&B stuff like that, listen to rock or ’90s, but mostly rap. Playboy Carti, that’s my man.”

Favorite food: “Cheeseburger or salmon; not both at the same time. My mother cooks salmon at home. That’s how I like it.”

Sports idol: “Since I picked up a ball, it’s Messi. I love Neymar too. People have told me that my game is more like Neymar than Messi, but I love Messi more because he’s more of a man to look up to, both in soccer and football.” in life.

Dream vacation: “Somewhere in South America, like Argentina or Brazil. The beaches there would be beautiful and of course the football culture is great too.”

Binge watching: “Breaking Bad. It’s always a classic and I can always go back to it.”

Mia Buelna

Sport: Water polo

School: India

Why they: Buelna was the driving force behind the epic, magical, unexpected run to a CIF-SS title. She was the team’s leading scorer during their drama-filled five-game postseason blitz, which saw the team win by one goal three times. Buelna scored four goals in the 9-8 championship win over El Modena and was named Division 6 CIF-SS Player of the Year.

Getting to know MIA

Favorite food: ‘Spaghetti, mom’s spaghetti.’

Favorite music: “I like rap and R&B like Drake and Daniel Caesar.”

Dream vacation: Turks and Caicos Islands. I’ve brought this up many times at home. I’ve always wanted to go there. Dream holiday for sure.

Last movie in a theater: “Godzilla Minus One” I liked it.

About the season: “It was so amazing. We just kept going down and then coming back. It was just so fun to be a part of history like that with my teammates and coaches.”

Zach Buley

Sport: Basketball

School: Palm Springs

What he did: Buley, who also earned the honor last year, has kept the Indians atop the Desert Empire League standings for three years now and as a senior it was almost more his leadership than his scoring and rebounding that helped the team play at its best. The Indians were a perfect 10-0 in league play and Buley was named Desert Empire League MVP.


Favorite food: “Definitely chicken parmesan. I’m starting to learn how to make it myself, but I haven’t perfected it yet. My dad has mastered it.”

Binge watching: “I usually just watch YouTube, but if I watch something on TV, it’s usually ‘The Office’. Always recommended and it’s always on.”

Sports idol: “I’ve looked up to Kobe Bryant my whole life. He’s the main reason I got into basketball. I love old-school basketball and watching Michael Jordan clips. Allen Iverson is one of my favorites, but it was definitely Kobe who my no was.” . 1 inspiration.”

Favorite music: “I love R&B. It used to be rap, but now I love R&B. I love Sza, Summer Walker.”

Next year: “I still hope to play basketball but want to go into sports marketing. I’ll definitely stay in SoCal, maybe Long Beach or Fullerton

Kaylin Montano

Sport: Wrestling

School: Shadow Hills

Why they: Montano had a fantastic year for the Knights, first helping them make history as the first desert girls team to win a CIF-SS title and capture the Southern Division crown. She then earned a first-place finish in the CIF-SS meet with her main goal of the season, a Masters championship. In that championship match, she held on for a grueling 1-0 win. She finished seventh at the state meet, the first Shadow Hills girls wrestler to make the podium at that level.


Favorite music: “I listen to R&B. My mom loved the ’90s, so we listen to a lot of Tupac, a little bit of Drake. In the wrestling room we listen to a lot of rock, so I got into that too.”

Favorite food: “I like a good burger because it’s so balanced that you can throw some veggies on it. As far as fast food burger wars go, people like In-N-Out and I like it too, but I like Habit Burger. “

Sports idol: ‘Helen Maroulis. She is an Olympic wrestler. She was the first girl wrestler I met and I have followed her ever since. She’s big for me.’

Binge watching: “Gilmore Girls. I may have seen it ten times, but…I’ll do it again.”

Next year: I’m still looking at a few places. Fort Hays Kansas is one. But this summer I’m wrestling with the California National Team, which I did last year, and it was so much fun. This year we’re going to Oklahoma.”

Reagan Van Hoorn

Sport: Football

School: Palm desert

Why they: Van Horn led the Aztecs in scoring this year as Palm Desert won the Desert Empire League title and advanced to the quarterfinals in Division 3. The senior midfielder was named Desert Empire League Offensive MVP and was named All-Mission of the first team. CIF for Division 3.

Getting to know REAGAN

Favorite music: “Definitely like Drake before a game, but I also like house music.”

Favorite food: “Sushi. I used to hate fish, but this year I started it and now it’s all I want. Okura is my place for sushi. I could eat so much of it.”

Sports idol: “Sydney Leroux from the U.S. women’s team. Ever since I was little, like in elementary school, during free dress-up day, I would wear her jersey and just the fact that she had kids and is still playing. I just love her.”

Dream vacation: “Bora Bora. I love the beach, the sun and the heat. That’s me.”

Binge watching: “The Bachelor. It just ended and I’m already sad about it. I always watch it every Monday.”

Next year: “I’m going to Concordia to play soccer and I want to study nursing.”