Toni Rodriguez named Female Athlete of the Year

Kyle Riviere @kyleR_sports
Rodriguez is the first St. Amant student to ever be crowned Athlete of the Year. Photo by Dewey Keller.

For the second year in a row, Ascension has had one of their own named Athlete of the Year.

Last year, it was Dutchtown football and track star Landon Collins. This year, a girl's star from the parish was crowned as St. Amant's Toni Rodriguez was named the female Athlete of the Year at a banquet at The Baton Rouge Advocate's headquarters last Tuesday night.

Rodriguez was a finalist for the award last year as only a sophomore but lost out to West Feliciana's Britney Washington.

However, Rodriguez was able to cash in this time around as a junior.

To earn the award, she edged out St. Joseph's Morgan Miller--who was a volleyball and softball standout and Plaquemine's Amber Smith--who played four sports. She has signed with Baton Rouge Community College in basketball. She also played volleyball, softball and ran track.

Rodriguez has been a three-sport star for the Lady Gators with volleyball being the avenue where she has had the most success.

She is a two-time All-Metro MVP and will arguably be the best volleyball player in the state heading into next season.

This past year, she compiled 627 kills, 234 digs and 97 blocks while she led St. Amant to a 34-6 record and a No. 2 overall seed heading into the playoffs. It was their highest seeding in school history.

The Lady Gators punched their ticket to the State Volleyball Tournament but were upset by Northshore in the quarterfinals.

In basketball, Rodriguez got off to a great start as she averaged 10 points and eight rebounds a game. However, mid-way through the season, she sustained a knee injury that forced her to sit out the remainder of the year.

St. Amant went on to finish 21-10 for the regular season and made a run to the second round of the playoffs before losing to eventual state champion Southwood.

Finally, Rodriguez made a name for herself on the track this past season. She gave a huge boost to the Lady Gators in the field events.

She set school records in the high-jump with a jump of five feet and six inches and the javelin with a throw of 147 feet and four inches.

Rodriguez won both events at the District 5-5A track meet and in doing so, was named the meet's Outstanding Field Performer.

And at the state meet, she put up another solid performance as she finished third in both events.

With the win, Rodriguez became the first St. Amant athlete to ever earn the award since it was created in 1985.

In the boy's division, Port Allen's Darian Claiborne was named Athlete of the Year.

Claiborne was one of the most highly-touted football players in the state this past year, and he also excelled in track.

He decided to join Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and head coach Kevin Sumlin in College Station as he inked a scholarship to play football at Texas A&M back in February.