From left, Eli and Millet Wong, parents of 2008 Male Athlete of the Year Rezne Wong, Male Student Athlete of the Year Jericho Cruz, Female Athlete of the Year Yvonne Bennett, and Female Student Athlete of the Year Jacque Wonenberg, pose for a group photo during the 2008 NMASA Annual Awards Banquet last night at the Seaside Hall of Saipan Grand Hotel. (Roselyn B. Monroyo) 
Wong and Bennett's selection for the coveted awards were announced last night during the 2008 NMASA Annual Awards Banquet at Saipan Grand Hotel.

Wong failed to make the awards ceremony, as he left Thursday evening for Tokyo to compete in the Japan Open.

Rezne was a five-time Male Athlete of the Month winner last season-the most for any nominees in 2008-getting NMASA's nod for his exploits in on- and off-island tournaments.

His first monthly plum came in February when he set a CNMI age group mark [15 to 18 years old] in the 100m breaststroke event en route to ruling the 3rd annual Saipan Swim Club Heptathlon Virtual Meet.

The MHS student won back-to-back monthly awards in April and May for making his mark in Guam tournaments. He first competed in the Guam Swimming Federation All Island Invitational, winning in the 200m IM and the 100m backstroke, and placing second in the 50m butterfly and 50m freestyle.

In the 2008 Guam Championships, he took the High Point Trophy in the open class, claiming four gold medals, three silvers, and three bronzes besides resetting the CNMI age-group and national records in the 100m breaststroke.

Wong also won back-to-back in October and November.

In October, Wong dominated the dual meet between his Tsunami Swimming Center Saipan and Saipan Swim Club and reset the CNMI age group record in the 100m breaststroke for the third time.

In November, he shattered his own mark in the 100m breaststroke and finished on top of the field in the SSC All Schools Swim Meet.

Bennett also posted several record-breaking performance in local and regional tournaments, making her the lone nominee for the 2008 Female Athlete of the Year to win two monthly awards. She won the monthly plum in May and June.

In May, during the McDonald's All Schools meet, the Kagman High School student timed in at 13.04 seconds in the 100m race to set a CNMI national record after clocking in at 26.94 in the 200m run to make another national mark.

Bennett's third record-setting performance came in the 400m race, where she timed in at 1:03.50.

In June, Bennett became the fastest woman in Micronesia after clocking in at 12.99 seconds in the 100m sprint finals in the 2008 Oceania Area Championships. In the same tournament, she also reset the CNMI records in the 400m (1:01.83) and 200m (26.65 seconds).

MHS students take honors

Thursday was the night of the Dolphins, as two more Marianas High School students were recognized for their outstanding performances last season.

MHS cager Jericho Cruz was named Male Student Athlete of the Year, while trackster Jacque Wonenberg claimed her fourth straight Female Student Athlete of the Year award.

Cruz made the selection after playing for the CNMI Junior Nationals in the 2008 Oceania Youth Tournament in Guam.

He was the scoring champion in the tournament, outgunning players from powerhouses Australia and New Caledonia. He led the Junior Nationals to victories over Papua New Guinea and Palau en route to the team's sixth place finish in the tournament.

Locally, the 18-year-old Cruz was a force in various leagues, holding his ground against much more experienced cagers.

Wonenberg gave the CNMI its lone gold medal in the 2008 Oceania Area Championships, winning the heptathlon competition.

She topped five events in heptathlon and was runner-up in two others to earn 3,623 points, which were enough to earn her a gold medal in the prestigious event -- a first for the Commonwealth in over 12 years of competing in the area championships.

Wonenberg added two bronze medals to her collection, gaining respect from athletes from countries across the Pacific.

In the All Schools Meet, she took five first place finishes, one runner-up, and one third place trophy.

By Roselyn Monroyo
 Saipan Tribune


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