Decatur duo named Athletes of the Year

Madelyn Mitchell and Jonah Jones are voted top athletes in Federal Way Public Schools.

A pair of Decatur Gators swept the 2024 Federal Way Mirror Athlete of the Year Awards, which were announced at a ceremony June 3 at Thomas Jefferson High School.

Decatur junior Madelyn Mitchell and senior Jonah Jones took home the community-voted awards out of 16 total nominees (four from each high school).

“I was just very impressed of the accolades that everybody had … I thought I was in the mix (to win). I went in just excited and excited to be a part of something like this. To win, it felt like a blessing,” Jones said.

For the 2024 voting, more than 16,000 votes were cast online, beating last year’s total by 4,000 votes.

Mitchell and Jones participated in cross-country for the Gators this season and were co-captains of a state tournament team. Mitchell finished 120th at the cross country state meet. Winning the award with his co-captain was a special experience for Jones.

“She was very deserving of the award. I enjoyed every second I got this year to work with her,” Jones said. “She was the reason we got to go to state this year. It was a great experience.”

Mitchell also ran track for the Gators, competing at the NPSL league meet in the 400m, 800m and the 1,600m.

Jones was also on the Decatur soccer team. He was a defender and two-year captain on a Decatur side that caused some issues for some teams. Decatur even drew level with a final four team in Auburn Mountainview.

When Jones’s name was announced, his dad was vocal and gave a shout of support as Jones smiled and walked to receive his award.

“He’s been through it all for me. He’s taken me to all my games, and been there. He’s my number one fan and supporter,” Jones said. “To have him have the same enthusiasm I would have if he won an award was amazing. It was icing on the cake.”

The awards ceremony coincides with Federal Way Public Schools Director of Equity and Athletics Jerry Peterson on his recent retirement announcement. Peterson is calling it a career after 38 years being involved with the Federal Way Public Schools. Peterson’s district accomplishments are as long as a CVS receipt, but his dedication to the athletes and inclusion in and around Federal Way have been noted.


• Madelyn “Maddie” Mitchell (Decatur): Junior, Cross Country, Track and Field: Maddie is an exceptional leader and athlete always putting forth her best effort and encouraging her teammates. She has earned two varsity letter awards for cross country and two varsity letters in track and field. She participated in the WIAA 4A state cross country meet. In track and field, she qualified for the NPSL Championship Track and Field Meet in 400m, 800m, and 1,600m runs. In the classroom, she has earned a 3.947 cumulative grade point average.

• Amyah Johnson (Decatur): Sophomore, Swim and Dive, Gymnastics: Amaya was a first-year diver for the Decatur swim and dive team this year. She has been a breakout competitor by finishing 4th at the WCD dive meet and 14th at the 2024 WIAA 4A State Championship Meet. Amaya is also a gymnast. She participated in the West Central District Gymnastics meet. Amaya has earned four varsity letter awards and a 3.950 cumulative grade point average.

• Joseline Abundis (Federal Way): Senior, Gymnastics, Track and Field: Joseline has become one of Federal Way’s all-around athletes. She has had a record-setting gymnastics career at Federal Way, holding all the school records. She is the school’s first gymnast to win the all-around state championship, and continued in her success by winning the floor, beam, and vault individual state championships. Joseline is also an all-around track athlete and was recently part of the winning 4x100m relay team at the Bill Harris Invite. Joseline is a two-time NPSL all-around champion.

• Cassandra Atkins (Federal Way): Senior, Track and Field: Cassandra “Cassie” Atkins has literally jumped past her competition in track and field. The Oregon commit is the current school record breaker in both the long and triple jump, current reigning state champion in both events, and looking to repeat. She is also a national champion in the triple jump. Cassie is most proud of the team accomplishment of a 3rd place finish in last year’s state track meet and her 2nd place finish in the 4x100m relay.

• Ava Heitman (Thomas Jefferson): Senior, Fastpitch: Ava has been a 4-year participant on the varsity fastpitch team at Thomas Jefferson. Sophomore year, she was 3A NPSL first team outfield, and junior year she was named 3A NPSL Pitcher of the Year. Freshman year, her team voted her Rookie of the Year, sophomore and junior year, she was voted Offensive Player of the Year, and junior year she was voted team MVP. Ava is a 3-year AVID scholar and currently has a 3.7 cumulative GPA. Ava is attending Taft College in California to continue her fastpitch career and study dental hygiene.

• Alyssa Xiong (Thomas Jefferson): Senior, Volleyball and Wrestling: Alyssa has participated in volleyball and wrestling at Thomas Jefferson for four years. Senior year, her team named her Defensive Player of the Year in volleyball. Alyssa was a state participant in wrestling her junior year, and she was team captain for wrestling her senior year. As a senior she was awarded the Coaches Award, Most Outstanding Wrestler award, and had the most pins on the season. Alyssa currently has a 3.8 GPA and is a full-time Running Start student. She volunteers with her church in her spare time, giving back to the youth in her community. By graduation, Alyssa will have earned her AA degree through Highline College. She plans to finish her degree at the University of Washington-Tacoma.

• Casiana Olvera (Todd Beamer): Senior, Girls Flag Football and Fastptich: Casiana quietly emerged as a fantastic leader at Todd Beamer. She has competed on the varsity softball team for two years as an outfielder and has helped rebuild the program from the ground up while demonstrating tremendous leadership for our young squad. Casiana also was a member of the school’s first Girls Flag Football team. She also was recognized by the Seattle Seahawks as the Player of the Day during the final weekend of competition. She holds a 3.446 cumulative GPA.

• Anisha Rogers (Todd Beamer): Senior, Cheer, Track and Field: Throughout her athletic career at Todd Beamer, Anisha has competed in volleyball, basketball, cheer and track and field. Anisah was the lone senior on our state runner-up Stomp Cheer squad. She has been the captain for cheer both her junior and senior seasons. She also competes in track and field, where she has been a league qualifier in the shot put and discus in all her seasons. She is on the Superintendent Scholar Advisory, participated in the Budgeting Process/Unincorporated King County 2023, City of Federal Way MLK Celebration and the Juneteenth Flag raising from 2019 to present. Anisah maintains a 3.157 cumulative GPA.

• Nehemiah Washington (Decatur): Junior, Football, Wrestling, Track and Field: In football, he was the leading rusher for the 4A North Puget Sound League, and on defense, was the leading tackler for Decatur. Nehemiah was selected for both offense and defense All-NPSL Football teams. He led by example by setting a positive tone in his role as team captain. Nehemiah placed 3rd at the WIAA 4A state wrestling tournament. He also qualified for the NPSL Championship track and field meet in discus and shot put. So far, Nehemiah has earned nine varsity letter awards, and maintains a 3.679 cumulative GPA.

• Jonah Jones (Decatur): Senior, Cross Country, Soccer: Jonah Jones is a returning starter for the Decatur boys soccer team and has been selected for the second consecutive year as the team captain. Jonah’s aggressive play has solidified the defensive back line. He is also a four-year participant in boys cross country and has earned two varsity letters. In addition to sports, Jonah is active in the performing arts. He is the drummer for the Decatur Jazz Band Ensemble and leader of the drumline. Jonah is an exemplary scholar-athlete earning a 3.951 cumulative GPA.

• Xavier Garms Huricks (Federal Way): Senior, Football, Track and Field: Since Xavier became an Eagles athlete two and a half years ago, he has been a stellar competitor in football and track. Xavier consistently outworks others on the football field, and his effort has paid off. This past football season, he was named an all-NPSL defensive back. His leadership skills also earned him the Damoni Nelson Leadership Award. On the track, Xavier was part of the 4A WIAA State Championship boys track team in 2023, and his 4x100m team won their races at the Oregon Relays. Xavier has committed to Shasta College for football.

• Austin May (Federal Way): Junior, Football, Track and Field: Since freshman year, Austin May has been among the elite athletes of Federal Way. As part of the winning state championship boys track team, Austin has used his fast twitch muscles this season to help the 4x100m relay team win races at the Oregon Relays, where he also set his 100m PR. Austin holds the fastest 100m record for a freshman in Federal Way’s history. On the football field, this junior was named first team all NPSL as a wide receiver, averaging over 100 yards per game, and was the offensive MVP for the Eagles this past fall.

• Kort Baker (Thomas Jefferson): Junior, Baseball, Swimming, Basketball: Kort is a three-year varsity baseball player, one year varsity basketball player as a sophomore, and is on Thomas Jefferson’s swim team. He has maintained a 4.0 GPA with a rigorous schedule, including IB courses. Kort is also a member of the band. During Kort’s freshman year, he was NPSL 3A first-team all-league third base. Sophomore year, Kort was NPSL 3A honorable mention shortstop. For both years, his coaches honored him with the “Gold Glove” award. This year as a junior, Kort is one of the captains for the baseball team. Kort has verbally committed to play baseball at Central Washington University.

• Brandon Woods (Thomas Jefferson): Junior, Football, Wrestling, Track and Field: Brandon is a three-sport athlete at Thomas Jefferson. In the fall, he participates in football, in winter he is on the wrestling team, and in spring, he is a member of the track team. Brandon played in the Cleats vs. Cancer Senior All-Star Football Game this year. He was named Sprinter MVP of the track team junior year, and senior year the football team voted him Receiver of the Year. During this current track season, Brandon’s goal is to advance to state in the 100m, 200m, 4X100m and 4X400m. After graduation, Brandon plans to attend College of the Redwoods to play football.

• Keith Rogers Jr. (Todd Beamer): Senior, Football, Basketball, Track and Field: Keith has been a multisport athlete for Todd Beamer all his years. As a freshman, he burst on the scene, making outstanding plays as a wide receiver. This past season, despite several injuries, he still managed to be named all-NPSL receiver and honorable mention defensive back. He has lettered two years in basketball and has been a tremendous leader among all his peers. In track and field, he qualified for the state meet as a junior and is currently ranked seventh in the state for Class 3A in the 300M hurdles. He is also the 2024 NPSL 3A champ in the 100M dash, and the 300M hurdles.

• Behailu Asfaw (Todd Beamer): Senior, Cross Country, Wrestling, Soccer: Behailu has talent he didn’t know he had. He came out for cross country for the first time as a senior and finished as the runner-up in the NPSL, 35th at Westside Classic and then placed 153rd at the state cross country meet. In wrestling, he competed for three years. His leadership and work ethic helped to bring along many new wrestlers. He is also a three-year letter earner in soccer. He has a 3.436 GPA.

All 16 nominees and athletic directors of the Athlete of the Year contest.

All 16 nominees and athletic directors of the Athlete of the Year contest.

Federal Way Public Schools Director of Equity and Athletics Jerry Peterson at his final Athlete of the Year awards. Peterson is retiring after 38 years at the school district.

Federal Way Public Schools Director of Equity and Athletics Jerry Peterson at his final Athlete of the Year awards. Peterson is retiring after 38 years at the school district.

Todd Beamer’s cheer team performs at the Athlete of the Year celebration at Thomas Jefferson.

Todd Beamer’s cheer team performs at the Athlete of the Year celebration at Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson pep band plays a tune before the Raider nominees are announced.

Thomas Jefferson pep band plays a tune before the Raider nominees are announced.

Thomas Jefferson High School was the host of the 2024 Federal Way Mirror Athlete of the Year.

Thomas Jefferson High School was the host of the 2024 Federal Way Mirror Athlete of the Year.