SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The final gathering of the Northern Santa Barbara County Athletic Round Table brought out the emotions for many in attendance at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge.
Among the many award winners named during the Athletic Recognition Dinner, three new members of the Hall of Fame were inducted, including the late Joni Gray, the longtime Round Table president who died last November.
Santa Maria three-sport standout Blake Truhitte was named the male athlete of the year, while Righetti basketball star Zane Sheckherd earned top female honors.
"It's a testament to how much work I worked for this my whole life, my parents, all my family. It's a blessing to be selected athlete of the year," said Truhitte.
"This is going to help me a lot throughout college with other things and I'm just blessed to have this award," Sheckherd said.
Other award winners included scholar athletes of the year, Dustin Gregg of Santa Ynez and Danielle Morgan of Lompoc.
Bailey Kilougjh and Miguel Gomez earned the Jim Glines Scholarship award for Allan Hancock College athletes.
The inaugural Joni Gray Heart and Soul Award was given to Casey Blout of Lompoc.
In addition to Gray, the Hall of Fame added two other members, both coming from the basketball court.
Righetti alum Kristina Santiago earned a rightful spot in the Hall of Fame after a star-studded career that saw her succeed at Cal Poly, and later, professionally in Europe.
During her career with the Mustangs, Santiago established herself as the greatest women's basketball player in program history.
Last year, she was inducted in the Cal Poly Hall of Fame and earned the distinction of becoming the first woman in the program's Division I history to have their number retired.
"Coming back here and being honored with some amazing athletes. I was looking through them and it was really, really special, so this was fun," said Santiago.
Nerelli, a San Luis Obispo County native, has established himself as one of the most successful basketball coaches in Central Coast history.
Nerelli is currently the women's coach at Hancock College. In 2016-17, he led the Bulldogs to a record 17-10 (the program’s highest win total since the 1994-95 season) and reached their first CCCAA Southern California regional playoff berth since 1997.
Starting in 2010, Gray served as Round Table president for seven years. It was a position she held until her unexpected death last November.
The Orcutt native was a beloved member of the community. She served the Santa Maria Valley in countless roles, including Santa Barbara County supervisor for 14 years.
A tremendous supporter of youth sports, Gray was a natural to lead the Round Table.
Through her tireless efforts, Gray was instrumental in keeping the Round Table organization going each Monday afternoon.