Two of Woodbridge’s top student-athletes earn scholarships in honor of K.J. Bentley

Woodbridge High School’s athletic boosters have announced the 2012 recipients of a scholarship honoring the late Kent “K.J.” Bentley.

Seniors Morgan Johnson and Andre Escalante, pictured to the right, were honored for best exemplifying the spirit and integrity of the beloved wrestling coach, both in the classroom and in their respective sports. Each will each receive $2,500 for college.

Johnson, a member of the basketball and track teams at Woodbridge, will attend Orange Coast College in the fall with plans to transfer to a four-year school.

“Opposing basketball coaches always remarked that Morgan was an animal on the court,” Athletic Director Eric Bangs said. “However, I know her as one of the sweetest young ladies I have ever coached. She is the ideal candidate for this award.”

Andre Escalante, a standout on the Warriors wrestling squad, plans to attend Cal State Fullerton next year.

“Andre’s leadership was one of the main factors of the wrestling team succeeding as it did,” Coach Chris Crosson said. “He was instrumental in helping me keep the team together, mentally and physically.”

Both student-athletes were commended for reflecting the character of K.J. Bentley, who encouraged his students to give their best and to always conduct themselves with integrity. Bentley, who joined the Woodbridge staff as an English teacher and wrestling coach in 1998, died tragically in 2010 at the age of 46.

Now in its second year, the scholarship program in his honor is funded by the school’s athletic boosters as well as proceeds from the Southern California Half Marathon & 5K, which was presented by Kaiser Permanente in January. The annual race — the next one will be held on Jan. 12, 2013 — supports athletics programs at Woodbridge, as well as other local charities.