Year one of the Sheridan Press Sports Awards is in the books, and I’m already excited for year two. What a fun night recognizing the tremendous talent we have in Sheridan County.
For those that couldn’t make it — the scheduling conflicts of track and soccer were a definite bummer, but understandable — we really hope you can attend in the future. We don’t expect the success of our local athletes to falter at all, so the show goes on.
The Sports Awards were a collaborative brain child of a few Sheridan Press team members and nearly two years in the making. A lot went into this event, and we’ve been waist deep in the inaugural Sports Awards since at least January.
Our goal for the evening was to pack as many Sheridan County student-athletes and coaches, and their families, friends and teammates, into one room for a couple hours, mingling, laughing and applauding. There was no lack in applause.
Four high schools, along with Sheridan College, were honored Tuesday evening. With the help of coaches and athletic directors from each of the schools, 49 different athletes were nominated in 20 categories.
To put it simply, Sheridan County has quite the collection of athletes.
To reiterate what I said on stage Tuesday night, I’d be doubtful another group of schools in the state has as much talent, especially at so many levels. Three high school classifications and the National Junior College Athletics Association were represented.
The recognition was awesome and well deserved. For me, though, the highlight of the evening came from the keynote speaker, Rob Johnson.
Johnson built quite the resume for himself at Tongue River High School, on the gridiron, hardwood and in the classroom. Johnson spoke of his experiences throughout his career, highlighting some of the highs and lows and how both played a significant role in shaping the person he’d become once his career was over.
That’s important. With the talent level of the athletes in the area, there are certainly years and years left before many of them hang up the cleats, spikes and sneakers. Hopefully Johnson instilled some wisdom — vastly experienced wisdom — into the young athletes as they embark on those journeys.
Johnson also spoke on how competition drove him to success. Maybe not the fastest or most athletic, Johnson was rarely outworked. His obsession with winning — and his willingness to turn losses into opportunities — were the very reasons he was on that stage speaking to the current batch of athletes that fill the shoes he once wore.
That’s what the Sports Awards are all about.
We hope the event creates even more friendly competition among local athletes, especially since most of them don’t actually battle it out on the field.
Maybe these athletes don’t need the extra motivation. They’re clearly heavily motivated already; that’s what put them in this position to begin with. But if it boosts competition even slightly, especially in a fun way, the overall success of the entire county will flourish. And if we can recognize the competition and success it leads to, even better.
The last nine months have been some of the best this community has ever seen — and we still have a month left to wrap up soccer and track. A drop off in talent seems out of the question, so brace yourselves for a long, exciting stretch of championship-caliber athletics.
We’ll continue doing our best to recognize those athletes and coaches in the spirit of competition.
We appreciate everyone involved with Tuesday’s event — the athletes, coaches, ADs, parents, sponsors, WYO Theater. We look forward to watching this thing grow just as the talent-level in Sheridan does.
Congrats to all those nominated and awarded. See you next year.
The 2017 Sports Awards winners:
Boys cross-country: Jered McCafferty (SHS)
Girls cross-country; Laura Alicke (SHS)
Boys golf: Kirby Coe-Kirkham (SHS)
Girls golf: Kylee Knobloch (TRHS)
Football: Coy Steel (SHS)
Volleyball: Neci Sundquist (TRHS)
Boys tennis: Quinton Suska (SHS)
Girls tennis: Madison Garneau (SHS)
Boys swimming: Oscar Patten (SHS)
Girls swimming: Pippin Robison (SHS)
Boys basketball: Colton Bates (BHHS)
Girls basketball: McKenna Auzqui (ACHS)
Wrestling: Hayden Hastings (SHS)
Boys track and field: Brennan Kutterer (TRHS)
Girls track and field: Riley Rafferty (SHS)
Boys soccer: Noah Iberlin (SHS)
Girls soccer: Teresa Giandonato (SC)
Men’s rodeo: Hunter Carlson (SC)
Women’s rodeo: LaTasha Weiferich (SC)
Male Athlete of the Year: Hayden Hastings (SHS wrestling)
Female Athletes of the Year: Piper Carroll, Molly Green, Pippin Robison, Zoe Robison (SHS swimming)
Coach of the Year: Michael McGuire (BHHS football; girls basketball)