Male Athlete of the Year - Shane Williams, Mount Vernon
Female Athlete of the Year - Morgan Kensinger. Fair Grove
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Large school team of the year
The Republic High School boys’ basketball team is the large school team of the year. Republic won the Class 4 state championship under first-year coach Trevyor Fisher and a veteran group. The Tigers finished 28-4 overall. Republic was known for its fundamental team play and tenacious defense. It was their second state title in program history, and first since 1963.
Small school team of the year
An unforgettable ending to a great season earned the Pleasant Hope softball team the small school team of the year award. Pleasant Hope, playing in the state final four for the third time since 2009, rallied from a six-run deficit to beat Brookfield 9-6 in the Class 2 state title game. Liz Mosley hit a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning to put the Lady Pirates ahead for good. Pleasant Hope finished 28-2 overall.
Best girls tennis player
The 1 Award for best girls tennis player goes to the Forsyth doubles team of Samantha Johnson and Avery Lawson. The two saw plenty of success during their three years as a team. They were two-time state qualifiers, finishing seventh in the 2011 Class 1 state doubles tournament and fourth last fall. They went 28-5 during the 2012 regular season, the best record in their career.
Best volleyball player
Fair Grove’s Morgan Kensinger is the 1 Award winner for best volleyball player. Kensinger had 295 kills, 137 blocks, 73 digs and 32 aces in her senior season for the Lady Eagles, who were 33-6 and won a district championship. She led the team in kills and blocks and was a first team all-state selection in Class 2. Kensinger will play college volleyball for Evangel University.
Best boys soccer player
The 1 Award for best boys soccer player goes to Glendale’s Nic Bauer. He tallied 28 goals and 19 assists as Glendale went 16-7 and won a district title. Nine of his 28 goals were game-winners. Bauer was a second team all-state selection and the Ozark Conference Offensive MVP. In one game against Waynesville, he scored six goals. Bauer also exceled in the classroom by finishing in the top percent of his class with a 3.86 GPA.
Best softball player
After a banner career with Pleasant Hope, Catlin Evans claims the 1 Award for best softball player. The catcher hit over .400 with a .555 on-base percentage to go with three homers, 18 RBIs, and 23 steals last fall. During her time at PHHS, the Lady Pirates made the state final four three out of four years. Pleasant Hope won the Class 2 state title in comeback fashion last October. The four-year starter will play college softball for Central Methodist.
Best girls golfer
The 1 Award for best girls golfer goes to Mt. Vernon’s Ashley Childers. She’s a two-time state qualifier, having finished tied for 35th as a freshman and 10th last fall. Mt. Vernon finished fourth in the state team standings both years. She stays on the course during the offseason, playing in the Missouri Golf Association. She won the 2013 Junior Match Play Championship.
Best football player
Liberty dual-threat quarterback Jaelon Acklin wins the 1 Award for best football player. Acklin racked up over 3,000 total yards and 47 touchdowns in 2012, his first season as the full-time starter. The Eagles averaged about 37 points per game on offense, and Acklin was the top rushing threat as the team averaged about 262 yards on the ground per. Liberty finished 10-3 and reached the Class 2 state quarterfinals.
Best boys XC runner
Crane’s Thomas Chabrecek takes the 1 Award for best boys cross country runner. Chabrecek qualified for the state meet all four seasons in his school career, twice finishing in the top 10. He ended his career last fall with a second-place finish and was just one of two athletes to break the 17-miunute barrier in the race. He leaves as the most decorated distance runner in CHS history and will continues his career at SBU in Bolivar.
Best girls XC runner
Lexi McNiel won the Class 1 state championship last fall, and now she wins the 1 Award for best girls cross country runner. The Plato High School sophomore won state in convincing fashion, finishing 41 seconds ahead of the second-place runner. Her efforts also helped the Plato girls finish third as a team among 14 schools. McNiel is a four-sport athlete at Plato, participating in volleyball, basketball and track.
Best boys swimmer
Glendale’s Will Brand is the boys swimmer of the year. At the state meet last fall, Brand broke a 28-year-old school record when he twice set the new mark in the 100 butterfly within a 24-hour span. He ended up placing fourth in that event. Brand also qualified for state in the 200 freestyle, 400 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay. He earned a second medal at state, placing sixth in the 200 freestyle.
Best girls swimmer
Nixa’s Anna Brinck claims the 1 Award for best girls swimmer. She returned to the pool last winter after a self-imposed year hiatus, aimed at refreshing her to the sport. Brinck qualified for state in four events: the 100 freestyle, 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay. She was 14th in the 100 freestyle. Brinck won’t swim in college, but plans to attend Drury University where she’ll double major in Spanish and Biology.
Best boys basketball player
Nixa sharpshooter Austin Ruder is the boys basketball player of the year. He averaged a shade under 20 points per game for Nixa while earning all-state honors. One of the most prolific 3-point shooters in southwest Missouri high school history, Ruder led Nixa to the Class 5 state title game as a junior. During his career, he twice set the school record for 3-pointers in a season, which now stands at 86. He also holds the NHS career records for most points (1,722) and most treys (273) and will play college ball for Missouri State.
Best girls basketball player
West Plains do-it-all guard Andi Haney is the girls basketball player of the year. She led the Lady Zizzers in four categories: points (23.3 per game), rebounds (7.3), assists (6.2) and steals (4.3). West Plains finished 27-2 and knocked off defending state champion Republic in the Class 4, District 11 title game. She became West Plains’ all-time leading scorer late in the regular season, and topped 2,000 career points before it was all over. Haney was a McDonald’s All-American nominee and will play collegiately at Harding University in Arkansas, re-uniting with her sister Tabitha as teammates.
Two-time state wrestling champion Chase Brennan is now a first-time 1 Awards winner. The Monett wrestler won the Class 2 113-pound championship, earning his second state title after winning at 103 as a freshman. Brennan’s victory in the finals last February came against the same wrestler, Cameron’s Trevor Burkhart, who beat Brennan in the 2012 semifinals at 106. Brennan beat Burkhart 6-4 in three rounds this year.
Best boys golfer
Marshfield senior Clayton Moles is the 1 Award winner for best boys golfer. In his final season for Marshfield, Moles finished first at districts and sectionals and tied for 12th at the Class 3 state championship. All together, he won five tournaments in the spring. He qualified for the state tournament all four years at Marshfield. He’ll golf collegiately for SBU.
Best boys track athlete
Strafford’s Blake Alexander wins the best boys track athlete 1 Award. He was the top hurdler in the Ozarks in 2013, and the only local athlete to bring home two gold medals from the state championships. Alexander won the Class 2 110- and 300-meter hurdle events. He added a sixth-place finish in triple jump. Alexander lost only one hurdles race the entire spring and will continue his career at William Jewell.
Best girls track athlete
The 1 Award for best girls track athlete goes to Spokane’s Kailey Chapman. She medaled in four state events. Chapman won the 300-meter hurdles, placed third in 100 hurdles, was seventh in the 100 dash, and eighth in the 200 dash. Regionally, she posted the Ozarks' best 300 hurdle time, third-best 100-meter hurdle and 100-meter dash times, and the fifth-best 200 dash time. Like Strafford’s Blake Alexander, Chapman competes for the Springfield Track Club in the offseason.
Best girls soccer player
Nixa’s Payton DeHart is the 1 Award winner for best girls soccer player. She was a Class 3 first team all-state selection and the Class 3 Southwest Missouri Regional Offensive Player of the Year in 2013. Her 21 goals and 20 assists drove Nixa to the program’s first state final four. Nixa pulled off an upset of Glendale to win its district and make the state tournament, where the Lady Eagles beat Kickapoo and Jefferson City. DeHart has been playing soccer since she was 4 years old and hopes to one day play for Mizzou.
Best boys tennis player
Rogersville’s Tucker Ethridge and Matthew Gartland are the 1 Award winners for boys tennis. In their first and only season as a doubles team, Ethridge (a freshman) and Gartland (a senior) took all-state honors by placing in the top eight of the Class 1 state doubles tournament. Rogersville won its district title and reached the state tournament, where the Wildcats finished fourth. Not bad for a duo that was only paired together following a preseason injury to Ethridge’s planned doubles partner.
Best baseball player
The 1 Award for best baseball player goes to Fair Grove’s Deric Link. The senior was dominant on the mound and at the plate. He tallied 121 strikeouts and a 2.50 ERA as a pitcher. In the batter’s box, he hit just under .475 and had 22 RBIs, 21 runs and 10 doubles. Link and the Eagles pulled a shocker in the Class 3 sectionals when they beat state-ranked No. 1 Forsyth 1-0 on Forsyth’s home field. Link pitched a complete-game shutout and had eight strikeouts. The only run of the game? A solo homer from Link, who’ll play college baseball for Evangel.