Local athletes vie for top honors

Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Cassville football standout Zach Coenen is a finalist for the Sports Commission Awards in Springfield on June 15. Jared Lankford/sports@cassville-democrat.com

Sports Commission Awards features local flavor

More than 140 student-athletes and 28 teams representing southwest Missouri high schools will be honored during the Sports Commission Awards on June 15, sponsored by Elliott Lodging and presented by Blevins Asphalt.

Set for a 6 p.m. dinner at the Oasis Hotel and Convention Center in Springfield, the awards ceremony celebrates the Ozarks’ top athletes from the 2019-2020 academic year. A total of 31 categories will be recognized. They cover 24 sports, as well as categories for Girls Team of the Year, Boys Team of the Year, Girls Athlete of the Year, Boys Athlete of the Year, Marching Band, Cheerleading and Dance Team. Inspiration Awards also will be bestowed on a Dora High School basketball fan, 8-year-old Damon Emery; Willard High School senior wrestler Michael Finley; and Anya Smith, a fifth-grader supported by the Logan-Rogersville High School Dance Team.

Purdy’s Andrew Martinez gets mauled by his teammates after hitting a home run. He was named one of the top baseball players by the Sports Commission Awards and will be recognized at a banquet on June 15. Jared Lankford/sports@cassville-democrat.com

A selection committee narrowed down each category to the top five athletes, or six if one school is represented by two athletes in one sport. Some categories, such as football, were extended because of the number of outstanding players this past season.

Cassville and Purdy will be represented at the event.

From Cassville, Zach Coenen is up for an award in the football category. Andrew Martinez will vie for an honor for Purdy in the baseball category.

The nominees for those categories are as follows:

• Baseball: Ace Akers, Nixa High School; Mason Foley, Strafford High School; Andrew Martinez, Purdy High School; Garrett Rice, Willard High School; Ethan Thompson, Willard High School; Drew Wheeler, Stockton High School.

• Football: Patrick Carlton, Carthage High School; Zach Coenen, Cassville High School; Isaiah Davis, Joplin High School; Paxton DeLaurent, Camdenton High School; Terrell Kabala, Webb City High School; Kayden Myers, Ava High School; Blake Tash, Joplin High School; Zach Westmoreland, Joplin High School.

Sponsorship tables of eight are $350, while individual tickets are $40 in advance, or $50 at the door. The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is taking table and ticket orders at 417-889-3100.

“High school athletes put in a ton of work this school year, and we are excited to tell their stories,” said Lance Kettering, executive director of the Springfield Sports Commission. “We also know it is important to recognize spring sports athletes who, unfortunately, had their seasons end prematurely.”

Categories cover football, volleyball, baseball and softball as well as sports offered to both boys and girls: basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, swimming and diving, track and field, tennis and wrestling. Track and field are now four separate categories (track events, field events), while wrestling will feature divisions for weight classes from 106 pounds to 152 and then 160 to 285.

“I’ve always believed that high school athletics and activities are great ways to build character, and this ceremony is a nice way to honor their success. That is why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is delighted to help the Springfield Sports Commission with this important event,” said Jerald Andrews, president and executive director of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. “We hope all of southwest Missouri will support the Sports Commission Awards, especially during a year when some athletes were not able to realize the completion of their season.”

The Springfield Sports Commission and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame have been working together for months to bring the ceremony together. Directors of both organizations not only unveiled finalists on Tuesday but emphasized that recommendations of local and state public health officials will be closely monitored over the next several weeks amid the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

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