SPRINGFIELD — Strafford High School senior Hayley Frank and Springfield Catholic senior Tyson Riley were named the 2018-2019 Athletes of the Year, while two state championship basketball teams — the Strafford Lady Indians and Greenwood Blue Jays — were named Teams of the Year on Monday night in the Elliott Lodging Sports Commission Awards presented by Blevins Asphalt.
The program drew a crowd of nearly 900 to the University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center in Springfield as the Springfield Sports Commission, with the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame assisting, celebrated the past school year of athletics achievements. The night was emceed by Dan Lucy, the longtime Sports Director of KOLR 10 TV and part of the MSHOF’s Class of 2018.
Nearly 150 student-athletes from Southwest Missouri high schools as well as 26 teams – including band, cheerleading and dance – were recognized on stage as well as through highlight videos. There were 30 categories decided by a selection committee, which chose the top five athletes/teams in each category, or six if a school was represented by two individuals. Additionally, the Skyline High School boys basketball team was recognized with the Inspiration Award, while the Springfield-Greene County Park Board was bestowed the Sports Commission Award.
“We were happy to recognize athletes from across southwest Missouri tonight,” said Lance Kettering, Executive Director of the Springfield Sports Commission. “As many of you know, this area loves sports and appreciates athletes who succeed the right way. It’s an honor to be honoring them.”
GIRLS ATHLETE OF THE YEAR — Hayley Frank, Strafford: With all eyes on Frank this past school year, the Strafford senior and University of Missouri basketball signee handled the pressure like a true pro. Ultimately, she earned Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year in basketball after leading Strafford to its fourth consecutive state title, an undefeated season and helped hand off a state-best, 115-game win streak. She flanked the winter by qualifying for the Class 1 state golf meet in the fall and finished as an All-State selection in the one-class spring softball season.
Other finalists: Natalie Basham, Camdenton; Sadie Chisum, Hartville; Alana Findley, Fair Grove; Tayte Kozlowski, Kickapoo.
BOYS ATHLETE OF THE YEAR — Tyson Riley, Springfield Catholic: As a 6-foot-3, 218-pound senior, Riley earned Class 3 Football First Team All-State honors as a defensive back but also earned Class 3 Region Offensive Player of the Year and was unanimous as a QB and defensive back on the All-Big 8 East Conference East team. He rushed for 1,602 yards and threw for 512 yards and had 66 tackles. Riley also was part of Springfield Catholic’s Class 3 state runner-up basketball team & was honorable mention All-Big 8 Conference East Division, and then earned All-State in the 110 meter hurdles and 300 meter hurdles at the Class 3 state track meet. He has signed with the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.
Other finalists: Trevor Christian, Lebanon; Blake Delacruz, Parkview; Jay Strausbaugh, Logan-Rogersville; Zach Westmoreland, Joplin.
GIRLS TEAM OF THE YEAR — Strafford Basketball: Coached by Steve Frank, the Strafford Lady Indians won their fourth consecutive Class 3 state championship in March, as Strafford stiff-armed Lutheran North 61-53 and finished 33-0. It also marked the Lady Indians’ state-record 115th consecutive victory, two months after breaking Marshfield’s then-record of 102. The team featured Hayley and Kayley Frank, Logan Jones, Maddison Chittenden, Kyndall Compton and Emma Compton.
Other finalists: Blue Eye Girls Track & Field; Bolivar Girls Cross Country; Lebanon High School Girls Wrestling; Logan-Rogersville High School Volleyball; Walnut Grove Girls Basketball.
BOYS TEAM OF THE YEAR — Greenwood Basketball: Not since 1942 had Greenwood won a state title, but that drought ended in March as the Darren Taylor-coached Blue Jays beat Oran 55-54 in the Class 2 state championship game. Sophomore Grant Harper hit the game-winning 3-pointer for a team led by sophomore sensation Aminu Mohammed, who delivered a 24-point, 14-rebound effort. The Blue Jays, who finished 29-3, included Tommy Pinegar, Grant Harper, John Shapr and Garret Litherland. In the run-up to the state finale, the Blue Jays won by scores of 73-71, 57-52 and 61-54.
Other finalists: Monett Wrestling; Neosho Wrestling; Seymour Baseball; Springfield Catholic Basketball.
BOYS WRESTLING — Cayden Auch, Neosho: Several coaches said Auch had arguably the most impressive run through the state tournament of any wrestler from southwest Missouri – and helped Neosho win state. He raged his way to the Class 3 state championship in the 126-pound bracket, pinning two of his first three opponents – he scored a technical fall in Round 2 – and won 4-3 in the finals against defending state champion Oscar Ortiz. Auch also won Class 3 District 3, the Central Ozark Conference and the 31st annual Neosho Wrestling Tournament. He finished 42-1.
Other finalists: Braxton Barnes, Neosho; Karter Brink, Monett; Hayden Burks, Bolivar; Kale Schrader, Carthage; Floyd Miller, Buffalo; Jay Strausbaugh, Logan-Rogersville.
BASEBALL — Gage Singer, Aurora: Singer had a tough act to follow after Wyatt Sparks’ incredible 2018 season, but Singer delivered — and was named the Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year. He batted .386 and had an .814 slugging percentage for an Aurora team that was ranked No. 1 in Class 3 for much of the season. His offensive numbers included six home runs, eight doubles and two triples. He also drove in 21 runs, scored 32 runs and had 11 steals. His on-base percentage was .564. On the mound, he was 6-0 with 83 strikeouts in 36 innings – and he walked only four.
Other finalists: Mason Auer, Kickapoo; Will Duff, Springfield Catholic; Garrett Rice, Willard; Ty Wilmsmeyer, Glendale.
SOFTBALL — Julia Higgins, Republic: Higgins turned in one of the more memorable seasons in state high school softball history, as she finished with 60 runs batted in – the second-most in a single-season in MSHSAA. She also hit 14 home runs, breaking the program’s record by one, and also had 12 assists. All of which earned Higgins Class 4 All-State and All-Region honors as well as the Co-Player of the Year in the Central Ozark Conference.
Other finalists: Katie Brooks, Bolivar; Izzy Erickson, Reeds Spring; Kylie Helm, McDonald County; Nya Morgan, Ozark; Kaitlyn Ragsdale, Republic.
FOOTBALL — Will Boswell, Mount Vernon: Boswell, who helped Mount Vernon reach the Class 3 state semifinals, earned Missouri Football Coaches Association’s Class 3 Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-State after finishing with 164 tackles and the same number (5) of sacks, pass break-ups and fumble recoveries. Plus, he forced three fumbles and had two tackles for loss. Boswell also added running back duties and finished with 1,567 yards rushing on 257 carries, including 21 touchdowns. He also had 22 receptions for 241 yards and a TD, later signing with Northwest Missouri State University.
Other finalists: Paxton Delaurent, Camdenton; Brayden Lidgard, West Plains; Tyson Riley, Springfield Catholic; Zach Westmoreland, Joplin.
CHEER — Republic High School: Call it a memorable 2018-2019 school year for Republic. Coached by Matthew Massey and Heather Bice, Republic competed in three competitions. Among them was the High School Cheerleading National Championship at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., where Republic finished 13th in its first performance there. The team had advanced by taking first in the Show-Me State Regionals, earning bid, and that came after earning first at an event in Arkansas.
Other finalists: Marshfield, Ozark, Republic, Seneca, Spokane.