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The last four months featured so many standout performances, broken records and individual achievements it was difficult to come up with the finalists for my annual Sports Awards column, but these are my final picks for the spring 2012 season.

I’ll start with my Team of the Year pick, which goes to the Mingus Union High School girls track and field team.

Just a few weeks ago, the Marauders claimed the Division III state championship, their first in school history.

Led by seniors Torey Braly, Emma Schraner, Makenzie Mabery, Stephanie Gilboy, junior Skyler Storie and sophomore Heather Calandra, the Marauders put it all together in the end to absolutely destroy the competition, winning the state trophy by nearly 40 points.

It’s just silly to have a point margin that great in a high school state championship track and field event.

My runner-up Team of the Year award goes to the boys track and field team at Sedona Red Rock High School.

The boys finished second overall with 67 points at the Division III State Championships in Mesa back in May, only seven points shy of Higley High School which claimed the title.

For a school the size of Sedona, which is near the bottom of Division III in terms of enrollment, to stand out and finish nearly at the top of the team standings is truly remarkable.

My honorable mention Team of the Year award goes to the Mingus softball team. The Marauders finished 19-11 overall this season and were destined to make the Division III state semifinals before losing a heartbreaker to No. 1-ranked Payson High School, 8-7.

Against the Longhorns, Mingus led 7-0 heading into the seventh inning before losing in extra frames.

Receiving the Surprise Team of the Year award for the spring 2012 season is the Camp Verde High School baseball team.

Led by seniors Jesse Fullbright and Kody Rayburn, the Cowboys finished the 2012 campaign with an 18-10 overall record and earned a No. 17 seed heading into the Division III state playoffs.

Camp Verde fought hard but lost to No. 16-seeded Snowflake High School in the first round of the state tournament, 4-2.

The runner-up Surprise Team of the Year award goes to the Mingus boys tennis team.

The Marauders made it all the way to the Division III state semifinals for the second straight season with players like seniors Jonathan Witt and Andrew Hickey along with sophomore Talon Walz having great seasons.

This leads into my spring Player of the Year nomination for an athlete who had a great season in a Mingus baseball uniform: senior Evan McFarland.

McFarland hit .402 this spring for the Marauders, which went 17-14 overall. McFarland’s .402 average was tops on the team, collecting 42 hits in 102 at bats. He had two home runs, 14 doubles, three triples and led Mingus with 41 RBIs.

He scored 26 runs and stole 16 bags to lead the Marauders, not to mention his pitch-calling abilities behind the plate, making him the best baseball player in the Verde Valley this spring.

Receiving my runner-up Player of the Year award is a Scorpion track and field standout, senior Chris Oestmann.

Oestmann set school records this season in the high jump, 110- and 300-meter hurdles and had the fastest 400-meter dash time in school history at 49.8 seconds. It is not considered a school record since he set the mark during a 4x400-meter relay event. His 6-foot, 7-inch high jump record is more than likely the best high jump mark of any school in the Verde Valley, ever.

I also need to hand out an honorable mention Player of the Year award, which goes to two young athletes in the Verde Valley.

Juan Wells, a senior at Mingus, won an individual state championship in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs in Mesa and helped the Marauders 4x800-meter relay team to place first and set a school record at state. If that wasn’t enough, Wells broke the 1,600 school record at the Meet of Champions one week after state.

The other young athlete receiving honorable mention is senior Nyomi Mosley of the Sedona girls track and field team. She took home gold at state in not only the triple jump but the discus as well and set a school record in the shot put this spring.

Last, but certainly not least, I must make sure Verde Valley coaches get some recognition for their efforts on the field of competition this spring. My spring Coach of the Year award goes to Mingus track and field Head Coach Yancey DeVore.

In his first year at the helm for the Marauders, DeVore brought home a Division III state championship for the girls, the first in school history.

Need I say more?

Receiving my runner-up Coach of the Year award is Sedona softball Head Coach John Brown.

Although the Scorpions finished 9-14 overall this season, having won two of their last three games, Brown led a group full of newcomers since many of the returners missed substantial time due to injury. Senior Whitney Cooper missed most of the season while recovering from an unfortunate knee injury while senior catcher Maria Micheli was plagued with back problems throughout the spring.

Along with a freshman pitcher on the mound, Brown did quite well under duress and surely deserves this nomination.

Congratulations to all the Verde Valley teams on another great spring.{jcomments on}

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