While 2010 steamrolls into the summer months, I find it more and more entertaining each time I put together my monthly column and the June edition is no different.
Last week, we recognized athletes for their performances on the field as All-State and All-Region team awards were announced, which were decided by a coaches panel within their respective conferences and regions.
In this column, like I did in the March 3 edition for the winter season, I would like to recognize the high schools I cover here in the Verde Valley by designating top-achieving individuals, teams and coaches for the spring season.
For my “team of the year” vote, I chose the Camp Verde High School baseball team for a fantastic spring.
Despite their 6-5 loss to Bourgade Catholic High School in the 2A conference state finals a few weekends ago, the 21-9 Cowboys came together as a team in late April and made a run to remember in the state playoffs.
The Cowboys defeated Williams High School [19-6], Northwest Christian Academy [11-1] and powerhouse Valley Christian Academy [3-1] to reach the finals.
Led by seniors Mike Boler, Curtis Hawk, Randy Justus, Taylor Mathews and Aaron Stutzman, their special run this spring will be something to remember for years to come.
For the runner-up “team of the year” award I have to go with the Sedona Red Rock High School boys track and field team, which claimed a 3A conference state championship May 15 and won a 3A West region title.
The Scorpions might have taken the top team award if it were not for the individual nature of the sport, but that doesn’t take away from what Sedona accomplished in earning its first boys track and field state title this spring.
Also, I would like to give an honorable mention to the Verde Valley School girls tennis team for the “team of the year” award by jumping right into my “surprise team of the year” award, which goes to the Coyotes.
Led by seniors Cassi Kovac and Sarah Jane Slater, the Coyotes went on to defeat Duncan High School in the 1A conference state tennis team tournament, 5-4.
During the process, Kovac claimed her second straight singles state title.
Verde Valley Athletic Director Matt Moran officially called it, stating these girls were fit to win a title, and surprisingly enough, they did.
Not bad for a small private high school nestled somewhere in the Village of Oak Creek that not too many people know about around these parts.
Receiving the runner-up “surprise team of the year” award is the Mingus Union High School girls track and field team.
The Marauders had one of their best seasons in recent memory and claimed a 4A-II Grand Canyon region championship, and also won the Winslow Invitational, one of the biggest meets in Arizona.
Also, the Sedona boys tennis team deserves a little something for their 1A-3A West region championship. I’ll give them the “surprise team of the year” honorable mention award.
My decision for the “coach of the year” award was a difficult one with so many coaches doing a great job this spring.
I believe Sedona track and field Head Coach Harry Schneider is my pick, however, as he led his boys team to a state championship and the Scorpion girls team to state runner-up.
The girls won it all in 2007 under the tutelage of Schneider, and now with a boys title this spring, Schneider has turned the Scorpions track and field program into a powerhouse.
Schneider did receive the 3A West coach of the year award after being selected by his peers.
Runner-up in the “coach of the year” award vote would be Camp Verde baseball Head Coach Steve Hicks, who in his first season worked his magic and took the Cowboys to a state championship game.
Mad scientist anyone?
For my “athlete of the year” award, I would like to congratulate senior Mingus baseball player Hunter Zwart.
Zwart hit .467 at the plate this season with a team-leading nine home runs and 41 RBIs while recording 11 doubles and three triples along the way.
In 40⅔ innings pitched, Zwart was 5-1 while boasting a 2.58 ERA, allowing only 32 hits and striking out 38 batters.
Zwart was selected as the 2010 4A-II Grand Canyon region MVP and will play in the North-South All-Star game which takes place Saturday, June 5, at Surprise Stadium with a first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m.
My runner-up for “athlete of the year” would be Sedona senior Kevin Cox who won four gold medals at the 3A West regional championships and won three gold medals at Arizona State University in the 3A conference state championships.
Tieing with Cox for “athlete of the year” runner-up is a classmate of his, sophomore softball superstar Whitney Cooper.
Cooper hit .649 this season with an astonishing 14 home runs and 70 RBIs this season, making her the obvious choice for 3A West region MVP.
Receiving the “athlete of the year” honorable mention award is Mingus senior tennis player Alexander Lineberry who won a 4A-II Grand Canyon region MVP and took third at the 4A-II conference state meet a few weeks ago.
A new idea I had for the spring awards is a “freshman of the year” vote which I would happily give to Mykala Seresun of Sedona.
Seresun was one of the best long distance runners in the state this season in track and field and won the 3,200-meter run at the 3A West regional meet with a 12:50.04 time.
Also in the mix for “freshman of the year” is Sedona’s Shelby Cordova [softball] and Donnie Buss and Amanda Showers from Camp Verde [track and field].
Congratulations to all the teams and their players and we’ll see you in the fall.