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Sport Nation's top high school athletes, coaches and teams named at the inaugural USA TODAY High School Sports Awards show

15:55  24 october  2021
15:55  24 october  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

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Two standout multi-sport athletes, a history-making coach and an inspiring comeback from tragedy snagged the biggest awards at the inaugural USA TODAY High School Sports Awards show, presented by U.S. Polo Assn., Thursday night.

Payton Verhulst, of Bishop Miege High School in Kansas, was announced as the nation’s overall Female Athlete of the Year. Ga’Quincy “Koolaid” McKinstry, of Pinson Valley High School in Alabama was named the nation’s overall Male Athlete of the Year. Pamela McDonald, the first woman to coach a boys soccer team to a Florida High School Athletic Association state title, was announced as the nation’s Coach of the Year and the Brentwood High School volleyball team, whose coach suffered a stroke this season, was named Team of the Year.

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Michael Strahan, Rob Gronkowski are posing for a picture: Michael Strahan and Rob Gronkowski hosted the USA TODAY High School Sports Awards available to stream now. © USA TODAY NETWORK Michael Strahan and Rob Gronkowski hosted the USA TODAY High School Sports Awards available to stream now.

During the show, hosted by Michael Strahan and Rob Gronkowski, top athletes in 27 sports were also named, as well as special awards including Special Olympic Athlete of the Year, Rising Star and Play of the Year. DJ Khaled and Charley Arnolt hosted a red carpet segment.

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Verhulst, who played basketball and volleyball, is a three-time, first-team top 5 All-State basketball selection, and led Bishop Miege to two Class 4A state championships and a runner-up finish in her four years, the other season cut short when COVID-19 concerns canceled the state tournament.

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She averaged 19.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game as a senior and 15.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in her career. A top-10 recruit nationally who signed to play basketball at Louisville, Verhulst also had an impressive volleyball career, being named the Class 4A volleyball player of the year after leading the Stags to the state championship.

McKinstry, who enrolled early for Alabama to play football, is already officially listed Kool-Aid on the Tide roster. At Pinson Valley, he played at wide receiver and cornerback, which won three state championships in four seasons. He also averaged 14 points per game for Pinson’s 2019 boys basketball team, which claimed the program's lone state championship.

Breaking barriers in Florida, the 47-year-old Glasgow native McDonald garnered national attention when she took the Doral boys soccer team to the state title during her 13th season with them. McDonald previously played for the Scottish National Team in the World Cup qualifiers.

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Led by coach Barbara Campbell and Alabama-bound hitter Shaye Eggleston, the Brentwood High School volleyball team was headed toward a record eighth consecutive Tennessee Class 3A championship when Campbell suffered a stroke in late September, about a week before the state playoffs. She was hospitalized and away from the team as it rallied through the final 10 matches of a 38-3 season to get back to the 3A state game. Campbell attended the state final in person.

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Other award winners included the Special Olympics Athlete of the Year, Jake Blatnica, a junior at Natick High School in Massachusetts. Jake was diagnosed at a young age with several physical disorders, including hypotonia, mitochondrial myopathy and speech apraxia. He found his niche in the sports world when he was introduced to unified basketball when he became a freshman.

Just before high school sports were shut down in early 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, Blatnica suffered a torn ACL which had to be surgically repaired. While he was sidelined for most of the basketball season, he was cleared to make an appearance in the last game of the season where he scored.

DJ Khaled standing in a room: DJ Khaled and Charly Arnolt host the Kohl's Red Carpet segment during the USA TODAY High School Sports Awards. © USA TODAY NETWORK DJ Khaled and Charly Arnolt host the Kohl's Red Carpet segment during the USA TODAY High School Sports Awards.

Torri Huske was announced as the Female Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Year. Huske swam for Team USA in Tokyo after setting an American record in the 100 butterfly twice in one month at the Olympic swimming trials. She owns the third-fastest time ever in that event at 55.66 seconds. The Stanford commit also won the 100 fly at the U.S. Open.

The national awards show was the culmination of 104 state and regional programs that named winners in June and July. The top athlete from each state that played one of the 27 sports in the show became honorees for Thursday’s show.

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Two new sports were honored at the national show, boys and girls polo. Mackenzie Weisz of the Southampton Polo Club, and Hope Arellano, a recent graduate of the Kolbe Academy, were named winners.

Other winners:

-- Baseball Player of the Year: Jordan Lawlar, shortstop, Jesuit College Prep, Dallas, Texas, senior, No. 6 overall pick to Arizona Diamondbacks, .412 BA, 37 RBI, .732 SLG%, 1.288 OPS, District 7-6A MVP

-- Female Basketball Player of the Year: Saniya Rivers, Eugene Ashley High School, Wilmington, North Carolina, senior, South Carolina signee, 36.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 5.3 steals, 5.1 assists, per game

-- Male Basketball Player of the Year: Chet Holmgren, Minnehaha Academy, Minneapolis, Minnesota, senior, Gonzaga signee, 20.7 points, 12.4 rebounds, 5.1 blocks

-- Female Cross Country Runner of the Year: Jenna Hutchins, Science Hill High School, Johnson City, Tennessee, junior, fastest 5,000-meter XC time in the nation in 2020: 15.58.42, top 3,200-meter runner in 2020: 9:49.83, will enroll at Brigham Young University in spring of 2022

-- Male Cross Country Athlete of the Year: Parker Wolfe, Cherry Creek High School, Greenwood Village, Colorado, senior, won all 5,000-meter XC races he entered in 2020, personal best in 5,000 of 14:06.48 in 2021, signed with University of North Carolina

-- Defensive Football Player of the Year: Ga’Quincy “Kool-Aid” McKinstry, cornerback, Pinson Valley High School, Pinson, Alabama, senior, Alabama signee, 22 tackles, 12 pass breakups, 2 interception, 6A state championship game MVP

-- Offensive Football Player of the Year: Cade Klubnik, quarterback, Westlake High School, Austin, Texas, junior, Clemson commit, 3,495 yards passing, 68% completions, 35 TDs, 3 INTs, Sports Illustrated’s No. 1 ranked QB, Class of 2022

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-- Female Golfer of the Year: Melanie Walker, Robinson Secondary School, Fairfax, Virginia, junior, 38th Golfweek Ranking, Gross Average Score: 75, First Team All-State Virginia 2020 & 2021, 2021 5th Place 71 Co-Ed States

-- Male Golfer of the Year: Gordon Sargent, Mountain Brook High School, Mountain Brook, Alabama, senior, No. 2 Rolex AJGA rank, No. 3 ranking by Golfweek, three-time Rolex Junior All-American, 2020 Paul S. Simon Character Award

-- Gymnastics Athlete of the Year: Addie Gallun, Whitefish Bay High School, Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, senior, three-time all-around champion, four-time state champion on uneven bars, 10 career gold medals

-- Hockey Player of the Year: Brody Lamb, Kasson-Mantorville High School, Kasson, Minnesota, junior, University of Minnesota commit, New York Rangers draft pick, 52 goals, 35 assists

-- Female Lacrosse Athlete of the Year: Demma Hall, Century High School , Sykesville, Maryland, senior, led team to state runner-up finish, 44 goals, 40 assists, 12 games

-- Male Lacrosse Player of the Year: Andrew McAdorey, St. Anthony’s High School, South Huntington, New York, senior, Duke signee, 21 goal, 27 assists, USA Lacrosse National Player of the Year

-- Rising Star of the Year: Lebbeus “LT” Overton, Milton High School, Alpharetta, GA, sophomore, #1 Rated football player for 202, Georgia Leading 21.5 sack, 70 tackles, 6 forced fumbles, District MVP

-- Female Soccer Player of the Year: Tori Dellaperuta, forward, West Forsyth High School, Cumming, Georgia, junior, scored 54 goals in 20 games in 2021, scored game-winning goal of state title game, North Carolina commit

-- Male Soccer Player of the Year: Scott Testori, forward, Daniel Hand High School, Madison, Connecticut, senior, 28 goals in 11 games in 2021, school record 86 career goals, United Soccer Coaches Player of the Year

-- Softball Athlete of the Year: Jordyn Bahl, Pitcher, Papillion-La Vista High School, Papillion, Nebraska, senior, 0.10 ERA in 2021, career 95-3 record, 978 career strikeouts

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-- Male Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Year: Aiden Hayes, Norman North High School, Norman, Oklahoma, senior, North Carolina State signee, record holder in 10 Oklahoma H.S. events, set two national records

-- Female Tennis Player of the Year: Carrie Beckman, Sacred Heart Academy, Louisville, Kentucky, senior, three-time state champion, Notre Dame signee, 10th ranked UTR Rating, 17th ranked Dunlop RPI

-- Male Tennis Player of the Year: Baylor Sai, Montgomery Bell Academy, Nashville, Tennessee, senior, two-time state champion, Penn signee, No. 1 Ranking for 2021 Class, 12th Ranked UTR Rating

-- Female Track and Field Athlete of the Year: Eddiyah Frye, hurdles, long jump, St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, senior, top long jumper in state of Florida: 19 feet, 4 ¼ inches, Florida Dairy Farmers’ Miss Track for 2020-21, signed with University of Georgia

-- Male Track and Field Athlete of the Year: Kamyren Garrett, high jump, Lawrence Central High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, senior, cleared 7 feet, 3 inches – tied for highest high school jump in 2021, successful at 7-0 ¼ in 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials, signed with Kansas State

-- Female Wrestling Athlete of the Year: Olivia Brown, Broken Arrow High School, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, senior, No. 1 ranked wrestler at 200 pounds, 17-0 record in 2021, Grand View University commit

-- Male Wrestling Athlete of the Year: Drake Ayala, Fort Dodge Senior High School, Fort Dodge, Iowa, senior, No. 1 ranked wrestler at 126 points, 171-3 career record, University of Iowa signee

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nation's top high school athletes, coaches and teams named at the inaugural USA TODAY High School Sports Awards show

Vikings' Kirk Cousins, Nate Stanley expected to return Thursday from COVID-19 list .
Yahoo Sports senior NBA writer Vincent Goodwill joined the Posted Up with Chris Haynes podcast to discuss New York's signings in the first two days of free agency, and why they could setting the table for a trade to get Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers. Hear the full conversation on the Posted Up with Chris Haynes podcast. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen.

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