Lewis-Clark State College and the Warrior Athletic Association have announced the finalists for the 2008 Warrior Athletic Association High School Awards. Out of the finalists one winner will be chosen in each category, which will be announced on Oct. 15 at the WAA High School Awards Dinner to be held at 7 p.m. inside the Lewis-Clark State College Activity Center.
Twenty-one area high schools in southeastern Washington and north central Idaho submitted nominees for Male Athlete of the Year, Female Athlete of the Year, Coach of the Year, Team of the Year, and the Meritorious Award. These nominations were reviewed by a selection committee assembled of officials from Lewis-Clark State College, the Warrior Athletic Association, and area high school sports enthusiasts.
With the exception of the Meritorious Award, which will just have its winner announced at the Oct. 15 dinner, the selection committee named three finalists for each category.
The three finalists for Female Athlete of the Year include, Morgon VanderEsch of Grangeville, last year's winner Ellen Rouse of Orofino, and Cory Druffel of Pullman. The Male Athlete of the Year finalists are Brian O’Kelley of Clarkston, DJ Wright of Orofino, and Jason Smith of Troy.
For Team of the Year, the nominees are Clarkston boys’ tennis, Orofino baseball, and Prairie softball. The Coach of the Year nominees include girls' basketball coach Lucas Rae of Genesee, wrestling coach Dan Mauer of Lewiston, and track coach Dean Walker of Moscow.
Although the purpose of the Oct. 15 dinner is to announce the overall winners, the event will also serve as a means to congratulate all of this year’s nominees.
Tickets for the banquet are $25 per person and can be purchased from the LCSC Athletic Ticket Office, located upstairs in the Activity Center. Tickets also can be purchased with a credit card by calling (208) 792-2471. Those planning to attend the event and accompany a nominee are advised to purchase tickets early because tickets bought at the door will be on a first-come, first-serve basis and will be available seating only.
Major sponsors of the event include Lewis & Clark Orthopaedic Institute, Tyler & Kelly Motors, and Pepsi. For more information visit http://www.lcsc.edu/athletics/WAA/hs-awards.htm.
Below is more detailed information on the finalists.
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Morgon VanderEsch, Grangeville: For leading her team to the Idaho 2A state basketball title, she was named the 2A Player of the Year and also was selected to play in the North Idaho All-Star game. In volleyball, she won the Sportsmanship Award for the 2A state tournament in which her team placed third. She also placed second in the shot put and third in the discus at the state track meet as her team took second place overall.
Ellen Rouse, Orofino: Won the shot put, 100 meters, and 200 meters, and took second in the discus at the 2A state track meet, setting meet records in both the 100 and 200. She also was an integral part of the volleyball team.
Cory Druffel, Pullman: Was named to the first team all-Great Northern League in soccer, and now holds Pullman’s all-time record for most career goals. In basketball, she was also named first team all-league, and participated in the 2A/3A all-state games. Also on the track team, she earned GNL first team honors, and medaled in the 800m, 1,600m, and the 3,200m at the 2A state meet. Was named the GNL Distance Runner of the Year.
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Brian O’Kelley, Clarkston: Was a GNL all-league first team selection for both offense and defense in football. Helped lead his teams to state in football, basketball, and baseball.
DJ Wright, Orofino: Captained and led his football, basketball and baseball teams to league championships. Was named the Central Idaho League Player of the Year in football as well as an all-conference quarterback and free safety, while his team finished second at the 2A state championship. In basketball, he averaged more than 20 points on the season, and 25 points and 10 rebounds at the state tournament. Was the winning pitcher at the state championship game in baseball, and was named the 2A State Tournament MVP.
Jason Smith, Troy: Helped lead the basketball team to the 1A state championship, and was selected as the North Idaho Male Basketball Player of the Year.
COACH OF THE YEAR:
Lucas Rae, Genesee: Led the girls’ basketball team to its first state championship in 21 years. Team came together at the right time after finishing third in the league race.
Dan Mauer, Lewiston: His wrestling team finished the season with a 22-2 dual team record and a third-place finish at the state championship, one of Lewiston's best finishes ever in the meet. His team included two state champions, a runner-up, and a third-place finisher.
Dean Walker, Moscow: In his first year at the helm, he coached the boys’ track team to its first state championship since 1948. Won the Idaho State Coaches Association Coach of the Year Award.
TEAM OF THE YEAR:
Clarkston boy’s tennis: Held a 12-0 record as it won its second straight 2A tennis championship. Also won the 2A academic state championship with a cumulative GPA of 3.7.
Orofino baseball: Went 22-1 on its way to the 2A state championship.
Prairie softball: Won its second straight 1A state title and Whitepine League championship. The Pirates had a 39-game win streak that covered two seasons.