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Best in Show, Part II: Best Female Athlete, Best Male Team

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How’s this for a a freshman year: All-Hancock County Volleyball Team selectee, All-Hancock County Basketball Team honoree, track and field state finalist. Along the way, Maddie Wise, the Greenfield-Central youngster, led area volleyballers with 126 blocks, received major Division I basketball offers and set a new track and field program record in the 100 hurdles. We can’t wait to see what she does for an encore. Formerly a five-foot-11 middle hitter/guard/forward/center/hurdler, Wise has already grown an inch this summer and is now a 6-foot multiple-threat. That’s good news for the Cougars; bad news for future opponents.


The Greenfield-Central junior jumped her way to the forefront of the county track and field scene for the third year running. With fifth and fourth place finishes in the State Finals high jump competition under her belt, Lewis tied for sixth this year after winning county (where she set a new meet record), Hoosier Heritage Conference and sectional championships (her third straight) along the way. G-C’s record-holder in the high jump, Lewis also ran with the Cougars’ school-record breaking 1,600 relay at state. Lewis was no slouch on the hardwood either, earning an All-County selection after averaging eight points and 7.2 boards for the 14-7 Cougars.


Brian: Schafer scores for MV

The Mt. Vernon-New Palestine tennis rivalry never fails to disappoint, and their sectional title match May 23 in Fortville was typically thrilling. New Palestine was up 2-0 – one win away from a trophy. Instead, the Marauders reeled off three straight wins; key among them being Allie Schafer’s victory at No. 1 singles over a worthy NP foe who defeated Schafer just two weeks earlier. “I think our most important win of what we needed to get was Allie,” Muterspaugh said. “That was huge.”

Grant: Young ends Chatard's run

James Young needed a first down; he got a touchdown instead. The New Palestine junior running back ran 73 yards on 3rd-and-6 with one minute, 14 seconds left to seal the Dragons’ 27-14 regional victory over Chatard, snapping the Trojans’ streaks of playoff wins (21) and regional titles (12). NP started fast behind dual-threat quarterback Blake Luker and received the necessary stops from the Red Rage defense, but it was Young’s final sprint that extended the Dragons’ perfect run to 13-0.


Brian: MoKo breaks goal mark

Mt. Vernon soccer standout Mouhamed Konate had perhaps the catchiest nicknames in all of Hancock County athletics: MoKo. A less fun but more apt moniker would have been Mr. Consistency. Konate enjoyed a four-year prep career that included 77 goals in 77 matches. The Marauders went 47-20-10 during the Konate Era with a pair of sectional titles. Konate’s 77 goals are a county record, besting the mark of 65 previously shared by MV’s Eric Myers and Greenfield-Central’s Nick Richards. Konate’s 177 career points (two points for a goal, one point for an assist) also broke the county record of 159 that belonged to Richards.


Grant: Thrilling XC State Finals Course

My preliminary observation upon walking up to the Terre Haute-based LaVern Gibson Championship Course for the boys cross country State Finals last fall was the blaring music. My second thought – while running from checkpoint to checkpoint with Mt. Vernon cross country coach Bruce Kendall trying to catch glimpses of the competing Aaron Rush and Christian Noble – was that I should’ve worn different shoes. And stretched. In any case, I had a blast that day covering the MV duo’s surprise run to state and avoiding the sink holes that dot the converted coal mine.


Brian: NP volleyball over G-C

With all the screaming that normally accompanies a volleyball match, plus the conference and rivalry aspect of the New Palestine-Greenfield tilt Sept. 5, it was hard not to get caught up in the emotion of the Dragons’ 3-0 sweep. It marked the first HHC win for rookie coach Kelli Whitaker (a New Palestine alum), and it came on her home court. I was just as happy for the Cougars when they returned to the same gym a month later to get their revenge over NP in the county championship. The Dragons’ pure excitement of that initial win stands out the most, though.



Advancing to the State Finals in any event is impressive enough. Then, there’s the way Eastern Hancock went through the football season. Under the guidance of head coach Pat Echeverria, the Royals’ point total for its first 14 games (all wins): 47, 50, 33, 52, 65, 62, 72, 68, 72, 78, 62, 57, 29 and 37. I knew things were getting ridiculous (in a good way) during a Week 8 trip to Shenandoah. The Royals had lost six straight to the Raiders. Arriving at the Shenandoah stadium that day, I could feel the confidence dripping off Raiders fans. It was as if they thought EH was little brother. The Royals won 68-19. “I remember back in my freshman year we lost to Shenandoah 73-0,” EH senior lineman Josh Ramage said. “We were coming out with a vengeance and we weren’t going to take anybody’s crap this year.”


Brian: Brian Kehrt

This category is a toss-up for me.  There are four worthy candidates just among the girls basketball coaches. Doug Laker helped G-C win a share of the conference title; Julie Shelton’s MV club beat the Cougars to reach the sectional final; and Jeremy Powers at Eastern Hancock guided his group to a second-straight 17-win season. I’ll give the nod to NP’s Kehrt, however. He took over a club that lost 18 games the previous winter and, without a single senior (and only two juniors), helped the Dragons restore respectability with a nine-win campaign.

Grant: Caleb Zelencik

Mt. Vernon’s girls golf coach prefers to deflect credit to his talented players, but the veteran links tutor deserves his fair share of praise for guiding the Marauders to Hancock County and sectional championships for the second year in a row. At the sectional tourney, MV was eight strokes back of the lead after nine holes. Molly Yee, Ellen Wuerch, Hannah Yee and Bailey Fleming led the comeback, which resulted in a four-stroke victory after 18 holes. “Their attitudes have been so great this year. None of them have a single ounce of quit in them. When they do face some adversity, I’ve preached ‘Dig your heels in and fight a little harder.’ And they all really did that today. They all fought,” said Zelencik, who also secured his fifth straight county title with the MV boys golf squad in the spring.

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