BEST GIRLS TEAM
BRIAN: Mt. Vernon basketball
Everything mentioned in the Best Coach (Julie Shelton) column applies here: the challenges this team faced would have sunk most groups of girls. But, thanks to the leadership of players such as seniors Rachel Houck, Ellie Balbach and Krista Shockley, the Marauders culminated the year with a 61-47 state finals win over Hamilton Heights on March 2, becoming the first Hancock County basketball team to win a championship. That same Huskies team beat MV 70-61 in a regular season game on Nov. 21. Notice that MV scored the same number of points in each game; it just allowed 23 fewer points on the biggest stage. Defense takes heart and unselfishness, and these Marauders had an abundance of both.
Runner-up: Greenfield-Central girls track wins county, finishes third at sectional, its best team placement in over a decade; Only Hancock County school to send two athletes to track State Finals.
GRANT: Eastern Hancock everything
The cross country team won the Mid-Hoosier Conference Meet in its first attempt and was the first squad in school history to compete at the semistate level. Led by county co-Players of the Year Jordian Eastes and Frannie Stephenson, the volleyball squad recorded a program-best 28 wins, captured its first sectional championship in nearly 30 years and its first-ever regional title. The girls track team also claimed blue ribbon honors in its inaugural MHC Meet, and wound up picking up four sectional wins and 11 regional qualifiers. Lastly, county co-Player of the Year Savannah Blevins and the softball unit won 24 games, the program’s second sectional title and its initial regional championship.
Runner-up: Greenfield-Central soccer snaps New Palestine’s six-year sectional winning streak with 2-0 shutout in championship game.
BEST MALE ATHLETE
BRIAN: G-C wrestler Josh Farrell
Student-athletes come and go. That’s not meant to be flippant, but each year an outstanding crop of male and female seniors move on to the next phase of their lives, and the next group of studs — nearly all of them well-spoken and polite individuals — take over. When it comes to Josh Farrell, though, he will not easily be replaced. The 152-pound undefeated state champion this winter, Farrell never met a stranger. He is just about the best dude a person could ever hope to meet. And, I’m not ashamed to say, he’ll be missed by this sportswriter.
Runner-up: Tyler Dicks, Mt. Vernon senior rushed for Hancock County-best 1,852 yards.
GRANT: New Pal wrestler CJ Red
I’ve been stationed nearly two years in Hancock County now, and Red was by far the most hyped freshman I’ve encountered. And boy, did Red back up the buildup — and then some. Ranked No. 1 in the state prior to the season, Red was dominant, finishing 48-0 and securing a state title in the 106-pound division. He won two of his state finals matches by pin and shut out East Noble’s Garrett Pepple 4-0 in the championship match.
Runner-up: Mouhamed Konate, Mt. Vernon junior forward earned county Player of the Year honors by scoring 24 goals, a single-season MV record. MoKo also had the deciding goal in the sectional final.