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  • Standout storylines

  • At some point early in 2012, it became apparent that Pittsburg State athletics and Pittsburg, St. Mary’s Colgan, Girard, Frontenac, Southeast and Northeast were providing so many worthwhile storylines for the sports page.

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  • At some point early in 2012, it became apparent that Pittsburg State athletics and Pittsburg, St. Mary’s Colgan, Girard, Frontenac, Southeast and Northeast were providing so many worthwhile storylines for the sports page.
    In the past, we’ve done a top 10 of the year in sports. Not this year. This year calls for a top 50, broken up into five different segments. Today, we take a look at the individual awards.
    Jeronimus wins Regional MVP, MIAA FOY
    Pittsburg State freshman Lizzy Jeronimus (now a sophomore) emerged on the women’s college basketball scene, especially in the postseason.
    Jeronimus led Pitt State with a career-high 30 points in her first postseason game, a 83-77 first round loss in the MIAA Tournament in Kansas City, Mo.
    In three games of the NCAA Division II Tournament South Central Regional, Jeronimus averaged 27 points and scored a new career-high 35 points in the Regional Final win over Emporia State. She added 10 rebounds to secure a double-double and Regional MVP honors.
    For a season of 15.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, as well as a team-high 95 assists and second-best 32 steals, Jeronimus earned MIAA Freshman of the Year and Honorable Mention All-America, the first PSU selection since 2000 (Leslie Dudley).
    Elmer wins Elite 89 award
    Pittsburg State basketball player, Pittsburg native and St. Mary’s Colgan graduate Lisa Elmer was honored in San Antonio for her academic feats. Of the eight teams competing in San Antonio, Elmer had the highest GPA on any team, a distinction that earned her the Elite 89 award. Elmer, an accounting major, holds a 4.0 GPA and she joined football player Eric Love as recent Elite 89 winners. Love received his recognition last December in Florence, Ala.
    DeCastro wins MIAA POY
    Pittsburg State shortstop Amanda DeCastro might be the greatest player in the history of the softball program.
    DeCastro finished her distinguished four-year career in style with a team-high .439 batting average, a team-high .904 slugging percentage, a team-high .482 on-base percentage, a team-high 69 hits, a team-high and school record 17 home runs and a team-high 55 RBIs her senior year.
    The Gorillas improved from 13-35 in 2011 to 29-28 in 2012 under first-year head coach Elizabeth Economon. The season was highlighted by a school record-tying 15-game winning streak, as well as a 4-3 win over Valdosta State early in the season. Valdosta State won the NCAA-II softball title and finished its season 58-5.
    DeCastro established PSU career records in doubles and home runs.
    Valdivia wins MIAA FOY
    Pittsburg State freshman Justice Valdivia (now a sophomore) transitioned from Topeka Hayden (where he won a Class 4A state title with a round of 68) to the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association scene well, placing in the top 10 three times, averaging 77.2 strokes per round, and earning All-MIAA honors. His point total earned Valdivia Freshman of the Year for the 2011-2012 season.
    Page 2 of 3 - Herlocker wins Wendy’s Heisman
    Girard senior basketball player Hadyn Herlocker won the 2012 Wendy’s High School Heisman for Kansas, one of 50 girls and 100 overall state winners.
    Herlocker won for being outstanding in the classroom and on the court. She was an All-League, All-County and All-State player for Girard her junior year, helping the Trojans reach the Class 4A state tournament for the third time in four years, and she’s the Student Body President, a member of the National Honor Society and her grades place her in the High Academic Honor Roll.
    Herlocker signed a national letter of intent to play with Pittsburg State, fulfilling the dream of a little girl who said that one day she would play basketball for the Gorillas.
    Sports Illustrated features McNair
    Girard junior golfer Timbrelee McNair shares common ground with Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Fischer, Lew Alcindor, Terry Bradshaw, Chris Evert, Bill Walton, David Thompson, Earvin Johnson, Jackie Joyner, Carl Lewis, Don Mattingly, Herschel Walker, Greg LeMond and Tiger Woods.
    McNair appeared in the Oct. 29 issue of SI as a “Face in the Crowd.”
    Her entry: “Timbrelee, a junior at Girard High, won the 4A state girls’ title in a playoff at Hesston Golf Course, shooting a one-over 72 to equal her own school record for lowest score. She was tied with Coffeyville’s Anna Pool before sinking an eight-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole — the same hole she had birdied to open the day — to clinch the championship. Her ninth straight individual victory this year helped the Trojans to a third-place team finish.”
    Beck receives Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year
    Although technically the 2011 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year, Pittsburg State head football coach Tim Beck did not receive his award until January 2012 — a byproduct of Pitt State winning its first National Championship in 20 years, its team success in the classroom, Beck’s charitable work, and Beck easily winning the fan vote as Pitt State loyalists flexed their muscles.
    Beck joined Les Miles of LSU, Rob Ash of Montana State, and Glenn Caruso of the University of St. Thomas as 2011 winners. Former PSU head coach Chuck Broyles won the award in 2008.
    Lord wins MIAA Coach of the Year
    Pittsburg State head coach Lane Lord has been the architect of the women’s basketball program for the past seven years and in his sixth year on the sidelines, Pitt State achieved school records for wins (27), fewest losses (6), best winning percentage (.818), consecutive wins (14), most points scored in a single game (111 vs. Harris Stowe), most rebounds in a season (1,328) and most blocked shots in a season (183).
    The Gorillas reached their first NCAA Tournament under Lord, won their first NCAA Tournament game in school history and advanced to the Elite Eight after winning their first regional title. Plus, Lord was recognized by his peers as MIAA Coach of the Year.
    Page 3 of 3 - Entering the 2012-2013 season, Lord had a career record of 87-58 in Pittsburg, good for a winning percentage of .600.
    Rieck wins 4A Coach of the Year
    Pittsburg head coach Scott Rieck has played a major role in the emergence of the high school wrestling program as a legitimate threat every year but he will not take any credit. So after he received the Kansas Class 4A Wrestling Coach of the Year award, he deflected any praise back to his wrestlers.
    The 2011-2012 season was another historical one for Pittsburg: back-to-back league titles, back-to-back undefeated runs through Southeast Kansas League duals, first regional title in school history, its best team finish at state (fourth, one spot removed from a team plaque) and two individual state title winners.
    Aaron Seybold became the first wrestler in PHS history to win two state titles. Broc Bennett won his first state title and joined his older brother Beau as state heavyweight champion, making the Bennetts the first brothers in PHS wrestling history to win state titles.
    Kansas honors Cichon, Watt and Smith
    The Kansas House of Representatives — through State Rep. Bob Grant, D-Frontenac — honored St. Mary’s Colgan football coach Chuck Smith, boys basketball coach Wayne Cichon and baseball coach Mike Watt for their career milestones within one school year: Smith 300, Cichon 500 and Watt 500 wins, over 1,300 wins at one school.
    The Panthers have won 22 state championships under their direction: five football (1984, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003), five boys basketball (1996, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2008) and 12 baseball (1993, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010).
    Smith took over at Colgan in 1980, Cichon 1983 and Watt 1986.

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