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Applauding Achievement

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Connersville High School Athletic Director Brent Duncan lists off accomplishments by CHS athletes at the spring sports awards celebration on Wednesday night. Awards were handed out for baseball, boys golf, girls tennis, softball and both boys and girls track and field.
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Connersville's Roger Mapes, left, stands with CHS Athletic Director Brent Duncan, after receiving the Oscar Horning Service Award, Wednesday night inside the Robert E. Wise Center for Performing Arts. Mapes was honored with the award after offering more than 20 years of assistance in the throwing pit at track and field meets.
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Connersville's Colton Massey, left, and Marley Smith were honored as the 2018-19 Connersville High School Athletes of the Year at the spring sports awards inside the Robert E. Wise Center for Performing Arts on Wednesday evening.

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

The 2018-19 school year ended last week, but in spite of that, a large body of Connersville High School students had the Robert E. Wise Center for Performing Arts auditorium buzzing on Wednesday evening.

Preparing to celebrate achievements from sports played in the spring, student athletes took their seats and waited to see if their name would be called.

Presenting awards were coaches from baseball, boys golf, girls tennis, softball, and track and field.

Each sport presented two awards, one for Best Mental Attitude, and another for the Most Valuable Player.

First on the stage to hand out his awards was first-year baseball coach Michael Thompson. The CHS mentor pointed out that the team finished 10-15 this season, and that his charges picked up on his fundamentals approach much quicker than anticipated.

Highlights for the year included wins over Batesville and New Palestine, he said.

All-Conference (Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference) players for the team were Brett Gray and Colton Massey.

The BMA winners for the team were Michael Powell (JV) and Japanese foreign exchange student Rintaro Ura (varsity). The MVPs for the two teams were Brody Cox (JV) and Massey (varsity).

Following Thompson and baseball was the boys golf team and another first-year head coach, Jeff Martin.

Like the baseball team, Martin noted that the CHS boys improved at a quick pace throughout the spring. He boasted that the score the Spartans earned at sectional on Monday night (391) was their best of the season by 30 strokes.

Jonah Graham, the lone regional qualifier for the team on Monday, was selected as both BMA and MVP by his teammates.

Softball was up next, and coach David Ellis announced that the team finished 2019 with records of 18-10 (over all) and 12-2 (EIAC). The Lady Spartans hit 41 home runs this season, a number that Ellis said he believed was a school record.

All-Conference players on the team were Paige Dunaway, Jeri Ellis, Ashley Ruble and Allison Woytik. Ruble was named the BMA winner, and Ellis wound up as the MVP.

Girls tennis coach Chris Bloom followed and pointed out that the varsity team finished 6-9 and the junior varsity unit wound up 7-7.

The highlight of the season was a 3-2 win over Richmond, he said.

The No. 1 doubles duo of Rylee Fuller and Kelsey Smith earned All-Conference status by winning the EIAC meet at that position.

The BMA winner for the team was Grace Silcott, and Fuller was voted as the MVP for the squad. On the junior varsity team, the BMA was Baylie Wilson, and the MVP was Payton McFarland.

The boys track and field team was up next, and coach Jeff Cooley called out Dylan Cox, who was the sectional champion in the 400 meter dash.

Unlike other sports, the Most Valuable Player award was decided by points, and for the first time during his tenure with the team, the CHS coach said it was a tie.

Therefore, earning the co-MVP awards were Evan Shafer and Braylind Colassaco, while the BMA winner was Trevor Hux.

The boys finished the season with a 5-4 record.

The girls wound up with an 8-1 dual record, and won their second straight sectional. In winning the sectional, the Spartan girls established a new school record, scoring 150.5 points, Connersville coach Kelli House said.

Winning individual sectional titles for the girls were Jessica Beckman (shot put), Brooke Sudhoff (pole vault), the 4x400 relay team (Marley Smith, Claire Kleve, Emily Lastaad, Sicily Bowling), and the 4x800 unit (Smith, Bowling, Caroline Arndt, Tylissa Beckner).

Beckman was awarded the MVP award, her third straight for the team, and Arndt earned the BMA plaque.

In addition to the spring accolades, year-end awards were handed out, including the twin trophies for the male and female Athlete of the Year.

This year, the top male athlete was Massey, the senior coming off a year in which he served as a member of the CHS wrestling and baseball teams.

No. 1 for the Lady Spartans was Marley Smith, a three-sport participant this year. Smith played volleyball, basketball and ran track in 2018-19.

Other nominees for the Athlete of the Year awards included Beckman and Dunaway for the girls, and the duo of Graham and Shafer for the boys.

Another year-end pat on the back, the Extra Mile Award, was handed out to 18 individuals. That recognition went to athletes that played a sport in at least two seasons, during all four years of their attendance at CHS.

Winners of that award were Arndt, Beckman, Bowling, Cox, Massey, Smith, Jacen Beckman, Elise Bottomley, Katelyn Burris, Max Crank, Hutton Getz, Dylan Logan, Kenzie Lynch, Brendan Robinson, Ali Sargent, Breydan Shafer, Kelsey Smith, Hallie Wilson and Allison Woytik.

The Oscar Horning Service Award, an accolade given to someone who gives time and energy to help promote Connersville athletics, was given to Roger Mapes.

A staple at Connersville High School track and field meets, Connersville Athletic Director Brent Duncan pointed out that Mapes has worked throwing pits for more than 20 years.

While the night's theme was focused largely on athletics, Duncan said that those competing had much more going for them than competing.

He pointed out that the school had 150 athletes participating in spring sports, and that 103 of them held grade-point averages of 3.0 or higher. A total of 62 had pushed their GPA even higher, to 3.5 in the second semester.

Blanket awards (those earning six letters and 15 athletic points) and Clock awards (8 letters, 25 points) were also given.

Earning blankets were Gray, Wilson, Cooper Griffin, Lauren Thompson and Warren Toole.

Clocks were given to Arndt, Bottomley, Bowling, Massey, Sargent and Kelsey Smith.