The area’s top high school athletes, coaches and teams were honored Monday night at the third annual Post Register Sports Stars Awards ceremony.
While last year’s celebration was virtual, the festivities on Monday were live at Hillcrest High and featured awards in 46 categories and a keynote address from Idaho State athletic director Pauline Thiros.
COVID-19 made the 2020-2021 season challenging on a variety of levels, noted Skyline football coach Scott Berger, whose Grizzlies were named Overall Boys Team of the Year after claiming the 4A state championship, the program’s third title in five years.
Quarterback Cade Marlow was named Overall Boys Player of the Year after leading the football team to the title and playing a key role on the basketball team, which won the district tournament title and earned a berth to the state tournament.
“We were just happy we got to finish out the season,” Berger said, adding the uncertainty of playing a full season — including playoffs — was a weekly concern. But the season moved along and Skyline raised the trophy at the end.
“We felt all along we had a really good team coming back,” Berger said. “We felt this was kind of our year. We were just hoping we could finish it.”
Cross country season proved bountiful for area runners.
Bonneville’s Alivia Johnson became the Bees first district champion in 14 years and placed third at the 4A state meet.
Johnson was named the Sports Stars Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. It was also a special season for Skyline, which was named Sports Stars Overall Girls Team of the Year after winning the 4A state title. Coach Sean Schmidt was named Overall Girls Coach of the Year and Nelah Roberts, who won the individual 4A title, was selected Freshman of the Year.
On the boys side, the Idaho Falls cross country team earned another state title and was honored Monday as the 5A/4A boys team of the year. Alan McMurtrey and Craig Enos were named Overall Boys Coach of the Year for leading the Tigers to another stellar season.
Salmon’s Johnathon Simmons was a double winner, claiming Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year and 3A/2A Player of the Year after winning a second straight 2A title and leading Salmon to another state championship.
Two of the area’s most prolific basketball players were also recognized.
Thunder Ridge senior Lloyer Driggs helped lift the Titans to new heights in the program’s third season. Driggs, who is signing with NCAA Division I Tarleton State on Friday, averaged 23.7 points as the team set a program record with 19 wins.
“My senior season was big for me because getting noticed by college coaches was huge,” Driggs said. “My junior year I played all right, but not as good as I wanted to. I kind of put a lot of pressure on myself this year … It was an amazing year and it’s a dream come true because I always wanted to play Division I basketball.”
Skyline’s Mattie Olson, the Sports Stars 5A/4A Girls Athlete of the Year, was also a scoring machine, averaging 20.6 points in helping lead the Grizzlies to a district tournament title and 4A state consolation title. She’s also among the state’s top sprinters and long jumpers.
“It's definitely going to be one to remember,” Olson said of 2020-21 season. “In the future, I'll probably be telling my kids about this year ... Just with everything going on, I never thought any of this would happen. I don't think anyone did — games getting canceled, and not even knowing if we were going to have a state tournament. I definitely was worried about that, so the fact that we got to play at state, I'm super thankful for that. I'm just thankful that we had a season, and not getting to run track last year was a bummer. I'm just super happy that we're running now.”
Rigby’s Tylie Jones also excelled on the basketball court and at the track. Jones picked up Sports Stars Girls Basketball Player of the Year and Overall Girls Player of the Year honors on Monday.
The area’s small schools were also well represented.
The West Jefferson volleyball team, which won the 2A consolation title, was named 3A/2A Girls Team of the Year, and Jordyn Torgerson was honored for her softball prowess.
Mackay’s Riley Moore was selected 1A Girls Player of the Year, while the Miners’ volleyball team, as well as coach Kashia Hale, earned awards.
Watersprings’ multisport athlete Matt Almgren was honored as 1A Boys Athlete of the Year and the Warriors’ boys basketball team and coach Scott Moe each received awards.
Sports Stars 2020-2021 Winners
Volleyball Player of the Year: Paige Clark, Thunder Ridge
Football Player of the Year: Landon Johnson, Rigby
Girls soccer Player of the Year: Ali Ellsworth, Bonneville
Boys soccer Player of the Year: Nate Thompson, Thunder Ridge
Girls cross country Runner of the Year: Alivia Johnson, Bonneville
Boys cross country Runner of the Year: Johnathon Simmons, Salmon
Girls Swimmer of the Year: Emma Zirker, Hillcrest
Boys Swimmer of the Year: Gavin Dustin, Skyline
Wrestler of the Year: Lorenzo Luis, Hillcrest
Girls basketball Player of the Year: Tylie Jones, Rigby
Boys basketball Player of the Year: Lloyer Driggs, Thunder Ridge
Softball Player of the Year: Jordyn Torgerson, West Jefferson
Baseball Player of the Year: Jaxon Sorenson, Idaho Falls
Girls Track Athlete of the Year: Claire Petersen, Skyline
Boys Track Athlete of the Year: Zac Bright, Idaho Falls
Girls Tennis Players of the Year: Raegan and Berklee Olsen, Hillcrest
Boys Tennis Player of the Year: Tegan Hartman, Thunder Ridge
1A Girls Coach of the Year: Kashia Hale, Mackay volleyball/basketball
1A Boys Coach of the Year: Scott Moe, Watersprings basketball
1A Girls Team of the Year: Mackay volleyball
1A Boys Team of the Year: Watersprings basketball
1A Girls Athlete of the Year: Riley Moore, Mackay
1A Boys Athlete of the Year: Matt Almgren, Watersprings
3A/2A Girls Coach of the Year: Cathy Thomas, Teton soccer
3A/2A Boys Coach of the Year: Rob Heuseveldt, Teton basketball
3A/2A Girls Team of the Year: West Jefferson volleyball
3A/2A Boys Team of the Year: Firth football
3A/2A Girls Athlete of the Year: Kiley Mecham, Firth
3A/2A Boys Athlete of the Year: Johnathon Simmons, Salmon
5A/4A Girls Coach of the Year: Jeremy Spencer, Thunder Ridge basketball
5A/4A Boys Coach of the Year: Corey Toldson, Thunder Ridge Soccer
5A/4A Girls Team of the Year: Thunder Ridge volleyball
5A/4A Boys Team of the Year: Idaho Falls cross country
5A/4A Girls Athlete of the Year: Mattie Olson, Skyline
5A/4A Boys Athlete of the Year: Tiger Adolpho, Rigby
Girls Golfer of the Year: Kelli Ann Strand, Challis
Boys Golfer of the Year: Jaxon Moon, Rigby
Freshman of the Year Award: Nelah Roberts, Skyline
Senior of the Year Award: Gabe Sommers, Ririe
Senior of the Year Award: Kolton Stacey, Shelley
Overall Girls Coach of the Year: Sean Schmidt, Skyline cross country
Overall Boys Coach of the Year: Alan McMurtrey, Craig Enos, Idaho Falls cross country
Overall Girls Team of the Year: Skyline cross country
Overall Boys Team of the Year: Skyline football
Overall Girls Athlete of the Year: Tylie Jones, Rigby
Overall Boys Athlete of the Year: Cade Marlow, Skyline