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Nominees set for the 2022 TopSports.news high school senior sports awards

By RICK PETERSON

TopSports.news

All 10 Shawnee County high schools have nominated multiple senior athletes for the 17th annual Topeka Shawnee County High School Sports Awards, which will be presented on June 22 along with the induction of the 2022 Hall of Fame class.

TopSports.news, in conjunction with the University of Kansas Health Systems St Francis Campus, A-1 Lock and Key and Washburn University, will host the Topeka Shawnee County Sports Awards and Hall of Fame induction ceremonies at the Washburn University Memorial Union.

Recent Topeka High graduate NiJaree Canady, who has helped lead the Trojans to back-to-back Class 6A softball state titles, has been nominated for the 2022 Topeka Shawnee County Sports Awards, which will be presented June 22 at Washburn University's Topeka High star NiJaree Canady, who helped lead the Trojans to back-to-back Class 6A softball state titles, has been nominated for the 2022 Topeka Shawnee County Sports Awards, which will be presented June 22 at Washburn University's Memorial Union. [File photo/TSN]

FTxrICqXoAAeFbtHayden product Tanner Newkirk, a three-time state champion in the 2022 state track meet, is a nominee for the 2022 Topeka Shawnee County Sports Awards, which will be presented on June 22 at Washburn University. [File photo/TSN]

TopSports.news will present awards to the top female and male athletes in the fall, winter and spring seasons, as well as overall female and male athletes of the year and the most inspirational female and male. A complete list of nominees is listed below.

To be eligible, an athlete must have compiled a cumulative grade point average of 3.0. Athletes were nominated by their schools' athletic directors and coaches.

In addition to the Topeka Shawnee County Sports Awards, James Letcher Jr. and Faith Rottinghaus will be honored as Washburn University Athletes of the Year and Aaron Crow, Kaylee Manns and Dani (McHenry) Schmidt will be inducted as the 2022 Topeka Shawnee County Hall of Fame class.

A  committee of local media members will select the 2022 high school winners, including the selection of overall female and male athletes of the year. 

General admission tickets for the Topeka Shawnee County sports awards banquet are $26 per person and include dinner.

Ticket information is available at topsports.news.

TOPEKA SHAWNEE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS AWARDS NOMINEES

FALL FEMALE — Kate Roeder, Hayden; Grace Unruh, Seaman; Camilla Ossola, Silver Lake; Anna Newcome, Topeka West; Khloi Bird, Washburn Rural.

FALL MALE — Carter Brian, Cair Paravel Latin; Tanner Newkirk, Hayden; Torrey Horak, Rossville; Jace Moore, Seaman; Jarin Sanders, Shawnee Heights; Tylan Alejos, Topeka High; Jaq'Son Birdwhistle-Bush, Topeka West; Porter Schafersman, Washburn Rural.

WINTER FEMALE — Jaley Barkley, Cair Paravel Latin; Macy Smith, Hayden; Celeste Gonzalez, Highland Park; Rylee Murray, Seaman; Talayah Thomas, Topeka High; Kendra Umscheid, Topeka West; Emma Krueger, Washburn Rural.

WINTER MALE — Noah Hastert, Cair Paravel Latin; Trent Duffey, Hayden; Juan'Tario Roberts, Highland Park; Ty Henry, Seaman; Brock Ferguson, Shawnee Heights; Richard Carter, Topeka High; Elijah Brooks, Topeka West; Nathen Trachta, Washburn Rural.

SPRING FEMALE —  Carly Stuke, Hayden; Destiny Nunez, Highland Park; Vanesa Quinones, Rossville; Gabby Grace, Seaman; Tatum Hoge, Shawnee Heights; Taryn Burkhardt, Silver Lake; NiJaree Canady, Topeka High; Kadence Jeffries, Topeka West; Campbell Bagshaw, Washburn Rural.

SPRING MALE — Tanner Newkirk, Hayden; Torrey Horak, Rossville; Dagen Brewer, Seaman; Caden Walker, Shawnee Heights; Daigan Kruger, Silver Lake; Zander Putthoff, Topeka West; Zach Sulzen-Watson, Washburn Rural.

MOST INSPIRATIONAL FEMALE — Celeste Gonzalez, Highland Park; Drew Baxter, Seaman; Taryn Dial, Shawnee Heights; DayShauna Wiley, Topeka High; Trenna Whitmore, Washburn Rural.

MOST INSPIRATIONAL MALE — Corey Catron, Rossville; Aidan Polter, Seaman; Carter Olson, Shawnee Heights; Richard Carter, Topeka High; Aidan Boline, Washburn Rural.

WASHBURN UNIVERSITY ATHLETES OF THE YEAR

MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR -- JAMES LETCHER JR.

Letcher earned five All-America awards after a monster 2021 football season for the Ichabods, who posted a 9-3 record and advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs. Letcher earned first-team All-America honors on the Don Hansen NCAA Division II All-America squad, the Associated Press and the Division II Conference Commissioner's Association. All-American teams and was a second-team D2Football.com Elite 100 selection and a second-team pick on the American Football Coaches Association team. Letcher has received six All-America awards overall,  earning honorable mention on the Football Gazette All-American team in 2019. Last fall, Letcher led the team with 68 receptions, 927 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 12 starts. Letcher also rushed 19 times for 106 yards. He earned All-MIAA first-team recognition as a wide receiver and a returner and was named the MIAA Special Teams Player of the Year after taking 24 kickoffs for 685 yards and two touchdowns.

FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR -- FAITH ROTTINGHAUS

A Shawnee Heights graduate, Rottinghaus helped lead the Ichabods to a second-place finish in the NCAA Division II Volleyball Championships, leading the nation with 833 total digs and earning second-team All-America honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association and the Division II Conference Commissioner's Association. Rottinghaus earned All-MIAA first-team honors for the third straight season and earned the NCAA Elite 90 Award, becoming the first Washburn student-athlete and MIAA volleyball player to receive the prestigious academic honor. She was named the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-American Volleyball Team Member of the Year and received her third consecutive Academic All-America first-team honor. Rottinghaus was voted to the all-tournament team in all five tournaments Washburn competed in and played in all 127 sets for the Ichabods. Rottinghaus became Washburn's all-time digs leader in the regular-season finale against Northwest Missouri. 

2022 TOPEKA SHAWNEE COUNTY HALL OF FAME CLASS

AARON CROW

A 2005 Washburn Rural graduate Crow was a standout for the Junior Blues before posting a 23-8 record with a 3.27 earned run average in three seasons for Missouri. As a sophomore or the Tigers, Crow went 9-4 with a 3.60 ERA, earning first-team All Big 12 honors. Crow went 13-0 as a junior with a 2.35 ERA, threw four complete-game shutouts and struck out 10.65 batters per nine innings. He was named the Big 12 Conference Pitcher of the Year and earned the Roger Clemens Award as the NCAA Division I College Baseball Pitcher of the Year. Crow was selected by the Washington Nationals in the first round of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft with the ninth overall selection. After playing for the Fort Worth Cats in 2009 Crow was selected with the 12th pick in the first round of the 2009 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals. Crow signed a contract with the Royals on September 15, 2009. Crow made his first Major League appearance on March 31, 2011, which was Opening Day, facing four Angels batters and striking out three. Crow was named to the 2011 American League All-Star team. He played four seasons with the Royals and also had stints with the Miami Marlins and Chicago Cubs before serious elbow and rotator cuff injuries cut short his MLB career. Crow finished his professional career in the Mexican Baseball League, retiring after the 2018 season.

KAYLEE MANNS

Manns was a three-sport standout in volleyball, basketball and soccer at Washburn Rural, leading the Junior Blues to their first-ever Class 6A state volleyball championship in 2004. Manns went on to a stellar career at Iowa State, where she led her team to three consecutive NCAA Sweet 16 appearances. Manns was an American Volleyball Coaches Association second-team All-American in 2008 and 2009, a Volleyball Magazine first-team All-American in 2009 and earned All-Big 12 first-team honors in 2008 and 2009. Manns was named the Iowa State Female Student-Athlete of the Year in 2008 and was inducted into the Iowa State Hall of Fame in 2021. She finished her career as the Cyclones'; career assists leader and fourth all-time in assists in the Big 12. Manns was the first player in Big 12 history to record 5,500 assists, 1000 digs, 300 kills and 300 blocks in a career. Manns was one of 24 players selected for the U.S. Women’s National Training Team. A member of the Kansas Volleyball Association Hall of Fame, Manns has put together a long pro career, playing for teams in Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Turkey, and BrazilShe has also played in the USA Professional Volleyball League and Athletes Unlimited.

DANI (McHENRY) SCHMIDT

Schmidt led Shawnee Heights' volleyball team to back-to-back Class 5A state titles in 1999 and 2000. Schmidt earned first-team All-Centennial League recognition all four years and was the league player of the year her sophomore, junior and senior years. A member of the Kansas Volleyball Association Hall of Fame, Schmidt was named to the 5A All-State team her sophomore, junior, and senior years and was the Kansas Sports Magazine Player of the Year in 2000. Schmidt became the first AVCA All-American in Washburn history when she earned honorable mention in 2003. The next year she was named a third-team All-American selection. McHenry played volleyball three years at Washburn after transferring from Kansas and recorded 1,491 kills, which was sixth all-time at Washburn. She helped lead the Lady Blues to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2002. Schmidt earned All-MIAA first-team honors three times. After having 23 double-figure kill matches her first year for Washburn she had more than 30 each of her last two seasons as a Lady Blue. Her 558 kills her junior year was the third-highest season total in Washburn history. She also finished her career first all-time in career kills per set with 4.01. McHenry also played basketball under her father, Ron McHenry, for four years at Washburn and helped the Lady Blues to a NCAA Division II national championship and four MIAA regular- season titles.