By RICK PETERSON
Former Washburn Rural basketball standout Emma Krueger was named the TopSports.news Topeka Shawnee County Winter Female Athlete of the Year Wednesday at Washburn University during the Topeka Shawnee County Sports Awards banquet and Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Krueger was a four-year starter for Washburn Rural, winning Class 6A state championships as a freshman and senior.
"Emma has a work ethic second to none,'' Washburn Rural coach Kevin Bordewick said. "She is one of a handful of athetes that truly plays hard all the time. Emma is a great leader. She leads by her example and holds teammates accountable to the same work ethic.
"She took pride in being our defensive stopper and did whatever it took for our team to succeed.''
As a senior Krueger averaged 8.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.6 steals.
Also a soccer standout, Krueger will play college basketball at Grand Canyon University.
Krueger finished high school with a 4.15 grade point average.
JALEY BARKLEY | Cair Paravel Latin
PARENTS: Shane and Valerie Barkley
SPORT: Basketball | GPA: 4.53
"Jaley is a fantastic leader and worker,'' Cair Paravel coach Brian Ewing said. "She knew my expectations for her senior year and led the team through her dedication and desire. Jaley has always been a hard worker during the season but out of season as well. She put up tens of thousands of shots during COVID, which showed up in her stats this past season. Jaley loves to interact with, and encourage, the younger kids, especially the girls. She knows that eyes are on her for not only how she plays on the court but how she leads throughour her school day and practice.'' Barkey will play college basketball next season for Sterling College.
CELESTE GONZALEZ | Highland Park
PARENTS: Raul Gonzalez and Clara Caro
SPORT: Wrestling | GPA: 4.2
Gonzalez posted a 17-7 record as a senior and was a two-year letter-winner for Highland Park's girls wrestling team. Gonzalez won the Centennial League indiviual championship at 191 pounds her senior season, qualified for the Class 6A-5A state meet with a runner-up regional finish and earned All-Shawnee County honorable mention. "She had a desire to demonstrate dominance on the mat but was friendly to everyone off the mat,'' Highland Park coach Shannon Keller said. Gonzalez, who also earned All-City honorable mention in soccer, plans to attend college at Washburn University.
RYLEE MURRAY | Seaman
PARENTS: TJ and Sonya Murray
SPORT: Wrestling | GPA: 3.34
Murray was Seaman's first Centennial League girls wrestling champion as a junior and the first Viking to secure her place on the state podium in her final season of wrestling, finishing fifth in Class 6A-5A. Murray posted a two-year record of 40-10, with 29 wins coming by pin. Murray is also a softball standout for the Vikings and will play softball at North Central Missouri College. "Rylee is a multi-sport athlete who gives absolutely nothing but her best in everything she does,'' Seaman girls wrestling coach Jordan Best said. "Her commitment to leadership is second to none and she gained respect by pushing everyone to be their best while keeping a smile on her face and lifting the spirits of her teammates as well.''
MACY SMITH | Hayden
PARENTS: Rob and Cindi Smith
SPORT: Basketball | GPA 3.86
Smith missed most of her junior season with an ACL injury, but returned to turn in a solid senior season for the Wildcats. "Macy was the primary ball-handler for our team and was relied heavily upon to score for us,'' Hayden coach Carvel Reynoldson said. "She tore her ACL her junior year so she had a comeback season of sorts. As the knee got stronger she played a bigger role and improved defensively.'' Smith averaged 12 points and was also a team leader in assists. Smith earned All-Shawnee County Top 10 honors and was a second-team All-Centennial League pick, Smith was also a soccer standout for Hayden.
TALAYAH THOMAS | Topeka High
PARENTS: Tobian and Stephanie Thomas
SPORT: Basketball | GPA: 3.71
Thomas was a three-sport standout for Topeka High, handling place-kicking duties for the Trojans in football and starring as point guard in basketball and as a forward in soccer. "She has made some historical memories at Topeka High,'' said Hannah Alexander, Thomas' basketball coach at High. "She has led our girls basketball program to the state tournament all four years of high school. She has an 88-8 record overall. She is a true leader on and off the floor. She is destined for greatness.'' A first-team All-Shawnee County selection, Thomas averaged 14.5 points, 2.9 assists and 2.9 steals as a senior. Thomas will play college basketball at Northwestern Oklahoma.
KENDRA UMSCHEID | Topeka West
PARENTS: Kevin and Shelly Umscheid
SPORT: Bowling | GPA: 3.725
Umscheid helped Topeka West reach the Class 5A-1A state bowling tournament as a senior. "Kendra is a great team player,'' Topeka West coach Alyx Nash said. "She sets high goals for herself and those around her. She creates a positive mindset and a supporting environment to motivate herself and team to their goals. She represents herself on the lanes, in the classroom and in her everyday actions to the best of her abilities. Her accomplishments are and will continue to be a reflection of this.'' Umscheid plans to study computer science at Wichita State University.