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Hayden's Newkirk named TopSports.news Spring Male Athlete of the Year



Tanner Newkirk, who won three Class 4A track championships as a senior distance runner at Hayden, was selected as the Topeka Shawnee County Spring Male Athlete of the Year Wedneday night at Washburn University.

NewkirkFridayFormer Hayden star Tanner Newkirk, the Topeka Shawnee County Spring Male Athlete of the Year, won four individual Class 4A state titles in his high school career, including three wins in the 2022 state track meet at Wichita. [File photo/TSN]

Newkirk capped his high school track and field career with a record-setting perormance in the 2022 Kansas state track meet at Wichita State's Cessna Stadium, winning three events and setting two Class 4A state meet records.

Newkirk won the 3,200 meters in 8:58.88, No. 5 all-time in Kansas, won the 1,600 in 4:12.25 and the 800 in 1:55.0.

The Hayden star added a fourth state medal in the 4 x 800 relay, helping the Wildcats finish fifth in that event.

Newkirk was a four-time state medalist in 4A cross country, with a state title and three top-three finishes.

"Tanner Newkirk is a one of a kind athlete,'' Hayden track and cross country coach DeJuan Gardenhire said. "What makes Tanner so special is his ability to want to get better.''

Newkirk will run track and cross country at the University of Kansas.

Other candidates:

DagenBrewerDagen Brewer


PARENTS: Matt and Heather Brewer

SPORT: Baseball | GPA: NA

Brewer turned in an outstanding senior baseball season, helping lead Seaman to a 20-3 record, a share of the Centennial League championship and an 18th straight berth in the Class 5A state tournament. Brewer was tapped as the Shawnee County and the Centennial League player of the year. He also earned first-team All-Class 5A honors from the Kansas Association of Baseball Coaches. Brewer earned first-team All-Shawnee County and All-Centennial League honors as a junior and was a second-team KABC All-Class 5A selection. Brewer has committed to Johnson County Community College to play his college baseball.

TorreyHorakTorrey Horak 

TORREY HORAK | Rossville

PARENTS: Terry and Wendi Horak

SPORT: Baseball | GPA: 3.8

Probably best known as Rossville's star quarterback in football, Horak was a first-team All-Class 3A pick in baseball as a senior after receiving honorable mention his junior year. "His talent was evident this season as a first-team All-State player in both of those sports and he will go down in the top 10 in several single-season baseball categories, including home runs, walks, on-base percentage and runs,'' Rossville baseball coach Eammon Bradley said. "Torrey is one of the best leaders I've ever been around. He commands a presence among his peers and is an example of how to serve his team. He brings energy every day, whether it's at practice or a game.'' Horak will play college football at Division II Central Missouri. 

DaiganKrugerbaseball 2Daigan Kruger


PARENTS: Dave and Dena Kruger

SPORT: Baseball | GPA: NA

Kruger received All-Class 3A first-team honors as a senior, hitting .400 with 22 runs scored and 14 runs batted in and posting a 6-2 pitching record with 50 strikeouts in 42 innings while limiting opposing hitters to a .170 batting average. "Daigan is the best competitor that I have coached so far on the baseball diamond,'' Silver Lake coach Tyler Seele said. "He is a three-sport athlete (football, wrestling and baseball) and was an All-Stater in all three sports. Daigan is not only a great athlete but he's also a great leader. He approaches the game the right way and is a great example for our younger guys in our program. He approaches each day, whether a practice or game with a great attitude. He was the glue to our team and a huge reason we were able to have success this year after losing 10 seniors a year ago.''

Putthoff Zander 002Zander Putthoff


PARENTS: Darin and Ashley Putthoff

SPORT: Baseball | GPA: NA

Putthoff was a standout in both basketball and baseball for Topeka West. Putthoff helped the Chargers to a pair of Class 5A state tournament appearances in basketball and pitched and played outfield for the Charger baseball team the past two seasons. Putthoff compiled a 1.90 earned run average this past season while recording 22 strikeouts in 25.2 innings. "Great leadership and hard work,'' West baseball coach TJ McGreevy said. "Competes every pitch regardless the score.'' Putthoff received All-Shawnee County and All-Centennial League honorable mention in baseball and was second-team All-Shawnee County and received all-league honorable mention in basketball. Putthoff plans to play baseball at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

Zach SR pic 002Zachary Sulzen-Watson 


PARENTS: Gary Watson and Kathleen Sulzen-Watson

SPORT: Track and field | GPA: 4.06

Sulzen-Watson finished a banner senior season as a thrower with a second-place finish in the Class 6A discus and a third in the shot put in the 2022 Kansas State Track and Field Championships at Wichita State. Sulzen-Watson had a best of 54 feet, 5.5 inches in the shot put and 172-10 in the discus. Sulzen-Watson was a city, Centennial League and regional champion in both events. "During the course of his high school career Zach became a student of the sport, learning and growing as a competitive thrower. Zach is a humble and quiet leader who leads by his example.'' Sulzen-Watson plans to attend Emporia State University, where he will be a thrower for the Hornets' track and field team.

Caden Portrait 002Caden Walker

CADEN WALKER | Shawnee Heights

PARENT: Scott Walker

SPORT: Baseball | GPA: NA

Walker was a star in both wrestling and baseball for Shawnee Heights. As a senior in baseball the T-Bird center-fielder helped lead Shawnee Heights to a berth in the Class 5A state tournament. Walker earned TopSports.news and United Kansas Conference first-team recognition and received All-Class 5A honorable mention. In wrestling Walker was a four-time United Kansas Conference individual champion and a four-time 5A state qualifier and three-time state medalist. Walker posted a 143-19 career record and posted 118 pins, ranking No. 5 in state history. Walker will play college baseball at Cloud County College. 

FSJ0WnRXoAA0asNFormer Hayden star Tanner Newkirk won four individual Class 4A state titles in his high school career, including three wins in the 2022 state track meet at Wichita. [File photo/TSN]