By RICK PETERSON
Local sports greats Kyle McNorton, Kyle Weems and Michael Wilhoite will join the Topeka Shawnee County Hall of Fame on June 30, 2021, the 15th induction class into the local shrine. TopSports.news, in conjunction with Envista Credit Union and A-1 Lock and Key, will host the induction and Topeka Shawnee County sports awards ceremonies at the Capitol Plaza Hotel's Maner Conference Center Sunflower Ballroom.
McNorton is a 1978 Seaman High graduate who went on to become a star linebacker for the University of Kansas before playing in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Weems is a 2007 graduate of Highland Park, where he earned All-State basketball honors before going on to become the Missouri Valley player of the year and embark on a long and continuing professional career overseas.
Wilhoite is also a graduate of HIghland Park, where he was a basketball teammate of Weems. Wilhoite went on to star at Washburn University and played six seasons in the National Football League before being an assistant coach in the NFL.
Both Weems and Wilhoite were coached in high school by Ken Darting, a 2015 inductee into the Topeka Shawnee County Sports Hall of Fame.
The most recent Topeka Shawnee County banquet was held in 2019 before last year's ceremonies were canceled due to COVID-19.
General admission tickets are $25 per person and includes dinner. Ticket information is available on topsports.news.
Shawnee County's top senior student-athletes will be honored for the 16th time while TopSports.news will also honor an oustanding female and male athlete from Washburn University for the first time.
Shawnee County high schools Cair Paravel Latin, Hayden, Highland Park, Rossville, Seaman, Shawnee Heights, Silver Lake, Topeka High, Topeka West and Washburn Rural will be asked to nominate one female and male candidate with a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average as outstanding student-athlete nominees for the fall, winter and spring seasons. County high schools will also be asked to nominate a female and male candidate for most inspirational athlete.
A committee of local media members will select the 2021 winners, including the selection of overall female and male athletes of the year.
The winners of Washburn's outstanding male and female awards and the nominees for this year's high school awards will be announced in the near future.
The most recent Hall of Fame class in 2019 included Washburn Rural coaching legend Ron Bowen, 17-time state cross county and track champion Trisa Nickoley of Shawnee Heights and the late Pete Goering, who served The Topeka Capital-Journal as a sports reporter, columnist and editor for in a 35-year career at the paper.
Hayden's Brooklyn Hunter and Washburn Rural's Carly Bachelor were named co-outstanding female athletes of the year in 2019 while Rural's Jordan White was named the male outstanding athlete.
Hall of Fame class of 2021 capsules:
McNorton attended Northern Hills Junior High and graduated from Seaman, where he was student council president, Homecoming King and participated in football, basketball, wrestling and track.
McNorton qualified for the state meet in his one season of wrestling while in track McNorton ran sprints, setting the school record in the 440-yard dash, and competed in various field events.
He started all three years as a running back and linebacker for the Vikings in football and led the city of Topeka in yards per carry as a senior while earning all-league and All-City recognition. McNorton earned Most Valuable Player honors in the Kansas Shrine Bowl the summer following his high school graduation.
McNorton started the last three games of his freshman season at linebacker for Kansas and started the next three seasons as the Jayhawks improved from 1-10 his freshman season to a nationally-ranked Top 20 team his senior year.
McNorton ended his career with 381 tackles, at the time the all-time leading tackler in school history. He was named the Jayhawks' MVP and was a unanimous first-team All Big 8 selection and earned All-America recognition.
McNorton signed a professional contract with the Chiefs and was selected the MVP of a game against New Orleans Saints game before his NFL career was cut short due to knee injuries.
Weems earned All-State basketball honors as a senior at Highland Park after the Scots became only the second boys team in city history to post anundefeated season en route to the Class 5A state championship.
Weems went on to put together one of the most outstanding college careers in Missouri State history. He was named the Missouri Valley Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Year and an NCAA Division I All-American following the 2010-11 season.
Weems averaged 16 points and 8 rebounds as a junior as the Bears won the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title.
Weems finished his college career No. 2 on Missouri State's career scoring list with 1,868 points, tied for No. 4 in rebounds with 844 and No. 6 in blocks with 114.
A 6-foot-6 forward, Weems has played professional basketball overseas since 2012, playing in Germany, France, Turkey and Italy.
Weems, who played in the NBA Summer League in 2012 and 2013 for the Warriors, Raptors and Hawks, is currently playing for Virtus Bologna of the Italian Lega Basket Serie A.
Wilhoite was a football and basketball standout at Highland Park before becoming a football standout for Washburn University and playing in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.
Wilhoite played quarterback at Highland Park and was used at six different positions for Washburn before playing linebacker and becoming a special teams standout in the NFL.
Wilhoite, 6-foot, 245 pounds, earned a spot on the 49ers practice squad in late 2011 and was promoted to the active roster late in the 2012 season, helping San Francisco make a run to Super Bowl XLVII.
After playing five seasons for the 49ers, Wilhoite finished his playing career with the Seahawks in '17.
Wilhoite played in 79 NFL games with 45 starts, recording 298 tackles with four pass interceptions.
Wilhoite spent the '19 and '20 seasons as an assistant coach for the New Orleans Saints and is currently the linebackers coach for the Los Angeles Chargers.