By RICK PETERSON
All 10 Shawnee County high schools have nominted multiple senior athletes for the 16th annual Topeka Shawnee County High School Sports Awards, which will be presented on June 30 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel's Maner Conference Center Sunflower Ballroom.
TopSports.news, in conjunction with Envista Credit Union and A-1 Lock and Key, will present awards to 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 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, Andrew Beckler, Tyler Geiman and Virgi Scardanzan will be honored as Washburn University Athletes of the Year and Kyle McNorton, Kyle Weems and Michael Willhoite will be inducted as the 2021 Topeka Shawnee County Hall of Fame class.
The most recent Topeka Shawnee County banquet was held in 2019 before last year's ceremonies were canceled due to COVID-19.
A committee of local media members will select the 2021 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 $25 per person and include dinner.
Ticket information is available on topsports.news.
TOPEKA SHAWNEE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL AWARDS NOMINEES
FALL FEMALE — Jensen Heideman, Hayden; Ciarra McWilliams, Highland Park; Camryn Turner, Seaman; Sara Eggenberger, Shawnee Heights; Aubrey Bahner, Silver Lake; Aubrey Zimmerman, Topeka High; Ruth Hockenbarger, Topeka West; Keely Wagner, Washburn Rural.
FALL MALE — Robbie Keys, Cair Paravel Latin; Desmond Purnell, Hayden; Eliseo Barreno, Highland Park; Bo Reeves, Rossville; Jeron Poteete, Seaman; Hunter Wohler, Shawnee Heights; Addison Sigg, Topeka High; Julian Mehrens, Topeka West; Ethan Hensyel, Washburn Rural.
WINTER FEMALE — Rhen Calhoon, Hayden; Isabella Carter, Highland Park; Raigan Kramer, Seaman; Katelyn Thomas, Shawnee Heights; Lilly Smith, Topeka High; Adina Davis, Topeka West; Rebekah Smith, Washburn Rural.
WINTER MALE — Clayton Stephenson, Hayden; DJ Birkenbaugh, Seaman; Jonathan Egly, Shawnee Heights; Zach Phillips, Topeka West; Remington Stiles, Washburn Rural.
SPRING FEMALE — Alyssa Carlson, Cair Paravel Latin; Audrey Kuta, Hayden; Gracie Rabe, Rossville; Riley Cowan, Seaman; Mykala Johnico, Shawnee Heights; Ellington Hogle, Silver Lake; Zoe Caryl, Topeka High; Ella Teter, Topeka West; Olivia Bruno, Washburn Rural.
SPRING MALE — Skyler Specht, Hayden; Azarion Perkins, Highland Park; Alex Sherer, Rossville; Cadin Worcester, Seaman; Ethan Rottinghaus, Shawnee Heights; Connor Pruyser, Silver Lake; Lukas Brennan, Topeka High; Triston Speaker, Topeka West; Marquel Russell, Washburn Rural.
MOST INSPIRATIONAL FEMALE — Callie Moore, Hayden; JahnAsia Anderson, Seaman; Abbey Manzanares, Shawnee Heights; Ja'Neysha Hendricks, Topeka High; Kelly Mercer, Washburn Rural.
MOST INSPIRATIONAL MALE — Dawson Adams, Hayden; Kaiden Brown, Rossville; Nathan Zeferjahn, Seaman; Aidan Hicks, Shawnee Heights; Nazim Phillips, Topeka High; Jack Hutchinson, Washburn Rural.
WASHBURN UNIVERSITY ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
CO-MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR -- ANDREW BECKLER
A senior golfer, Beckler was named the Jack Nicklaus Division II National Player of the Year and the MIAA player of the year this spring. Beckler finished his college golf career with a second-place individual finish in the NCAA Division II Championships. Beckler, who was a Class 6A individual and team state champion for Washburn Rural and began his college career at Kansas State, holds Washburn records in multiple categories, including career scoring average (72.00) and season scoring average (70.4 in 2020-21). He recorded a 72.00 stroke average in 26 events with 67 rounds played and had a total of 19 top-10 finishes, 12 top-five placings and five individual titles in three seasons and holds the record for highest individual finish in the NCAA Championships with his national runner-up finish. Beckler was a three-time MIAA Academic Honor Roll member and earned Scholar-Athlete honors as a senior
CO-MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR -- TYLER GEIMAN
Geiman earned third-team NCAA Division II All-America men's basketball honors after leading the Ichabods to the MIAA Tournament title and the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Geiman has played in 115 career games for the Ichabod basketball team, scoring 1,392 points and ranking No. 2 in career assists with 558. Geiman, a former star at Blue Valley High School, ranks fourth at WU in career-3-pointers with 208 and became the first Ichabod to have at least 1,000 career points, 500 assists, 500 rebounds and 100 steals during the 2020-21 regular season and recorded the first triple-double in school history with 17 poiints, 11 rebounds and 11 assists against Northeastern State. Geiman is a four-time MIAA Academic Honor Roll member and a two-time MIAA Academic Scholar and is a three-time all-MIAA selection with two first-team awards.
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR -- VIRGI SCARDANZAN
Scardanzan, a junior pole-vaulter from Preganziol, Italy, earned All-America honors in both the indoor and the outdoor seasons by finishing a Washburn-best second place in both events Scardanzan was also named the Central Region Field Athlete of the Year. She won the MIAA Outdoor Championship at 13 feet, 11.25 inches (4.25 meters) and won the Loper Twilight Qualifier with a vault of 14-3.25 (4.35 meters), a mark that was the No. 5 mark in NCAA Division II history. Scardanzan won six meets during the season and finished third in the Indoor MIAA Championships earning all-MIAA honors. Scardanzan was a member of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll and was an MIAA Schoar Athlete for both the indoor and outdoor seasons.
2021 TOPEKA SHAWNEE COUNTY HALL OF FAME CLASS
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 an undefeated 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.