By RICK PETERSON
Recent Rossville graduate Alex Sherer, who ended a brief but memorable high school tennis career with a state championship, was honored Wednesday night as the TopSports.news Topeka Shawnee County Spring Male Athlete of the Year.
Sherer got his first opportunity to play high school tennis as a senior, playing for Hayden as a co-op player during the regular season before representing Rossville in the postseason, with his father, Jesse, serving as his coach.
Sherer made the most of his opportunity, winning the Class 3A-1A state singles title to give Rossville its first-ever state tennis champion.
He posted a 36-2 record on the season and will play college tennis at Kansas Wesleyan University.
Sherer was also the "Voice of the Bulldawgs,'' broadcasting many Rossville sports events.
Othe Spring Male nominees:
LUKAS BRENNAN | Topeka High
PARENTS: Greg and Joy Brennan
SPORT: Baseball | GPA: 4.31
Brennan batted .405 and compiled a 3-2 pitching record with 37 strikeouts as the Trojans posted a breakthrough season, advancing to a Class 6A regional final. "It's difficult to truly define Lukas' impact on our program,'' Topeka High baseball coach Cody Miller said. "Lukas was our team captain this year and represented everything a leader should be. He was always incredibly positive, but he'd give the team a kick in the pants if we needed it. I'm very proud to have been his coach and am very grateful for his leadership in turning around a program that was 2-19 two years ago to what we are now.'' Brennan, who also played soccer for the Trojans, will continue his academic career at Kansas.
AZARION PERKINS | Highland Park
PARENT: Linda Perkins
SPORT: Tennis | GPA: 3.26
Perkins capped his high school tennis career with an appearance in the Class 5A state tournament after posting a fifth-place finish in doubles in regional competition. "Azarion Perkins showed excellence as a leader throughout his senior year with boys tennis team and school,'' Perkins' nomination form stated. "Azarion showed selflessness as he progressed his own tennis skills by not only applying what he learned to advance his own skills but he used what he learned to instruct the novice players on the team so that they, too, could advance their skills. Azarion is a true leader both on and off the tennis courts.''
CONNOR PRUYSER | Silver Lake
PARENTS: Curtis Pruyser and Colleen Dewey
SPORT: Baseball | GPA: 3.6
Pruyser was an All-Class 3A first-team pick this season after posting a 6-1 record with a 2.5 earned run average and 49 strikeouts in 42 innings pitched for the Eagles. "Connor exhibits excellence on and off the baseball diamond,'' Silver Lake coach Tyler Seele said. "Connor is a very respectful young man that treats everyone he encounters in a positive manner. Connor has a good attitude and demeanor when he competes on the diamond. He is a great leader for the younger guys in our program to look up to and to learn from. Connor is a good teammate, a positive role model and a fierce competitor.''
ETHAN ROTTINGHAUS | Shawnee Heights
PARENTS: Michael and Theresa Rottinghaus
SPORT: Golf | GPA: 4.16
Rottinghaus compiled an average score of 86 as a senior for the T-Bird golf team, earning first-team All-United Kansas Conference honors after helping Heights win the UKC team championship and earn a berth in the Class 5A state tournament with a second-place team finish in regional competition. Rottinghaus carded rounds of 86 and 82 to finish 28th in the state meet. "Ethan excelled for the Shawnee Heights golf program as a three-year letterman,'' Shawnee Heights golf coach Jason Swift said. Rottinghaus plans to continue his academic career at Wichita State.
MARQUEL RUSSELL | Washburn Rural
PARENTS: Jason Russell and Shanna Bigler
SPORT: Track and field | GPA: NA
Russell capped an outstanding career as a hurdler for Washburn Rural with the Class 6A state championship in the 110-meter hurdles in a career-best time of 14.79 seconds, his third state medal in the 110s in as many state appearances. Russell was a two-time city and Centennial League champion and was the state runner-up as a freshman and took fourth in 6A as a sophomore. "Marquel was a major contributor on a boys team that has been city champs four years in a row, won a league championship for the first time in 27 years and finished fourth at this year's state meet,'' Washburn Rural coach Keith Wetzel said.
SKYLER SPECHT | Hayden
PARENTS: David and Megan Specht
SPORT: Baseball | GPA: 4.0
Specht was a standout in both baseball and football for the Wildcats, earning postseason recognition in both sports. Specht hit nearly .400 this spring for the Wildcats, helping lead Hayden to a berth in the Class 4A state tournament. "Skyler is a hard-working student-athlete both in the classroom and on the fields,'' Hayden baseball and football coach Bill Arnold said. "He has great hand-eye coordination and is a great team player. Very competitive.'' Specht plans to attend Benedictine College this fall and play baseball.
TRISTON SPEAKER | Topeka West
PARENTS: Randy and Colleen Speaker
SPORT: Baseball | GPA: 3.64
Speaker batted .419 as a senior for the Chargers with six doubles and a triple and stole 23 bases in as many attempts while compiling a .903 fielding percentage at shortstop. "Triston has been a leader on our team since he was a freshman,'' former Topeka West coach John Tetuan said. "He started every game at shortstop for us for three years. We could always count on him as a vocal leader and a great leader by example. He loved to work hard to better himself every day, always wanting to do extra work. He has hit consistently over .400 over his career. Triston is the player every coach wants on their team.''
CADIN WORCESTER | Seaman
PARENTS: Casey and Cassey Worcester
SPORT: Track and field | GPA: 3.82
Worcester earned a pair of state medals in the Class 5A state championships this spring, placing third in the high jump and running on the Vikings' sixth-place 4x100-meter relay. Worcester received All-Shawnee County first-team honors. Worcester tied for the seventh-best high jump in Seaman history at 6-foot-4. "Cadin is genuinely a competitor and always rises to the occasion,'' Seaman track and field coach Scott Petersen said. "He was a model of consistency and improved all year steadily from his effort in practice.'' Worcester also was a soccer standout for the Vikings, earning first-team All-City and All-Centennial League honors after recording 12 goals and seven assists.