By RICK PETERSON
Shara Stafford was a multi-time state swimming champ for Topeka High before going on to become a 13-time All-American for Florida and Missouri and a part of a NCAA national championship team for the Gators while Shannon Suddarth was a six-time state champion for Hayden and went on to become a nine-time All-American at Notre Dame.
Stafford and Suddarth are part of a long line of local stars to make their mark as club and high school swimmers before going on to star at the collegiate level, including Topeka West state record-setter and Virginia product Emily Dicus, former Hayden and Nebraska standout Kristin Strecker and Washburn Rural and Kansas standouts Haley Molden and Sammie Schurig.
Hayden products Kristen Carlson and Katie Merriam also turned in dominating high school careers while Topeka West senior to be Kadence Jeffries has already earned her place among Shawnee County's best ever, posting four dominating Class 5A-1A state individual championships in her two state appearances.
There are 25 candidates in all listed to pick from at https://linkto.run/p/CVR1E070 while readers are encouraged to write in the names of their favorites.
Vote as many times as you wish, with the only requirement that eligible candidates must have grown up in Shawnee County or attended one of the county's 10 high schools.
Final selections will be based on reader vote as well as input from TSN contributors and current and past local sports media professionals.
Votes will be accepted through July 31 before TSN publishes our Best of the Best lists in August.
NEXT UP: Men's swimming.