The Idaho State Journal honored the best high school athletes and coaches in Southeast Idaho on Monday night with the fifth annual Sports Stars awards.
The awards recognize the top athletes in each high school sport, as well as the area’s top freshmen, best teams and best all-around athletes from the 2019-20 academic year. Coaches and athletes from all 18 high schools in the Journal’s coverage area are considered.
The event was held virtually this year because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and social gathering guidelines. Publisher Travis Quast and sports editor Madison Guernsey announced the awards during a live stream on the Journal’s Facebook account. The stream can still be viewed on the Journal’s Facebook page by clicking the videos tab, or on the Idaho State Journal’s YouTube account.
Idaho State Athletic Director Pauline Thiros was this year’s keynote speaker. Thiros, who is also a decorated former high school volleyball coach and was a student-athlete at ISU, spoke to the quality of prep sports in Southeast Idaho.
“I know better than most how special you are. I’ve known and coached so many students from our community who moved on to compete with the best in America — the best in the world even — and win,” Thiros said in her video that was played during the live stream. “Everyone who knows me knows I have a saying I use all the time, and I know it’s something all of you being honored tonight have in common: you were never interested in being good, you’ve been working your tail off to be smoking hot. I’m always very proud of the tradition of smoking hotness that we enjoy in Southeast Idaho high school sports. Thank you for the way you have continued that tradition.”
Some of the night’s big winners were Preston’s Ty Hyde (boys basketball player of the year, top male athlete), Century’s Lexi Bull (volleyball player of the year, top female athlete), Snake River High School (school of athletic excellence) and recently retired Blackfoot football coach Stan Buck (career coaching excellence).
Hyde was Preston’s quarterback during football season and led the Indians’ basketball team to a 4A state title in March. In February, Hyde signed to play football as an offensive tackle at Dixie State University.
“I would like to thank all my family, friends, coaches and teammates for getting me to this point,” Hyde said in his acceptance speech. “I couldn’t have done it without any of them. Preston has the best fans in the state, without question, so I would like to say thanks to the community of Preston for always supporting the Indians. Thank you to the best coaching staff for developing me as an athlete. I wouldn’t be near the athlete I am if it wasn’t for them or my teammates. They are all outstanding ballplayers and they truly earned this award for me. Thank you to everyone that has coached me and got me to this point.”
Bull was also a multi-sport star, leading Century’s volleyball and girls basketball teams to runner-up finishes at the most recent 4A state tournaments. In November, she signed to continue her basketball career at the University of Wyoming.
“First off, I would like to start by thanking the Idaho State Journal for their extensive coverage of Idaho high school athletics,” Bull said in her acceptance speech. “I would also like to thank my volleyball coaches Breanne Robinson, Ashlyn VanAvery and Pauline Thiros; my high school basketball coaches Chris Shuler, Kurtis Holt and Rich Bull; my club basketball coaches Dave Hammer, Stu Sells, Jeff Steadman and Brian King. I would also like to thank my teammates, who have been with me the last four years, and finally the school administration, who set the standards of athletic and academic excellence. Thanks so much to all those who have helped to shape me into the player and person I am today.”
The complete list of this year’s winners is below.
Boys cross country runner of the year: Riley Reid, Preston
Girls cross country runner of the year: Elli Kelsey, Bear Lake
Volleyball player of the year: Lexi Bull, Century
Boys swimmer of the year: Coleman Sandy, Century
Girls swimmer of the year: Kaitlyn Shelley, Century
Boys soccer player of the year: Brian Martinez, American Falls
Girls soccer player of the year: Adison Spillett, Pocatello
Football player of the year: Kaleb Demuzio, Highland
Boys basketball player of the year: Ty Hyde, Preston
Girls basketball player of the year: Sadie Gronning, Soda Springs
Wrestler of the year: Wyatt Kearn, American Falls
Game of the year: Pocatello vs. Burley football
Boys team of the year: Preston basketball
Girls team of the year: Rockland basketball
Boys freshman of the year: Hans Newby, Grace
Girls freshman of the year: Bailey Bird, Pocatello
Boys career achievement: Jayden Bell, Highland
Girls career achievement: Charlotte Wilson, Rockland
Female coach of the year: Karen Homstad, Pocatello/Highland/Century swimming
Male coach of the year: Tyson Moser, West Side football
School of athletic achievement: Snake River
Career coaching excellence: Stan Buck, Blackfoot football
Top female athlete: Lexi Bull, Century
Top male athlete: Ty Hyde, Preston