The Daily Sentinel High School Sports Awards celebrated and recognized District 51 student-athletes at the Avalon Theatre Wednesday night.
With hundreds of athletes, parents, family members, coaches, classmates and other supporters in attendance at the second annual awards night, a total of 73 athletes from Central High School, Fruita Monument High School, Grand Junction High School and Palisade High School were recognized as nominees from 21 sports.
Nominees were selected in each sport by the Daily Sentinel sports reporters who cover high school sports. By covering events through each season and every sport, the reporters whittled down the candidates from each school to come up with one nominee from each sport. From that list, one winner was picked from each sport.
A winner was selected from each of the 21 sports.
Fall sports winners were: Cameron Tucker, Palisade football; Aislyn Sharp, Central softball; Alexandra MacAskill, Palisade volleyball; Blake Andersen, Fruita Monument boys golf; Cal Hegstrom, Grand Junction boys tennis; Rebecca Hittle, Palisade girls cross country; David Cardenas, Central boys cross country; Matias Campoy, Grand Junction boys soccer.
Winter sports winners were: Kenzie Younker, Grand Junction girls basketball; Marcus LaBonde, Fruita Monument boys basketball; Hunter Tobiasson, Grand Junction wrestling; Sarah Cook, Grand Junction girls swimming.
Springs sports winners were: Derek Shaver, Grand Junction baseball; Lila Dere, Fruita Monument girls soccer; Brittlynn O'Dell, Grand Junction girls golf; Julianna Campos, Grand Junction girls tennis; Josh Newhouse, Grand Junction boys lacrosse; Ella Dillon, Fruita Monument girls lacrosse; Cassidy Bittner, Palisade girls track & field; Noah Butzine, combined District 51 boys swimming. Boys track & field had co-winners: Cardenas from Central and Colin Morrison from Grand Junction.
The ceremony also featured Heidi Kloser, a Colorado Mesa student, who was on the 2014 U.S. Winter Olympic team.
The Vail native was one of the top mogul skiers in the world when she headed to the Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
On Wednesday night, she shared her story of heartbreak when she was injured after she crashed in a practice run 20 minutes before her first Olympic run.
Kloser talked about how she's overcome that adversity and is now focused on going to college at Colorado Mesa University and working toward her goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.
The Sports Awards also featured three major awards for the overall female and male athletes of the year, and the D51 coach of the year.
The female athlete of the year is Kenzie Younker, who averaged 15.2 points and 9.5 rebounds, and was the Southwestern League player of the year in basketball.
The senior is also a three-sport athlete who played volleyball in the fall and competes on the Tigers' track & field team.
David Cardenas, who is the rare four-sport athlete, is the male athlete of the year.
The Central senior was the best runner on the Western Slope in cross-country, and also played on the Warriors' soccer and basketball teams. In track & field he's one of the best middle-distances runners in 5A and currently has the fastest time in the state in the 800 meters.
Central softball coach Scott Else was selected the coach of the year after leading the Warriors to the final four in the Class 5A state tournament. It was only the second time in school history the Warriors advanced to the final four.