Heath Pickhardt and Mckinzee Mode are selected from 11 nominated athletes as the winners of the first Crook County High School Booster Club Athlete of the Year awards

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Heath Pickhardt leads off second base following a double against Molalla earlier this year. Pickhardt, who is going to the University of Oregon on a baseball scholarship, was named the Crook County High School Booster Club male athlete of the year Friday night. The CCHS senior hit .274 this year, leading the Cowboys in walks (18), doubles (seven), home runs (three), runs batted in (30) and runs scored (31). Pickhardt was named Tri-Valley Conference first team catcher for the fourth consecutive time this year.A new tradition began Friday as the First Annual Crook County Booster Club Athlete of the Year awards ceremony was held Friday night at CCHS.

The awards, which celebrated athletic achievement coupled with academic success and leadership attributes, saw the booster club give away $5,000 in scholarships.

"We saw this as a fundraising event and at the same time recognizing athletes who have excelled in their sport and in the classroom," booster club president Jason Carr told the gathered crowd. "We wanted to have athletes nominated who not only performed well in their sport, but they were also well respected by their coaches, teammates and were seen as leaders, and they were also performers in the classroom."

Carr added that community service was also considered in the balloting process.

A selection committee of five individuals, including school board members Doug Smith and Scott Cooper, along with Carr, CCHS teacher Amy Duke, and CCHS athletic director Rob Bonner, were responsible for selecting scholarship recipients as well as athlete of the year award winners.

"We felt like it went really well," Carr said following the event. "We were expecting maybe 50 to 60 people, and we ended up with about 110. I think overall the athletes that were nominated were high caliber, so we were pretty pleased with the list that we got."

Eleven student athletes were nominated for the athlete of the year award, with both a male and female athlete of the year were chosen.

In addition, athletes could apply for one of six scholarships.

Both juniors and seniors were included in the athlete of the year process, while only seniors could apply for the six remaining scholarships.

Each of the two athlete of the year award winners received a $1,500 scholarship.

Nominees for the athlete of the year awards were Heath Pickhardt (baseball), Mckinzee Mode (cross country, basketball and track and field), Payton Ryan (dance), Vicky Bates (dance), Macy Goehring (golf), Pacer Quire (wrestling and rodeo), Luke Flegel (football and track and field), Gracie Kasberger (soccer, cross country, basketball and track and field), Emma Ackley (basketball and softball), Caleb Parrott (football, wrestling and track and field), and Will Combee (football, basketball and baseball).

The 11 nominees averaged a 3.8 grade-point average.

Carr said that when the ballots were tallied, the competition was extremely close.

In the end, Mode, a junior was selected as female athlete of the year, while Pickhardt, a senior, was named male athlete of the year.

"It's a great honor to be named athlete of the year at Crook County," Pickhardt said. "It's exciting, and I feel a sense of accomplishment."

Pickhardt, who has a baseball scholarship to the University of Oregon, added that the award was the first scholarship that he has received besides the athletic scholarship.

He batted .274 for the season with a team high seven doubles, three home runs, 30 RBIs and 31 runs scored. Pickhardt also led the team in walks with 18 and was hit by four pitches.

The catcher was first selected first-team all-league for the fourth consecutive year.

"I wasn't expecting to get the award, but I am actually really happy that I did," Mode said.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Mckinzee Mode runs up a hill at the state cross country meet. Mode, a junior, was named female athlete of the year by the Crook County High School Booster Club Friday night. Mode was also a starter on the girls basketball team as well as competing in the state track meet as part of the Cowgirls' 4X400 relay team, which placed seventh. Mode went to state in both cross country and track, as well as starting on the girls basketball team.

In cross country, Mode had a season-best time of 21:57, which she ran at the Tri-Valley Conference Championships, where the Cowgirls finished second.

Mode was nearly as fast at the state meet, finishing 62nd with a time of 22:08. In track, Mode qualified for state in the 4x400 relay, where the Cowgirls finished seventh with a season best time of 4:11.58.

Mode was also third at district in the 300 intermediate hurdles with a time of 51.53.

In basketball, the three-sport star played both small forward and guard for the Cowgirls.

Pickhardt and Mode beat out several other worthy nominees.

Combee was all league in football but saw both his basketball and baseball seasons cut short by injuries.

Quire won his weight class at the state wrestling tournament and is leading the state standings in bareback riding heading into this week's state finals.

Parrott was all league in football as well as placing third at state in wrestling and reaching the state track meet in both the shot put and discus.

Flegel was a starter on the CCHS football team.

On the girls side, Kasberger started on the soccer team as well as qualifying for state in both cross country and track. The only four-sport athlete nominated, she was also one of the Cowgirls' leading scorers in basketball.

Ackley earned all-league honors in both basketball and softball, while Goehring qualified for the state championships each of her four seasons on the CCHS golf team.

The final two nominees, Ryan and Bates were both all-state in dance, while leading the Cowgirls to a trophy at the state championships.

Four $250 scholarships were awarded, one each to Combee, Sarah Connolly (basketball and tennis), Quire, and Emma Ackley.

Winners of the $500 scholarships were Flegel and Goehring.

In addition to recognizing student athletes, the booster club also selected a Crook County High School coach of the year award, with head track and field coach Ernie Brooks winning the inaugural award.

The goal is for this to become an annual event," Carr said. "We want to expand on it, and we just hope the community will embrace it and continue to support student athletes here at Crook County High School."

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