Parrott, Kasberger named athletes of the year
Competition was so close at this year's Crook County High School Booster Club Awards Banquet that the selection committee wound up giving out even more scholarship money than they had originally planned.
"The final committee that made the decisions met for over two hours, but you know, the last probably 45 minutes was a debate around who do we give the athlete of the year award to because both the male athletes and the female athletes came really close to each other," said Jason Carr, who is the booster club president and was also on the selection committee.
As a result, the committee made the decision to name an athlete of the year and a runner up in both the male and female awards.
This year's female athlete of the year was Gracie Kasberger, who competed in four sports at the varsity level during her four years at CCHS.
Kasberger lettered in soccer, cross country, basketball, and track & field during her career at Crook County High School.
"It was amazing," Kasberger said of receiving the award. "I'm thankful that I got this award."
Kasberger received the $1,500 scholarship despite, or possibly because of, being injured most of this year.
The multi-sport athlete was well on her way to setting a single season scoring record for the CCHS girls soccer team when she suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Instead of abandoning her teammates after the injury, Kasberger continued to come to practice daily and served as the team manager as well as cheering her team on from the sidelines.
Unable to play basketball because of the injury, Kasberger once again chose to cheer on her teammates, serving as manager on the girls basketball team, while continuing to rehab her knee. Finally, midway through the track and field season, Kasberger was cleared to resume competition. In past years, Kasberger competed in four events at the district meet.
With limited conditioning, the senior ran just the 4x400-meter relay at the Intermountain Conference Championships, running leadoff as the Cowgirls won the district championship. The team went on to place seventh at this year's OSAA Class 5A Track & Field Championships, marking a successful end to what could have been a frustrating senior year.
"It was very difficult," Kasberger said of being unable to compete for most of the year. "I think mentally and emotionally was the hardest. Just staying with my team was probably the best. They helped me through everything. I'm glad that my teammates made me feel a part of everything, and I'm glad that they thought that I helped them as much as they helped me."
Caleb Parrott was named the male athlete of the year.
"I'm extremely privileged and proud of the opportunity to be here and get this award," Parrott said. "It's a big honor."
Parrott was a three-sport star for the Cowboys. As a senior, he was named an all-league lineman in football, as well as placing at state in both wrestling and track and field.
Parrott placed third in the state in the heavyweight division at this year's Class 5A state wrestling championships, his third consecutive year finishing on the podium.
Parrott also finished on the podium at the state track& field championships, placing eighth in the discus with a personal record throw of 145-09.
"It felt good," Parrott added. "I put a lot of time in with my coaches, and you never get a chance to say thank you to them, but it's really awesome to see what they really think of you. With all the great athletes out there and the great people that I have come to know through athletics, it's a big honor to receive the award."
The awards were given based on athletic excellence, academics, community service and several other criteria.
Coaches nominated the athletes, who then went through a selection process that involved multiple committees.
Thirteen athletes were finalists for this year's awards.
Faith Wagner was named the female athlete of the year runner-up. Wagner competed in soccer, cross country, and track & field during her four seasons at CCHS.
As a runner-up, she will receive a $750 scholarship.
Wagner is the current CCHS record holder in the girls pole vault and finished third at this year's OSAA Class 5A Track & Field Championships.
"I thought it was nice," Wagner said of the awards banquet. "I was not expecting this big of a turnout. I didn't know how any of this worked, so I was really shocked. I'm grateful that I got this opportunity and that they awarded me this."
The male athlete of the year runner-up is Jason Slawter, who played football, ran cross country, and competed in track and field while at CCHS.
Slawter placed seventh in the javelin at this year's state championships as well as playing defensive back and running back for the CCHS football team.
"I thought it was cool," he said. "It was pretty awesome to hear what my coaches thought of me. I was shocked. I was honored to be recognized. It feels awesome because I've tried so hard to be a team leader, and I never felt like I was able to accomplish everything I wanted, but now that I know what my coaches think, I'm really happy about it."
In addition to recognizing athletes, the booster club also annually names a CCHS coach of the year.
This year's award winner was boys golf coach Zach Lampert, who was awarded $500 as a token of appreciation.
Lampert said that he would probably put the money into the golf program, although he had been instructed to use the money for something fun for himself.
"I had no idea," Lampert said of the award. "I'm honored. Our kids had a really good finish this year and their scores improved a lot, so it's nice to see a little bit of recognition for that. It just shows that the kids worked hard."
The nine other athletes who were nominated for the athlete of the year awards all received $500 scholarships.
Those athletes were Elijah Becker, Hunter Bishop, Marlen Ceja-Prado, Noah Chaney, Mario Hansen, Shane Kessi, Dominic Langley, Kalyn Martinez and Berkley Puckett.
"It was good," said Becker, who played football, wrestled and ran track & field at CCHS. "It felt good to be recognized."
Bishop, who played football, basketball and baseball at CCHS, also was honored to be nominated.
"It feels nice to be recognized after all the hard work that we put in as multi-sport athletes," he said.
Ceja-Prado, who played soccer and tennis during her senior year at CCHS, also played volleyball her freshman year at CCHS.
She expressed surprise at being recognized.
"It was a very nice event," she said. "It's nice to have a ceremony where they talk about you and your coaches explain why you get a reward. I'm honored to be nominated. That my coach chose me out of the whole team, it means a lot."
Chaney ran cross country and played soccer early in his career at CCHS, but chose to concentrate on track & field during his senior year.
Chaney currently holds the school record in both the pole vault and the decathlon. In addition, he finished second at this year's state track championships. He also had the highest grade point average of all the nominees, finishing high school with a GPA above 4.00.
"It felt pretty good to be recognized for academics and athletics," he said.
Like Kasberger, Hansen saw his high school athletic career shortened by injury. After placing in the first three wrestling tournaments of the year, the 220-pounder broke his leg in the Cowboys' fourth tournament, missing the remainder of the season.
Like Kasberger, Hansen continued to come to practice and meets to support his team.
"It was pretty disappointing to miss most of my senior year," he said. "But it was still good to watch my team the rest of the season. It was awesome to be recognized."
Langley was also pleased to be recognized.
"It feels great to be nominated," he said. "I feel really honored to even be a part of this whole thing. So many guys that came up with me got to get some awards, too, so I'm just really proud of them."
Martinez and Puckett, who both played softball, also said that they were pleased to be nominated.
"I was honored to be here," Puckett noted. "It was a fun event."
"I was honored to come here and be nominated," added Martinez.
In addition to the athlete of the year award, seven CCHS athletes were presented with a CCHS blanket for participating in at least 12 sports seasons during their four years at CCHS.
That number was up from just two athletes the previous year.
Those athletes were Kasberger, Langley, Bishop, Miles Chaney (cross country, basketball, and track & field), Eric Gonzalez (football, basketball, wrestling and track & field), Tansy Clark (soccer, basketball, wrestling, tennis) and Heather Ptomey (soccer, basketball, and track & field).
Kessi, who played basketball at CCHS, was the one nominee who was unable to attend the banquet, missing due to a family obligation.
Carr noted that the banquet, which is now in its second year, is seeing remarkable growth.
"It was phenomenal," he said. "I think we had about 95 in attendance last year, and we have to look at the final numbers, but I think we were close to 150 this year. It's pretty big growth, and we also had many more business sponsors this year."
Carr made a special note of recognizing Rosendin Electric, who donated $5,000 to be the chief sponsor this year.
"Rosendin Electric really stepped up to the plate with a $5,000 donation for this year and another $5,000 for next year. It takes the pressure off for next year, and I think that the goal is that as we continue to grow on this and more businesses get involved we will be able to grow the program and give out even more scholarships."
Carr added that the event is being well received by both teachers and coaches at CCHS.
"They love it because it is just another way to recognize the kids," he said. "They are also taking away something valuable in money towards their post-high school career. We gratefully appreciate the generosity of Crook County businesses and that at the end of the day, they are having an impact on the future of CCHS students."