Jeni Hendricks excelled beautifully at everything she did during her four years at Pawhuska High School while Zak Stone proved himself beastly in athletic competitions on the court, in the field or over the track.
Last Thursday evening, the dynamically-different duo was recognized as PHS’s outstanding female and male athletes of 2012-13 during the Pawhuska Huskies All-Sports Banquet. Hendricks and Stone were among dozens of local student/athletes to be honored during the awards ceremonies.
Well over a hundred persons attended the annual event, which was held at Pawhuska Elk’s Lodge. Serving as master of ceremonies was Bob Roberts, a four-sport athlete from PHS in the the mid-1950s who went on to excel at the college level.
Guest speaker for the banquet was another former Huskie standout, Mike Corley. A 1985 Pawhuska High grad, Corley said he learned many life lessons while competing on the area’s playing fields.
"That’s’s been nearly 30 years," he reminisced. "The time has flown by."
Corley currently is a rising star in Oklahoma prep football coaching circles, having helped lead Carl Albert High School to four state championships in the past decade. He said that the same values and principles which guide young athletes can take them on to success later in their lives.
"I guarantee you’ll draw on a lot of things that you’ve learned in your athletic endeavors," he told the Huskie gathering.
The former PHS star also spoke of his recent battle with cancer and mentioned the support he received from family members who still reside here, as well as his former PHS coaches and teammates. Corley reflected about his recovery as he told how his football team in Midwest City emerged from a 1-5 start to win last year’s Class 5A state title.
A 1-5 opening to the season also did not keep the Pawhuska Huskies from reaching the 2A grid playoffs in 2012. During the awards presentations Thursday, athletes from that squad were honored for their efforts. Recipient of the revered Ormand Beach Memorial Award was senior football standout Jake Spicer, who — by tradition — was selected for the honor by vote of his Huskie teammates.
The football award is named for the former Pawhuskan who went on to become a college All-America for the Kansas Jayhawks and then an all-pro player in Canada before dying in a 1933 industrial accident. Among the past recipients of the Ormand Beach trophy are Corley and Roberts, a 1957 winner who also saw two of his sons receive the honor.
The latest high school sports season concluded recently with a pair of state championships from hard-working senior members of the PHS track-and-field unit, which capped the spring campaign on a high note for the Huskies.
Hendricks was a veteran member of the Pawhuska cheerleading squad, which this year attained an Academic All-State designation. She also earned special recognition as a state qualifier in tennis. In addition, Hendricks was the "Offensive Player of the Year" for the Lady Huskie soccer team.
The PHS soccer squad narrowly missed returning to the state tourney through a pair of one-point defeats late in the season. Along with veteran senior leadership, the Lady Huskies had a strong group of younger players — many of whom also provided key elements to the PHS girls’ track team that qualified a dozen for the state meet.
Stone ended his incredible track-and-field season by winning a Class 3A state championship in high jump. He also was state runner-up in the long jump (which he lost by a mere 1/4 of an inch) and pole vault — where he finished second to his senior Huskie teammate, Timmy Wann.
Stone also earned a fourth-place finish at state for the 300-meter hurdles, an event in which he competed for the first time only one week earlier when he won a regional gold medal. Stone also was a two-year starter for the Pawhuska Huskies basketball team, for which he was named as "Defensive Player of the Year."
State champions Wann and Stone shared the top track-and-field award for the Huskies. In addition, Wann was recipient of the prestigious "Max Shuck Award" for outstanding contributions to the Pawhuska basketball program.
Trey Rulo, another PHS basketball standout,was named as "Offensive Player of the Year" for the Huskies. Last year, after transferring to another school for two years, Rulo returned to Pawhuska for his senior season and emerged as the team’s spiritual leader and top scorer.
In presenting the awards Thursday, Huskie hoops coach Monty Unruh noted that Rulo had lost well over 100 pounds during his two years away. He said the return of Rulo provided an emotional spark that helped propel the squad to a successful season.
The Lady Huskie basketball program also saw major improvement last year with an influx of numerous young players. At the banquet, coach Austin Minshall pointed to strong senior leadership by the two Lady Huskie seniors — Maloree Thompson and Tara Malaske — as holding a key for the season. Malaske won the award as top defensive player. Thompson shared top offensive player honors with freshman Keylee Kirk and also garnered the prestigious Oren Terrill Award.
Later this week, as a valedictorian of her senior class, Hendricks will again be joined on a different Pawhuska stage by several other honored student athletes/cheerleaders.
Hunter Sutherland, the PHS salutatorian, was named as the outstanding female athlete in track (she qualified for state in relays and hurdles) and as "Most Valuable Player" and top defender for the soccer squad. In addition to being a multi-year cheerleader, Sutherland also had a well-rounded PHS career in which she even won matches as a sophomore with the Huskie wrestling squad.
Another PHS cheerleader, Erin Long, was named as the top Lady Huskie golfer at the banquet. Co-valedictorian Arin Anthony received special recognition Thursday as an active member of the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter. Another senior, Shelby Milleson, earned the prestigious "Huskie Pride Award."
Two other highly-significant awards presented Thursday were the "Bill Palmer Memorial Award" (accepted by Gary Wehl on behalf of the Pawhuska Elks Lodge) and the "Jearl Holt Memorial Award," which was presented to Mark Hellmer.
Following is a complete listing of Pawhuska’s all-sports honorees (they are seniors unless otherwise noted).
Football: Ormand Beach Award — Jake Spicer; Most-valuable player — Eddie Oyster; Top running back — Zak Wilson; Receiver/Defensive back — junior Zalin Edwards, junior; Lineman of the year — Jake Spicer; Most improved player — junior Taylor Priest.
(In presenting awards to Spicer, coach James Factor said the senior "played every play with all his heart." The successful longtime coach concluded his comments by adding: "I’ve coached a lot of great players, but I haven’t coached many guys like Jake Spicer.")
Softball: Top offensive player — Whitney Hutson; Defensive player of the year — Haylee Wilson. Another senior honoree, Tara Malaske, was a three-year standout who missed out on her senior season. PHS coach Olivia Chronister announced at the banquet that Malaske had recently earned a scholarship to Coffeyville (Kan.) Junior College where she will resume her softball-playing career.
Girls basketball: Oren Terrill Excellence Award — Maloree Thompson; Co-offensive players — Thompson and freshman Keylee Kirk; Top defensive player — sophomore Andie Sweeden; Sixth player — freshman Kaylee Hambright; 4D versatility — junior Haley Malaske; Comeback player — sophomore Skyla Graham; Outstanding team service — sophomore Sadie Sellers. Coach Minshall, who brought his entire team up on stage, said the Lady Huskies’ record did not reflect the type season it actually had and he predicted that successful days lie ahead.
Wrestling: Smoot Chambers Memorial Award — Trent Hollister; Outstanding wrestler — Tucker Griffin; Most improved — Joe Pratt. Coach Wade Rogers squad was beset by a variety of ailments that decimated his lineup. Nonetheless, the Huskies battled competitively and sent two representative (juniors Taylor Priest and Zalin Edwards) to State.
Baseball: Co-offensive players — Dallas McCarty and Eddie Oyster; Top defensive player — Zak Wilson; Hustle Award — Trent Hollister. Coach Brian Edwards said seniors McCarty and Oyster provided the Huskie offense with an experienced and lethal back-to-back batting combination. He said the award garnered by Hollister "speaks for itself about the way he played the game."
Soccer: Most improved player — Stormee Avallone; Most Valuable Player — junior Morgan Waddle. Coach Gary Hughes commented that offensive player of the year Hendricks always "seemed to be in the right place at the right time." The Lady Huskies as a team played up to every challenge and never failed to give its total effort.
Golf: Coach Unruh said he cannot help wondering how good his players could be if they only had a nearby course on which to practice. He said a solid core of dedicate players will return next year.
Track and field: Outstanding Lady Huskie — freshman Haley Mauser (a fourth-place finisher in the state high jump competition). Coach Mark Frye spoke highly of the commitment and dedication shown by members of his Lady Huskie team, especially by the runners who stepped forward and helped all four relay squads reach the state meet after injuries a week before the regional nearly dashed those hopes.