Two Lady Jays will receive special recognition at the upcoming Springfield Sports Commission Awards.
Marshfield's Morgan Green and Ashlyn Grier were included among eight student-athletes to be presented with Inspiration Awards at the ceremony, which also celebrates the 2020-21 high school sports year, to be held Tuesday, June 22 at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds in Springfield.
The Inspiration Award is presented to a select group of those who overcame major health challenges or other tough times and contributed to a high school sports team. Also being presented the award are Pierce City’s Mollie Beeson, Parkview High School’s Lilah Genel, Lebanon’s Bennie Hank Joiner, Reeds Spring’s Victor Kelbaugh, Kickapoo’s Cross Kubik and Joplin’s Camryn Ledford.
Green was leaned on as a starting pitcher for the softball team as a freshman but after being diagnosed with leukemia last July was forced to battle off cancer while missing last season. She eventually returned home and assisted with the baseball team this spring.
Grier, despite suffering a stroke mid-summer, displayed incredible resilience and recovered quickly enough to become a fixture again for Lady Jays volleyball. The senior played 47 sets for the team that went 27-6.
Incredible stories line the other athletes being honored. Beeson plays softball and volleyball despite a prosthetic foot; Kubik, a pitcher, has been diagnosed with cancer twice –– most recently in 2020 –– but was back on the rubber this spring even after undergoing chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant last year.
Altogether, more than 200 student-athletes will enjoy recognition in a total of 32 categories at the event.
From Marshfield, Daylon Kanengieter is among those up for Boys Athlete of the Year. He'll be competing for the distinction alongside John Gholson (Nixa), Treghan Parker (Webb City), Jamen Smith (Buffalo), Hunter Tennison (Ozark) and Case Tucker (Lamar).
Additionally, Kanengieter is in the running for Boys Performance of the Year along with Donovyn Fowler (Joplin), Luke Gall (Carthage), Drew McMillin (Republic), Ty Pinon (Skyline) and Marshall Swadley (Willard).
Also representing the Jays, Brianna Utecht is in the running for Best Girls Track Athlete with Tia Cupp (Sarcoxie), Sydney Johnson (Ozark), Addison Lawrence (College Heights Christian) and Alanza Montez (Carl Junction).
In other spring nominations, Best Bass Fishing (Duo), Gage and Kendall Meadors of Logan-Rogersville are nominated, along with Kyren Hepko and Luke Rasmussen of Seymour and the Diggins pair of Brock Pearce and Preston Trapp.
Competing for Girls Team of the Year will be College Heights Christian Academy’s state championship cross country and track & field teams, along with Lebanon wrestling, Purdy softball, Skyline softball, Springfield Catholic golf, West Plains cross country and Willard volleyball.
In Boys Team of the Year, finalists are El Dorado Springs track & field, Glendale swimming and diving, Hartville High School basketball, Kickapoo basketball, Lamar football, Marionville baseball, Webb City track and field, and Willard baseball.
Finalists for Girls Athlete of the Year are Blue Eye’s Riley Arnold, Skyline’s Justine Barb, Bolivar’s Lexi Berry, New Covenant Academy’s Maggie Moore, El Dorado Springs’ Reese Schaaf and Mount Vernon’s Lacy Stokes.
It was announced near the end of April as part of the revealing of fall and winter sports award finalists that Kanengieter was highlighted in a third category as a nominee for Best Boys Wrestling (Upper Weights). He's in the running with Neosho's Cayden Auch, Carl Junction's Jesse Cassatt, Nixa's John Golson, Neosho's Jeremiah Larson, Ozark's Hunter Tennison and Monett's Ethan Umfleet.
Logan-Rogersville’s Brooke Wagner is in the running for Best Girls Golfer with Lily Allman (McDonald County), Hailey Bryant (Carthage) and the Springfield Catholic trio of Lyla Louderbaugh, Kyleigh Pfitzner and Raegan Zibilski.
Another Lady Wildcat, Halle Miles, is nominated for Best Softball Player with Haidyn Berry (Webb City), Katie Brooks (Bolivar), Madeline McCall (McDonald County), and the Kickapoo threesome of Ellie Facklam, Jayden LaBarge and Chloe Merced.
Rounding out the Rogersville finalists, Maddie Atwood is competing for the distinction of Best in Girls Swimming and Diving with Emma Lacey (Carl Junction), Karissa Metzger (Republic), Chloe Miller (Carl Junction), Ashlyn Moore (Kickapoo) and Maggie Moore (New Covenant Academy).
Marshfield and Logan-Rogersville each had an individual winner at last year's ceremony held in August in Utecht (Girls Track) and Birdie Henderson (Volleyball)