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home : sports : columns   April 29, 2016

2/4/2014 10:35:00 AM
Chlum: Who's it going to be?

Kevin Chlum
Sports Editor

In a couple weeks, the NewsTribune conference room will resemble an NFL team’s draft war room for a few days.

Sports writers Jared Bell and Brandon LaChance and I will gather in the room and write a bunch of names on the white board along with statistics and accomplishments.

We’ll be deciding all of the NewsTribune’s winter awards and all-area teams.

Based on our observations throughout the season and conversations we’ve had in the office, we won’t have many easy decisions.

There have been many area athletes who stood out in their respective sports this season.

In boys basketball, Ottawa senior John Carroll has excelled in many aspects of the game — including leading the area in scoring — while guiding the Pirates to a 17-1 record.

Then there’s fellow Carroll — James of Mendota — who himself has been a dominant scorer.

And the list goes on — La Salle-Peru senior Noah Lamboley, Putnam County senior Harold Fay, Henry senior Nathan Helle and Bureau Valley junior Parker Neuhalfen are all viable candidates as are a few others.

Don’t forget we also have to consider top coaches for our Coach of the Year Award and there are plenty for that as well.

How do we decide between Ottawa’s Mark Cooper, Putnam County’s Josh Nauman, Henry’s Steve Self or Bureau Valley’s Jason Marquis?

In girls basketball, the decision for Player of the Year is even more difficult as there’s no clear favorite like John Carroll on the boys side.

There’s reigning Player of the Year Tessa Holland, who’s having another great season at Fieldcrest.

But is she even having the best season on her own team? It could be senior teammate Haley Ruestman.

Also on the list of candidates are Mendota junior Amy Devitt, Putnam County senior Daniela Pavlovich and Ottawa senior Cassidy Rice was a prime candidate before her season was unfortunately cut short when she was injured in a car accident.

As far as girls coaches, Putnam County’s James Barnett and Mendota’s Kevin Geldon have led their teams to dominant seasons.

But then there’s Ottawa’s Mike Cooper, who has guided the Lady Pirates to a semi-surprising 17-2 record after they lost a bunch of talent to graduation.

And then there’s La Salle-Peru coach Hollis Vickery, who has led the Lady Cavaliers to their highest win total in over a decade with a lineup full of sophomores and juniors.

I’m anticipating we’ll be in that conference room for many hours. We may have to bring in plenty of pop and pizza to get us through.

But area players and coaches can make it easier on us.

With the regular season coming to a close and the postseason just around the corner, now is the time to shine.

Helping a team clinch a conference championship or leading a team to a regional plaque — or beyond — goes a long way in our meeting room.

So who’s going to step up and grab those awards?

We’ll find out soon.

Kevin Chlum is the NewsTribune Sports Editor. He can be reached at 220-6939, or at Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.

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