Honors aplenty for Moffat County athletes | CraigDailyPress.com

Honors aplenty for Moffat County athletes

Shandon Hadley named ‘Dude’ Dent winner, Morgan Lawton Outstanding Female Athlete

Only two Moffat County High SchoolMoffat County High School students walked out with trophies, but all six seniors as well as the other Bulldog athletes gathered at the Clarion Inn & Suites Thursday night were examples of athleticism. students walked out with trophies, but all six seniors as well as the other Bulldog athletes gathered at the Clarion Inn & Suites Thursday night were examples of athleticism.

Moffat County High School students walked out with trophies, but all six seniors as well as the other Bulldog athletes gathered at the Clarion Inn & Suites Thursday night were examples of athleticism.

The presentation of the Lewis "Dude" Dent Memorial Award and Outstanding Female Athlete was a night of honors for many as the top two student-athletes of the Class of 2016 were recognized.

Soon-to-be graduates Shandon Hadley and Morgan Lawton received this year's distinctions for their stellar sportsmanship, academic abilities and generally just being commendable representatives of MCHS.

Each of the honored athletes have collected multiple varsity letters in their high school career, each in four separate sports: football, wrestling and golf for Hadley and volleyball, basketball and soccer for Lawton, both ending their time as Bulldogs at the State Track and Field Championships, Hadley in multiple sprints and relays, Lawton throwing discus.

Kip Hafey, who has coached Hadley on the gridiron and in track, spoke about the senior's dedication to his sports as well as being a well-rounded person.

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"He has always been a strong example with his determination and effort both in the classroom and on the field of competition." Hafey said. "I am proud that I can call him a friend. Thank you for all you have meant to this community. You have most definitely made Moffat County proud."

Likewise, Sam McLeod, who had Lawton as a team captain on the basketball court in a season that included league, district and regional titles, said he will greatly miss a player who brought so much potential, delivered consistently and is among his 5-year-old son's favorite people, to the extent the boy wanted her to move into a collection of blankets and pillows he assembled in his bedroom and christened "Fort Morgan."

"They say character is determined by how dogs and young children react to you, and I don't think my son loves me as much as he loves Morgan," McLeod said.

Apart from Lawton's athletic capabilities and high grades, McLeod said her character was her defining quality.

"Character's hard to measure, but what makes her great to me is she never sees the accomplishment of a goal as an ending," he said.

The two will each be continuing on to college this fall, Hadley studying technology and architecture at Colorado State University and Lawton set to major in sports psychology at Harvard University.

All nominees for Dude Dent and Outstanding Female Athlete had coaches introduce them during the banquet.

Tanner Linsacum, head of the MCHS wrestling program, was the designated speaker for Stelios Peroulis, noting he has seen him go above and beyond in every respect in the time has known him, becoming an upstanding young man who has deserved senior honors such as Player of the Year for the 2A Western Slope North League in football, as well as a third-place state finish in wrestling that not only earned his team more points than a championship would but was proof of his refusal to quit when things didn't go his way.

"It's always great when things are going well, but what happens when things don't work so well, how do you adapt, how do you change, how do you improve, how do you learn?" Linsacum asked, stating that Peroulis constantly rose to the occasion with work ethic, willingness to learn, competitive spirit, integrity and leadership.

Dusty Taylor was unable to be in attendance, but his presence was felt with a speech from Moffat County boys basketball coach Eric Hamilton, who told of the nominee's insistence on giving up his starting spot during the 2014-15 season to his older brother, Denton, at one of the last home games.

Hamilton also brought up Taylor's prowess in rodeo, in which he will compete at University of Wyoming this fall, as well as attending the state finals in Lamar this weekend, every bit the classic cowboy according to his hoops coach.

"If good guys wear white hats, 20, 30 years down the road, Dusty Taylor will have a big 10-gallon white hat on, he'll answer, 'yes, sir,' greet you with a handshake, be successful, have a great family, and people will always remember him as a super teammate, friend and cowboy at heart all the way," he said.

Speaking for Allie Dilldine was a coach who had overseen her in both cross country and track, Todd Trapp identifying her as an integral part of cross country's fourth consecutive regional championship and track's second-place trophy at state, as well as being part of MCHS in band, student government, Bear River Young Life and more, as well as being a lifelong swimmer.

"When you're in track and field, you can breathe anytime, and in swimming you can't do that, I've tried," he joked of his recruiting pitch.

Trapp said Dilldine was hard at work nearly year-round as each sport played into the next from fall to winter to spring and even summer.

"When it came to an important competition, you knew Allie was going to be a gamer, compete and put everything out there for her teammates and her team," he said.

The final speaker to the podium before the winners were announced was assistant girls basketball coach Joe Padon, a 2003 Dude Dent recipient, who spoke on behalf of Kayla Pinnt, joking that it would be the only time the track sprinter, a 10-time state champion, would be last.

Besides being someone who broke school track records over and over the past several years and the steals leader of every basketball player in Colorado, male and female, this season, Pinnt has been an example of someone who has never stopped improving after a difficult freshman year and is now on the path to compete in track at CSU.

"Kayla doesn't avoid things she struggles with but rather accepts them, meets them head-on and works on them until they're no longer an obstacle but just another reminder of what she's accomplished," Padon said.

Other awards given out during the evening included the Colorado High School Activities Association Active Scholar for seniors Connor Knez and Hannah Walker, who will receive tickets to a Colorado Rockies game next week, plus be in the running for scholarship money through CHSAA for a minimum 3.0 grade point average and at least two years in sports.

The Four-Year Scholar for those at 3.6 GPA or higher with at least one varsity letter per year went to Hadley, Lawton, Dilldine, Bailey Kurz and Ary Shaffer.

Multiple students of all grade levels claimed the Three-Sport Athlete Award for those with a 3.5 and three or more letters: Hadley, Lawton, Dilldine, Walker, Emily Womble, Trevor Kuhn, Keenan Hildebrandt, Mattie Jo Duzik, Connor Scranton, Kasen Brennise and Sydni Tripp.

In addition to the triple-sport award, junior Eddie Smercina received a special nod for keeping his GPA above 3.5 while lettering in golf, football, basketball, baseball and track and field as the lone five-sport athlete this year.

In addition to the coaches who sang their athletes' praises, Athletic Director Mike Mitchell noted the past school year included 35 All-Conference honors among the Bulldogs, as well as 47 Academic All-State First Team and 20 Academic All-State Honorable Mentions, as well as a handful of All-State athletes, befitting the memory of Dude Dent, whose achievements as an athlete, scholar and fallen soldier were recounted by James Netonthe memory of Dude Dent, whose achievements as an athlete, scholar and fallen soldier were recounted by James Neton..

the memory of Dude Dent, whose achievements as an athlete, scholar and fallen soldier were recounted by James Neton.

It was a keynote address by longtime former MCHS basketball coach Craig Mortensen that largely summed up the theme of the night for Bulldog athletes. The man known as Mort noted the propensity of those in sports to take what they learn and apply it outward to give of themselves, whether in a small way by supporting a teammate or bettering their community.

He concluded by issuing a challenge to the members of MCHS sports, seniors and all.

"Make sure whatever you accomplish in high school athletics is not the pinnacle, the high point of your life," he said. "Go about doing good every day. Thank your parents for supporting you, thank your coaches, thank your teammates and make sure to thank God for giving you the talent and the ability to do what you do."

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.