Moffat County athletes honored for excellence, versatility at Dude Dent awards

Moffat County seniors Cort Murphy and Cayden King hold up the trophies for the Lewis "Dude" Dent Memorial Award and Outstanding Female Athlete Award as part of the athletic awards ceremony Monday at Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

Though there can be only one pair of trophy recipients at the end of each school year, Moffat County High School’s annual awards ceremony showed just how much talent has been on display for the past four years.

The Dude Dent Memorial athletic awards ceremony took place Monday at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion, honoring the best local student-athletes. Winning the top awards were soon-to-be-graduates Cort Murphy and Cayden King, taking the Lewis “Dude” Dent Memorial Award and Outstanding Female Athlete, respectively.

The Dude Dent award is named after the renowned multi-sport athlete who was a leader for Craig High School in football, basketball, and track and field. He graduated in 1939 and attained greater success at Colorado A&M before he was killed in action in Europe in 1944 during World War II.

Together, King and Murphy have competed in each of Dude Dent’s sports — Murphy in football, King in track, and both in hoops — as well as being key components of Bulldog volleyball (King) and baseball (Murphy).

Speaking on behalf of King — who is also her graduating class’s valedictorian — at the ceremony, track coach Kip Hafey spoke of King’s “get-up,” or an ability to fight through adversity, such as the ACL injury that nearly shut down her athletic career during her junior year.

“When the chips are down, you can always count on Cayden to get up,” Hafey said. “Cayden, thank you for always bringing your best in everything you do. You didn’t just bring your best when you were on top, but you brought your best even when you were down and had to get back up. That’s what makes you a winner in my book.”

Accepting the award, King thanked family, friends and athletic personnel at the school who have helped her the past four years.

“Thank you for the memories, thank you for experiences, thank you for the journey,” she said.

MoCo boys basketball coach Mark Carlson spoke of Murphy’s knack for doing whatever it takes to help teammates or family, which Carlson has seen in him over the past decade coaching him in numerous sports.

“Cort’s always been the same: passionate, dedicated, hardworking, and selfless,” Carlson said. “Ever since Cort was little, he’s always been one of the best players on all the teams he’s ever played on and has always been a natural leader. He leads through his continuous hard work, preparation and his love for competition.”

After his name was announced, Murphy spoke of how he plans to continue to prove himself worthy of the honor and to the people who have helped him along the way.

“Your unwavering love, support and belief in me have been the key to my success,” he said. “You have always been there cheering me on, celebrating my victories and picking me up in defeat. I am forever grateful for those sacrifices you have made. This award is as much yours as it is mine.”

Both award winners are planning to continue in sports at college. King signed her letter of intent last fall to play basketball for Colorado Mesa University, where she will pursue a degree in chemistry. Earlier this spring, Murphy committed to the Chadron State College football team with plans to major in either wildlife or construction management.

During Monday’s ceremony, King and Murphy also received MCHS’s Three-Sport Athlete Award — requiring a 3.5 grade-point average and three varsity letters in the current school year — which also went to Lizzy LeWarne, Brook Wheeler, Hudson Jones and Boden Reidhead.

The Four-Year Scholar Award — 3.6 cumulative GPA and one varsity letter every year — went to King, Murphy, Catcher Jackson, Johnny Lopez, Billy Lawton, Sadie Smilanich, Ian Trevenen and Michael Voloshin.

Juniors Hudson Jones and Brook Wheeler also won CHSAA Active Scholar Award for a GPA of at least 3.5 and competing in two or more sports across the past three years.

King and Murphy were only two of the six Dude Dent short-listed nominees, including fellow seniors Alexis Jones, LeWarne, Lopez and Ian Trevenen.

Todd Trapp spoke for Trevenen as a dedicated runner who’s qualified for state in both cross country and track three times, exemplifying the XC program’s Lead Dog Award he received this past fall.

“It represents leadership, effort, attitude and dedication,” Trapp said. “Ian could be awarded this award in whatever he does. The effort that he shows as an athlete is always his best.”

Trapp also spoke for Alexis Jones as a multi-year state track competitor — most recently part of a sixth-place 4×200-meter relay group — as well as being a strong volleyball player, attached to a plethora of student groups and the class salutatorian. He highlighted a school food drive as one of the best examples of her personality.

“This one sticks out to me because it shows how much Alexis cares about other people,” he said. “The trait of selflessness will serve her well as she plans to continue helping and caring for others in her career goal as a nurse-practitioner.”

Speaking for Lopez was football coach Nick Colgate, who commended the athlete for being a reliable teammate on the gridiron and the basketball court.

“Johnny is a huge reason why our football program has done so well the past four years, and he’s also been an outstanding role model around the school,” Colgate said. “Johnny is a humble individual who doesn’t desire individual honors or validation of his success but deserves to be recognized for his athletic and academic accomplishments.”

Former hoops coach Joe Padon was the selected speaker for LeWarne, who set the school record for rebounds in a single season. Padon, a Dude Dent winner 20 years prior, said that particular statistic speaks volumes about LeWarne, who missed much of her freshman season with a stress fracture in her foot.

“The beauty of rebounding is it extends far beyond the realm of basketball,” Padon said. “It’s a metaphor for life itself. It’s a second chance at a missed opportunity. It’s not how many times she fell but how many times she truly rebounded. For Lizzy, setbacks are nothing more than an opportunity for a comeback.”

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