The end of the school year brings a time to look back at the top high school sports stories and participants of the past nine months, and for us at Preps Utah, it is time to focus on selecting the top athletes, coaches and teams of the year, among other things.
We have ranked the top performers in these areas ourselves, but we also want to hear the voice of the people who follow high school sports all year long. It’s not an exact science, but about 50 percent of our weighted results will come from our rankings, and about 50 percent will come from the input we receive from those who participate in our online voting process.
First up, we are looking for input on our female athlete of the year. We have narrowed our season-long watch list down to seven finalists, though you may also feel free to write someone in if you think we have missed the boat entirely.
As you vote, keep in mind our primary criteria. We love athletes who are at the top of their game in one sport, but this athlete of the year honor is specifically set up for multi-sport athletes, so we are looking for athletes who have excelled at a high achievement level or two, three or even four sports.
A year ago, Sky View’s Lindsey Jensen was our top female athlete after playing a starring role for an undefeated state champion basketball team and a state runner-up volleyball team.
Here are our seven finalists:
Dani Barton (Brighton basketball, volleyball) – Barton is one of the state’s most dominant forces in both of her sports. After playing a huge role as a sophomore for the 2015 state basketball-title winning Bengals, she had a fantastic junior year, earning 5A first-team all-state honors in both volleyball and basketball.
Torri Bills (Wasatch softball, soccer, basketball) – Sometimes the best athletes fly under the radar based on team results in difficult regions. Such was the case for Torri Bills. After earning first-team all-state honors while leading the state in shutouts as the goalkeeper for a Wasp team that reached the 4A state semifinals, the senior three-sport athlete had a strong basketball season before starring once again in her No. 1 sport. Bills hit .493 with 14 doubles for the Wasatch softball team.
Cambrie Hazel (Spanish Fork softball, basketball) – A year ago, Hazel earned Class 4A MVP honors after pitching the Lady Dons to a state softball title in her sophomore season, and she will receive more postseason acclaim this year coming off a 23-2 season and a second straight state championship. She is also an honorable mention all-state performer on the basketball court.
Whittni Orton (Panguitch cross country, volleyball, basketball, track and field) – Talk about an athlete collecting championship hardware, look no further that Panguitch and Whittni Orton, who essentially won six Class 1A state titles. Orton earned first-team all-state honors in volleyball as Panguitch won the state championship. That happened in the fall, when she also claimed the top spot at the 1A state cross country championships. During the winter season, Orton was a first-team all-state basketball player for another title winner, and then she capped her year with individual championships in the 1600 and 3200 meter runs at the state track meet, while she and her Panguitch team also claimed the 1A team title.
Kennedy Redding (Bountiful volleyball, basketball) – It didn’t include as many championships as Orton, but Kennedy Redding absolutely owned the Class 4A fall and winter campaigns, and playing at that level, her results are impressive. Redding led Bountiful to the 4A volleyball state title and was named the 4A MVP in that sport. She also claimed the title of Ms. Basketball after leading the Braves to the state championship in that sport.
Sidney Springer (Delta basketball, volleyball) – Done at the Class 2A level, Springer delivered very similar results to Redding. She was the Class 2A volleyball MVP after leading her team to a state championship and earned first-team honors on the hardwood while leading the Rabbits to that championship.
Sydney White (Lehi softball, volleyball) – After leading Lehi to consecutive softball titles in 2014 and 2015, Sydney White and company came up a couple of games short this time around, but the 2015 5A softball MVP had another special year on the diamond, hitting .423 with 20 extra-base hits while pitching her way to a 9-3 record. White’s state title this school year came on the volleyball court, where the 5A volleyball defensive MVP and her team claimed the championship banner.
Seven great choices that we have attempted to rank on our end. Vote in the poll below and let us know which one you would pick as the top female athlete of this past school year.