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.
The second item on our list on which we are looking for input is our male 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 don’t have a deserving athlete on our list.
This category was particularly difficult this year because injuries among some of our multi-sport stars shortened some seasons, while we had a number of one-sport phenoms who don’t fit our basic criteria, as outlined in the next paragraph. Our list, however, does include seven outstanding athletes who delivered in big situations all year long.
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, Kade Cloward of Bingham was our top male athlete after playing a lead role for a state champion football team and one of the state’s best baseball squads.
Here are our seven finalists for this year:
Julian Blackmon (Layton football, basketball, track and field) – Injuries shorted Blackmon’s football season and even cut into the start of basketball for the three-sport star. Still, he earned first-team all-state honors on the hardwood and he was one of the most explosive big-play football players in the state. Blackmon rounded out his year as the Class 5A state champion in the long jump at the state track and field championships.
Simi Fehoko (Brighton football, basketball, track and field) – Fehoko, who will play football collegiately at Stanford when he returns from his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was the state’s No. 1 playmaker on the gridiron, earning Mr. Football honors as a premiere wideout and defensive back. He was also a leader for a surprisingly good Bengal basketball team and earned Class 5A third-team all-state honors in that sport. Proving his three-sport status, Fehoko also made a splash on the track in the spring, finishing second in the 100 meters at the state track meet.
Darrin Gethers (Summit Academy football, basketball) – A top athlete at a 2A school that had some solid athletic success, Gethers was the Class 2A basketball MVP after leading Summit Academy to the state title in that sport. He was also a Class 2A first-team all-state wide receiver in football.
Jaren Hall (Maple Mountain football, baseball, basketball) – Hall has been one of the state’s most recognized three-sport stars for three years now and he will continue on as a multi-sport guy after serving his mission, as he will play both football and baseball at Brigham Young University. A midseason injury derailed a special football season for Hall in 2015, when he was on his way to a first-team all-state and deep postseason run kind of season until he had to sit out the last four games of the year. He still received honorable mention as an all-state performer as an elite quarterback. He was also honorable mention all-state in basketball before heading off the diamond, where he shows off his five-tool status as a top-tier defensive player in center field and one of the state’s best hitters and base runners.
Simeon Page (Riverton football, wrestling) – One of the fiercest tacklers in the state, Page once again earned first-team all-state honors as a linebacker on the football field. The future Air Force Academy Falcon also won the 5A state championship in wrestling at 220 pounds.
Cooper Smith (Salem Hills football, baseball) – Smith might hold the honor as the state’s most underappreciated football player for the 2015 season. He did receive an honorable mention for Class 4A football as a receiver, but he might have deserved more recognition. During baseball season, he was one of the top producers for a Salem Hills team that was one of the state’s best all year, hitting .458 with five home runs, 10 doubles and 12 stolen bases.
Isaac Tillett (South Summit football, track and field) – A two-time state champion at the 2016 state track and field championhips, Tillett, who won at 200 and 400 meters, also finished second in the 100. He was a also a Class 2A first-team all-state running back on the football field.
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.