Multi-sports standouts Caleb Grill, of Maize, and Carly Bachelor, of Washburn Rural, garnered top honors Thursday night at the second annual Best of Kansas Preps awards banquet, presented by The Topeka Capital-Journal and GateHouse Kansas and sponsored by Envista Credit Union and University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus.
Grill was named male athlete of the year after earning All-State recognition in football and basketball and also capturing a state title in track and field. The Iowa State basketball signee averaged 18.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists while leading the Eagles to a third-place finish in Class 5A and a program-best 24-1 record. He set five school records, including 3-pointers made in a single season with 59, and finished with 173 career 3s and 1,178 points, earning Top Five All-State honors.
Grill also was a Top 11 All-State pick in football after throwing for 3,122 yards and 36 touchdowns as a senior and 5,471 yards and 53 TDs for his career. He is only the fifth male since 1990 to earn Top Five and Top 11 recognition in the same year from The Capital-Journal. He capped his stellar senior year by winning the Class 5A state high jump with a 6-foot-8 clearance, then winning the MVP award for the West in the Kansas Shrine Bowl after throwing two touchdown passes in a 26-7 victory.
Bachelor was honored as the top female athlete after leading Rural to the Class 6A state basketball championship, a runner-up showing in state soccer and a fourth-place finish in volleyball. The Creighton basketball signee was named Miss Kansas Basketball by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association after averaging 19.4 points and 9.5 rebounds as a senior. She finished her career as the Junior Blues' career scoring leader (1,776 points) and rebounder (953).
Bachelor also earned co-defensive player of the year honors in 6A soccer, ranking second on the team in scoring with 11 goals from her defender position. She was the co-Class 6A player of the year in volleyball after recording 437 kills and 326 digs while serving 97.8 percent.
Bachelor was named the city and Centennial League player of the year in all three sports, earning basketball player of the year honors in the league three straight years.
The Manhattan boys soccer team earned most inspirational honors after matching the school record with 18 wins and finishing runner-up in Class 6A, all while head coach Frank Alonso battled stage IV pancreatic cancer. Alonso, who spent 19 years with the program and 13 as head coach, eventually lost his battle on Nov. 4, one day after the Indians dropped a 3-0 decision to Olathe East in the 6A state championship game.
Inspired by their coach's battle and adopting the season-long motto of "You'll Never Walk Alone," the Indians reeled off 14 consecutive wins to reach the title match. That run included a thrilling penalty-kicks victory against Shawnee Mission East in the state semifinals.
Alonso was posthumously named Class 6A coach of the year.
Other area athletes honored Thursday night during the ceremony at Stormont Vail Events Center included Hayden's Brooklyn Hunter, the four-time state tennis champion and girls tennis athlete of the year; Chapman's Taylor Briggs, girls cross country athlete of the year; Free State's Talia Gay, gymnastics athlete of the year; and Free State's Tatum Clopton, softball athlete of the year.
The complete list of winners is as follows:
• Most inspirational award — Manhattan High School boys soccer team
• Female athlete of the year — Carly Bachelor, Washburn Rural High School
• Male athlete of the year — Caleb Grill, Maize High School
• Baseball athlete of the year — Tanner Leslie, Campus High School
• Boys basketball athlete of the year — Christian Braun, Blue Valley Northwest High School
• Girls basketball athlete of the year — Emily Ryan, Central Plains High School
• Boys bowling athlete of the year — Gabriel Alvarez, Wichita Northwest High School
• Girls bowling athlete of the year — Kaylee Back, Bishop Carroll High School
• Boys cross country athlete of the year — Hadley Splechter, Yates Center High School
• Girls cross country athlete of the year — Taylor Briggs, Chapman High School
• Football athlete of the year — Graham Mertz, Blue Valley North High School
• Boys golf athlete of the year — Sion Audrain, Garden City High School
• Girls golf athlete of the year — Hanna Hawks, Wichita Trinity Academy
• Gymnastics athlete of the year — Talia Gay, Free State High School
• Boys soccer athlete of the year — Ethan Martinez, Bishop Miege High School
• Girls soccer athlete of the year — Marissa Popoola, Blue Valley West High School
• Softball athlete of the year — Tatum Clopton, Free State High School
• Boys swimming athlete of the year — Ben Patton, Wichita Trinity Academy
• Girls swimming athlete of the year — Sydney Schmidt, Bishop Carroll High School
• Boys tennis athlete of the year — Nam Pham, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School
• Girls tennis athlete of the year — Brooklyn Hunter, Hayden High School
• Boys track and field athlete of the year — Marshall Faurot, Scott City High School
• Girls track and field athlete of the year — Kendra Wait, Gardner-Edgerton High School
• Volleyball athlete of the year — Anna Dixon, Louisburg High School
• Wrestling athlete of the year — Dayton Porsch, Hoxie High School