BHS class of 2011 was loaded with athletic talent
Off the Rim column
When I started choosing the Baldwin High School senior athletes of the year last spring, the hard choices this year were inevitable.
The chosen athletes a year ago were fairly obvious in a smaller class. Overall, it wasn’t filled with as many gifted athletes as the 2011 class. However, Josh Hanson and Connor Twombly were very deserving of their honor. They worked hard all four years and their success in sports and academics were two products of their work ethic.
I remember having a conversation with my former boss, Jeff Myrick, about this year’s athletes. We were tossing out names and who might, hypothetically, be chosen this year.
There was no doubt in my mind the choice would be tough. I knew I might catch some flack for who I chose, but I had to stick with my guns and defend the honorees.
In the end, I chose Ramie Burkhart and Tony Weiss. Burkhart seemed the obvious choice as she was an all-league and all-area athlete in three sports. She led the volleyball and basketball team, while also contributing to two state championship track and field teams.
Weiss was the difficult one. Well, choosing the male athlete was very hard. Weiss is deserving of the honor, as he’s finished in the top four at state cross country all four years and won five state track medals. His only knock was an injury-plagued track season. If healthy, he surely would earned all-state honor again.
It was the level of competition that they faced which made the decisions difficult. On the girls’ side, other choices could have been Allison Howard, Heather Karlin and Lyndsey Lober. Howard was the second-leading scorer on the basketball team for the previous two seasons. She also became the first BHS thrower to earn all-state honors four years.
Lober excelled in volleyball and track. She had a good junior season in volleyball, but didn’t play much as a senior because she was recovering from a knee injury. That injury ended her junior track year, which could have ended promising. She came back and had a successful senior year of track and helped the Bulldogs win the team title.
Last, but certainly, not least is Karlin. All she did was help the BHS girls’ cross country team win four consecutive state championships. She was never the lead runner, but she always contributed in the middle of the pack. She became the first BHS girl to win four team titles.
On the boys’ side, it was a bit more complicated. Besides Weiss, there were three other candidates that stood out from the rest, but the rest included some kids who competed in several sports and might be the best overall athletes of the group. Those include Kyle Pattrick and Carson Barnes.
The top three runners-up for the athlete of the year were Jesse Austin, Josh Hoffman and Justin Vander Tuig. Austin wanted to be an all-state athlete in three sports as a senior and he came close. He was all-state in football and finished third in shot put. He fell short in wrestling, but he qualified and won a match at the state tournament. He had a good career and maybe the best senior year of any Bulldog.
Hoffman began his year by running over and around people on the football field. He earned all-state, all-league and all-area honors. He had a very good baseball season when healthy. Like Weiss, it wasn’t the way he wanted his final season to end. Hoffman hit well at the plate and played well in the field. He also made it to state track as a junior and earned a state medal.
Vander Tuig once again led the BHS basketball team in scoring for the second straight season. He also led the Bulldogs in rebounding. He was the focal point of every opposing defense. He also had a solid baseball season and career for the Bulldogs, which included a no-hitter this season against Eudora.
There could be no wrong choice for the 2011 athletes of the year. All of these Bulldogs gave their blood, sweat and tears to the BHS programs for four years. For that, I salute you class of 2011. It’s been fun watching you play sports and getting to know you as people.
Best of luck in the future.