TOPEKA — Thomas More Prep-Marian senior Kayla Vitztum and Bishop Miege senior Carter Putz were named the girls and boys athletes of the year to cap Tuesday’s inaugural Best of Kansas Preps high school awards banquet, which drew more than 1,100 people at Kansas Expocentre.
Vitztum was a multi-sport star for TMP-Marian. As a senior Vitztum helped TMP to the 3A state volleyball championship last fall, then led the Monarch basketball team back to the 3A state tournament, where it finished fourth, the third straight trip to the 3A third-place game. She also joined an elite list of TMP basketball players in the 1,000-point club, averaging 17 points and 9 rebounds.
This spring, Vitztum not only led the Monarch girls soccer team to the final eight in 4-1A, but also competed in several Monarch track and field meets, competing in both sports for the second straight year. Among her senior-year honors were all-3A selections by the Kansas Volleyball Association and the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association. She became the Mid-Continent League’s all-time career leader in kills (1,040), with 471 as a senior. She was selected to play in the KVA All-Star game this summer.
Vitztum earned numerous first-team All-3A honors in basketball and was selected to play in the KBCA All-Star game. She is a Newman University volleyball signee.
“Definitely coming from a smaller school you get the opportunity to play a bunch of sports and being able to be on successful teams in every sport— fall, winter and spring — it was just an awesome experience and I’m glad that I can say I did that,″ Vitztum said.
Stepping in to replace All-State quarterback Ryan Willis as an unproven sophomore starter, Putz went on to enjoy the most prolific passing career in Kansas state history. In leading Miege to three Class 4A Division II state titles and a 37-2 record, Putz set state records for career passing yards (9,295), career touchdown passes (124), career completions (515), career completion percentage (71.9 percent) and single-season touchdown passes (50).
Yet for all his accomplishments on the gridiron, the two-time Gatorade Kansas Player of the Year won’t play another down. Instead, he’s headed to Notre Dame to play baseball after a high school career where he was Co-Player of the Year in Class 4A Division I as a senior.
Rossville senior wrestler Isaiah Luellen was honored as the Best of Kansas Preps most inspirational athlete of the year.
A 3-2-1A state champion as a junior, Luellen endured a series of offseason knee surgeries that not only left his senior season in doubt, but his future in the sport period. In fact, doctors told him he might not wrestle again.
As if the physical setbacks weren’t a big enough hurdle, Luellen also dealt with the mental burden of seeing his coach, mentor and friend, Cody Lambotte, battle ALS. Luellen not only fought his way back to the mat, but completed an emotional 23-0 senior season for his second straight 160-pound title.
Athletes of the year were named in all 22 sports sponsored by the Kansas State High School Activities Association, representing 19 high schools.
BEST OF KANSAS PREPS
Boys athlete of the year – Carter Putz, Bishop Miege
Girls athlete of the year – Kayla Vitztum, TMP-Marian
Most inspirational athlete – Isaiah Luellen, Rossville
Boys basketball athlete of the year – Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Bishop Miege
Girls basketball player of the year – Taylor Robertson, McPherson
Boys bowling athlete of the year – Blake Massey, Washburn Rural
Girls bowling athlete of the year – Lauren Lust, Salina South
Boys cross country athlete of the year – Lakelin Conrad, Wichita Collegiate
Girls cross country athlete of the year – Olivia Sovereign, Aquinas
Boys golf athlete of the year – Parker Beal, Washburn Rural
Girls golf athlete of the year – Mia Tovkach, Gardner-Edgerton
Boys soccer athlete of the year – Noah Mabry, Blue Valley West
Girls soccer athlete of the year – Gracely Briley, Blue Valley Southwest
Boys swimming athlete of the year – Zeke Metz, Seaman
Girls swimming athlete of the year – Megan Keil, Derby
Boys tennis athlete of the year – Bruno Serra, Blue Valley West
Girls tennis athlete of the year – Brooklyn Hunter, Hayden
Boys track and field athlete of the year – Michael Hoffer, Shawnee Heights
Girls track and field athlete of the year – McKenzie Wilks, Pittsburg
Baseball athlete of the year – Logan Pittman, Blue Valley
Football athlete of the year – Carter Putz, Bishop Miege
Gymnastics athlete of the year – Sydney Weeks, Olathe Northwest
Softball athlete of the year – Lauren Mills, Seaman
Volleyball athlete of the year – Amanda Desch, Hayden
Wrestling athlete of the year – Marcus Robinson, Arkansas City