The National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) today announced its selections as National High School Senior Athletes of the Year for 2011.
It is the 12th year the NHSCA has honored these achievers in the high school athletic community nationwide. This year’s recipients, selected in a total of 20 boys and girls sports, are from 13 different states. Oklahoma topped all states with three selections. Five states had two athletes selected – Illinois, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia – with seven other states claiming one honoree each.
While these athletes represent a multitude of different backgrounds, they exhibit a common theme: a strong dedication to developing their skills and preparing themselves to become the productive leaders of tomorrow.
“The 20 young men and women we are honoring today represent the thousands of success stories produced in high school athletics,” NHSCA executive director Bob Ferraro Jr. said. “They have worked extremely hard to develop their skills and have become not just great athletes, but outstanding role models as well, and we are proud to be honoring them.”
Following are the NHSCA’s selections as National High School Senior Athletes of the Year.
Football -- Johnny Manziel
Tivy High School, Kerrville, Texas
Manziel is one of the greatest playmakers in the hallowed history of Texas high school football. The dual-threat 6-foot-1, 195-pounder was the only quarterback to be named a Parade All-American after completing 520 of 819 passes (63.5 percent) for 7,626 yards and 76 touchdowns, rushing 531 times for 4,045 yards and 77 touchdowns and catching 30 passes for 582 yards and another five touchdowns in three years as a starter. As a senior, Manziel led the Fighting Antlers to a 10-2 record, completing 228 of 347 passes for 3,609 yards and 45 touchdowns, throwing just five interceptions, and rushing for 1,674 yards, a 9.8 average and 30 scores. That performance earned him the Associated Press Sports Editors Texas Player of the Year award and Offensive Player of the Year honors from The San Antonio Express-News. In a come-from-behind 39-34 victory over San Antonio Madison High Sept. 3, Manziel threw a state-record 75 passes, completing 41 for 503 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions, and was nominated for NHSCA Athlete of the Month honors. The Texas A&M University football commitment, who has already enrolled after graduating from high school after the fall semester, also batted .412 as a sophomore and .416 as a junior as his baseball team’s shortstop and is an 8-handicap golfer.
Baseball – Dylan Bundy
Owasso High School, Owasso, Oklahoma
The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder is projected as a pitcher as a professional, but the switch-hitting Bundy was named Second-Team All-America by Baseball America as a junior at two positions: utility player and pitcher. The right-handed hurler posted a record of 11-1 as a junior with a 1.58 ERA. In 80 innings, he struck out 164, while walking just 20 and allowing 41 hits. He also batted .442 with 16 doubles and seven home runs, driving in 51 runs and scoring 50. This spring, Bundy, who was clocked at 100 miles per hour four times in one start alone, has exceeded those numbers and led Owasso, the 6A state champions three straight seasons from 2007-09, to a No. 1 national ranking by several publications and the state title game. Through May 6, Bundy was 10-0 with a 0.22 ERA, with 147 strikeouts and just five walks, 18 hits and two earned runs allowed in 64 innings. A workout warrior who squats 500 pounds and leg-presses 1,200 pounds, Bundy has signed with the University of Texas, but is projected to be selected in the top half of the first round in the upcoming Major League draft. His brother, Bobby, was an eighth-round selection of the Baltimore Orioles in 2008 and is progressing through their system.
Softball – Andrea DiPrima
Buffalo Grove High School, Buffalo Grove, Illinois
A rare junior to be awarded First-Team All-America honors by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association in 2010, DiPrima, an outfielder, holds virtually every school season and career offensive record. Last year, DiPrima batted .583 with 10 home runs, 43 RBIs and 67 hits – all school season records – and also had 16 doubles, a slugging percentage of 1.035 and 33 runs scored. As a sophomore, DiPrima batted .542 and set another school record with 23 doubles, recording 65 hits, and she batted .459 as a freshman with 15 doubles, 50 hits and 29 RBIs. Through her junior year, she owned career records for batting average (.529), hits (182), doubles (54), home runs (13), extra-base hits (77) and runs batted in (95). She had 25 hits through her team’s first 18 games this year. A four-year starter at guard on the Bison basketball team, DiPrima scored 1,027 points in her career and played on a state tournament team as a freshman. Also an outstanding student, DiPrima, who ranks in the top 3 percent of her class with a 5.28 GPA (of 5.0), will attend Northwestern University.
Volleyball – Courtney Van Groningen
Sterling High School, Sterling, Nebraska
A three-sport standout, Van Groningen became one of the state’s most feared outside hitters despite standing just 5-foot-4. Van Groningen set an all-class state record with 50 kills in a match as a sophomore, and this year, she broke her own Class D-2 state record with 642 kills as she led Sterling, one of the state’s smallest high schools with an enrollment of only 65 students, to a 30-3 record and the state title match. Though Sterling lost that match in five sets, Van Groningen racked up 30 kills, six blocks, 32 digs and three aces. She also recorded 40 kills in the Lady Jets’ semifinal win, was named the captain of the D-2 All-Tournament Team and was recognized as the NHSCA/GTM Sportswear Athlete of the Month for December. She also holds the all-class state record for career digs (1,907) and the D-2 record for career kills (1,901). Van Groningen was a four-year starter at shooting guard for the Lady Jets basketball team, averaging 15 points per game as a senior and scoring 1,127 career points. She also doubled up at the state track and field meet last spring, winning the Class D 100 and 300 hurdles crowns. She is favored to repeat in both events this spring and also is a contender in the 100-meter dash. Van Groningen is signed to play volleyball at Wayne State University.
Field Hockey - Maxine Fluharty
Sussex Technical High School, Georgetown, Delaware
A two-time National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) First Team All-American, Fluharty starred on both the Sussex Tech field hockey and lacrosse teams. She led the Ravens to state field hockey championships in 2009 and 2010, and was the state’s leading scorer with 40 goals and 24 assists as a senior. Fluharty led the team in scoring and was named the state’s Player of the Year in both seasons. She scored 120 goals and had 61 assists in her career. A four-time All-Henlopen Conference selection and a three-time First Team All-State selection in both field hockey and lacrosse, Fluharty scored 270 lacrosse goals and was coached in that sport by her mother, Kathleen Fluharty. Maxine Fluharty played on the USA Under-21 field hockey team that toured Ireland and Germany in March, scoring a pair of goals in the series. Also a NFHCA High School National Academic Team selection in 2010, she will play field hockey at the University of Maryland.
Wrestling - Blake Roulo
Matoaca High School, Ettrick, Virginia
In April, Roulo made NHSCA history by becoming the second wrestler to become a four-time National High School champion. His takedown nine seconds into overtime gave him a 3-1 victory in the 140-pound championship match and the National Seniors championship, to go along with titles in the National Juniors, the National Sophomores and the National Freshman Championships the previous three years. He joins Tyler Beckwith of Greene (N.Y.) High, who accomplished the feat last year and also earned NHSCA National Senior Athlete of the Year honors. The title was a record seventh for Roulo in a NHSCA national event. The Group 3A state champion at 140 pounds as a junior, Roulo was the state runnerup at 145 as a sophomore and third in state at 135 as a freshman. He finished 37-3 and was the Central Region champion at 145 this year, and he posted a career record of 185-14. He will attend the University of Buffalo.
Boys Basketball -- Austin Rivers
Winter Park High School, Winter Park, Florida
The 6-foot-4 point guard led Winter Park to its second consecutive 6A state title, averaging 28.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2 assists per game. The Duke University commitment scored 2,957 points in his career. His biggest games as a senior included a 46-point performance against Montverde Academy and a 38-point outing against highly-ranked Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick High. Named the Morgan Wootten Player of the Year by McDonald’s, Rivers had 14 points, five rebounds and four assists in the McDonald’s All-American Game. A four-time First Team All-State selection, Rivers was named the Naismith High School Player of the Year, and Player of the Year by Parade and USA Today. He also averaged 20.2 points and 2 steals per game to lead the USA Basketball Under-19 National Team that won the FIBA Americas World Championship in 2010. The son of Boston Celtics head coach Glenn “Doc” Rivers, Austin Rivers will become the third collegiate athlete in his family next year. His brother, Jeremiah, was a senior starter at Indiana University this season and his sister, Callie, is a standout volleyball player at the University of Florida.
Girls Basketball -- Elizabeth Williams
Princess Anne High School, Virginia Beach, Virginia
The 6-foot-3 forward was named the girls Morgan Wootten Player of the Year by McDonald’s, and she sparkled in the McDonald’s All-American Game. The Duke University signee scored a game-record 23 points in just 19 minutes, shooting 10-of-18 from the field, and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds, including seven offensive boards. She added two blocks as she led the East squad to a 78-66 victory over the West, earning Most Valuable Player honors. She also was named a Parade All-American and a First Team All-American by USA Today. Williams concluded her high school career with a 19-point, 19-rebound, nine-block title-game performance, and led Princess Anne to a 31-1 record, a 24-game winning streak to close the season and a second consecutive Group 3A state title. That performance also earned her a nomination for NHSCA Athlete of the Month honors. Williams averaged 18.9 points, 11.4 rebounds and 5.1 blocks as a senior, and in her career, she scored 1,628 points and grabbed 1,205 rebounds. She was a member of the USA Basketball Women’s Under-17 National Team that won a world title last summer, averaging 13.5 points and 7.5 rebounds, while shooting 61.8 percent from the field.
Boys Cross Country -- Lukas Verzbicas
Carl Sandburg High School, Orland Park, Illinois
The 6-foot Verzbicas built a legendary resume in just three years. He won three 3A state championships, coming within five seconds of the legendary Craig Virgin’s 38-year-old state record last fall. After his high-school season concluded, Verzbicas became the first boy to win the Nike Cross Nationals and the Foot Locker Nationals in the same year. In repeating as the Foot Locker Nationals champion, Verzbicas won the race in 14:59. In 2009, Verzbicas became the first sophomore to win the race in its then 31-year history. The last repeat Foot Locker Nationals winner, Dathan Ritzenhein (1999-2000) of Santa Rosa (Calif.) Montgomery High, was named the NHSCA Senior Athlete of the Year in 2001. That performance earned Verzbicas Gatorade National Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year honors for the second consecutive year. He also was the 2009 Junior Duathlon World Champion. Indoors this year, he posted the No. 2 all-time mark in the 3,000 (8:07.54) and the No. 3 all-time marks in the 1,500 (3:47.60) and the 1,600 (4:03.88). A native of Lithuania who came to the United States at the age of nine, Verzbicas, who owns a 3.25 GPA, will graduate from Carl Sandburg this year in just three years. He will attend the University of Oregon.
Girls Cross Country – Aisling Cuffe
Cornwall Central High School, Cornwall, New York
The 5-foot-4 Cuffe was named the Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year after posting an unbeaten senior season and racing to the title at the Foot Locker Nationals in a time of 16:53. Her victory margin of 34 seconds was the third largest in the meet’s 32-year history. Cuffe captured her second Class A state title and also repeated as the all-class New York Federation champion. She set course records in both Federation victories, on two separate courses. She finished second in the Class A and Federation meets as a sophomore. This year, Cuffe also won the Great American Cross Country Festival, the Manhattan Invitational and the Foot Locker Northeast Regional. In January, she won the USA Track and Field Junior Cross Country Championships in San Diego, Calif. by 26 seconds. The event was a qualifier for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbria, Spain in March. There, Cuffe finished 17th, leading the American contingent. At the Loucks Memorial Games this month, she ran the nation’s fastest times in the 1,600 (4:40.56) and the 3,200 (9:56.16). Ranked No. 2 in her class, Cuffe is a four-year member of the Cornwall Central Math Team and its high scorer. She will attend Stanford University.
Boys Golf – Jordan Spieth
Jesuit Preparatory School of Dallas, Dallas, Texas
Not only did the 6-foot Spieth become the first golfer to win three 5A state titles, but he did it in dominating fashion. The University of Texas recruit followed an opening-round 68 with a closing 64 that included eight birdies and no bogeys – and his 12-under-par total of 132 gave him a seven-stroke victory. He finished 13th in state as a freshman. Prior to the start of his final high school season, Spieth ended his Junior golf career on a high note, winning the HP Boys Championship at Carlton Woods. It was his fifth Junior victory and his 18th consecutive Top 10 finish. Spieth was the U.S. Junior Amateur champion in 2009, and was the Rolex Junior Player of the Year that year. He is a three-time Rolex First Team Junior All-American. Perhaps the highlight of Spieth’s career to date, however, came last May, when, playing on a sponsor’s exemption, he finished tied for 16th in a PGA Tour event, the HP Byron Nelson Classic. Spieth carded rounds of 68-69-67-72 for a 4-under-par 276, just six shots behind tournament champion Jason Day, and he became the sixth-youngest player ever to make a PGA Tour cut.
Girls Golf – Aurora Kan
Chichester High School, Boothwyn, Pennsylvania
Kan finished her career as the state champion in dramatic fashion. Holding a three-stroke lead after an opening-round 72, she needed to birdie the last two holes of the final round to salvage a 79 and force a three-way playoff. She won the school’s first girls state championship in any sport by sinking a 12-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole. The state runner-up her sophomore and junior years, Kan also finished fifth in state as a freshman. She won three District 1 titles and a region title, and is a three-time All-Delco selection and a two-time Delaware County Daily Times Player of the Year. The Purdue University commitment also had a successful Junior season, winning the Pennsylvania Women’s Amateur Championship, the PGA Junior Series stop at Penn State University for the third time, and the CorseMax/Philadelphia Junior Runner, where she won a 15-stroke victory. She also qualified for the PGA Junior Championship and earned her third berth in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, advancing to match play.
Boys Soccer – Dzenan Catic
East Kentwood High School, Grand Rapids, Michigan
For the second straight year, the player voted Mr. Soccer by the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association has been named the NHSCA Senior Athlete of the Year. Catic follows 2010 honoree Soony Saad of Dearborn High, who led the University of Michigan to the NCAA Final Four as a freshman. A four-year starter, Catic, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound midfielder, became the first West Michigan player to earn Mr. Soccer honors since 2004. Catic scored 45 goals and added 23 assists in leading the Falcons to a 25-1-1 record and their third Division 1 state championship in the past four years, with those teams compiling an overall record of 94-6-5 during his career. Catic finished his career with 103 goals and 45 assists. As a senior, he was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) First Team, the ESPN Rise Fall All-America First Team and is the Gatorade Michigan Boys Soccer Player of the Year. Also an outstanding student with a 3.9 GPA, Catic is committed to Michigan State University. However, he worked out with a German soccer club overseas this spring, and also is considering starting his professional career.
Girls Soccer – Morgan Brian
Frederica Academy, St. Simons Island, Georgia
Already a two-time Parade All-American, Brian was named the magazine’s Girls Player of the Year as a junior. She is a two-time NSCAA First Team selection, a ESPN Rise Spring All-America First Team selection as a junior and a two-time Gatorade Georgia Girls Soccer Player of the Year. Brian also is the top-ranked senior in the nation according to TopDrawerSoccer.com. The midfielder has led the Knights to three consecutive independent school AA state championships, scoring 33 goals as a junior. This year, her Knights have overcome a slow start. They are 15-2-1 with 11 straight victories, and advanced to the state semifinals as Brian scored seven goals and added two assists in a 10-1 quarterfinal win. Brian is the all-time leading scorer for the Under-17 U.S. Women's National Team, and has been invited to Under-20 National Team workouts. She scored both goals in a 2-0 victory over host country Argentina in December, earning the U.S. Under-17 Team its third consecutive win. Also an outstanding student with a 3.78 GPA, she will attend the University of Virginia.
Boys Swimming – David Nolan
Hershey High School, Hershey, Pennsylvania
At this year’s 3A state meet, Nolan set two national high school records – erasing the records set by the two previous NHSCA Senior Athlete of the Year honorees – and helped set another. Nolan became a four-time state champion in the 200 individual medley, and his time of 1:41.39 set a national record for the second straight year. That time shaved over two seconds off the record he set in 2010, which at the time broke the record established by the 2010 NHSCA honoree, Kyle Whitaker of Chesterton (Ind.) High. Nolan’s second individual national record was 45.49 seconds in the 100 backstroke, his second state title in that event. He shaved more than a second off the previous record of 46.75, set by the 2009 NHSCA honoree, Cole Cragin of Friendswood (Texas) High. In 2010, Nolan won the 100 freestyle state title in a then-national record of 43.27. He also helped put Hershey in the national record book this year in the 200 freestyle relay, swimming an opening leg of 19.58 in a record time of 1:21.01, more than a second faster than the previous mark. Nolan was the 200 individual medley champion in the Junior Pan-Pacific Championships last summer and second in the 100 butterfly. He will attend Stanford University.
Girls Swimming– Gretchen Jaques
Glendora High School, Glendora, California
Nicknamed “The Glendoranator” for her domination of her two current signature events, the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke, Jacques completed a two-year sweep of the Southern Section (SS) Division 2 titles in both events, giving her a perfect 8-for-8 record in Division 2 individual finals, and also won SS Masters titles in both events. She is ranked No. 1 among high school seniors in both events. Jaques was the SS Division 2 champion in the 50 and 100 freestyle her freshman and sophomore years, and the SS Masters champion in the 50 as a freshman. As a junior, Jaques broke U.S. Olympian Janet Evans’ national high school record in the 200 individual medley – a record that had stood since 1988 – in the preliminaries, and in the finals, she set the all-time California high school record with a time of 1:57.91, breaking a nine-year-old record. She also set the Division 2 meet record in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.83). She was the Swimmer of the Meet at the USA Swimming Short Course Junior Nationals in December, scoring a meet-high 94 points, and was honored by Sports Illustrated magazine in its Faces in the Crowd section in the Jan. 24 issue. A three-time San Gabriel Valley Tribune Swimmer of the Year, Jaques will attend the University of Texas.
Boys Tennis -- Chris Haworth
Putnam City North High School, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The 6-foot, 150-pound Haworth finished his career with his third 6A state championship at No. 1 singles, making him just the fourth boys player to accomplish the feat in the state’s biggest class. He has lost just one match over those three seasons. With his 6-4, 6-1 victory in the championship match, Haworth dropped just six games in four state tournament matches, and finished the season with a 34-0 record. He was named West Metro Player of the Week by The Daily Oklahoman in April. Rated a five-star prospect and the No. 20 recruit nationally by tennisrecruiting.net, Haworth owns a 47-15 overall record in Junior play. He spent the fall semester this year at the John Newcombe Tennis Academy in New Braunfels, Texas, and followed that up by winning the USTA Missouri Valley Segment I Sweet 16 Tournament in February without losing a set. The Oklahoma State University signee also advanced to the consolation finals of the USTA Under-18 Winter Nationals, posting a record of 6-2.
Girls Tennis – Brooke Urzendowski
Marian High School, Omaha, Nebraska
The 5-foot-7 Urzendowski became the second girl to become a four-time Class A state champion at No. 1 singles, posting three unbeaten seasons and completing her career with an overall record of 115-2. That included year-by-year records of 29-0 as a freshman, 25-2 as a sophomore, 32-0 as a junior and 29-0 this year. She is a four-time Metro Conference champion, a three-time Nebraska Girls Player of the Year and a three-time captain of The Omaha World-Herald All-State First Team. A four-star recruit ranked No. 126 nationally by tennisrecruiting.net, Urzendowski owns a career Junior record of 21-15 and was the Missouri Valley Girls-16 Player of the Year in 2009. Also an outstanding student, Urzendowski owns a 4.3 GPA (of 4.0), ranks No. 13 in a class of 163 and was named to The Lincoln Journal-Star Academic All-State Team. The Saint Louis University signee is a member of the National Honor Society, the National English Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta National Mathematics Honor Society. She also finished third in the Sports News Coverage category in the Nebraska School Activities Association State Journalism Championships this month.
Boys Track and Field – Gunnar Nixon
Santa Fe High School, Edmond, Oklahoma
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Nixon capped a record-smashing senior year by winning four events to lead Santa Fe to the 6A state team title, the school’s first since 1997. Nixon erased the oldest all-class record in the Oklahoma record book with a leap of 24-4½ to win the long jump. The previous record had stood since 1969. He also won the high jump (6-10) and swept the 110 (14.01) and 300 hurdles (37.58). No Oklahoma athlete of either gender had ever won state titles in all four events – and Nixon did it in a single state meet. It was Nixon’s second state title in the 300 hurdles – he won last year in 38.59 – and his second-place finishes in the long jump and the 110 hurdles helped Santa Fe finish second in state in 2010. A two-time winner of the decathlon in the prestigious Arcadia (Calif.) Invitational, Nixon established a national high school record in the event at Arcadia in April. Despite going scoreless in the shot put due to fouls, Nixon established personal bests in the 400 and the long jump and finished with an official total of 7,524 points, 58 more than the previous record set in 2009. His original total of 7,577 points was adjusted due to his best long jump being wind-aided. The record earned the University of Arkansas signee Athlete of the Week honors from USA Track and Field.
Girls Track and Field – Morgann LeLeux
Catholic High School, New Iberia, Louisiana
The nation’s top female pole vaulter capped an enormously successful high school career with the two best state series vaults of her career. In the 3A region meet, she cleared 14-2¾ to set a national record. Tori Anthony of Palo Alto (Calif.) Castilleja High had set the indoor record (14-2) and the outdoor record (14-1) in 2007. LeLeux had cleared 14-1 indoors this year to rank No. 2 all-time indoors, and she has cleared as high as 14-9 outdoors in practice. LeLeux followed her record region jump by setting the all-class record of 13-9 at the state outdoor meet, her fifth consecutive state title after a second-place finish as a seventh-grader. LeLeux also was a five-time Division 2 indoor state champion, marred only by a second-place finish as an eighth-grader. As a junior, LeLeux set national junior class and age 17 records when she first cleared 14-0, and also holds the national freshman record (13-2). A four-time National Junior Champion, LeLeux set a National Scholastic Juniors record and captured titles at the Nike Indoor, the National Scholastic Indoor and the New Balance Outdoor meets in 2010 and finished fifth at the 2009 World Youth Championships at Bressanone, Italy. She will attend the University of Georgia.
The NHSCA continues its involvement in high-profile high school sports events across the board. The NHSCA selects Coaches and Senior Athletes of the Year in 20 boys and girls sports, and sponsors more than two dozen national championship events in 11 sports.
In partnership with Navy Special Operations, the NHSCA conducts the Navy SEAL Fitness Challenge in 1,200 high schools throughout America. This serves as a replacement for President Kennedy’s Council on Fitness that was popular in the 1970’s and 1980’s. In partnership with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, the NHSCA conducts Character and Leadership Workshops and reach more than 800 Pennsylvania high schools and 9,600 athletes and coaches. The NHSCA also is in the process of building the nation’s first National High School Sports Hall of Fame Museum, to be located in its headquarters city, Easton, PA.
Founded in 1989, the National High School Coaches Association is a not-for-profit 501c3 service organization providing support and leadership programs for the nation’s 500,000 high school coaches and 10 million high school athletes.