James L. Easton, Vern Law and Utah’s athletes, coaches and teams honored at 5th annual event
Salt Lake City, UT, May 10, 2016– Forty-four of Utah’s most accomplished athletes and coaches for the 2015 calendar year were honored Tuesday evening at the 2016 Governor’s State of Sport Awards, hosted by the Utah Sports Commission and presented by Zions Bank. 127,000 votes from sports fans in all 50 states and 90 countries around the world determined a winner in each of the nine voting categories.
“The lessons learned from sports stay with us and benefit us throughout our lives,” said Gov. Gary R. Herbert. “It is a great to honor the top athletes, teams and coaches in our state and I salute each nominee for their contributions to sports in Utah.”
A Lifetime Achievement awards were presented to James L. Easton and Vern Law. James has led a life devoted to the pursuit of high performance in sports. As a businessman, archer and philanthropist, Jim has spent his whole life working to maximize the human sporting experience. Vern played 16 seasons in the major league, all for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1960, Vern went 20-9 in the regular season, led the National League in complete games, made the all-star team and won the National League CY Young Award.
This year’s special guest was United States Olympic Committee Chief Executive Officer Scott Blackmun, who provided insights into the upcoming Rio de Janeiro Summer Games. Mr. Blackmun is an ex-officio member of the USOC’s board of directors, and has served on the International Olympic Committee Marketing Commission since 2011 and Olympic Programme Commission since May 2015.
2016 Governor’s State of Sport Awards Winners
HIGH SCHOOL FEMALE – WHITTNI ORTON
The list of awards won by Whittni Orton last year is amazing. A four-time Individual State Cross Country State Champion, Orton was also the 1A Girls Basketball MVP, Volleyball First Team All-State, and a Gatorade Women’s Cross Country Athlete Nominee. In basketball Whittni led all Utah high school classifications in assists and steals. She was a member of state championship teams in basketball, volleyball, and track.
HIGH SCHOOL MALE – HUNTER WOODHALL
Named to the 2015 US Paralympics Track & Field Team and a high school All-American, Hunter Woodhall set the U.S. Paralympic American Record in the Men’s 400m T44 classification. At the World Championships held in Qatar, he won Silver in the 400m and Bronze in the 200m, setting personal bests in both races. Hunter has qualified for both the Parapan Am Games in Toronto and for the US Paralympics Track & Field World Championships Team. Woodhall finished first in the 400m at the Davis Invitational.
COLLEGIATE FEMALE – GEORGIA DABRITZ
In her senior season at the University of Utah, Georgia Dabritz won the NCAA Championship for uneven bars, and was recognized as Pac-12 Gymnast of the Year, Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Pac-12 All-Around Champion, was a six time All-American, and led Utah to a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championship.
COLLEGIATE MALE – KYLE COLLINSWORTH
The reigning West Coast Conference player of the year Kyle Collinsworth concluded his career as the Cougar’s all-time leader in assists and rebounds. He also sits atop the school record books 1st in assists per game, 1st in offensive rebounds, 2nd in steals, and 2nd in games started. Collinsworth set the NCAA record for triple-doubles in a single season with six and in a career with twelve. A team captain, he was recognized as an AP Honorable Mention All-American.
PRO/OLYMPIAN FEMALE – KILEY MCKINNON
Kiley McKinnon began 2015 on her first aerial World Cup podium in Beijing. Her success continued throughout the year, as she landed on the winner’s podium four more times, finishing 3rd in the Russia World Cup, 2nd in the Belgium World Cup, 2nd in the World Championships in Austria, and 2nd place in the USA World Cup held at Deer Valley. Because of these consistently high rankings, McKinnon was named the Overall Aerial World Cup Winner for 2015.
PRO/OLYMPIAN MALE – GORDON HAYWARD
A finalist for the United States Olympic men’s basketball team, Gordon Hayward was one of only 34 players selected to participate in the 2015 USA National Team Minicamp. As a member of the Utah Jazz, Hayward finished the season averaging 19.2 ppg, 4.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.4 steals. He scored more than 20 points 38 times and more than 30 points four times. Among NBA small forwards, Hayward ranked 2nd in total points and 3rd in points per game, assists, and minutes per game.
COACH OF THE YEAR – LIZ WISCOMBE
Liz Wiscombe led Morgan High to an undefeated 32-0 season and her 18th State Volleyball Championship. The Trojans finished the season ranked #1 in Utah and 10th in the nation, and were voted Small School Team of the Year.
TEAM OF THE YEAR – PANGUITCH HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS BASKETBALL
The reigning 1A state champions, the Panguitch High School Girls Basketball Team set the All-Time UHSAA scoring record with 1859 points, averaging 71.5 points per game. The Bobcats finished 26-0, placing 3rd All-time in the state record book with 54 consecutive wins. The team featured the 1A Girls Basketball MVP of the year, Whittni Orton. This was the 10th State Championship for Panguitch High School, 3rd most in the state of Utah.
EVENT/HIGHLIGHT OF THE YEAR – BYU’S TANNER MANGUM TO MITCH MATHEWS HAIL MARY PASS
Facing a one-point deficit on fourth down with :01 remaining on the game clock, the BYU offense took the field for one final play. Freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum had only made his collegiate debut earlier in the third quarter. Mangum took the last snap of the game, rolled out, and launched a 42-yard Hail Mary to the end zone. Senior wide receiver Mitch Mathews found the goal line, hauled in the pass, and came down into the end zone for the game winning touchdown, stunning the Nebraska crowd and winning the game 33-28. The win snapped the Cornhuskers’ 29-game win streak in home openers, which had been the longest in the nation.
ADAPTIVE FEMALE OF THE YEAR – NICOLE ROUNDY
In 2006, she became the first above-knee amputee, male or female, to compete in adaptive snowboarding. Her accomplishments spearheaded global demand for prosthetic knee technology and played a fundamental role in the introduction of snowboard to the Paralympic roster. Nicole represented the U.S. in the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games and is and 17x World Cup Medalist. Nicole is currently ranked as one of the best adaptive snowboarders in the world.
ADAPTIVE MALE OF THE YEAR – DAVID BLAIR
Born with a severe clubfoot, David Blair underwent several surgeries and years of braces. Although the foot remained immobile, David excelled in many athletic endeavors. At the age of 13, David was given a VHS tape on discus throwing. Using this as his sole source of coaching, he won the high school state championship in 1993. David attended Weber State University where he set many school records and won Big Sky Conference championship titles in the Hammer and Weight throw. At the age of 40, David discovered he was eligible to complete as a Paralympic athlete. Six months later at the IPC World Championships he finished 3rd in the shot put and 2nd in the discus.