WICHITA, Kan.—After two Kansas seniors put an end to a couple of sterling high school careers, Perry Ellis and McKenzie Hartzog picked up player of the year awards at the 15th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet.
Ellis was the winner of the Barry Sanders High School Male Athlete of the Year award, winning it in his final attempt, beating out Alex Bontz of Andover and David Thor of Bishop Carroll.
“It’s obviously a true blessing when you get to work with a young man like that,” said Wichita Heights head basketball coach Joe Auer, who accepted the award on behalf of Ellis. “I’ve had the good fortune to coach Darren Dreifort, Mike Pelfrey, and Perry Ellis. Perry, you couldn’t ask for a finer person, in the classroom, on the court, just a terrific kid. I’m really looking forward to being his biggest fan now.”
Ellis’ accomplishments throughout his four years with the Heights basketball team are numerous. He helped the Falcons to a state title in each of his seasons with the team, helped Heights break the state record for consecutive wins, and became the all-time leading scorer in the Greater Wichita Athletic League over the course of his career. His prowess throughout high school has earned him a spot with the University of Kansas basketball team where Ellis will set his sights on a national championship.
Hartzog, winner of the Lynette Woodard High School Female Athlete of the Year award, was a year-round standout for the Maize Eagles. Hartzog beat finalists Sydnee Eck from Andale and Megan Sorlie from Andover Central.
“It’s a great honor just because there are so many great female athletes in the area of Wichita let alone to be one of the top three,” said Hartzog. “It was an honor just to be a finalist, let alone to be the winner. It’s such an honor for me to get recognized just because of all the work I have put in, but I didn’t get here by myself. I got here with my coaches and my teammates and my parents have pushed me along the way.”
With the 2011-12 school year just getting started, Hartzog was leading her team to a birth in the state volleyball tournament. After the state qualifying volleyball season came to an end, Hartzog kept it on the hardwood to lead one of the best basketball teams in the state. With Hartzog’s senior leadership, the Eagles ended the winter season with a third-place basketball trophy. In the spring, the Maize senior picked up a pair of cleats and helped the Eagles to another third-place finish at state, this one in girls soccer.
An extra set of High School Coach of the Year awards had to be made, after an unbelievable end to the winter season for GWAL basketball. John Cherne and Marvin Estes, both were in their first season coaching at Kapaun Mt. Carmel, Cherne with the boys, and Estes with the girls. Both coaches took their respective teams to 5A state championship titles in one year with the programs. Over at the 6A tournament, Heights was accomplishing a boys and girls sweep as well, for the second year in a row, earning Auer, and girls head coach Kip Pulliam Coach of the Year honors as well.
“I’m really proud to be a part of that,” said Auer. “The City League represented the city of Wichita in a fantastic way, and it always has and it always will. But this year was very special with Kapaun and Heights winning four championships. Hopefully we will have a chance to do it again in the future, but it was a really special year and just a reflection of how tough our league is top to bottom, year in and year out. What it does is prepare our teams for successful runs in the post season.”