The 2023 Michigan high school fall sports season is winding down.
It’s time for CatchMark SportsNet to proceed with its West Michigan Conference Player of the Year series.
In a few days, it’ll be time for you to vote, over and over again. You’ll have roughly a two-week window to continue voting.
Durga Insurance Group is title sponsor of the CatchMark SportsNet West Michigan Conference Player of the Year for fall, winter, and spring seasons.
A panel consisting of Scott DeCamp, CatchMark SportsNet lead, along with Jordan Durga and Justin Durga, partners for the title sponsor, met to determine three finalists for Player of the Year in each of seven fall sports. It was a very tough call in some cases having to whittle lists down to three finalists, but the panel believes that any three finalists in each sport is deserving of winning the award.
Ultimately, it’s up to you, the voters.
Fan polls open at 8 a.m. Monday, Nov. 13, and they’ll close at 8 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24.
CatchMark is calling an audible for WMC Player of the Year in 2023-24. Rather than host a banquet after each season, we’re hosting one big event at the end of the school year. More details to come on that.
Below are the Player of the Year finalists for football, volleyball, boys soccer, girls cross country, boys cross country, girls golf, and boys tennis, along with brief capsules highlighting each finalist and mention of others nominated for each sport.
NICK HORNKOHL, Manistee: The 6-foot, 175-pound senior was a two-way standout for the Mariners, who tied for second in the WMC Lakes Division, won a Division 6 playoff opener, and finished with an 8-3 overall record. … Hornkohl split carries in Manistee’s wing-T offense, but he finished with 126 rushing attempts for 1,032 yards (8.2 per carry) and 12 touchdowns. He also scored 12 two-point conversions. … He was a big hitter from his free safety spot, finishing with 76 tackles (47 solo) with three interceptions returned for a total of 80 yards, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries.
KYLE STRATTON, Whitehall: The 5-foot-9, 175-pound senior was a true dual-threat quarterback for the Vikings, who ran away with their second straight WMC Lakes title. Top-ranked Whitehall won a Division 4 first-round playoff game before being upset by Big Rapids in the district finals, finishing with a 10-1 record. … Stratton completed 107 of 159 passes (67.3 percent) for 2,152 yards with 30 touchdowns and two interceptions. He ran the ball 125 times for a team-high 903 yards (7.2 per carry) with 14 TDs. … Defensively, Stratton recorded 30 tackles and a pick-6 from his cornerback spot. … He also long snapped for Whitehall. … He was a three-year starting varsity QB.
JAMES YOUNG, North Muskegon: The 6-foot-2, 190-pound junior is in his third season as the Norsemen’s starting quarterback. … Top-ranked North Muskegon is 11-0 for the first time in program history since 1986 and they’re taking on Pewamo-Westphalia in the Division 7 regional final Saturday (Nov. 11). … This season, Young is 121-of-177 passing (68.3 percent) for 2,215 yards with 27 touchdowns and three interceptions. He’s carried the ball 38 times for 143 yards (3.8 yards per carry) with three TDs. … Young also handles punting duties for the Norse. … In last week’s district finals win, he scored the go-ahead TD on a 40-yard QB draw.
Others nominated: Joseluis Andaverde (Hart), Adam Baird (Montague), Trever Jones (Oakridge).
SAMI BAKER, North Muskegon: The 5-foot-7 senior setter was first-team All-WMC as a sophomore and first-team All-WMC Rivers Division as a junior and senior. Baker was all-region her sophomore through senior seasons. She was all-state honorable mention as a sophomore and all-state second team as a junior. All-state has not been released yet for this season. … Served 99 percent on the season (446 attempts, 6 errors) with 611 assists (6.8 assists per set), 271 digs, 73 kills (.271 hitting percentage), and 40 aces. … North Muskegon was runner-up in the WMC Rivers Division and finished with a 19-13 overall record.
NAVEA GAUTHIER, Shelby: The 6-foot-2 hitter is an Ohio State University commit, who played at a very high level again this season. … Gauthier was Division 3 first-team all-state in her freshman and sophomore seasons. All-state has not yet been released for this season. … Gauthier led Shelby to the a second straight WMC Rivers Division title and third straight district title. Last year, she powered the Tigers to the state quarterfinals. … This season, Gauthier amassed a whopping 1,034 kills (.336 hitting percentage), plus 498 digs, 94 aces (90 percent serve percentage), 31 solo blocks, and 24 assists. … She’s sitting at 2,801 career kills with one more season left. … Shelby finished with a 33-14 overall record.
MADDY VAARA, Ludington: The 6-foot outside hitter is a six-rotation player and a Ferris State University signee. … Vaara was voted the CatchMark SportsNet WMC Player of the Year in 2022. … She was a Division 2 second-team all-state selection last year. All-state has not yet been released for this season. … Ludington captured a second straight WMC Lakes Division title, its first district championship since 2004, and first regional crown since 1997. … Entering the regional finals, Vaara totaled 617 kills (.335 hitting percentage), 335 digss, 49 blocks, 35 aces, and 43 assists. … Ludington takes a 42-10-2 overall record into Tuesday’s state quarterfinal.
Others nominated: Madison Babinec (Oakridge), Kendall Barnhart (Fremont), Kayla Mulder (Whitehall), Jaelyn Sundberg (Montague).
CHAZ MILLER, Fremont: The senior forward had a nose for the goal and assembled a big season. Miller erupted for 29 goals and 18 assists. … Fremont captured the outright WMC title. The Packers captured a Division 3 district title, which was the first for the program since 2006. They fell to Alma in the regional finals, marking the longest state tournament run in team history. Fremont finished the season with a 21-2-1 overall record. … Miller was a team captain and he earned All-WMC, all-district, and all-region honors in addition to all-state honorable mention accolades.
ARTURO ROMERO-SERRANO, Oakridge: The senior forward was a prolific goal-scorer for the Eagles. He is the program’s record-holder for career goals with 105 and twice established a school record for single-season goals with 40 as a junior and 42 as a senior. He scored three goals as a freshman. This season, he added six assists. … Romero-Serrano received Division 3 second-team all-state accolades in his junior and senior seasons. … Oakridge won two district titles during his career. … Oakridge advanced to the district finals this season and finished with a 12-8-1 record.
PARKER WENDT, Ludington: The senior forward posted another big season for the Orioles. He tallied 20 goals and four assists. In his four-year varsity career, he totaled 70 goals and 28 assists. … Wendt was all-conference and all-district four times each. He was all-region this season and last season. He received Division 2 third-team all-state last year and honorable mention all-state this season. … Ludington finished with a 16-6-0 overall record this season. The Orioles were second in the WMC behind Fremont, the lone team in the league to defeat the Packers.
Others nominated: Kyler Frees (Whitehall), Mason Mulnix (Whitehall), Spencer Holmes (Ludington), John Vissia (Fremont).
GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
SUMMER BROWER, Ludington: The Orioles junior finished 23th at the MHSAA Division 2 state finals with a time of 18:37.8 to earn all-state for a second straight season. Last year, she placed 18th at the state finals. … Brower won the WMC Lakes title at the conference’s Mega Meet with a time of 19:01.3. She established her personal record with a time of 18:23.1 at the Cougar Falcon Invite. She took first in the Ludington Invite and Leanna Wolf Geers Invitational. … Brower was a CatchMark SportsNet WMC Player of the Year finalist last fall. … Ludington finished seventh as a team in the state finals this season.
JESSICA JAZWINSKI, Hart: Jazwinski broke the MHSAA Division 2 state finals record with a winning time of 17:08.8. The second-place finisher was nearly 41 seconds behind her. It’s the second straight individual state title for Jazwinski. … She finished first in every race this fall with the exception of season-opening Benzie Central Pete Moss Invite, where she placed second behind Ann Arbor Pioneer phenom Rachel Forsyth. … Jazwinski earned All-American honors at the Champs Sports Cross Country Nationals last December in San Diego with an 11th-place finish. … This fall, Hart cruised to the WMC Rivers Division title and a 10th-place finish in the Division 3 state finals. … Jazwinski was the CatchMark SportsNet WMC runner of the year last fall.
ANNABELLE LOWMAN, Ludington: The Orioles freshman continued to improve throughout the season, culminating with a 14th-place finish for all-state at the MHSAA Division 2 state finals. She shattered her personal-record with a time of 18:26.2. She helped Ludington finish seventh as a team at the state finals. … Lowman placed second at the regional with a time of 19:08.8 as the Orioles took first place as a team. … She placed second at the Ludington Invite and third at the Leanna Wolf Geers Invitational. … Ludington ran away with the WMC Lakes Division title.
Others nominated: Cami Kraai (Whitehall), Linnea Paige (Fremont), Cecilia Postma (Manistee).
BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
BOBBY JAZWINSKI, Hart: The Pirates freshman placed third at the MHSAA Division 3 state finals with a time of 15:54.0. … Jazwinski finished first in nine events this season, including the Leanna Wolf Geers Invitational, Cougar Falcon Invite, Hart & Sole Invitational, WMC Mega Meet, Mel Hall Invitational, and Run Around the Cloud. He placed second in three other competitions. … He established a personal-record time of 15:23.9 at the WMC Mega Meet, breaking his own school record in the process. … Jazwinski helped Hart finish 10th as a team at the state finals. The Pirates placed second at the regional and ran away with the WMC Rivers Division title.
SEAN PETTIS, Fremont: The Packers senior placed 13th at the MHSAA Division 2 state finals for all-state honors in a time of 15:34.9. … He established a personal-record time of 15:14.1 en route to a first-place finish at the Cougar Falcon Invite. … Pettis took first place in nine events this season, including the Hill and Bale Invitational, Cougar Falcon Invite, WMC Lakes Division portion of the conference’s Mega Meet, and the Division 2 regional at Chippewa Hills. … He also was all-state as a junior with a 29th-place finish at the Division 2 state finals.
STEWART WATERS, Whitehall: The Vikings junior qualified for the MHSAA Division 2 state finals, where he finished 70th with a time of 16:29.7. … He established a personal-record time of 16:17.2 at the Portage Cross Country Invitational. … Waters was runner-up in the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association meet with a time of 16:19.8. … He placed second in the WMC Lakes Division portion of the conference’s Mega Meet with a time of 16:31.9.
Others nominated: Carter Sherman (Fremont).
AVA GARCIA, Whitehall: The Vikings senior was consistently her team’s top golfer over the course of the season. She averaged a team-best 43.7 in nine-hole events and 87.4 in 18-hole rounds. … Garcia was runner-up in the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association tournament with an 80. She was second in the WMC Championship tournament with an 81. … Garcia earned Division 3 all-state honorable mention accolades. … Whitehall placed seventh at the MHSAA Division 3 state finals.
GRACE MCDOWELL, Whitehall: The Vikings junior was a key to her team placed seventh at the MHSAA Division 3 state finals, leading her squad with scores of 86 and 91 in the two 18-hole rounds. … McDowell averaged 45.7 in nine-hole rounds this season and 91.5 in 18-hole rounds. … She took seventh in the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association tournament with a 91. … McDowell tied for sixth in the WMC Championship tournament with a 92.
EMMA MCKINLEY, Ludington: The Orioles senior earned Division 3 first-team all-state honors for a second straight season. She was also a top-10 finisher in the MHSAA Division 3 state finals as a junior (tied for ninth) and senior (tied for sixth). She posted rounds of 81 and 77 at the state finals this year. … McKinley averaged 36 in nine-hole events this season and 76 in 18-hole rounds. … She was the CatchMark SportsNet WMC Player of the Year in 2022. … McKinley is a four-time conference medalist and a two-time regional medalist. … Ludington placed 10th as a team at the state finals this season.
Others nominated: Kennedy Johnson (Montague), Julia Reed (Ludington).
LUKE HALL, North Muskegon: The lanky left-hander junior was the first North Muskegon No. 1 singles player to reach the state quarterfinals since 2008. He earned first-team all-state honors. He was also all-conference and all-area. … Hall won flight championships at the Allegan Quad, Reeths-Puffer Quad, Portland Quad, and Division 4 regional tournament. He posted runner-up finishes at the Mona Shores Quad, Greater Muskegon Athletic Association tournament, the Coastal Conference tourney. … Hall closed his season with a 25-4 record,
ROBBY KILLIPS, Ludington: The Orioles senior held down the No. 1 singles spot for a talented team, which placed fifth at the MHSAA Division 4 state finals. … He posted a 25-11 record this season, going 4-0 in the Coastal Conference and winning the league title. He finished as regional runner-up. … Killips was the CatchMark SportsNet WMC Player of the Year last fall and he’s all-state honorable mention this season. … At the state finals, he lost to the eventual state runner-up in the second round. … Killips was part of a group of players who finished their careers with three conference titles, three regional runner-up finishes, and three straight trips to the state finals.
CHARLES KOLB, Ludington: The Orioles senior played No. 2 singles and he finished as an MHSAA Division 4 state runner-up. He helped his team place fifth at the state finals. … Kolb was a Division 4 first-team all-state selection. … He was a conference and regional champion en route to posting an eye-popping 36-2 record. … Last year, he played No. 1 singles. … Kolb was part of a group of players who finished their careers with three conference titles, three regional runner-up finishes, and three straight trips to the state finals.
Others nominated: Jack Stidham (Ludington), Reece Ward (Ludington).
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