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Player of the Year

Readers decide West Michigan Conference 2022 fall sports Players of the Year

Banquet is 5-7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, at The VAC in Whitehall.

A CatchMark panel selected three finalists from each 2022 fall sport for the VanDyk Mortgage West Michigan Conference Player of the Year awards.

It was up to readers to determine the winners. From last Friday until today, readers weighed in through fan polls. Now the results are final.

The VanDyk Mortgage West Michigan Conference Players of the Year have been determined: Ravenna’s Hunter Hogan in football, Ludington’s Maddy Vaara in volleyball, Montague’s Ben Schlaff in boys soccer, Hart’s Jessica Jazwinski in girls cross country, Hart’s Seth Ackley in boys cross country, Ludington’s Emma McKinley in girls golf, and Ludington’s Robby Killips in boys tennis.

The polls were open 8 a.m. Friday, Dec. 16, through 8 a.m. Friday, Dec. 23. Readers were allowed to vote once per hour in each poll.

CatchMark is inviting all Player of the Year award winners and finalists to a presentation banquet 5-7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, at the Viking Athletic Center, 541 E. Slocum St., in Whitehall. Dress code is business casual.

Each Player of the Year award winner will receive an individual trophy, courtesy of VanDyk Mortgage, the title sponsor. A trophy with award winners’ names engraved on it will stay in the CatchMark office. All finalists also will receive certificates.

Here are details about each Player of the Year award winner, along with how voting turned out in each sport:

FOOTBALL: Hunter Hogan, Ravenna

The 5-foot-9, 175-pound senior is arguably the MVP of the West Michigan Conference (both divisions) when it comes to importance to his team (7-4). … He literally did it all for the Bulldogs: Starting quarterback and free safety, kicker, punter, returned kickoffs and punts. … Completed 65 of 136 passes for 1,237 yards with 12 TDs and eight interceptions. … Ran 154 times for 938 yards (6.1 per carry) with 16 TDs. … Finished with 71 tackles and a whopping eight interceptions. … Also had two kickoff returns to TDs, one punt return for a TD, went 34-of-40 on PATs and 1-of-2 on field goals. … First-team all-state selection as a defensive back in one publication and specialist in another.

VOLLEYBALL: Maddy Vaara, Ludington

The 6-foot junior middle hitter/setter/outside hitter finished the season with 486 kills, 232 digs, 61 aces, 50 blocks and 14 assists. … Ludington ran away with the West Michigan Conference Lakes Division title and finished with a 32-9-2 overall record. … Ludington lost in a tough five-setter in the district finals to eventual state finalist Cadillac.

BOYS SOCCER: Ben Schlaff, Manistee

The senior center-back was the glue that held it all together for the Chippewas, who finished with a 16-4-0 record and claimed a Division 3 district championship. … Schlaff did have one assist, but his game was controlling the defensive end of the field. … First-team All-West Michigan Conference selection as well as all-district, all-region and Division 3 all-state honorable mention.

GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY: Jessica Jazwinski, Hart

Division 3 individual state champion, running away with the title with a time of 17:36.70 to beat the runner-up finisher by about 40 seconds. … Won the MITCA Meet of Champions, crossing the line first with a personal-record time of 16:47.3 that is a state record for sophomores. … Won every single event she competed in this season with the exception of the big-school West Ottawa Bredeweg Invite, which had several top-flight Division 1 and Division 2 runners there. … Qualified for the Champs Sports Cross Country Championships in San Diego and finished 11th to earn All-American honors.


The Pirates senior finished 12th in the Division 3 state finals with a time of 16:27.51 to earn all-state accolades. … Top-three runner for Hart, which captured the team state championship. … Placed fifth at the MITCA Meet of Champions with a personal-best time of 16:09.6. … Seven top-three finishes this season, including four runner-up finishes.

GIRLS GOLF: Emma McKinley, Ludington

The Orioles junior earned first-team all-state in Division 3. … Tied for ninth individually at the Division 3 state finals. … West Michigan Conference individual champ and regional medalist, leading team to state finals berth. … Averaged 78.8 this season on 18-hole rounds. … Top-10 medalist in all seven invites in which she competed. … Personal-best 71 at Tullymore. … Won the WMC Championship with a 75.

BOYS TENNIS: Robby Killips, Ludington

The junior, who played No. 2 singles for the Orioles, finished the season with a 25-4 record. … Did not lose a match from Aug. 19 until falling to the No. 2 seed at the Division 3 state finals. … Conference and regional champ. …. Team was Coastal Conference champion and regional runner-up. … Ludington was the lone team from conference to qualify for the state finals.

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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