Archive for Thursday, June 16, 2005

Armstrong, Kenney tabbed as Basehor’s best

Basehor-Linwood standouts named 2005 athletes of the year

June 16, 2005

It's a tale of two athletes who took different paths to arrive at the same point.

That destination was revealed recently when Michael Armstrong and Morgan Kenney were named the Basehor-Linwood High School male and female athletes of the year for 2005.

Although their careers wound up in the same place, they certainly didn't begin that way.

Kenney, a standout in volleyball, basketball and track and field, was thrust into the varsity spotlight as a freshman. She played key roles on the volleyball and basketball teams at an early age, and that allowed her to become a bona fide leader by the end of her sophomore season.

Because of that she excelled in the role for much of the next two seasons, something her coaches said was invaluable because Kenney spent her junior and senior seasons playing with such young teams.

"She was a great leader," BLHS assistant girls basketball coach Noah Simpson said. "She always had a way to get other players to relax, and was really good at pulling the team together."

Whether it was from her position as the team's relentless setter on the volleyball court, where it was common for Kenney to outwork entire teams, or on the inside at her power forward position in basketball, Kenney prided herself on hard work and a never-say-die attitude.

Kenney consistently refused to let anything stop her from success, and she put in hours of extra work to become one of the toughest competitors the school has ever seen.

"She put her mind to becoming a varsity basketball player and she became a varsity basketball player," Simpson said. "That all goes back to her hard work and dedication. From the second she stepped in to the gym, she was focused and ready to go as hard as she could for as long as it took."

The tireless work and all-out effort that Kenney demonstrated during her playing days at BLHS, were mirrored by Armstrong on the football field.

Unlike Kenney, however, Armstrong was forced to wait for his time to shine in the varsity spotlight.

Early on, Armstrong excelled at the junior varsity level. Throughout his freshman and sophomore seasons, rumors swirled about the hotshot quarterback waiting in the wings.

Finally, midway through his junior season, Armstrong's wait came to an end and he was thrust into the starting lineup for the big game against Bonner Springs.

"It was hard for me to wait because I knew I could play at that level," Armstrong said. "But I thought it was pretty cool that my first start was against Bonner, and we won."

That was the first of four straight victories over Bonner Springs in football and baseball that Armstrong helped acquire.

He said the separate two-game winning streaks would be his most memorable high school moments.

Armstrong also played key roles on the BLHS baseball and basketball teams throughout his career.

According to those who coached them, as well as those who played with them, Kenney and Armstrong represented everything Basehor-Linwood athletes have come to be known for.

"They're both very deserving of the award, as they're not only quality athletes, but also quality individuals," BLHS athletic director Joe Keeler said. "They've both always represented our school in a competitive and classy manner, and we're very proud that we have recipients who take the award seriously and are proud to win it."

Keeler said winning the award this year was a particularly impressive achievement, as there were several worthy seniors.

"That's a situation you want to have," Keeler said. "You want it to be difficult to pick just one because of the depth of quality athletes you have at your school."

For the second year in a row, the award was sponsored by Jeff and Kelli Burris, owners of Simple Simon's pizza.

Burris, an avid sports fan who said he and his wife chose to sponsor the award because "sports and competition are healthy in so many ways," not only offered to give the award his pizza shop's name, but also added a $400 scholarship for each athlete.

"The community supports me, and in turn, I like to find ways to give back," Burris said. "It's kind of a universal thing. I just want to keep that money flowing through the community."

The scholarship has already come in handy for Armstrong, who will use the money to pay for books and summer tuition at Hutchinson Community College before his football scholarship kicks in this fall.

Kenney is done with sports, but will attend the University of Nebraska Carney on an academic scholarship.

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