Knipp, Vitt named BLHS athletes of the year
One ran away with his latest accolade, the other just simply liked to run.
As Basehor-Linwood High School says goodbye to the Class of 2007, two of the school's top athletes talk about their lasting legacies.
Knipp runs away with one last high school honor
It was an award with the same anti-climactic feeling of the recent NBA Finals. Austin Knipp, the dominant two-way Basehor-Linwood High School superstar, blew by high school competition for the last time in receiving BLHS's Male Athlete of the Year award for 2007.
The revelation startled no one.
"It wasn't a surprise at all," soccer coach Kevin Vincent said. "With all he has accomplished in his career, I didn't think there was anyone that could compete with that."
Knipp's coach on the hardwood agreed.
"I thought it was pretty obvious," basketball coach Mike McBride said. "Someone scores 100 goals in a soccer career and improves every year and makes the improvement in basketball at the same time; that speaks for itself. Some kids can make that improvement in one sport, but to do it in two is special."
Cracking the century mark for career goals in soccer will go down as Knipp's main statistical legacy. He became the first prep in Kansas history to break the 100-goal mark.
"It is a definite highlight of my life," Knipp said. "I will always remember it. It set a pretty good standard at Basehor for soccer. A lot of younger kids coming up that heard about it or saw it in the paper are kind of wanting to do the same, so I think it does a lot."
His basketball resume was almost as impressive. Knipp was the driving force in the sudden rebirth of the BLHS program. The Bobcats finished 17-5 in 2007, 13-0 in the Kaw Valley League. Knipp averaged 16.8 points and two steals per game. He shot 43 percent from the field and 81 percent from the free throw line.
All in all, competition from peers was admittedly sparse. The ceremony to announce the award in front of his classmates gave Knipp's friends an opportunity to chide him.
"Everybody that was sitting around me was joking around, saying, 'Oh I wonder who will get this.' It was kind of a big joke," Knipp said.
Knipp had extra motivation in pursuing the award.
"It meant a lot because it was a goal I had had since I was a freshman," Knipp said. "My brother (Dale) had gotten it in '93 and I wanted to be up there just like my older brother. It was a 4-year goal and I am glad I got it."
Knipp said the highlight of his athletic career was breaking the state soccer record for goals in a game against Eudora.
The highlight of the year in basketball was the slaying of a nemesis.
"It had to be the Piper game because we would get blown up by 50 points every time we played them," Knipp said. "We finally caught up to them."
McBride's favorite Knipp moment also came in that game.
"In the fourth quarter his face was pale and I kept asking him if he wanted to come out. When we were shooting free throws, he said that was his break," McBride said. "He never quit. That's why we won that game."
Knipp said he takes great pride in the legacy of helping to turn around a pair of BLHS athletic programs.
"I think it is great," Knipp said. "When the teams weren't winning everyone was getting frustrated and no one was having fun. People would think, we aren't going to win anyways and wouldn't practice as hard. This year, we turned that around. Our teams wanted to win, and they worked hard from the get go. I think even the community got affected by it."
McBride is not looking forward to replacing his star on next year's team.
"Right now, we just have to find someone that leads by example," McBride said. "We have some kids that do some things better than Austin, but when we need a big steal or a big basket or to hit a free throw to seal a win, we need that presence. What made Austin a great athlete was his quiet competitiveness. He had that presence of winning. That is what we are missing."
Vincent's task of replacing Knipp and his 100 goals is not enviable either.
"I don't think we can replace him," Vincent said. "I think we have to have other players step up and try to fill the gap that is caused by him leaving. When you have somebody that added so much more than just a goal total, it is extremely difficult to replace that."
Female Athlete of the Year
delivers with pride
Amanda Vitt is all about perseverance and a good attitude. It is why she was able to be a valuable contributor to the Basehor-Linwood girls basketball team as a reserve and also star in cross country and track. She blends in, meshes well with her teammates and does whatever she can to contribute.
These characteristics were a driving force in a successful high school athletic career that was capped with being named BLHS's 2007 Female Athlete of the Year.
"I was pretty excited," said Vitt of winning the award . "I take a lot of pride in it.