Honoring athletes, teams and coaches for memorable performances

Another winter sports season has come and gone. Unsurprisingly, it was another season where Lake area athletes rose to the occasion as swimmers, wrestlers and basketball players reached new heights and made some history.

State qualifiers competed among the best of Missouri, district championships were won and there was also a state champion among the mix. Before temperatures warm up, the Lake Sun continues its tradition of taking some time to reflect on those who brought excitement, elation or euphoria and kept fans on the edge of their seats.

TOP ATHLETES:

Camdenton senior Coley Rezabek, Girls’ Basketball

Camdenton senior Coley Rezabek did not lack any highlights, or milestones, in her final season as a Laker. After seeing her older sister and current Southwest Baptist University Bailey Rezabek reach 1,000 career points and win a district title with the Lakers in 2015, the Bemidji State university commit made sure she did not end her career without those achievements as well. The senior averaged 22 points, 9.7 rebounds and shot 56 percent from the field and 82 percent from the free throw line on her way to 1,000 career points while doing her part to help the program capture its second district title in four years. Rezabek was named All-District, Media All-District and was most recently named All-State as a result.

Eldon senior Trenton Dillon, Wrestling

It was a road to redemption for Eldon senior grappler Trenton Dillon. A season ago, Dillon became the program’s first state finalist in the modern era, while accomplishing other career milestones, and came up just short of bringing home a state championship. He was not deterred, though, as the senior soon got back to work. Despite only being able to wrestle about half of the season this year due to injury, Dillon made the most of his time on the mat by going a perfect 25-0 and capturing the title that had narrowly eluded him. In his final season as a Mustang, he also got to keep a promise he made as a seventh grader to his grandfather Randy Dillon, who passed away, that he would be a state champion. In doing so, he has raised the bar even higher for the Mustangs who will return.

TOP TEAMS:

Osage Girls’ Basketball

Players may come and go, but one thing has remained consistent over the past several years for the Osage girls’ basketball team and that is making postseason runs. The Indians have played in four straight district championship games, winning three of them, and made a run to the Class 4 state quarterfinals for the second straight year with a record of 22-7. While the program has certainly featured good players throughout that time, it has not had to rely on any specific star player to achieve success. That was no different this year as the team’s top two scorers, Osage juniors Kerrigan Gamm and Carson Wood (All-District and All-Conference), did not average more than 13 points each. The team has simply been able to rely on multiple contributors, and in doing so, a successful foundation has been built that does not appear to be crumbling anytime soon if nearly reaching the Final Four the past two years is any indication.

Versailles Boys’ Basketball

A drought came to an end for the Versailles boys’ basketball team. The Tigers captured their first district championship since 2005 and did so in convincing fashion with a win over Boonville where Versailles had trailed by as many as 12 points. A solid team effort, especially on the defensive end, led to that result as four Tigers scored in double figures. Then, Versailles went on to the Class 3 Sweet 16 before bowing out to the eventual state champion Hogan Prep. Sophomore Coby Williams (All-Conference and All-District), junior Wyatt Espinosa (Media All-District) and senior Jonathon Geier (All-Conference and All-District) led the way throughout the season as the group showed what a little teamwork could do, finishing the year at 16-13. With quite a few of those players returning, Versailles will look to take the next step and reach new heights in 2019.

TOP COACHES:

Staci Caffey, Camdenton Girls’ Basketball

Relentless defense and an efficiently reliable offense may be a few ways to describe the Camdenton girls’ basketball team under Coach Staci Caffey and this season it certainly led to good results. The Lakers got hot at the end of the year, capturing the Bolivar Tournament title, for Caffey’s 100th win at the school, and the second district championship in four years. The team also made a run to the Class 5 state quarterfinals and were just one win away from the program’s first Final Four since 1979 before falling to state finalist Kickapoo to finish the year at 20-8. The coach was recently named as the Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association Central District Class 5 Girls’ Coach of the Year and for good reason. Since Caffey arrived at Camdenton six years ago, the Lakers have gone 103-59 in that span winning 64 percent of those games. Camdenton senior Coley Rezabek said she learned something new from the coach every day and the program certainly has no intention of slowing down anytime soon either. Caffey said she would like to make a habit of deep postseason runs after reaching the state quarterfinals.

Ryan Bird, Eldon Wrestling

Good things have continued to happen with Eldon wrestling coach Ryan Bird leading the program over the past two seasons. A year after the program saw its first three state medalists with Trenton Dillon becoming the first Mustang with 100 career wins and the first state finalist, two more Mustangs in Isaiah Simmons and Dawson Brandt joined the 100-win club as Eldon produced four state medalists and the school’s first state champion of the modern era in Dillon at the 2018 state tournament. The bar has continued to rise for the young program under an exciting atmosphere and with quite a few grapplers returning, expectations will undoubtedly be high once again in 2019. Bird’s motto to his wrestlers is to “get better every day” and it seems those wrestlers have taken the coach’s message to heart as the results on the mat speak for themselves.

HONORABLE MENTION ATHLETES:

Eldon senior Macie Halderman, Girls’ Basketball

Eldon senior Macie Halderman did not hold anything back in her final season on the hardwood for the Mustangs. Halderman surpassed 1,500 career points while averaging a double-double that featured 26 points per game and 10.2 rebounds respectively. The production of Eldon’s second all-time leading scorer (only behind Sara Rhine), 1st Team All-Conference and All-District selection will certainly not be easy to replace.

Camdenton senior Kylie Meier, Girls’ Basketball

Camdenton senior Kylie Meier had the capability to make an impact on the court at any time and the numbers show it. The senior nearly averaged a double-double with 10.8 points per game to go with 8.3 rebounds and she could also distribute the basketball with three assists per contest while also being a pain for opposing offenses with three steals per game. Meier was recently named All-District by the Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association Central District.

Camdenton freshman Emily Willis, Swimming

Camdenton freshman Emily Willis made a splash during her first season in the pool for the Lakers. A two-time Lake Sun Athlete of the Week, Willis stayed among the top of the pack in her races throughout the season. The freshman finished fourth or better- with a couple of wins- in all but two of her 16 events over her first four meets and was a member of the first state-qualifying relay team in school history.

Osage senior Austin Magnuson, Wrestling

School of the Osage senior Austin Magnuson had quite a journey in his final season on the mat for the Indians. The grappler entered the Class 2 state tournament at Mizzou Arena as a district champion of the 152-pound class and became the first state finalist since 2015 graduate Chris Johnson. In the final match, Magnuson showed just how much fight he had as he went the distance with Savannah’s Kaden Ehrhardt (50-1) and fell just short in a 5-4 ultimate tiebreaker (triple overtime) to finish his year with an impressive record of 37-3.

Climax Springs junior Jake Reed, Boys’ Basketball

Climax Springs junior Jake Reed was a consistent force for the Cougars throughout the season as he averaged a double-double that saw him produce 20.7 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. The junior’s efforts on the court were recognized as well as he was named All-District by coaches and the media of the Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association Central District.

Macks Creek sophomore Hunter Lane, Boys’ Basketball

Measuring in at 6-foot-3, Macks Creek sophomore Hunter Lane certainly owned the lane and was a force to be reckoned with inside the paint as he averaged 18.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. The sophomore also shot 54 percent from the floor and was named All-District by coaches and the media of the Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association Central District.

HONORABLE MENTION TEAMS:

Camdenton Girls’ 200 Free Relay Swim Team

A trio of freshmen and a senior came together to make some history as the 200 Free Relay quartet became the first state-qualifying relay team in school history. A young program in just its second year of existence, freshmen Emily Willis, Victoria Watson and Irelyn Meckley along with senior Victoria Turner jumped from 36th to 27th in the final regular season meet and earned a spot as one of the top 32 Class 1 teams in the state. The group went on to finish 30th among the best Missouri had to offer at the state meet in St. Peters.

Versailles Wrestling

Winning conference titles and state medals has become quite commonplace for the Versailles wrestling program under the direction of Coach Shawn Brantley. The Tigers accomplished both of those things again this year, winning their second straight Tri-County Conference championship (third in four years) while senior Kooper Wilson and junior Michael Trotter earned state medals for the second time in their careers. However, Versailles has been a perfect 12-0 in the conference the past two seasons and that does not happen without a solid contributors up and down the lineup that have high expectations.

HONORABLE MENTION COACHES:

Scott Rowland, Osage Girls’ Basketball

Conference championships, district championships and back-to-back state quarterfinal appearances have highlighted the past few years of Osage girls’ basketball under the guidance of Coach Scott Rowland. The Indians have enjoyed consistent success with a pair of conference titles and three district titles over the past four years and it has been done with a different cast of characters as players graduate while new faces come in. It may take some talent, but Rowland has managed to adjust and consistently put his teams in a position to win. After winning a second straight Sweet 16 matchup, junior Kerrigan Gamm said that, “All is good when we are coached by him,” and a record of 165-83 and just one losing season since 2008 would certainly suggest so.

Jason Ollison, Versailles Boys’ Basketball

In just his second year at the helm, Versailles coach Jason Ollison and the Tigers accomplished what no other team has been able to since 2005 and that is winning a district title. The Tigers cruised past future Tri-County Conference foe Boonville and reached the Class 3 Sweet 16 before bowing out to eventual state champion Hogan Prep to finish the year at 16-13. However, throughout the entire time Versailles did not lack energy as the players bought into Ollison’s message and stepped up the defensive pressure while selflessly sharing the basketball. The Tigers are 28-28 over the past two seasons, but the program increased its win total by four in 2018 and will look to continue going in that direction. Ollison is certainly looking forward to what lies ahead and after winning a district title he stated that, “Versailles has had a basketball tradition for a long time and I am just real excited to be a part of it.”