It was a night to recognize the best of southwest Missouri.

It was a night to recognize the best of southwest Missouri.

According to a press release, nearly 150 student-athletes and 26 teams- including band, cheerleading and dance- were recognized at the annual Sports Commission Awards at University Plaza in Springfield Monday night in front of a crowd of nearly 900 people. Camdenton was among those schools considered worthy of recognition based on the accomplishments of the past school year for a ceremony that first began in 2013.

There were 30 different categories organized by a selection committee that chose the top five finalists in each category, or six, if a school was represented by two individuals. Longtime Sports Director Dan Lucy of KOLR 10 TV was the night’s emcee as finalists were recognized on stage, as well as with a highlight video, before winners were announced.

The Pride of the Lake Marching Band, junior Paxton DeLaurent (football), senior Gabe Kurtz (track and field), junior Payton Sapp and sophomore Gage Erickson (bass fishing) and senior Natalie Basham (track and field and Girls Athlete of the Year) were finalists in their respective categories.

Up against some other finalists worthy of recognition, only the Pride of the Lake Marching Band came home with top honors Monday night. However, it was ultimately a night to celebrate the accomplishments of all and especially those of Kurtz and Basham who leave “Laker Land” as state champions in the sport of track and field.

Pride of the Lake Band Directors Paul and Alisha Baur were in attendance to receive the award and Paul felt the award could have gone to any of the finalists. One of those finalists was Craig Finger, a former student of Baur, who currently serves as the Director of Bands for Nixa Public Schools.

“It certainly is nice to be rewarded. I will tell you that we are friends with every band director that was nominated so it is nice to be recognized,” he said. “I think all the bands deserve the award, we all work together so hard. It is nice to be acknowledged for what we do.”

The Baurs could not stay for the duration of the ceremony, though, because there was work to be done back home with a rehearsal. The design for each year’s show actually begins in November before it all eventually comes to fruition the following school year.

“It is really great to see the kids come together and buy into what we are doing,” Paul remarked. “it is a really exciting time and we are glad to have a community like Camdenton that supports what we do and a great administration that allows us to do some weird things like travel to San Antonio and go to Grand Nationals.”

The design for this past season turned out to be a good one with a show called “Red Hot.”

Highlights among Camdenton’s season included being only the second band from Missouri to place at the Bands of America in the San Antonio Super Regional where the Lakers finished third in Class 2. Not long after, the Bands of America Grand National Championships at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis saw the Pride of the Lake take on 120 other schools and Camdenton made it to the semifinals, becoming only the second Missouri band ever to accomplish that.

Competing on that kind of stage, Alisha was pleased to see the band be recognized one more time in the “Show-Me State.”

“Not only were we recognized nationally, but also acknowledged in our state level as well so that is very rewarding. It is kind of like coming home,” she said.

DeLaurent was the first Camdenton finalist on stage after a season where he helped the football team reach the Class 4 state quarterfinals, throwing for 3,858 yards and 43 touchdowns while rushing for 102 more yards and seven touchdowns. He received Second Team All-State honors as well.

Ultimately, the nod went to Will Boswell of Mount Vernon who led his team the Class 3 semifinals earning Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-State recognition. Boswell finished with 164 tackles and had five sacks, pass breakups and fumble recoveries each while forcing three fumbles. He added 1,567 rushing yards on offense for 21 touchdowns and hauled in 22 receptions for 241 yards and a score as well.

Kurtz was nominated for field events after defending his Class 4 state javelin title with a throw of 191 feet and 4 inches. It was briefly the All-Class record in Missouri until it was broken a while later by Class 5 Joplin’s Zach Westmoreland, also a nominee. Kurtz also finished fifth in the state pole vault with a height of 14 feet and 3 inches.

Westmoreland brought home the award not only for his state championship javelin throw of 194 feet and 6 inches, but also a season where he finished sixth in the state long jump with a distance of 22 feet and 3 inches while also competing in the 4x100 and 4x200 relays.

Basham was a track finalist for her efforts in the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles. The former Class 4 100-hurdles state champion- a title she won as a sophomore- finished the 100 in 15.01 seconds that earned a seventh place finish and the 300 time of 44.97 seconds that was good enough for third. It proved to the best hurdle finishes of any runner in the Southwest portion of the state.

Brianna Utecht of Marshfield ended up getting the nod finishing All-State as a sophomore in four different events. That included eighth in the 100-meter dash (12.69 seconds), sixth in the 400-dash (59.42 seconds) fifth in the 200 dash (25.77 seconds) and the 4x100 relay (49.52 seconds). She finished the season with 26 total medals including a third place finish at Mizzou’s High School Track Series that combined all classes in Missouri.

Ericsson and Sapp were recognized among the top anglers for a fourth place finish at the Lake of the Ozarks Tournament with a combined weight of 11.46 pounds as well as for placing in the top 30 at a Table Rock Lake event. The highlights also included the state finals where they racked up a haul of 8.46 pounds that was good for 60th place after flooding led the finals away from Bull Shoals Lake.

The Parkview duo of Caleb Haines and Devon Rathburn ultimately got the award. Haines and Rathburn were named to the B.A.S.S. 2019 Bassmaster High School All-State team in March and were among 62 nationally to receive the honor. Haines won the PTA while Rathburn finished 29th out of 108 boats in the field and the two won the youth-only even the next day out of 355 boats.

Last but not least, Basham was also up for Girls Athlete of the Year honors after finishing All-State in track and basketball. On the court, she averaged 23.8 points per game to go with 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 steals and 3.4 assists and also leaves as a 1,000-point scorer. The track record- no pun intended- speaks for itself, and she was also named All-Region in volleyball among other honors while leading the district and Ozark Conference in kills and kills per set.

The award went to Hayley Frank of Strafford, a Mizzou signee who was the Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year in basketball. Frank led the team to an undefeated season and fourth straight state title, leaving behind a 115-game win streak. Her accomplishments also include qualifying for the Class 1 state golf tournament and earning All-State in the single class spring softball season.

Now, the journey to 2019-2020 is around the corner and time will soon tell if Camdenton makes its way back on the stage.