We switch over to the girls side where Anthony Yench hands out Female Athlete of the Year sponsored by BMO.
The first nominee for Female Athlete of the Year is Metea Valley soccer player Tyra King. The senior played a pivotal role last year in helping the Mustangs capture the program’s first-ever State title. In 2023, it was no different for King as she routinely found the back of the net. She capped off her final season with a tally of 23 goals and 8 assists helping the Mustangs to a DVC title and an undefeated regular season. Despite a season-ending injury to forward Jordan Lange, King made sure the offense did not skip a beat. In the regional final over Neuqua Valley she scored four times helping the Mustangs lift another regional plaque. In the sectional semi-finals, she picked up right where she left off scoring four more goals in a 4-2 win over Lockport. The Mustang’s only loss of the season came to Plainfield North in the sectional final, where King scored Metea’s lone goal of the game. After a successful career with Metea Valley, King is off to play soccer at Northern Illinois University next season.
Our next nominee is making her second straight Female Athlete of the Year appearance with Benet Academy basketball star Lenee Beaumont. It’s no secret that the six-foot point guard had another standout season. Not only was she named the 2023 Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year but she was also named Ms. Basketball of Illinois becoming just the second player in Benet Academy history to win the award. She also joins Candace Parker as the lone local athlete to win both awards. Beaumont averaged 19.3 points, 8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game throughout the 2022-2023 campaign. She always rose to the occasion when the lights were brightest, scoring 27 points in the State semifinal victory and the State championship game. Although the Redwings finished just short of a state title, the red and white finished their season as 4A State Runners up. Beaumont will be continuing her career on the hardwood this fall at Indiana University.
We jump into the pool for our next nominee. Naperville North’s Kelsey Wessel started her junior season in the lanes. Throughout the season she swam the 200 IM, 100 breaststroke, and most notably the 200 medley relay team in which she was a State qualifier. Fast forward to the Spring, where Wessel was a key contributor to the girl’s water polo team. She led the team with 114 goals and 64 assists, making her the second-highest goalscorer in the state. In the sectional final, she scored three goals lifting the Huskies to a 5-3 win over crosstown rival Naperville Central putting the Huskies back in the State tournament for a 5th consecutive season. Although the team’s quest for a three-peat fell in heartbreaking fashion to Mother McAuley in the State quarterfinals this year, it’s safe to say Wessel will be ready to help lead Naperville North in the pool next season for her senior campaign.
The next nominee is another two-sport athlete from Neuqua Valley. Zawadi Brown competed on the track for the Wildcats and also on the lacrosse field. With Brown in the fold, the Wildcat track and field team won the Lockport sectional before heading down to the State track and field meet at Eastern Illinois University. At State, Brown showcased her talent and blazing speed, winning state in the 200 meters and as the anchor leg of the 4×200 meter relay. She also finished as State runner-up in the 100 meters and fourth in the 4×100 meter relay. The dazzling display helped propel Neuqua Valley to a fourth-place finish at State, the best performance in program history. During the girl’s lacrosse season, Brown led the team in goals helping the blue and gold to a second-place finish in the DVC with a 4-2 record and an appearance in the sectional semifinals before losing to eventual State champion, Hinsdale Central. With Brown being a junior this year, she still has more PRs to break and more goals to score next season.
Finishing off with another runner, this time from Benet Academy. Louisa Diamond has been a staple for the Redwings when it comes to distance running for several years. The senior earned All-State honors for cross country in class 3A by finishing in the top 25 at Detweiller Park. She’s also one of the top runners in the state when it comes to the 1600 and 3200 track and field events. At the 2A Ridgewood sectional, Diamond took home first place in both the 1600 and 3200 events, helping the Wings win the sectional title. Finishing off her senior season at the 2A state track and field meet, Diamond broke the school record in the 3200 finishing in third place with a time of 10:38.37. To go along with that medal she also finished in 6th place in the 1600. After another successful year with the red and black, Diamond will be bringing her running talents to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
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