The Elite Eight

Published 10:00 pm Monday, June 16, 2014

Athlete of the Year narrowed to four males, females

The fans have spoken.

More than 4,500 votes were cast in the first round of voting to name The Messenger Athlete of the Year. The first round of voting determined the representative from each school. Four total athletes, two males and two females, from each school in The Messenger coverage area (Charles Henderson, Pike County, Goshen and Pike Liberal Arts) were chosen for the opening round.

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Each school winner moves on to the next round to compete for the title of Athlete of the Year. The four male and four female nominees are listed below.

Athlete of the Year polls open Tuesday June 17 at 3 p.m. and will remain open until 5 p.m. Sunday June 22. To cast a vote for your favorite high school athlete, visit


Male Nominees

Brian Adams, Pike Liberal Arts: Adams starred for the Patriots in three different sports throughout his high school career, winning a baseball state championship in 2012. Adams played linebacker for the Patriot football team, dropped in three pointers as a shooting guard for the Pike basketball team and patrolled the outfield and batted in the top half of the order for the baseball team. Adams helped lead the basketball team to the area tournament and baseball team to the state finals. Adams will continue his baseball career at Southern Union State Community College.

Deangelo Orum, Goshen: Orum has been a staple of Goshen athletics for over half a decade. On the football field, Orum, who is headed to Dakota College of Bottineau to play football, played quarterback, running back, receiver, safety and corner, while serving as the Eagle basketball team’s primary point guard in the last two seasons.

Ryshaun Hall, Pike County: Hall was a Bulldog hoops star for the last three years, but recently burst on the football and baseball scene. Hall picked up an All-Area nod as a wide receiver for the Bulldogs, his first season playing football in over four years, and served as Pike County’s center fielder and lead-off batter until suffering season-ending knee injury.

John Johnson, Charles Henderson: Johnson wowed fans across the state in three different sports during his senior year. As a receiver on the football team, Johnson, a Troy University football signee, accounted for over 30 touchdowns and helped led the Trojans to the 4A state title game. On the baseball diamond, the senior led the Trojans in home runs and was a perfect 23-of-23 in stolen base opportunities and was a vital part of back-to-back state titles for the Trojans. He also ran track for Charles Henderson.

Female Nominees

Kailee Taylor, Pike Liberal Arts: Taylor provided a spark for two Lady Patriot teams during her senior campaign. On the volleyball court, Taylor served as one of the primary attackers and routinely made opposing blockers think twice about stepping in front of her powerful spikes. She helped lead Pike Liberal to a No. 3 state ranking and to the region tournament before falling to the powerhouse Lee-Scott. On the softball field, Taylor was on Pike’s primary pitchers, and she helped the Lady Pats turn in one of the finer seasons in recent memory by winning the area and seeding third for the AISA State Tournament.

Katie Thomas, Goshen: Thomas was a force on the volleyball court and softball diamond for the Goshen Lady Eagles this year. She led the Lady Eagles in kills and blocks in volleyball, and was the driving force behind Goshen’s second consecutive trip to the AHSAA Regional in Montgomery. On the diamond, Thomas patrolled left field and the pitcher’s circle for Goshen. In the opening game of the season, Thomas threw a no-hitter against rival Pike County.

Precious Vaznian, Pike County: Vaznian helped the Pike County girls basketball team to a monumental win during the year. After going winless a season ago, Pike County managed a handful of wins in 2013-14, with Vaznian leading the charge for the Lady Dawgs. She led the team in points and rebounds en route to being named to the All-Area team.

India Blakely, Charles Henderson: Blakley led the Lady Trojans to near uncharted territory. A star point guard for the Charles Henderson basketball team, Blakely picked up All-Area Player of the Year honors by leading Charles Henderson in points and assists along the way to the 4A Final Four. In addition to her basketball efforts, Blakely also was a member of the Charles Henderson track team.