LITTLE ROCK — Eight Bryant High School athletes will be among 300 of the state’s best high school athletes in nine different sports honored at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette‘s All-Arkansas Preps awards banquet on Saturday, June 7. Senior Trevor Ezell has been named the baseball Player of the Year. He and junior pitcher Blaine Knight have been named to the first team and senior outfielder Chase Tucker was named to the second team. Right-hander Zach Jackson is one of those named to the sophomore-freshman team.
Bryant senior Peyton Weaver was selected for the All-Arkansas Preps golf team while John Winn was named to the track team. They will be honored along with Lady Hornets’ freshman Caroline Campbell, who was named to the All-Arkansas Preps sophomore/freshman soccer team.
In addition, Bryant softball player Tori Hernandez has been selected as the recipient of the 2013-14 St. Vincent Health Award. St. Vincent President and CEO Peter Banko made the selection for the award, which will be presented at the banquet.
Awards will also be given to a Coach of the Year in each sport. Bryant Hornets head baseball coach Kirk Bock, who recently led his team to its third State championship in five years, is the honoree in baseball.
Drew Brees, NFL Quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, will be the keynote speaker for the banquet, sponsored by St. Vincent. The banquet will be held from 6:30-9 p.m. Brees will not only present the top honors at the event to athletes, he will also speak to the more than 1,100 in attendance and sit down for a moderated discussion with special guest Keith Jackson, former NFL tight-end for the Green Bay Packers.
“We are thrilled to welcome Drew to Arkansas to meet these outstanding athletes,” said Tabitha Cunningham, event and sponsorship director at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “He is obviously a phenomenal athlete but, more importantly, he is an incredible person who garners a huge amount of respect wherever he goes.”
What is All-Arkansas Preps? All-Arkansas Preps celebrates high school athletes from across the state and their accomplishments in nine different sports. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette started All-Arkansas Prepsin the 2012-2013 season and the inaugural awards banquet featured keynote speaker Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
An editorial committee from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette picks first, second and sophomore male teams in football, basketball, baseball and soccer, and female teams in basketball, softball, volleyball and soccer. Male/female teams in golf, tennis and track are chosen through Overall and Meet of Champs statewide competition. The committee polls coaches and media members from across the state for team recommendations, taking into account individual statistics and team success from the previous season.
“The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has a long history of honoring athletes in our home state, but this takes it to a new level,” said Wally Hall, assistant managing editor of sports for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “I am personally excited about our role in this great new event that will recognize the best high school athletes.”
For a full list of athletes who have been selected as part of the 2013-2014 All-Arkansas Preps Team, visit www.allarkansaspreps.com. Athletes are not chosen until the end of each season. An Overall Male and Female Athlete of the Year and Coach of the Year will also be awarded at the banquet — this will be a surprise to those selected.
Other awards will be given to honor special athletes who have made an impact on and off the field. St. Vincent’s president and CEO Peter Banko will present an award to a student athlete who has overcome a health challenge in order to excel in his or her given sport. The P.A.R.K. Education Award will recognize one athlete who has made great achievements on the field and in the classroom. The Hussman Award will be presented to an athlete who has excelled off the field in his or her community.
David Bazzel, former Arkansas Razorback and current radio co-host, will emcee the All-Arkansas Preps event. New this year is a special reception before awards banquet where athletes can meet each other and the public can meet these future sports stars. The Athlete Meet and Greet will take place from 5-6 p.m. and sponsored in part by the Army ROTC. In addition, there will be a silent auction featuring sports memorabilia to benefit the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
The event is sponsored in part by Arkansas Select Buick GMC Dealers, First Security Bank, Academy Sports and Outdoors, Sweetin Industries, Dillard’s and Deltic Timber. Tickets are $75 and must be purchased online at www.allarkansaspreps.com. A limited number of individual tickets are available, and tickets include a seated dinner.