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A pair of Los Alamos High School graduating student-athletes stood out among a big field of nominees for the school’s highest award.
Graham Delano and Shannon Blair were the recipients of the 2011 Clendenen Student Athlete Award. The results were announced at the school’s Senior Athlete Award Ceremony Thursday night.
Also Thursday, David Brock was honored with two awards, the James Edmund Stewart Scholarship and the Black Lion Award.
The ceremony was held at the Duane W. Smith Auditorium.
Blair, a soccer standout at Los Alamos, and Delano, a two-sport athlete this year, were selected out of a total of 19 nominees for the award.
The Clendenen Award, which started in 1987 as the Virchow Award, is given annually to the top male and female graduating senior student-athletes. Recipients of the award must go through a nomination process and be interviewed by a panel of their peers and a panel of adults.
To be nominated for the award, by either a head coach or the athletic director, student-athletes must be graduating seniors, maintain a 3.0 grade-point average and have been drug- and alcohol-free for their entire high school careers.
“It feels good. I’m really surprised,” Blair said. “Everyone definitely deserves it.”
Blair was a 2010 All-State honorable mention forward for the Hilltopper girls soccer team, which finished as the state runner-up for the third consecutive year. During her career at LAHS, Blair worked her way through the sub-varsity program to become one of the team’s captains.
She even dabbled in basketball as a freshman, but she wasn’t satisfied with her performance in that sport and settled on soccer.
Blair will attend Whitman College in Washington this fall, but hasn’t settled on a major yet.
She said she’s not planning on playing soccer in college, but would rather concentrate on her studies.
“School’s a big part of my life as well,” Blair said. “I definitely put more effort into school than into sports.”
A total of 10 awards were announced at Thursday’s ceremony. Bob Scott, former Hilltopper head football coach who is retiring from his teaching position at LAHS, was the master of ceremonies.
“I’m a speed reader. I promised I’d get this done in an hour — not,” Scott joked.
Brock, one of Scott’s protégés, earned the James Edmund Stewart Scholarship Thursday, along with recognition for the Black Lion Award he earned earlier this year.
Brock, who participated in both football and track, said that while he was thrilled with the $500 check he picked up for the Stewart scholarship, his goal had been to earn the Black Lion Award.
“When Nate (Robbins) got it (in 2010), I was really proud of him,” Brock said. “I wanted to get that this year. That’s what I was shooting for.”
Evan Gartz, who this year led Los Alamos’ boys soccer team to its first state championship since 1986, was named the Head Coach of the Year, while Gary Ahlers, who has put numerous volunteer hours in at the school,, was the Assistant Coach of the Year.
Ahlers’ daughter, Madison, was also given special recognition for being the only three-sport athlete in the Class of 2011. She competed in soccer, basketball and track.
Also getting recognition Thursday were a pair of retiring coaches. John Stam is stepping down from his post as head boys golf coach — he was co-Head Coach of the Year in 2010 — and Don Reid, who has served as an assistant coach in football and track for 27 years, is wrapping up his career.
For Delano, who was an instrumental part of the 2010 state championship squad, he will continue his soccer career at Colorado Christian.
Delano was one of four boys soccer players to be nominated for the Clendenen Award.
Delano said he was nervous heading into the panel interviews as it was his first formal interview experience.
Along with the boys soccer state title in the fall, this spring running track, Delano also earned a piece of two relay state titles, the 400- and 800-meters.
“This year’s been kind of like a dream,” he said. “It’s hard to wrap my head around it or put it into words. It’s definitely a year I won’t forget…this award is a nice cherry on the top. It’s everything I could ask for.”
Army Reserve Scholar Athlete Award
Lindsay Benage, Michael Leslie
U.S. Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete
Billy Cooper, Emily TenCate
Wally Walters Memorial Scholarship
Megan Reader, Daniel Roybal
James E. Stewart Scholarship
Black Lion Award
NMAA Sportsmanship Award nominees
Madison Ahlers, Kamille Chavez,
NMADA Scholar Athlete Award
Madison Ahlers, Andy Thoma
Assistant Coach of the Year
Head Coach of the Year
Clendenen Student Athletes of the Year
Shannon Blair, Graham Delano