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Central honors its winter athletes

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GIRLS BASKETBALL:Team award winners for girls basketball during Wednesday’s Clinton Central winter sports banquet included, from left, Jessica Akard (mental attitude), Hannah McQuinn (Coaches Award), Cassidi Jenkins (Coaches Award), Kendall Davison (Lindsay Howe Award) and Kaylea Whitcomb (most valuable player).
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GIRLS SWIMMING:Team award winners for girls swimming during Wednesday’s Clinton Central winter sports banquet included, from left, Isabelle Hendrickson (top stroke and top points), Kylie Gilmore (top distance), Carly Ellis (most improved), Grace Atkisson (most improved), Ally Webster (top diver), Mollie McDaniel (most versatile) and Brogan Sheets (most dedicated and top sprints). Not pictured is Kailie Burnette (most dedicated).
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WRESTLING:Team award winners for wrestling during Wednesday’s Clinton Central winter sports banquet included, from left, Matthew Harker (most improved), Tallon Surber (Jeremy Schultz Award), Domonic Warthan (mental attitude) and Kolt Keller (most valuable wrestler and leadership awards).
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BOYS BASKETBALL:Team award winners for boys basketball during Wednesday’s Clinton Central winter sports banquet included, from left, Logan Whiteman (most improved), Levi Jenkins (Ralph Webb Award), Nate Martin (Bucket Getter Award and USPS Award), Ross Cripe (most valuable player), Spencer Smith (Windex Award) and Blaidon Webb (Ralph Webb Award).
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CHEER: Team award winners for cheerleading during Wednesday’s Clinton Central winter sports banquet included, from left, Kelcy Jarrell (most improved), Morgan Smith (mental attitude), Shealynne Bolinger (best jumps) and Kayla Merriman (top all-around).
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BOYS SWIMMING:Team award winners for boys swimming during Wednesday’s Clinton Central winter sports banquet included, from left, Erik McCarty (most dedicated, top sprints and most points), John Dunn (top distance), Blake Mosbaugh (top sprints), Wreese Sheets (most versatile), Colton Payne (most improved), Owen Smith (top stroke) and Tyler Ray (top diver). Not pictured Aiden Hendrickson (top stroke).

BY ANDREW KRULL - akrull@ftimes.com

Clinton Central celebrated its student-athletes on Wednesday with its annual winter sports banquet, with the Bulldogs seeing progress in most all of its sports during the past season.

“We’ve had those seasons where we don’t have the type of winning seasons that we would hope for, but we work our tails off and try to get the most out of the kids that we can,” Central athletic director Nathan Burkle told the Times on Friday about his coaches and programs. “As small as we are, it can be tough from year to year to get the winning seasons that we hope for, but we get the most out of the kids that we can.”

He agreed that all the winter programs took steps forward.

“I think each sport in and of itself showed a lot of progress and our coaches are really invested in wanting to continue that improvement whether it be through off-season workouts, summer workouts,” Burkle said. “We’ve got a number of kids that are interested in getting back in the weight room and that’s even before the summer gets here to get started up and get ready for the month of June where a lot of our sports will be competing in the shootouts for basketball or some camps.”

Both the boys and girls basketball teams registered more wins than the previous year, with the boys winning three games after a winless 2017-2018 campaign and the girls going 10-12 with two more wins than the previous season.

The wrestling team battled low numbers throughout the year, starting with only seven wrestlers, but had quality performances with those limited numbers. Two Central wrestlers qualified for regional, with heavyweight Kolt Keller qualifying for the semistate after winning sectional and regional championships.

Burkle sees the team’s depth getting stronger as the program builds up in the lower grades.

“We finished up the season with 20 (junior high participants),” he said. “I think we started the season with 25 or 26 kids, but finished up with 20. We have seven or eight eighth graders that have a lot of potential and if they continue with that they’ll be able to fill a weight class next year that we don’t currently have filled.

“We’re looking at potentially 11 to 12 kids that will be able to wrestle for us next year, so that will be nice,” Burkle added.

The swimming team continued to flourish, with more promise in the future.

“We’ve got a lot of good freshmen and sophomores where a lot will be expected of them,” Burkle said. “You’ve got a couple of (incoming) freshmen that are capable of taking records off that board in the pool area that have been standing for a long, long time.

“(Sophomore) Erik McCarty, I think he broke three records this year. That’s off the high school (varsity) board, but we’ve got a freshmen board up and even some of those records have aged. So, it’s difficult to break some of those records, especially as an incoming freshman.”

He noted Blake Mosbaugh and Wreese Sheets were a couple of this year’s first-year swimmers that have “a lot of potential out of that freshmen class. We’re looking for a lot out of them over the next couple of years.”

During Wednesday’s banquet, the school honored around 80 athletes who competed for Central this past season. Burkle recognized the work of maintenance and custodial staff, as well as concession and other volunteers that made the games possible.

“Those little things that are really in the background, but I wanted to bring them to the foreground and show my appreciation for all that they do for the athletic department,” he said.

“Our booster club president Randy Weaver did talk about what the students learned throughout the season, what they gained from being coached and what the coaches gained from working with the students,” Burkle noted of Weaver, who also does the public address work for most Central sports. “He hears the entire gamut from not only our crowd but the opposing team.

“He knows that the Clinton Central community is head and shoulders above what some of the other schools provide in their support. There are pockets of folks that may be critical of the coaches or critical of the players, but they are far beyond better than what he tends to hear from other schools in other communities.”

Burkle said that Weaver gave a good talk describing “how the kids represent themselves well and how the coaches do a good job of working with the kids and getting the most out of the kids.”

After a buffet-style meal, each coach spoke about their team’s season with awards presented for each squad. Those recipients are detailed below for each sport.

Boys basketball

Recipients of awards for boys basketball included Ross Cripe (most valuable player), Nate Martin (Bucket Getter Award and USPS Award), Spencer Smith (Windex Award), Logan Whiteman (most improved), Levi Jenkins (Ralph Webb Award) and Blaidon Webb (Ralph Webb Award).

Girls basketball

Recipients of awards for girls basketball were Kaylea Whitcomb (most valuable player), Jessica Akard (mental attitude), Kendall Davison (Lindsay Howe Award), Hannah McQuinn (Coaches Award) and Cassidi Jenkins (Coaches Award).

Swimming

Recipients of awards for boys swimming included Erik McCarty (most dedicated, top sprints and top points), Colton Payne (most improved), most versatile (Wreese Sheets), Blake Mosbaugh (top sprints), Aiden Hendrickson (top stroke), Owen Smith (top stroke), John Dunn (top distance) and Tyler Ray (top diver).

Recipients of awards for the girls team were Kailie Burnette (most dedicated), Brogan Sheets (most dedicated and top sprints), Carly Ellis (most improved), Grace Atkisson (most improved), Mollie McDaniel (most versatile), Isabelle Hendrickson (top stroke and top points), Kylie Gilmore (top distance) and Ally Webster (top diver).

Wrestling

Team award winners for the wrestling team included Kolt Keller (most valuable wrestler and the Leadership Award), Matthew Harker (most improved), Domonic Warthan (mental attitude) and Tallon Surber (Jeremy Schultz Award).

Cheer

Recipients of awards for the cheer team were Kayla Merriman (top all-around performer), Shea Bolinger (best jumps), Kelcy Jarrell (most improved) and Morgan Smith (mental attitude).