The 30th ESPY Awards, the annual ceremony devoted to honoring standout professional and collegiate athletes and teams of the past year, aired on Wednesday.
It's the sports equivalent to the Oscars or Grammys, so Star Local Media has decided in recent years to put a high school spin on the concept.
Over the past school year, Carrollton, Lewisville and Flower Mound have showcased no shortage of notable individual and team athletic achievements, so it is only appropriate to put the last season of local citywide sports into an award-winning perspective. This month, the city’s top athletes, teams and games will be recognized among nine different awards.
With that said, Star Local Media concludes the 10th edition of The Varsitys.
Best Male Athlete
Conrad Hendriksen, Creekview wrestling
The Creekview wrestling program enjoyed its most productive stretch on the wrestling mats from 2020-22, twice placing in the top four of the team standings at the 5A state meet. Hendriksen had his fingerprints all over that success.
After a 2-2 finish at state during his freshman season in 2019, Hendriksen earned All-American honors that summer and took off over the next three years of his high school career.
The Tennessee-Chattanooga commit won three consecutive state championships, including an undefeated senior season that culminated in receiving most outstanding wrestler honors for the 5A state meet.
He scored more than 20 points in each of his first three matches and then cemented a championship at 120 pounds after taking a 14-7 decision in the finals.
Best Female Athlete
Natalie Cook, Flower Mound cross country and track
Between races won, records broken and medals earned, Cook did it all and then some during a prolific 2021-22 season.
Sidelined for nearly a year of competition due to a navicular stress fracture in her foot that was sustained during her sophomore season, Cook rebounded to produce perhaps the greatest single season of any Lewisville ISD student-athlete.
She won an individual state championship in cross country during the fall and two more during track season in the spring, winning both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. She helped lead the Flower Mound girls to team state titles in both sports.
Cook also captured three national championships, broke the national high school record in the 5K (15:25.93) and set the state records in the 1,600 (4:36.96) and 3,200 (9:48.25). She was named the Gatorade Texas Girls Player of the Year in both cross country and track.
Bound for Oklahoma State to begin her college career, it's no stretch to say that Cook departs Flower Mound as arguably the greatest high school long-distance runner in state history.
Flower Mound girls cross country/track and field
The Lady Jaguars' success in one sport wouldn't be possible without the other, and both fittingly ended the 2021-22 school year hoisting a 6A state championship.
Flower Mound continued its success on the cross country circuit by defending its state title in November and doing so in convincing fashion — the top five of Natalie Cook, Nicole Humphries, Samantha Humphries, Virginia Knight and Alexandra Fox collectively totaled 41 points in the team standings, 66 ahead of second-place Prosper's 109.
Cook won the individual state championship with a time of 16:32.4, while Nicole Humphries finished fourth (17:39.3) and Samantha Humphries took 12th (18:11.2).
Flower Mound's long-distance arsenal came through once again during springtime, fueling the program's first-ever state title in track and field. The Lady Jaguars accrued 68 points in the state with 58 coming in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs.
Led by two more gold medals for Cook, Flower Mound went so far as to sweep the top three spots on the podium in the 1,600 and 3,200.
Samantha Humphries added a first-place finish in the 800, while also running the mile and two-mile, and Riley Ward captured gold in the high jump after missing her entire sophomore season with an ACL injury.
"It was pretty emotional. For as long as I've been at Flower Mound, I remember how long we spent searching for that first state title in cross country," said Andrew Cook, Flower Mound head coach. "We had gotten second and third quite a bit before winning these last two, but to get a win like that in track is just incredible. I wasn't sure if we'd ever do something like that at Flower Mound, but to see it all come together with the way the kids competed in their events was amazing."