Tough choices


Three times a year The Daily News releases its all-area selections for the fall, winter and spring sports seasons.

Let’s just say its not my most favorite thing to do. Reason being, it is so hard to pick sometimes.

Now, there are athletes that separate themselves and make their decision a no-brainer. Many times that is not the case. Then what?

It becomes really difficult when trying to decide with six schools of different sizes, conferences and competition. I attend many games throughout each season and watch how everyone performs.

Coaches send in nominations, which isn’t the final say, and I go over the lists from there. I try to put together the best teams possible, but not everyone will agree. That would be impossible. Today’s winter all-area page was no different.

My players of the year were Austin Somerfield of Greenville (boys basketball), Leah Somerfield of Greenville (girls basketball) and Jordan Thomas of Greenville (wrestling).

Deciding all three were difficult.

I chose Thomas in wrestling over Jordan Betham of Lakeview and Kenneth Dittenber of Carson-City Crystal. All three were individual state champions and well deserving.

Thomas was selected for many reasons including his undefeated season and third straight state title, not to mention his 219-3 career overall record. Had it not been for Taylor Massa of St. Johns, Thomas would have been a four-time state champion. Instead, Massa became a four-time state champion and finished his career undefeated.

Betham is graduating and Dittenber will be chasing a third straight title next year as a senior.

As for the all-area selections, wrestling has been rather easy the past two years. All selections were, at a minimum, state qualifiers, which totaled 16 area wrestlers.

In boys basketball, I choose Austin Somerfield over  teammate Chris Mickey and Montabella’s Charley Helmer.

Two earned all-state honorable mentions, Somerfield in Class A and Helmer in Class C. All three are extremely talented and will continue their careers at the next level.

Somerfield got the nod because of Greenville’s brutal schedule, especially in the O-K White Conference. He was a consistent scoring and rebounding threat every night. And he helped lead Greenville to its first conference title since 1993 and a 19-1 regular season. Mickey helped to do the same things and was the hardest to decide against.

In girls basketball, I chose Somerfield over Montabella’s Sarah Miller.

Both are sophomores and put up similar numbers. While Somerfield did not earn first team league honors, which I think was a major oversight, Miller did.

Both faced constant double and even triple teams all year long.

Somerfield got the nod again because of the schedule and strength of opponents. Facing East Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Christian and Northview twice in conference play is pretty tough.

The decision was a tough one and one that will not change in the next couple of years. Next year, any one of today’s first team could be player of the year.

There will be plenty of new faces on the boys team next year as 12 of the 15 players selected were seniors. Only seven of the 15 girls selected were seniors.

It is nice to honor our area athletes for their hard work all year long. I hope you enjoy this feature.

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