The 2019-20 high school sports season came to an end all too soon, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the athletes of Tooele County made the most of their shortened sports schedule, showing that there’s some pretty good talent to be had west of the Oquirrh Mountains. That made selecting a Male Athlete of the Year particularly difficult this year, given that there were so many talented nominees – all of whom were deserving of the honor.
While top honors went to Grantsville senior Ammon Bartley, here’s a look at some of the other athletes from around the county who rose to the top of the list this year (in alphabetical order).
Carson Belnap, senior, Stansbury cross country — Belnap wasn’t just a standout on the local level or even just within the state of Utah. After cruising to the Region 10 and Class 4A state championships and helping Stansbury win the team state title, he finished ninth at the Nike Cross Nationals against a field of more than 200 of the nation’s best runners.
Parker Hansen, sophomore, Tooele cross country/wrestling — Hansen was a key contributor for the Buffaloes’ cross-country team, which finished 17th at the Class 4A state meet in October. However, it was on the wrestling mat where Hansen truly stood out. Despite weighing just 98 pounds on the final day of the Class 4A state tournament, he managed to battle his way through the consolation bracket to finish third at 106 pounds.
Kru Huxford, junior, Stansbury football/boys basketball — Huxford was a first-year starting quarterback for the Stallions in their first year running coach Eric Alder’s spread offense. All the junior did was throw for 2,222 yards and 20 touchdowns while running for 688 yards and seven scores as Stansbury finished second in Region 10. Huxford was also a valuable contributor off the bench for the Stallions on the basketball court.
Justin Rogers, junior, Tooele boys basketball — After an offseason health scare, Rogers was better than ever for the Buffs this season. He ranked fourth in Class 4A in scoring at 17.8 points per game and led the classification with 9.5 rebounds per contest, earning a spot on the Class 4A All-State Second Team.
Jackson Sandberg, senior, Grantsville football/boys basketball — Sandberg quarterbacked Grantsville to the Class 3A semifinals, earning Region 13 Offensive Most Valuable Player honors in addition to a spot on the Class 3A All-State Second Team. He was an Honorable Mention All-State selection on the basketball court, shooting 54% from the field while averaging 10.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
Peyton Thevenot, senior, Stansbury boys golf/boys basketball — Thevenot has signed a national Letter-of-Intent to play golf at John A. Logan College in Illinois, and it’s not hard to see why after he finished in the top-20 at the Class 4A state tournament. He led Stansbury’s basketball team to its best regular season ever, earning a Third Team All-State spot.
Zane Thomas, senior, Grantsville swimming — For the second year in a row, Thomas won the 100-yard backstroke at the Class 3A state swim meet in February, capping a successful high school career. One year earlier, he became the first male swimmer in Grantsville history to win a state championship.
Gavin Ware, senior, Tooele football/boys basketball — Ware was the Buffaloes’ second-leading rusher and third-leading receiver and ranked second on the team in tackles and interceptions. He provided Tooele’s basketball team with an energy boost as the Buffs advanced to the second round of the Class 4A state tournament.
Porter Whitworth, senior, Grantsville cross country — Whitworth successfully defended his Class 3A state cross-country title, pulling away late to win his second championship in a row. Had the spring track season not been canceled, Whitworth, a Brigham Young University signee, would have been favored to add to his state-title total.