County STARS shine Awards handed out at annual banquet

LECANTO — On Thursday night, the 10th annual Chronicle Student Athletic Recognitions were held essentially next door from Lecanto High at the College of Central Florida.

Fitting, since so many Panthers collected awards throughout the ceremony. A Lecanto athlete was named Player of the Year in nine different sports, as well as both Male and Female Scholar Athlete of the Year, plus Male and Female Athlete of the Year.

“It feels great, just an absolute blessing. Four years of hard work,” Lecanto senior Austin D’Anna said. “I put in a lot of extra hours on and off the field, and it wouldn’t have been possible without God, my family, my parents are my biggest supporters, all my teammates; without them, these awards don’t happen.”

D’Anna was a repeat selection as Boys Soccer Player of the Year following a season in which he tallied 49 goals and 15 assists, carrying the Panthers to regionals. He was also a key player for a boys golf squad that won a regional championship and a boys tennis team that claimed a district crown.

All of that earned D’Anna, who has signed to play soccer at Division I Boston University, Male Athlete of the Year.

“As a senior, and having the coaches allow me to do the three sports with my travel soccer; the schedules, they allowed me to be able to do that, which is a huge shoutout to them. Not all coaches would have done that,” D’Anna said. “But to be able to play three sports and have success in all of them my senior year, this is a great way to go out.”

Harrison Mancke, another Lecanto senior, was the choice for Female Athlete of the Year for the second straight year.

She was the Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year, placing fourth at states in the discus and fifth in the shot put to earn medals in both events. A nominee for Girls Weightlifting Lifter of the Year, she garnered a state medal in that sport, as well, with a third-place finish.

“I very much appreciate getting recognized for all my athletic achievements. It’s a great honor to be recognized out of all the great athletes that we have in this county,” said Mancke, who is signed to compete in track at Division I Florida International. “It means I’m going out with a bang and I’m not going to be forgotten, at least for now.”

Greg Buettner, a Lecanto senior cross country team captain and state qualifier in track, was named Male Scholar Athlete of the Year thanks to his athletic accomplishments combined with a sparkling 4.85 weighted GPA.

Alexandra Thomasson, yet another senior for the Panthers, was Female Scholar Athlete of the Year, having stood out on the volleyball court while returning to states in track. In the meantime, she maintained a 4.8 weighted and 4.0 unweighted GPA.

The Will Bleakley MVP awards went to Seven Rivers Christian junior Markel Pryor, a multi-event state medalist in track and a major contributor in football, and Crystal River sophomore Zahria Jenkins.

Jenkins cleaned up at the ceremony, also taking home Player of the Year for girls basketball, where she averaged 17.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, 6.3 steals, 3.1 assists and 1.6 blocks, and for flag football, where she was the starting quarterback for the district champion Pirates.

“It’s a good feeling. I feel like I worked hard for this,” Jenkins said. “It was a fun experience and I’m definitely thankful.

“It shows that I did what I wanted to do. I worked toward my goal.”

Other repeat winners were Crystal River seniors Abby Epstein, in volleyball, and Tyler Pollard, for Defensive Player of the Year in football.

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