the 2020-21 Times Herald Athlete of the year

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Jul. 2—In my column on Saturday I talked about creating an Athlete of the Year. Our area has been blessed with hard-working, talented kids, but when it came down to it, three boys and three girls came immediately to mind, Trey Reed, Jordan Wildman and Jaylen Mullen, Alaina Thorne, Kalea Fleming and Anna Ballengee.

Reed dominated high school baseball this year. He will be going to pitch at Indiana State next fall for baseball, while setting the wins record for WHS in just three years. Reed also was a 1,000 yard rusher and passer for the Hatchet gridiron gang. He was often the best player on the field and at 6-5, could easily be play NCAA football somewhere as a North-South All-Star. He was also was an all-PAC basketball player and the primary focus of the Hatchet offense. Trey was one of those rare athletes at the 3A level who can dominate at that level, because in bigger schools they often specialize.

Jaylen Mullen will be starting his junior year at North Daviess in the fall and just like Reed, he was in the conversation as the Player of the year in three different sports. In fact out of five possible All-Area teams (spring of 2020 was cancelled), he has been on all five.

Most people think of Jaylen as a point guard who can score or as a scoring guard with great court vison. Either way, he dominates the Cougar attack and has two more years to see if he can take them to all the way to Bankers Life. Mullen led the area in hitting this spring along with a perfect 7-0 record on the hill. He was co-player of the year in tennis as well.

Jordan Wildman of Loogootee was also a triple treat in 2020-21. He was co-Player of the year in tennis and led LHS to a sectional title, He was an extremely versatile player on the diamond, again leading the Lions to regional as well as being sectional runners up in basketball losing to the future state champions. His gritty play and tenacious style translated from sport-to-sport. He could score from anywhere on the court, but his biggest pressure moments may have come in a shut-down relief effort during baseball sectional this year.

Alaina Thorne is just a junior, but she is establishing herself as the best female athlete in Washington in over a decade. The 6-footer was named to the junior All-Star game this year and should be a solid candidate for the Indiana All-Stars next year. She led WHS in scoring and rebounding, as well as winning back to back sectionals. She is an excellent tennis player, again helping WHS to two sectionals and a team appearance at state. She is also a monster in the front row for the Lady Volleyball team and has drawn collegiate interest in that sport as well, as WHS continues to get better in that sport as well.

Anna Ballengee of Barr-Reeve is one of the most highly decorated athletes at Barr-Reeve. The former All-American, two-time state champion, all state volleyball player will be heading to USI for volleyball next year. However, she was just as impressive this spring, taking up both tennis, shot and discus and qualifying for regional in tennis (as an individual) and in discus. She also returned to the basketball court for the first time in several seasons and helped the Lady Vikings to an outstanding season.

Kalea Fleming was also a four sport-star for Loogootee, going to state in track for a third time, running cross country, leading the Lady Lions back to state in basketball, along with being co-player of the year, and playing on a sectional winning tennis team.

There were others who also had great seasons, some were excellent three-sport athletes, some excelled in two and some dominated one, others just made every program better because of the work they put in. These players are in no order and there are several that I'm just forgetting about, but most of them were mentioned over the course of the year on various all-area teams. Players like Addison Ainscough, Hannah Graber, Abby Ballengee, Brycen Graber, Hagen Knepp, Jeremy Wildman, Makenzie and Kylie VanHoy, Peyton Bledson, Louk Gray, Seth Holtsclaw, Zack Gray, Bella Thorne, Kencia Levasseur, Mya Knepp, Madde Miller, Daryn Lengacher, Josh Krusenklaus, Alex Steffey and Ally Cline all had outstanding seasons and represented there schools and communities, many of who were vital parts of some very successful teams, but 2020-21 was a different and difficult season and I believe when it was all said and done, these six athletes answered the call.

Prepare for 2021-22, new faces, new champions and a new outlook.

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