September 28, 2015
State Games Athletes of the Year, Final Results Announced
The Nebraska Sports Council (NSC) has announced its 2015 State Games Athletes of the Year, including BMX and mountain biker Clay Clapp, 15, of Omaha, NE; wrestler Josh Majerus, 28, of Genoa, NE; Fencer Amanda Bush, 33, of Greenwood, NE and muzzleloader Sandy Gesch, 65, of Lincoln, NE.
NSC Officials also released the final participant statistics from the 2015 State Games of America (SGA), noting a total of 15,244 participants from 47 states and the District of Columbia. Nebraska had the highest total with 11,897 followed by Iowa with 497, Kansas—438, Texas—318, Wisconsin—315 and Oklahoma—191. Top sports were soccer—1,511, basketball—1,235, track and field—1,156, volleyball—1,128 and softball—864.
The Athlete of the Year honorees were chosen by a panel of six sports journalists based on criteria including their 2015 State Games performance, past State Games participation, other athletic achievements, sportsmanship, citizenship and special circumstances.
Clapp, a sophomore at Benson High School, was chosen as Youth Athlete of the Year for earning gold medals in both BMX racing and mountain biking in the same day despite a recent ankle sprain. He was nominated by SGA BMX Director Todd Kay, who noted that Clapp is a frequent volunteer at the Omaha BMX track and has shown “a level of riding skill way beyond his actual age.”
Majerus teaches physical education while coaching football, wrestling and track & field at Twin Rivers High School in Genoa. In six years of State Games wrestling competition, the Boone Central (Albion, NE) alum has never lost a match, going 48-0 since ending his college wrestling career in 2008. This year, he won three gold medals and his fourth State Games Iron Man Award. At Chadron State College, Majerus was a three-time All-American and earned the 2008 Div. II National Championship in the 197 lb. weight class.
According to State Games Fencing Director Trish Souliere, Bush was a “fencing powerhouse” and member of the Nebraska High School Fencing Team as a youth. Having given the sport up for more than 12 years after high school, she made a triumphant return in 2013, mainly as a tribute to her cancer-stricken father who had always enjoyed watching her fence. At this year’s Games, she earned two golds, a silver and two bronze medals. As the only woman to compete in all three categories, she easily won the State Games Iron Sword award.
While Gesch has competed in the State Games for 26 years, she is better known in the Nebraska Sports Council family as a tireless volunteer, advocate and now, cancer survivor. From 1985-1992, she and her husband Norm helped Norm’s Uncle Russ White with the State Games track & field meet before and while successfully petitioning for the addition of muzzleloading, which they’ve directed since its Games debut in 1989. She took a break from competing, but not volunteering, upon her stage-4 breast cancer diagnosis in 2013. After six months of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and two months of radiation, she was declared cancer-free and returned to competition in 2015, winning 3 golds, two silvers and two bronze medals and earning the E. Lee Todd State Games Senior Athlete of the Year Award.
The Athletes of the Year will receive awards at the Nebraska Sports Council’s annual awards banquet on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Downtown in Lincoln. Other honorees at the banquet include the Joe Neal Volunteer of the Year, Russ White Sport Director of the Year and State Games Sport Directors celebrating five-, 10-, 15-, 20-, 25- and 30-years of service.
As State Games Youth, Male and Female Athletes of the Year, Clapp, Majerus and Bush have been nominated for consideration as National Congress of State Games Athletes of the Year, which will be announced at the organization’s annual symposium October 26-28 in Portland. The E. Lee Todd Senior Athlete of the Year Award is specific to Nebraska.
The Nebraska Sports Council is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization with a mission of providing quality athletic competition and promoting healthy lifestyle choices. Upcoming events, besides the awards banquet, include the Pumpkin Run at Pioneers Park in Lincoln on Oct. 10 and the LinConnect youth activities expo at the Lancaster Event Center on Nov. 15. Learn more at NebraskaSportsCouncil.com.
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