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From high school stars to a baseball legend, Governor's State of Sport Awards honor Utah's best

SALT LAKE CITY — From high school athletes to a baseball legend, the Fifth Annual Governor’s State of Sport Awards recognized some of the best players and moments of 2015 Tuesday at Vivint Arena.

Pittsburg Pirates pitcher Vernon “The Deacon” Law was emotional as he accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award.

“What can I say,” he said, stopping to regain his composure. “I’ve had a couple of great anchors — my family and the (LDS) church.”

He congratulated the other athletes honored at Tuesday night’s banquet, which was headlined by U.S. Olympic Committee chief executive officer Scott Blackmun. Also honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award was James L. Easton, a businessman, sportsman and philanthropist, who led the International Archery Federation for 16 years and helped bring the Archery World Championships to Ogden in 2009.

“The lessons learned from sports stay with us and benefit us throughout our lives,” said Gov. Gary R. Herbert. “It is great to honor the top athletes, teams and coaches in our state, and I salute each nominee for their contributions to sports in Utah.”

The winners of the 2016 Governor’s State of Sport Awards were:

Best high school female athlete — Whittni Orton, Panguitch High, cross-country, basketball, volleyball and track.

The other nominees were Kennedy Redding, Bountiful volleyball and basketball; Kimbri Herring, Stansbury softball; Sophia Foresta, Bingham BMX; Tatijana Stewart, fencing, Weber; Haylee Carriacarne, Davis soccer.

Best high school male athlete — Hunter Woodhall, Syracuse, track and field.

The other nominees were Ben Anderson, Pleasant Grove wrestling; Casey Clinger, American Fork cross-country; Frank Jackson, Lone Peak basketball; Simi Fehoko, Brighton football; Taylor Lamont, Maple Mountain wrestling.

Collegiate female athlete of the year — Georgia Dabritz, University of Utah.

The other nominees were BYU basketball’s Lexi Rydalch; BYU soccer’s Nadia Gomes; and BYU volleyball’s Alexa Gray.

Collegiate male athlete of the year — Kyle Collinsworth, BYU basketball.

The other nominees were Tom Hackett, University of Utah football; James Cowser, SUU football; and Jakob Poeltl, University of Utah basketball.

Coach of the year — Liz Wiscombe, Morgan High School volleyball.

The other nominees were Ed Lamb, SUU football; Kyle Whittingham, University of Utah football; and Larry Krystkowiak, University of Utah basketball.

Team of the year — Panguitch girls basketball.

The other nominees were Davis High girls soccer, University of Utah gymnastics and University of Utah men’s basketball.

Pro/Olympic female athlete of the year — Kiley McKinnon, USSA freestyle aerialist.

The other nominees were Brittany Bowe, U.S. speedskating; Emma Garrard, Xterra champion; Liz Stephen, USSA cross-country skier.

Pro/Olympic male athlete of the year — Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz.

The other nominees were Ted Ligety, USSA alpine skier; Tony Finau, PGA golfer; Ziggy Ansah, Detroit Lions.

The event/highlight of the year was the Hail Mary touchdown at Nebraska by BYU's Tanner Mangum and Mitch Mathews. The other nominees were University of Utah punter Tom Hackett’s fake punt against BYU; Real Salt Lake’s free kick set piece on June 27; the Tour of Utah; the University of Utah men’s basketball win over Duke at Madison Square Garden; and the Web.com Tour’s 18th hole playoff.

Nicole Roundy, a Paralympic snowboarder, and David Blair, a Paralympic track athlete, were honored as Adaptive Athletes of the Year.

Email: adonaldson@deseretnews.com

Twitter: adonsports