For the second year, News-Press NOW recognized two of the area’s top prep student-athletes with an award named after a St. Joseph legend.
Savannah junior Braden Berry and Benton senior Brooke-Lynn Rush received the second annual Bill Snyder Awards as the top male and female athletes in northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas.
Both athletes were surprised with the award at their respective schools last week.
Berry, a baseball and basketball player for the Savages. The senior-to-be led the Class 4 semifinalists with 47 1/3 innings pitched, notching a 2.07 ERA in nine starts. He finished the season 7-1 with 52 strikeouts. The All-News-Press NOW Baseball Player of the Year batted .392 with a team-high four home runs and 36 total RBIs. Twelve of his 29 hits went for extra bases, and he added five stolen bases.
“It seemed like every important game, we put Braden on the mound,” Savannah baseball coach Erich Bodenhausen said. “Being a No. 4 hitter in our lineup and a great first baseman for us, that really helped us get as far as we went.”
He expressed his demeanor in a Class 4 quarterfinal against Pembroke Hill. Despite giving up multiple runs in a shaky first, though only was earned due to errors, Berry shut down the Raiders a 105-pitch, seven-strikeout performance while notching a team-high two hits.
“I was just there for my team. I’m a very big competitor,” Berry said. “I get mad, but you might not see it. I just like to compete.”
Rush, the first All-News-Press Now Girls Wrestler of the Year after she went 21-0 at 152 pounds and handed St. Genevieve sophomore Kaylee Gross her only loss of the season with a 6-5 decision to win the state championship.
This all came after dealing with a sprained knee that kept her out weeks, including at the conference tournament.
“It was exciting for her to get to compete against the girls this year and cap it off with an undefeated record and state championship,” Benton coach Brad Hubbard said. “She’s deserved it.”
Out of Rush’s 21 matches, 18 of them were victories by pinfall, with her taking two opens in dual competition. Her only match that went the distance was the state championship bout with Gross.
Seven of Rush’s 21 victories were over state qualifiers at 152 pounds, including a quick pin at the 1:07 mark against Kirkwood sophomore Emma Schreiber (23-4), who ended up taking fourth place down in Columbia.
“It was very emotional. I’ve wrestled for Benton for four years,” Rush said of her state title win. “It was sad I won’t be wrestling with them again.”
Rush will continue her career at Missouri Valley.
The Bill Snyder Award is named after the Lafayette grad and retired Kansas State football coach. Snyder led the greatest turnaround in college football history, leading the first program to lose 500 games and eventually winning two Big 12 titles.
Snyder, who was born and raised in St. Joe, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2015.