VSMA Names Vermont Athletes of the Year

VERMONT — The Vermont Sports Media Association has chosen two multi-sport standouts as its 2015 Athletes of the Years, Mount Mansfield Union High School graduate Alec Eschholz, a track, basketball and soccer star, and Essex High School graduate Kathleen Young, a championship ice hockey and field hockey player.

Eschholz, the VSMA Male Athlete of the Year, and Young, the VSMA Female Athlete of the Year, will be honored at the fourth annual Vermont Sports Hall of Fame dinner and induction celebration. The event is set for Saturday, Nov. 14, at the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton Burlington in South Burlington.

At that dinner, a dozen Vermont sports legends will be inducted into the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame. A reception will start at 6 p.m. with dinner and the induction celebration starting at 7 p.m.

VSMA members elected Eschholz and Young in statewide balloting. They were chosen from among VSMA monthly winners from this past September through August, plus several at-large candidates nominated by VSMA members.

Eschholz, a spring Mount Mansfield graduate who now attends Dartmouth College, won May Athlete of the Month honors after prevailing in three events in each of the Essex and Burlington invitational track meets that month. He set a state record in the 110-meter hurdles at Essex and also won the 200-meter dash and the 300-meter hurdles. At the Burlington meet he won the same three events.

Eschholz was also named Vermont’s Gatorade track and field winner for third straight year; lowered his own 110- and 300-hurdles state records to 14.08 and 37.52 seconds, respectively; won four Division I state meet events for the second straight year; repeated in the 300 hurdles and took second in the 110 hurdles at the New England meet; and won the Vermont decathlon with the event’s fourth-highest winning point total.

On the soccer pitch, Eschholz, a team captain, played all over the field for in his four years on the MMU varsity.

In basketball, Eschholz averaged 16.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.2 steals for MMU. The Free Press named him first team all-state. He also ran for the MMU indoor track team and won the 55-meter hurdles at the championship meet.

Young, a spring Essex graduate who is now the Harvard University field hockey team’s third-leading scorer, became Vermont’s best player in two sports. She won VSMA February Athlete of the Month honors after racking up three goals and an assist in the D-I girls’ ice hockey final in the Hornets’ 5-1 victory over Middlebury that completed an unbeaten (15-0-1) season.

Young, a four-year varsity player, finished her senior season with 34 goals and 11 assists and was named Free Press Miss Hockey for the second straight winter.

That followed a field hockey campaign in which Young repeated as Free Press Player of the Year and was named the Metro Player of the Year for helping the Hornets repeat as D-I champions. Her seven tallies and six assists last fall left her third all-time at Essex in goals (25) and first in helpers (31).

The other male nominees (grade levels as of the 2014-2015 school year) were:

  • Middlebury Union senior Austin Robinson, the Gatorade Football Player of the year, who also excelled in lacrosse and basketball.
  • St. Johnsbury senior Colton Hudson, a standout football quarterback and defender.
  • BFA Fairfax senior Matt Larose, a key member of the Bullets’ championship football and baseball teams.
  • Spaulding senior championship wrestler Sam Kuckuk.
  • Lyndon senior basketball player Jay Cobb, a 1,000 point scorer and the Capital League Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year.
  • Rice Memorial junior basketball player Kendrick Gray, the leading scorer for the Green Knights.
  • Lake Region senior pitcher Matthew Messier, who earned a baseball scholarship to St. John’s University.
  • Rice Memorial junior pitcher Will Hesslink, who pitched the Green Knights to the D-I baseball crown and has accepted a scholarship to pitch at Boston College.
  • Mount Anthony senior Tyler Mattison, an all-state football player and championship wrestler who was the top Vermont Shrine team defender.
  • Rice Memorial senior Ben Shungu, the Free Press Mr. Basketball, the Vermont Gatorade Player of the Year and the co-Metro Player of the Year.
  • Essex senior Brendan Gleason, and all-state football, ice hockey and lacrosse player.

The other female nominees were:

  • Williamstown senior Dani Jesmonth, the school’s all-time leading girls’ soccer scorer and an 18-point per game basketball scorer.
  • Champlain Valley senior soccer midfielder Paige Dubrul, the 2015 Free Press player of the year.
  • North Country senior hockey player Whitney Bernier, the D-II player of the year.
  • CVU basketball player Laurel Jaunich, who earned Gatorade, Free Press and coaches’ association player of the year awards.
  • BFA-Fairfax senior softball catcher Kayla Nester, the Mountain League Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year.
  • BFA-Fairfax senior softball pitcher Kayla Mathieu, the Mountain League Pitcher of the Year, who earned her third D-II title game win.
  • Mount St. Joseph senior Sally Hogan, a Marble Valley League all-star who was Vermont’s MVP in her July’s Twin State Basketball game..
  • MSJ junior Brynn McClallen, a high-scoring soccer player.
  • South Burlington senior Kayla Gilding, an all-state soccer and basketball player and the Vermont Gatorade girls’ track and field pick.
  • Proctor junior soccer Abby McKearin, who scored 47 girls in 2014 before she broke the all-time scoring record this fall and also helped Proctor win the D-IV basketball crown.
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