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All-Area all-stars celebrate memorable seasons

Emily Moore, of Evangelical Christian School, shares a laugh with Chelsa Messinger, of WINK Sports, during an interview on the red carpet at the All-Area All Stars Banquet at Germain Arena on Tuesday night.

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None of the parents of Cape Coral diver Megan Galbreath and Fort Myers runner Josh Kennedy’s had their cameras ready during the announcement of the Female and Male Athlete of the Year awards Tuesday at the Sixth Annual News-Press All-Area Stars banquet.

All-Area athletes walk the red carpet

Chelsa Messinger, of WINK News, talks to the News-Press All-Area all stars on Tuesday to kick off the All-Area Stars Banquet at Germain Arena.

A few of Emmitt Smith’s heartfelt answers

NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, was the guest speaker at the Sixth Annual News-Press All-Area Stars at Germain Arena. The former Gator and Dallas Cowboys running back’s message to the 200-plus Southwest Florida athletes in attendance was heartfelt.

The News-Press All-Area Stars: Female and Male Athlete of the Year

As a diver, Megan won district, regional and state titles and she sported a 5.48 GPA. Kennedy won the LCAC cross country and placed 18th in Class 3A in the fall and also won the county two-mile title in track. The junior has a 5.04 GPA.

Jeff Sommer Memorial Coach of the Year Award: Dwayne Donnell

On the court, Donnell led the Tigers to a 26-5 record and a State Final Four appearance, his team’s seventh such trip that includes one state title and four state runner-up finishes.

An evening with Emmitt Smith

Southwest Florida fans and The News-Press All-Area high-school stars get a chance to talk to Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith Tuesday night at German Arena. Video by Craig Handel

Describing an all-star night in a word – or 2

The News-Press All-Area high-school stars share what this night at Germain Arena Tuesday night means to them. Video by Craig Handel

Josh Kennedy, of Fort Myers High School, and Megan Galbreath, of Cape Coral High School, are named male and female Athlete of the Year during the News-Press All-Area Stars Awards Banquet at Germain Arena on Tuesday night.

Josh Kennedy, of Fort Myers High School, and Megan Galbreath, of Cape Coral High School, are named male and female Athlete of the Year during the News-Press All-Area Stars Awards Banquet at Germain Arena on Tuesday night.

Thinking neither of the finalist won their individual sports, there was no need.

That’s when the bios of the winners started to sound familiar.

Galbreath, a Harvard signee, may have lost out to four-time Female Swimmer of the Year Kendall Brent of Fort Myers, but she came out on top when the final awards were announced. The state champion diver dedicated her award to her coach Jenn Panicaro, who suffered a brain aneurysm days before the regional meet this season.

Galbreath wasn’t sure she’d finish the season much less win state. While she was surprised to be heading to the stage to accept the award it was the perfect ending to a tough season.

“There’s just so many amazing athletes out there,” Galbreath said. “It’s been a tough year. It’s been an amazing year. I’d never thought it’d happen.”

Kennedy didn’t think he’d be in the running for Male Athlete of the Year after Fort Myers teammate Evan Babatz took home honors in cross country and track and field. His perfect SAT score and work in the community made him a perfect fit for the award honoring athletic achievement as well as academic achievement.

“I’m just thrilled,” Kennedy said. “I’d really like to thank my parents. My mom, first of all, for pushing me academically and athletically and for driving me to practice for two years. I’d also like to thank Coach (Yancey) Palmer because without his excellent coaching I wouldn’t even have been a finalist.”

Emmitt Smith delivers heartfelt message to All-Area stars

It was a breakout season for Kennedy as he finished 18th in Class 3A and took on a leadership role with the Green Wave.

“It meant a lot to me to show our younger runners what it means to represent Fort Myers High School,” Kennedy said. “I wanted to show them what hard work is all about.”

Repeat winners included Fort Myers’ John Carlin, who won the Boys Tennis Player of the Year for the third year in a row, Ida Baker bowler Tyler Altmann, Bishop Verot swimmer Santiago Corredor, Brent, Fort Myers golfer Landon Weber and Fort Myers’ Krissy Gear (cross country and track and field).

“It’s like a dream come true,” Brent said.

Naples swept the football categories with University of Tennessee signees Tyler Byrd and Carlin Fils-aime taking home Defensive Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year, respectively.

“It means everything. It’s just a blessing to be here,” Byrd said. “To start four years and get where I am now, I couldn’t do it without my parents and the support of my coaches and other teammates.”

Donnell takes home Jeff Sommer Coach of the Year award

While Estero’s Taylor Hatch was named the Girls Soccer Player of the Year, Erick Rivera became the second straight Mariner player to win the Boys Soccer Player of the Year award.

“It means that all the hard work has actually paid off,” Rivera said.

Wrestler of the Year Mike Delago, Girls Basketball Player of the Year Destanni Henderson and Volleyball Player of the Year Alayna Ryan added to the list of Fort Myers’ winners.

In the baseball and softball categories, Bishop Verot senior Michael Richey and North Fort Myers junior MacKenzie Peterson prevailed.

“I was just shocked. It was crazy,” Peterson said. “It was just awesome to be put in this position.”

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