Athletes of the Year: Colorado

Updated: May 18, 2009, 8:12 PM ET
ESPN RISE Magazine

Editor's note: ESPN RISE Magazine honors the top individual athletes in each of the magazine's 25 regions. Disagree with our choices? Vote for your favorite athletes here. And check out the honorees from other regions here.

Boys' Athlete of the Year

NICK KASA
Legacy / Football
Kasa's defensive play this season earned him plenty of accolades on both the state and national level. The Denver Post named the senior Colorado recruit, who is rated the nation's No. 17 defensive lineman in the ESPNU 150, the Defensive Player of the Year in Colorado. He recorded 59 tackles in his senior season, 40 solo, and finished his career with 207 tackles, 130 unassisted. He also recorded 10 sacks this past fall, finishing with 31.5 for his prep career. Kasa also played in the 2009 U.S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio.

OTHER FINALISTS

EVAN APPEL
Dakota Ridge / Cross Country
Just a few weeks after Appel defended his 5A state title with a 10-second win this fall, the senior had his best finish -- sixth -- in his third trip to the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships.

TAYLOR KEMP
Mountain View / Soccer
Kemp is the nation's No. 2 player in the ESPNU boys' soccer rankings. The senior midfielder and Maryland recruit has also played on both the U-17 and U-20 National Team.

CASEY MacMASTER
Rocky Mountain / Tennis
MacMaster was named Player of the Year by The Rocky Mountain News after winning the Class 5A state championship at No. 1 singles. He is the nation's No. 24 recruit in the Class of 2010 by TennisRecruiting.net.

Girls' Athlete of the Year

ANNA PRINS
Broomfield / Basketball
Prins, a 6-foot-6 senior, was among the most dominant girls' basketball players in Colorado because she was so physically dominant. But the senior Iowa State recruit became The Denver Post 4A-1A Player of the Year by polishing her game. By the end of her career, Prins led Broomfield to three consecutive Class 4A state titles. She averaged 14 points and seven rebounds per game this season -- and it would have been more had she not often been pulled in the second half of games when the margin of victory got out of hand.

OTHER FINALISTS

ELLEN HACKSTAFF
St. Mary's / Field Hockey
Hackstaff led St. Mary's to its first-ever state championship in field hockey. Both The Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post named the multi-position senior as the All-Colorado Player of the Year.

ALLIE McLAUGHLIN
Air Academy / Cross Country
McLaughlin, a senior, won the Class 4A state title by more than a minute, then led through two miles of the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships before eventually settling for fifth place.

KIRSTEN MILBERG
Rock Canyon / Swimming
The Denver Post Class 4A Swimmer of the Year, Milberg won the 200 IM and the 100 backstroke, setting a 4A record in the latter event. The senior also led Rock Canyon's 400 free relay team to a state record.

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