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Prep Talk Player of the Year for boys track & field: Teddy Okon, Clarence

By Keith McShea

Photo from Twitter.His Twitter handle is @Ted_jumps. And he sure does. 

Teddy Okon of Clarence is the Prep Talk Player of the Year for boys track and field for being at the top of his game throughout his career. 

Okon won the Section VI high jump and finished fifth at the state meet after having the best mark in the state for much of the season. He also won the Division I triple jump.

In indoor track, he won the last two Section VI high jump championships. He was also a second-team All-ECIC selection in volleyball.

He owns the Clarence records in the high jump and triple jump and is headed to Binghamton on a scholarship.

He talked about his award, season and future plans in a recent visit to PrepTalkTV

* * *

All Prep Talk Players of the Year will be honored at the inaugural Prep Talk Awards on June 16 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, featuring Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Reed and Janet Snyder of Kiss 98.5. The Prep Talk Awards will honor Prep Talk Players of the Year in more than 30 sports, along with the All-Western New York first teams in football and basketball. 

* * * 

Our Countdown to the Prep Talk Awards will feature a different Prep Talk Player of the Year every day -- until the big night.

The list thus far:

Five finalists for Prep Talk Coach of the Year unveiled

By Keith McShea

For the last few weeks, we have been counting down to the inaugural Prep Talk Awards on June 16 -- a week from tonight -- with a daily blog post on one of the 31 Prep Talk Players of the Year (that's one for every sport outside football and basketball). 

We're still counting down, but today is the coaches' day. 

Throughout the day, we'll be announcing the five finalists for Prep Talk Coach of the Year via the @bufnewspreptalk Twitter account, and we'll update this blog as well.

Finalists will be announced at 7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Prep Talk Player of the Year for girls rowing: Ashley Johnson, Clarence/West Side

By Keith McShea

Robert Kirkham (Buffalo News)As was the case with the Prep Talk Player of the Year for boys rowing, the honoree for girls rowing has a scheduling conflict with the Prep Talk Awards on June 16.

That scheduling conflict -- a date at USRowing's Youth Nationals in Sacramento, Calif. -- is part of the reason they are receiving the honor.

Our girls winner is Ashley Johnson, a Clarence student who competes in high school "club" competition out of West Side Rowing Club. Johnson is a member of West Side's varsity four, which won the state championship to earn a trip to nationals (boys winner Joseph Ebner of Canisius will also be at nationals with the Canisius varsity eight). 

Johnson has been in the important stroke seat of the four for much of the season. She owns the fastest erg (rowing machine) score in the boat despite competing with three herniated discs. She has been part of state championship boats not only this year but last year.

She will row for nationally-ranked Syracuse in the fall.

* * *

All Prep Talk Players of the Year will be honored at the inaugural Prep Talk Awards on June 16 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, featuring Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Reed and Janet Snyder of Kiss 98.5. The Prep Talk Awards will honor Prep Talk Players of the Year in more than 30 sports, along with the All-Western New York first teams in football and basketball. 

* * * 

Our Countdown to the Prep Talk Awards will feature a different Prep Talk Player of the Year every day -- until the big night.

The list thus far:

#PrepTalkLive from state track meet & Far West Regional baseball

It's another big day in high school sports. Mary Jo Monnin and Taylor Nigrelli are at the state championships in track at Cicero-North Syracuse in the second of two days of action while correspondents Nick Veronica (Lancaster's AA game) and Dave DeLuca (Fredonia's B game) will be at Far West Regional baseball games.

We'll have our own #PrepTalkLive updates in the blog below, but we, as always, are looking forward to yours. 

Contribute updates and keep track of others in the blog. The easiest way to do provide updates is to tweet scores and big plays with the #PrepTalkLive hashtag. Those tweets will automatically appear below. 

We want tweets from all varsity sports every day of the week. The #preptalklive blog (and hashtag) -- as it was during football season and the winter -- is the place to check out scores from all over Western New York.

Prep Talk Player of the Year for boys rowing: Joseph Ebner, Canisius

By Keith McShea

Robert Kirkham (Buffalo News)Our two Prep Talk Players of the Year for rowing might have a problem attending the Prep Talk Awards on June 16, but they have a good excuse -- they're headed to USRowing's Youth Nationals in Sacramento, Calif. 

Our boys winner is Joseph Ebner of Canisius. He is part of the Crusaders' varsity eight, which qualified for nationals with a second-place finish at the New York State championships. Ebner is one of several rowers who are pushing the varsity eight to success despite technically being lightweight rowers. 

That was just the latest accomplishment for Ebner, who was lauded by his coaches for his outstanding work ethic and leadership, and whose rowing resume is filled with highlights: 

* He was part of a freshmen eight which was second at the U.S. Scholastic Nationals and was undefeated in all other local and regional competition. 

* As a junior he was part of a lightweight eight which won a state title, was second at the Canadian Nationals and was first in the B final at the U.S. Youth Nationals. 

* As a senior he was part of a top 15 finish out of 84 at the Head of the Charles, in addition to qualifying for nationals. 

Ebner will row for the University of Pennsylvania's excellent program next year, in their lightweight boat. 

We'll spotlight the girls rowing Prep Talk Player of the Year on Sunday.

* * *

All Prep Talk Players of the Year will be honored at the inaugural Prep Talk Awards on June 16 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, featuring Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Reed and Janet Snyder of Kiss 98.5. The Prep Talk Awards will honor Prep Talk Players of the Year in more than 30 sports, along with the All-Western New York first teams in football and basketball. 

* * * 

Our Countdown to the Prep Talk Awards will feature a different Prep Talk Player of the Year every day -- until the big night.

The list thus far:

Katrina Buczkowski's PERFECT GAME (with VIDEO of final out) pushes Clarence to softball final four with Will South, Eden

By Keith McShea

SANBORN -- It was the perfect way to finish off a perfect day for Section VI softball at Niagara-Wheatfield. 

Section VI went 3-0 against its counterparts from Section V (Rochester area) on Friday, with the most impressive performance coming in the finale of the Far West Regional tripleheader. 

Clarence senior Katrina Buczkowski threw her first career no-hitter to lead the Red Devils to a 5-0 victory over Brockport in the Class AA game. 

Buczkowski struck out 13 and did not allow a ball to leave the infield. She also added a key RBI single during the Red Devils' five-run fifth against Brockport senior Julia DiMartino, who this week was named the Gatorade New York State Player of the Year for softball and who beat Clarence in last year's regional. 

Clarence will be joined by Williamsville South and Eden at next Saturday's New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships at Moreau Recreational Park in South Glens Falls. 

#PrepTalkLive from state track meet & Far West Regional softball (Clarence, Will South, Eden win)

By Keith McShea

It's another big day in high school sports. I'll be back at Niagara-Wheatfield for the Far West Regionals in softball starting at 4 p.m., Mary Jo Monnin and Taylor Nigrelli are at the state championships in track at Cicero-North Syracuse in the first of two days of action.

We'll have our own #PrepTalkLive updates in the blog below, but we, as always, are looking forward to yours. 

Contribute updates and keep track of others in the blog. The easiest way to do provide updates is to tweet scores and big plays with the #PrepTalkLive hashtag. Those tweets will automatically appear below. 

We want tweets from all varsity sports every day of the week. The #preptalklive blog (and hashtag) -- as it was during football season and the winter -- is the place to check out scores from all over Western New York.

Prep Talk Player of the Year for rifle: Rhianna Lichtenthal, Orchard Park

By Keith McShea

235452 prep talk stars ki#7There's only one sport in Western New York high school competition that is truly coed.

That's rifle, where boys and girls compete with and against each other. The state champion -- and our pick as the Prep Talk Player of the Year in that sport -- is Rhianna Lichtenthal of Orchard Park.

Lichtenthal, a junior, had the top shooting average all season in ECIC competition (276.417) -- that's an aggregate total of scores in prone, offhand and kneeling. She also recorded the top score this season (284.10). 

She qualified for the state championships with a solid fourth-place finish at the Section VI meet, but at West Point she earned the state individual title with a total of 277.12. That included first-place finishes in kneeling and prone, and it helped Section VI to the overall team title. 

Buffalo News photo by Robert Kirkham

* * *

All Prep Talk Players of the Year will be honored at the inaugural Prep Talk Awards on June 16 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, featuring Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Reed and Janet Snyder of Kiss 98.5. The Prep Talk Awards will honor Prep Talk Players of the Year in more than 30 sports, along with the All-Western New York first teams in football and basketball. 

* * * 

Our Countdown to the Prep Talk Awards will feature a different Prep Talk Player of the Year every day -- until the big night.

The list thus far:

PrepTalkTV (June 5): Prep Talk Players of the Year, including from OP & the water

By Keith McShea

Tonight's PrepTalkTV episode, our fourth of the spring, again tied in with our Countdown to the Prep Talk Awards (our inaugural event is June 16) as we welcomed in seven different Prep Talk Players of the Year.

Our first segment featured Prep Talk Players of the Year Carlee Conway of Sacred Heart (girls tennis) and Noah Roberson of Williamsville South (boys gymnastics). 

Our middle segment saw three major college-bound athletes who were among the best in (and on) the water: Prep Talk Players of the Year Dina Rommel of Clarence (girls swimming), Joseph Ebner of Canisius (boys rowing) and Ashley Johnson (girls rowing) of Clarence, who rows for West Side Rowing Club. Rommel will swim at Virginia while Ebner is headed to Penn and Johnson will row at Syracuse.  

Our final segment had two Prep Talk Players of the Year from Orchard Park: State rifle champion Rhianna Lichtenthal and Section VI boys golf champion Adam Patronik.

Prep Talk Player of the Year for boys tennis: Tim Kane, Hamburg

By Keith McShea

Tim Kane, Hamburg (Charles Lewis/Buffalo News)Tim Kane may have taken some time off, but this spring he showed he was still tops on the court. 

Kane, a senior at Hamburg, is the Prep Talk Player of the Year for boys tennis after winning this year's Section VI singles championship. 

At the state championships, Kane won two matches as the sixth seed before falling in the quarterfinals to the third seed.

Kane went to the state tournament as a seventh- and eighth-grader, then stopped playing high school tennis to concentrate on USTA events, then stepped away from the game altogether. Last spring he was a key member of the Hamburg lacrosse team. This year he decided to return to the sport for his final high school season. 

Kane will play collegiately at Duquesne next year.

* * *

All Prep Talk Players of the Year will be honored at the inaugural Prep Talk Awards on June 16 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, featuring Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Reed and Janet Snyder of Kiss 98.5. The Prep Talk Awards will honor Prep Talk Players of the Year in more than 30 sports, along with the All-Western New York first teams in football and basketball. 

* * * 

Our Countdown to the Prep Talk Awards will feature a different Prep Talk Player of the Year every day -- until the big night.

The list thus far:

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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.

@KeithMcSheaBN | kmcshea@buffnews.com

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