In a year of athletic successes, the 7th annual Marco Eagle Lely Athlete of the Year was the most competitive since the beginning of the award.
Coaches in all Lely sports announced who their top players were, then confidentially voted on the overall best athlete.
From the coaches, 12 athletes received votes for athlete of the year.
And for the second time there was a tie, this time a three-way tie.
Seniors Brandon Black and Jenna Lundquist, along with junior Nick Talko, are this year’s athletes of the year. Each received three votes.
They follow previous winners, Lisa Nicholas, 2012; Eliana Albert, 2011; Wismit Moinius and Jhony Faustin, who tied in 2010; Victloria Howard was a repeat winner in 2008 and 2009, with Lauren Embree being the first winner in 2007.
Black, who competed in cross country, golf and track, was Lely’s representative for the Winged Foot Scholar-Athlete Award. He played an incredible round of golf in the Collier County Athletic Conference tournament, finishing second. He was named to the CCAC All- Conference team.
Lundquist competed in volleyball, soccer and track. She was on the Lady Trojans volleyball team that won the district for the second straight year and reached the state’s Elite 8. She was named to the CCAC All-Conference soccer team and was an honorable mention for the Naples Daily News All-Area team.
Talko was in rarified air when he surpassed the 1,000-point scoring mark during last season that saw the team win district and travel on to the Elite 8. He was named to the Naples Daily News All-Area basketball team and the CCAC All-Conference team.
Teammate Nick Ronquette, who also was named to the Naples Daily News All-Area and CCAC All-Conference basketball teams, received two votes for athlete of the year.
Those receiving one vote each were: Karbiel Dirogene, Lik Estilien, Noah Joseph, Lexie Lundquist, Cody McCauley, David Oliger, Navia Penrod and Samantha Sparks.
“I put a lot of effort this year into school and sports and in the end it paid off,” Black said. He is going to North Carolina State to study meteorology.
“I am really surprised and honored to be chosen,” Lundquist said of her award. I played soccer all four years and last season was my favorite. Friends talked me into track for the first time and I ended up loving it.” She is going on to Florida State.
Talko will play summer basketball.
“My goal is to improve as player, diversifying my game,” he said. “I want to turn my weaknesses into my strengths.”
After the votes were tabulated, coaches had the opportunity to speak.
Mark McGarity, who coached Black in cross country and track, said,”Brandon is one of the most focused and dedicated athletes I’ve had the opportunity to coach. He has been an awesome leader, always pushing for the success of the team and himself.”
Soccer coach Tony Smith said of Lundquist, “Whoever tied with this young lady is fortunate to be in her category. She will go very far in life. She has endless self respect for others and herself.”
Basketball coach Fritz Jacques said of Talko, “Hard work pays off. I am very proud of Nick Talko and now I have DI, DII and DIII schools contacting me about him. I am blessed to be a coach at Lely High and kids like Nick are the reason why.”
The top players in respective sports were: Estilien, football, Samantha Camposano and Black, golf, Tatia Ghviniashvili and Juan Serna, tennis, Matt Martinez, wrestling, Anderson Joseph, track, Jesus Hernandez, cross country, Taylor Fetzer, cross country and track, Samantha Howard, volleyball, McCauley, lacrosse, Anna Bissell, offense, Clara Bissell, defense, lacrosse, Sparks, cheerleading, Jeanette Pierre and Ronquette, basketball, Austin Roman, swimming, Lundquist and Ritchy Absolu, soccer, Penrod and Alicia Palacios, softball.