PUNXSUTAWNEY — After the 2010 fall sports season concluded for Punxsutawney Area High School, The Punxsutawney Spirit started a tradition that allowed its readers to select a Most Valuable Player from the four boys' sports and one from the five girls' sports.
This year, The Spirit continued the tradition, and the readers have spoken via their ballots, selecting a pair of seniors, girls' tennis player Shaina Reddinger and boys' soccer player Dan Triponey, as the 2011 recipients of the MVP awards.
The number of ballots submitted in the 2010 race was around 2,000 between boys' and girls' ballots, but this year, The Spirit received 1,668 male ballots and 1,675 female ballots, surpassing the former record number of ballots.
Reddinger, a senior tennis player and a member of the District IX doubles championship team with teammate Anna Monyak, received 555 of the 1,675 votes for the girls ballots — 34 percent of the total votes.
"It's really great to be chosen out of a group of athletes like this, and it was my first year playing tennis," Reddinger said after learning she had received the award. "I'd like to thank my coach, Rose Graffius, and my doubles partner, Anna, because without them we couldn't have won districts."
Reddinger was a model of consistency for the Lady Chucks this year, playing No. 2 singles, frequently playing No. 1 doubles and consistently scoring well for a much-improved team.
The highlight of the tennis season was Reddinger and Monyak's upset win over DuBois' No. 1 doubles pair of Jenny Reese and Alexis DeNapoli, earning the Punxsy pair the District IX championship and a trip to states.
The tennis team also advanced to the District IX championship and finished runner-up this year.
Girls' cross country runner Alexis Young finished second in the girls' pool with 234 votes after an impressive junior season that saw her atop the charts as Punxsy's top runner consistently.
Soccer-playing senior Sierra Milton finished third for the girls with 141 votes with the next two finishers, Monyak and senior volleyball setter Cassie Cook, finishing just behind her with 140 and 139 votes, respectively.
Golfers Marisa Stockdale and Lauren Giavedoni, soccer keeper Aly Dickey, junior volleyball hitter Sydney Weaver and senior cross country runner Kirsten Dean were also eligible for the award.
Because the boys' fall sports season fielded only four teams, the votes were more evenly distributed across eight athletes, but Triponey's 574 votes were good for the same percentage Reddinger won with at 34 percent.
Like Reddinger, Triponey was also part of a District IX championship team that made a trip to states as his solid goal keeping helped lead the Chucks past Bradford for the D-IX crown — Punxsy's first in soccer.
The most impressive individual feat of Triponey's senior season was a five-game shutout streak where he held opponents scoreless for more than 400 consecutive minutes.
While Triponey confessed to be "not much for words," he did say it was an honor to receive such an award that was selected by The Spirit's readers.
Triponey's closest con-tender was senior cross country runner Dane Baker, who led the boys' XC team in first-place finishes, finished third at individual districts and earned a trip to the state meet. Baker finished with 326 votes.
Fellow cross country runner, freshman Bo Dinger, finished third in the boys' category with 256 votes.
Dinger also earned a trip to states with a fifth-place finish at districts.
Senior football player Luke Janocha and senior striker for the soccer team Tyler Presloid rounded out the top five vote-receivers with 205 and 167, respectively.
Junior quarterback Garrett Zimmerman and senior golfers Ian Miller and Micky DeChurch were also in the running for boys' Fall Sports MVP.
Reddinger and Triponey were each presented a plaque from The Spirit to commemorate their achievements.