Winter MVP candidates announced

PUNXSUTAWNEY โ€” In keeping with the tradition that has now become a second-annual occurrence with each respective PAHS sports season, and after overwhelmingly successful responses in the past The Spirit would like to announce the candidates for this year's Winter Sports Male and Female Most Valuable Player Awards.

Many athletic teams choose MVP candidates as a group, but in this election, readers of The Spirit have the opportunity to cast their ballots.

With all the winter sports seasons coming to a conclusion last week โ€” a season that saw the boys' basketball team take a trip to the opening round of states and saw two D-IX titles in wrestling and another grappler advancing to the PIAA Championships โ€” it is once again time for the readers' voices to be heard.

Voting for The Punxsutawney Spirit's 2011 Winter Sports Male and Female Most Valuable Players is now officially under way.

Upon consideration from The Spirit's sports staff, three athletes have been chosen from each of the school's three winter varsity sports, providing voters with the opportunity to select from three girls and six boys.

Each voter may select one male and one female from the options available as often as he or she would like, as long as the voter uses the official ballot provided in The Spirit and either delivers or mails the ballot to P.O. Box 444, 510 Pine Street, Punxsutawney, Pa. 15767.

The top vote-getters from each gender will win a plaque and forever be recognized as The Spirit's 2011-12 Winter Sports MVPs.

Additionally, the Spring Sports Male and Female Most Valuable Player selections will take place when those respective seasons conclude, as well.

Spirit readers are encouraged to vote as often as they would like, but all ballots received must be official Spirit ballots.

Ballots will run in The Spirit until the deadline, and no photocopies will be accepted.

The deadline for entries is March 27 at 5 p.m.

A brief bio of each candidate follows:

Jensen Constantino, girls' basketball, freshman
Constantino is the only freshman candidate on this season's panel, averaging more than four points per game to come in as Punxsy's third-highest scorer this season.

Constantino gave a young Lady Chucks' squad a presence on the inside with her post game on both ends to add to her scoring prowess.

Alex Magill, girls' basketball, senior
Magill, the Lady Chucks' only senior member this season, served as a solid leader, scored 6.7 points per game and proved to come through big in the clutch this season.

Magill hit a pair of game-winning shot in back-to-back games Feb. 10 and Feb. 13 in Punxsy, and her sharp-shooting from behind the three-point line helped open scoring opportunities for her teammates all season.

Taylor Newcome, girls' basketball, sophomore
Newcome, a sophomore guard for the Lady Chucks this season, was Punxsy's leading scorer and provided the offensive spark for an inexperienced team.

Newcome averaged 11.1 points per game, including a 36-point night against Clearfield in the Lady Chucks' second win of the season Jan. 6.

Joel Bowers, sophomore, wrestling
Bowers, wrestling at 113 pounds all season for the Chucks, had a successful season, finishing 21-5 and advancing to the PIAA Individual Wrestling State Championships.

Bowers' impressive campaign also took place in what Punxsy head coach Eric Eddy deemed one of the tougher weight classes in the district.

Neko Cappella, senior, wrestling
Cappella, one of the wrestling squad's five senior leaders in 2011-12, surpassed the 100-win mark for the Chucks Dec. 28 at the Wheeling Duals Tournament.

Cappella's senior campaign included a runner-up at districts and a trip to the regional tournament, where he fell just short of advancing to states.

Brandon Mancuso, boys' basketball, sophomore
Mancuso, the only sophomore who saw consistent playing time for the Chucks this season, was a consistent deep threat for a team that used a balanced scoring attack.

Mancuso averaged just shy of 10 points per game during the 2011-12 campaign, setting him as Punxsy's second- highest scorer.

Ian Miller, boys' basketball, senior
Miller, who was the Chucks' sixth man, coming off the bench for the majority of the year, managed to finish as the team's third-highest scorer, nonetheless.

His two-sided attack on both offense and defense and his shooter's touch made him an asset to the Chucks' squad that was runner up in the district and advanced to states.

Seth Spack, wrestling, senior
Spack, another of the Chucks' five senior leaders this season, finished the regular season 22-3 and was Punxsy's only No. 1 seed entering districts.

Spack was one of just two Chucks' grapplers to clinch D-IX titles, and he also surpassed the 100-win mark, becoming just the fourth Punxsy wrestler to do so, Jan. 17 at Redbank Valley.

Daniel Triponey, boys' basketball, senior
Triponey, who was crowned the Fall Sports MVP as Punxsy's goaltender in soccer, was a solid leader for a Chucks basketball squad that made a run to states, only the second Punxsy basketball team to do so since 1994.
Triponey, who finished the season the Chucks' leading scorer with better than 13 points per game, ran the point for the majority of the possessions and created offensive opportunities with his ability to slash to the hoop.