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Stephen Haas/The News-Gazette Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley's Bryce Barnes, the News-Gazette's Prep Athlete of the Year, poses for a photo at his home Tuesday, June 4, 2019, outside Gibson City.Stephen Haas/The News-Gazette Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley's Bryce Barnes, the News-Gazette's Prep Athlete of the Year, poses for a photo at his home Tuesday, June 4, 2019, outside Gibson City.

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Male Athlete of the Year: Bryce Barnes

In his words

We asked the hard-working Falcon to recap his favorite moments from his senior year at Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley:

➜The semifinal sack against Eastland-Pearl City. That fourth down, just being able to make a play is really relieving, especially since it was a close game and they were at midfield.

➜The sack in the state title game against the Maroa-Forsyth quarterback. Fourth down, they were close to scoring. Being able to make a play is just an awesome feeling, especially since they were close to scoring and it was a tight game at that time.

➜The blocked punt against Fisher. Rivals, being able to block a punt, especially since that game there was a lot of talk going on ... how they were supposed to be super good, and we kind of dominated them.

➜The El Paso-Gridley catch behind the kid’s back. I don’t mean to brag or anything, but it’s pretty rare that you see that catch. Like that’s usually on SportsCenter’s Top 10.

➜Just winning state again, back-to-back. It’s weird because my parents always tell me ... you don’t realize what you’ve done for the community and what you guys have actually accomplished. Which, that’s true — I probably won’t realize it until I’m their age.

➜The McLean County/Heart of Illinois Conference basketball tournament final, the game-winner against El Paso-Gridley, just because coach gave me the ball and he said, “Hey, make a play.”

➜Stealing the ball against Bloomington Central Catholic in the sectional final and scoring. I think we were up by maybe two or three at that time, and being able to seal the deal on that one — that game was probably the best game.

➜My two-handed block against Mason Ecker and Paxton-Buckley-Loda in the championship of the Monticello holiday tournament, just because I’m not a Paxton guy and I hate them. Which is the truth — I just dislike them a lot.

➜Scoring my 1,000th point against Fieldcrest in the McLean/HOIC tournament. Something special, something I’ll remember forever, and finally being able to reach that goal was something I’ve been working on for all four years.

➜Making it to state for the first time in basketball. We’d always dreamed of it, and senior year comes around and we get the school record, streak, all these championships. It just really shows that we had determination and we weren’t settling for anything less than going to state.

In their words

We asked Bryce Barnes’ two coaches about the two-sport standout from Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley:

Mike Allen, GCMS football coach

“Bryce is a player who not only pushes himself to get better, but also those around him. He is an amazing leader and has a lot of fun at whatever he does. Bryce is one of those special athletes that excels in pressure situations. He either wants the ball in his hands at crunch time or will make a big play on defense when needed. Bryce will be successful in whatever he does in the future due to his work ethic and personality.”

Ryan Tompkins, GCMS boys’ basketball coach

“Bryce is a great example of what happens when hard work and determination combine. Bryce’s mindset is what sets him apart, and this influenced those around him. In games, you could see it in his face that he was going to do everything he could and dig deep to get the job done, and in the process, made some terrific plays that will be talked about for a long time around here. He put in countless hours improving his basketball skills and in his strength and conditioning. His personality is gravitating, and he is a humble person who is extremely dedicated to those around him and very determined to succeed. He will be successful in life as an athlete and in his career, but most importantly, he will lift up those around him and be a terrific husband and parent. He and his teammates made for a special year, and we are so happy for him to receive this recognition.”

Boy, they’re good

A look at the previous male Athlete of the Year recipients:

YEAR    ATHLETE    SCHOOL

2019    Bryce Barnes    Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley

2018    Dalton Hoel    Tuscola

2017    Jake Beesley    Champaign Central

2016    Jon Davis    Oakwood

2015    Joe Kenney    Mahomet-Seymour

2014    Josh Wallick    Fisher

2013    Cameron Mammen    Urbana

2012    Steve Schroeder    Monticello

2011    Pat Yoakum    Tuscola

2010    Cale Huisinga    Monticello

2009    Andrew Brewer    Mahomet-Seymour

2008    Lukas Graves    St. Joseph-Ogden

2007    Jason Seaman    Mahomet-Seymour

2006    Jordan Kling    Tuscola

2005    Alex Deer    Fisher

2004    Dylan Ward    Prairie Central

2003    Jeremy Kruidenier    Champaign Central

News-Gazette

Prep Sports Coordinator

Colin Likas is prep sports coordinator at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).