Meet The Gazette's 2018 Male Athlete of the Year finalists

July 1, 2018 | 8:10 am
Chapter 1:

Today, The Gazette reveals its 2018 finalists for its high school Athlete of the Year awards.

The awards were inspired by the longtime sportswriting career of Jack Ogden.

Athletes of the Year are chosen based on exceptional athletic and academic achievement. This is the 36th year of the awards, which began in 1983.

Read on to learn more about this year's male finalists.

Winners will be announced next Sunday.

Chapter 2:

Blair Brooks, Marion

Blair Brooks led Marion to back-to-back Class 3A state championships in track and field.

A state champion in the high jump and long jump as a junior, he settled for second in both as a senior while battling a knee injury.

He holds school records in the high jump, long jump, 110-meter hurdles and 400-meter relay.

A two-time all-district performer in football, he holds Marion records in receptions (102), receiving yards (1,490) and receiving touchdowns (16).

He was an all-Wamac Conference baseball player as a junior, hitting .405.

Brooks will play football and run track at the University of Iowa.


Video: Athlete of the Year finalist Blair Brooks

Chapter 3:

Tyler Linderbaum, Solon

Solon's Tyler Linderbaum was an all-state football lineman, collecting 18 tackles and four fumble recoveries as a senior as the Spartans went 11-1, won a district championship and advanced to the Class 3A semifinals.

He compiled a career wrestling mark of 125-34 and was a two-time state placewinner (fifth and third).

He placed second at the state track and field meet in the shot put with an effort of 59 feet, 1 1/4 inches.

Batted .346 as a junior for the baseball team.

Linderbaum will play football at the University of Iowa.


Video: Athlete of the Year finalist Tyler Linderbaum

Chapter 4:

Ryan Miller, North Linn

North Linn's Ryan Miller was a four-sport athlete who made his mark most in basketball.

He accumulated 1,757 points (including 249 3-pointers) in leading the Lynx to third- and second-place Class 1A state finishes as a junior and senior.

He captured the 1A state championship in the long jump (22 feet, 3 3/4 inches) this spring and was third in the 400-meter hurdles.

A first-team all-state baseball selection as a junior, he entered his final season with a .330 career batting average with 194 runs scored and 110 RBIs, plus a 22-10 pitching record.

A two-time all-district football player, he rushed for 1,546 yards and tallied 1,266 receiving yards and scored 30 career touchdowns.

Miller will play basketball at Grand View University.


Video: Athlete of the Year finalist Ryan Miller

Chapter 5:

Levi Usher, Cedar Rapids Prairie

A role player on Cedar Rapids Prairie’s state championship baseball team of 2016, Levi Usher has since blossomed into one of the best players in the state.

He was the Mississippi Valley Conference player of the year last year as a junior after hitting .468 with seven home runs, 50 runs scored, 34 RBIs and 37 stolen bases.

A two-time all-district football player, his senior season was shortened by a broken leg suffered early in the season.

He was a two-time varsity letterwinner in basketball.

Usher will play baseball at Kirkwood Community College.


Video: Athlete of the Year finalist Levi Usher

Chapter 6:

Austin West, Iowa City West

Austin West has been an high-level performer in three sports, winning a pair of state titles as a senior for Iowa City West's state runner-up track and field team.

He captured the 400-meter dash (47.94 seconds) and the 400-meter hurdles (52.23), and was the long jump runner-up.

Last fall, he caught 19 passes for 386 yards and scored five touchdowns to help lead West (12-1) to the state football finals for the second straight year.

Serves as a quality pitcher for the baseball team.

West will compete in track and field at the University of Iowa.


Video: Athlete of the Year finalist Austin West