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North-West Nodaway senior Kristin Herndon hurdles last month at the Class 1 State Championships in Jefferson City. 

The North Nodaway Class of 2019 girls didn’t have much off-time during the school year. The class fueled improvements in softball, basketball and track and field. Kristin Herndon was the busiest of that busy group.

The success that the Mustangs enjoyed this season along with Herndon’s personal accolades are what make Herndon the 2018-19 Nodaway County Female Player of the Year.

“We were full of senior girls who were out for sports and we wanted to show what we were capable of — each of us individually and what we can do as a team,” Herndon said. “We wanted to show the younger athletes that they can go out and keep our sports going with the quality and work.

“It is really nice to have a lot of the same girls out for every sport. We understand how to play with each other and we already have that team feeling. We know each other more than just on the court, on the field or on the track — we know each other in school and out of school.”

Herndon’s senior year began with softball season where the Mustangs had already announced that the school was discontinuing the softball program after the season. North Nodaway made certain to send the program out the right way with an 11-5 record and a 5-0 record in the 275 Conference for a conference championship.

“The season started off pretty good, then I got into a little slump there, but battled through it,” Herndon said.

Herndon started at third base for the Mustangs and hit .271 with a team-high 9 doubles. She was fourth on the team with 13 RBI and added nine runs scored.

That success continued during basketball with the Mustangs winning more games than they have in over a decade. North Nodaway finished with a 17-7 record and advanced to the district semifinals before falling to Jefferson.

“Just having a season like that, it was really nice,” Herndon said. “Softball, we were conference champs. That flowed into basketball season and we had a really good year there. That just flowed into track season.”

Herndon led the Mustangs with 10.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. She was all-district selection by both the media and coaches. Stats and wins didn’t define basketball for Herndon though, she says that her favorite memories come from her teammates and their relationships.”

“In basketball, we always warmed up with music,” Herndon said. “You could tell when everyone was just having a good day and practice was going to be good because everyone’s just dancing and being goofy along with the music. Those are some nice happy memories to look back on and remember.”

Her strong season earned her the opportunity to play at the college level with the Knox Prairie Fire in Galesburg, Illinois.

Herndon’s biggest improvement came in her final act at North Nodaway. After failing to advance past the district meet last season, Herndon medaled in both the 300-meter hurdles and triple jump at the state meet.

“Getting to state and medaling in both of my events was really awesome,” Herndon said.

The senior ran a 48.7 in the 300-meter hurdles to take fourth in Class 1 and her 34-foot-1 in the triple jump earned her seventh.

Herndon now turns her focus to preparing for her college career at Knox.

“The thing I am most excited about is going, continuing my career and seeing where I can improve myself,” Herndon said.

 

Runners-up:

Serena Sundell, Maryville — The sophomore starred for the Spoofhound volleyball and basketball teams. Sundell was the lone unanimous All-MEC basketball player after averaging 22.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and three assists per game. Maryville improved as a team with a 16-9 record and advanced the district title game. Sundell was also an all-conference and all-district pick in volleyball with 241 kills, 266 digs and 52 blocks. The Hound volleyball team finished with a 20-11 record. 

Ashley Riley, Jefferson/Platte Valley — The senior added four state medals to her her career count in 2019. Riley took second in Class 1 in the 3,200-meter run and was sixth in the 1,600-meter run and the 4x800-meter relay. During cross-country season, she was fourth in Class 1. A four-sport athlete, Riley was also a member of district runner-up softball and basketball teams. The Jefferson basketball team won the 275 Conference. Riley will continue her running career at Creighton University next year.