When the votes were added for the Times-Herald’s Male Athlete of the Year, Keegan Arnyek won by a nose.
It was only fitting because no one could catch Arnyek during his stellar 2012 athletic year.
Arnyek received two of the possible four first-place votes, but also received a pair of second-place votes to just beat out curler Pat Simmons. Simmons also received two first-place votes, but only had one second-place vote.
Votes were cast by Katie Brickman and Matthew Gourlie from the Times-Herald sports department along with Marc Smith from Golden West Radio (CHAB, Country 100 and Mix 103) and James Gallo, the voice of the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Anyek began the year by finishing off his high school track career in style. The Vanier senior won four provincial track medals: a gold in the 100-metre sprint, silver in the triple jump and the long jump and a bronze in the 200m.
That might have been enough to win the award, but Arnyek produced an unexpected encore — he helped Canada win an IFAF World Under-19 Football title in Texas with a huge upset over the heavily favoured Americans.
Arnyek started at cornerback and had an interception and a kickoff return for a touchdown against Japan in the semifinal. His contributions were vital in Canada’s 33-24 win. He also had a kick return touchdown called back in the same game.
Simmons played third with Kevin Koe’s team and represented Alberta at the 2012 Tim Hortons Brier. There the Koe rink lost the final 7-6 to Glenn Howard in Saskatoon.
The rink has gotten off to a fast start to the season this fall on the World Curling Tour. They won their first Grand Slam event and are on top of the money list heading into the break.
Ben Coakwell had earned his way onto our year-end list thanks to his exploits on the football field, but Coakwell’s new turn as a world class bobsledder sees him in third place in the voting.
Coakwell earned a spot on the Canada 2 four-man bobsled team as he quickly made the transition from university football player to high-level bobsledding. The team finished third at a World Cup stop in Whistler and continue to solidify their spot at the Sochi Olympics in 2014.
In four spot was Richard Weinberger who made his name at the 2012 Olympics in London. The Moose Jaw-born, B.C.-raised swimmer
won an Olympic bronze medal in the 10 kilometre open water marathon.
James Avery finished fifth in voting after his season of AA minor league baseball with Erie. He finished the season ninth in the Eastern League with 114 strikeouts and was named an Eastern League all-star.
He also started a game with the Canadian national team at the World Baseball Classic qualifiers as Canada easily qualified for the event this coming spring.
Rounding out the top 10 were Moose Jaw General Rhett Gardner who is headed to the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge; Kootenay Ice winger Brock Montgomery had career highs in the WHL with 22 goals and 44 points; Jon Cotter whose .318 batting average was second on the Moose Jaw Miller Express and Chris Pickering who won a bronze medal in shot put with Regina at the CIS indoor track and field nationals.
Dustin Caplette-Tarrant (baseball), Jacob Labocetta (javelin and football), Cody Johnstone and Levi Steinhauer (both CIS football) also received consideration.