Litchfield High School recognized its top athletes May 19 during the annual athletic banquet — naming seniors chosen by coaches for Athlete of the Year, Scholar Athlete of the year, and the Dragon Award.

Before getting to individual success, however, Activities Director Justin Brown highlighted team achievements, including section championships for girls tennis, football, wrestling and boys hockey teams.

Two seniors also were feted for earning the AAA Award. Sponsored by the Minnesota State High School League, AAA recognizes student athletes who stand out in Academics, Athletics and Arts. AAA nominees qualify for the award by having a “B” or better grade point average and participating in MSHSL-sponsored athletics and fine arts activities.

LHS seniors Sydney Jackman and Bennett Lecher earned this year’s AAA Awards. Jackman graduated with a 4.0 GPA and played tennis, basketball and track, while also participating in Dragonaires, National Honor Society, Student Council and FCCLA. Lecher earned a 3.983 GPA while playing football, hockey and baseball, as well as participating in choir and National Honor Society. He was the subsection AAA winner and went on to be a finalist in Region 5A.

From there, the evening moved on to recognize the top senior athletes. Following is a recap of the award winners, with comments from their coaches.

ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

Avery Stilwell

The only word I can use to describe this athlete of the year is “special”! Avery has been one of the most dominant outstate tennis players in the history of high school tennis. Off the court she is one of the most positive kids I’ve ever been around, a phenomenal teammate, she is a relentless worker, she has set the bar and led by example for all other kids in our program on how to work at the game while enjoying every minute of it. She led our team to four consecutive state tournaments, finishing with a Consolation Championship, a second place, third place, and a “COVID” finish. As an opposing coach told me, “The most impressive four-year run by an outstate team in the history of high school tennis, and Avery is the reason for it!” She was a four-time state doubles participant, finishing third in 2017, second in 2018 and 2019. Avery was also ranked in the top five in the state her junior and senior year. From the first time I coached her when she was nine I knew she was a special athlete, but it’s been so much fun to watch her grow into a special person and teammate over her career.

— Matt Draeger, LHS girls tennis coach

Avery was a four-year starter and all-conference selection in girls hockey. She ended her career with 3.16 goals against average and a 91.96 save percentage. Both are LDC records. She also finished second in career wins. Avery is an extremely gifted athlete who happens to be one of the most competitive players I have ever coached. I can't say enough how much she will be missed.

— Brett Damerow, LDC girls hockey coach

Avery has been a four-year starter at catcher on the softball team, a two-time all-conference player and West Central All Area First Team selection. Over her career she has hit .446 with 19 home runs and 83 RBIs. She is one of the fiercest competitors I have ever coached. Avery has been very coachable and always looking to improve. It has been a pleasure to have coached such a great person and wonderful athlete.

— Luke Braaten, LHS softball coach

ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

Tyson Michels

Tyson is not just a good football player, basketball player and tennis player, he is one of the most intelligent and hard-working young men that I have coached. He understands the big picture, what his goals are for the future and his wants for himself. He had a tremendous senior season on the football field. Much of this was due to his commitment to train outside of school during the pandemic and recent interest in the weight room. He changed his body physically! This in turn made him a confident young man on the field both offensively and defensively.

— Jim Jackman, LHS football coach

The word that describes Tyson Michels to me is flat out “winner.” I’ve never seen a player that does as many important things for his team to win as Tyson. Our teams were 56-22 the last three years with Tyson in the starting lineup On the court, he does about as much as anyone could ever do to help his team win. He was the greatest leader any kid could be, he scored in double figures, shot 40% from 3-point and 54% from the field, led his team in rebounds, assists and steals. The greatest attribute Tyson gave our team was confidence. He had great confidence in himself from all the long hours he put in the offseason, and his coaches had confidence that we were going to win no matter what, because Tyson was on the floor.

— Matt Draeger, LHS basketball coach

Tyson played second doubles as a sophomore and has played first doubles as a senior. His overall varsity record is 35-4. Tyson is a winner in every sense of the word. He has a strong work ethic and provides leadership to his teammates in an unassuming manner. Tyson is extremely disciplined, is a tenacious competitor and a joy to coach. The younger athletes look up to him for leadership, support and guidance.

— John Carlson, LHS boys tennis coach

SCHOLAR ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

Sydney McCann

Sydney has been an instrumental part of the volleyball team for the past four seasons. Starting as a freshman and continuing to develop her skills through her senior year, Sydney made an impact in every aspect of the game. Her relentless pursuit of the ball and her natural competitive spirit enabled her to be one of the most well-rounded players in the conference. She carried that competitive spirit into the classroom and was able to achieve great success as a scholar as well. She will be difficult to replace next year, but she set an example for the underclassman of what it takes to be successful as a student-athlete.

— Darin Swenson, LHS volleyball coach

Sydney McCann has been an integral part of our basketball program for many years. Her name is all over the record book, including being a 1,000-point scorer and the program’s all-time leader in assists and steals. Throughout her career, she was a five-year letterwinner, two-time captain, three-time All-Wright County Conference, 2-time All-Area, and received Honorable Mention All-State her senior year. Sydney possessed the ability to control games by attacking the hoop to score, but also by getting open shots for her teammates around her. Her leadership and basketball abilities will be difficult to replace.

— Ian Anderson, LHS girls basketball coach

Sydney has been a four-year starter at shortstop on the softball team and a two-time all-conference honorable mention selection. Over her career she has hit .340 with 6 home runs and 49 RBIs. Sydney has been one of the most consistent infielders over the last four years. She has learned to take constructive criticism well and responds in a positive way. Sydney is a great person and athlete. It has been my pleasure to coach such a wonderful young lady. Sydney, you either made me mad or made me laugh. Either way, I will miss you.

— Luke Braaten, LHS softball coach

SCHOLAR ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

Bennett Lecher

Bennett is definitely a true football player at heart. An athlete that wanted the ball in his hands every play, (pause) every play! Bennett was an all-district player both his junior and senior season. But, the transition from his junior to senior season was incredible. His ability to catch the football, make plays with his feet and legs was special. He spent numerous hours on the practice field in the summer doing the little things to improve his game. His passion for the game of football will be missed by the Dragon football family.

Jim Jackman, LHS football coach

Bennett, you are a very good athlete, an intelligent student, and most importantly, you are a great person. You have a winning attitude, a top-notch work ethic, and a first-class personality. These traits of yours have provided you with a great foundation in life. Continue to set new goals, reach new heights, and always remember that hard work and dedication pay off. Bennett, thank you for a great hockey season and for being a leader on and off the ice.

— Bryce Berggren, LDC boys hockey coach

Bennett Lecher exemplifies everything positive about being a well-rounded student-athlete at Litchfield High School. As a captain of the baseball team, his quick, powerful bat, exceptional speed, and love of the game make him an important part of the Dragons’ success this season. He is a tireless worker, a fearless competitor, and an excellent leader. Bennett brings these fine qualities to everything he does in school — in the classroom and throughout all of his activities.

— Jeff Wollin, LHS baseball coach

DRAGON AWARD

Sydney Jackman

Sydney is a person that will improve every team or organization that she is part of. She was an important part of our state tournament teams because she improved every day and brought an extremely positive work ethic with her every day to the tennis courts. Sydney is one of the most disciplined kids I’ve ever coached. She was always the one you would explain a drill to and put her in charge because you knew the drill would be executed to perfection. Her calm demeanor and fierce competitiveness are two really nice attributes to have to be a successful athlete and tennis player. We were so lucky to have Sydney on our tennis team so younger players could watch her maturity and how she handled herself in practice and in matches was so valuable to our success. We are going to miss the smile she brought everyday while being coached, the work ethic she displayed in all circumstances, and just the overall great teammate and person she is.

— Matt Draeger, LHS girls tennis coach

Sydney was a two-year letter winner in basketball, and as a senior was a captain and earned Academic All-State. Her competitiveness, leadership, and drive to make herself and others better shone through every day. Regardless of her role and personal success in each practice or game, she always wanted what was best for the team and never wavered in how she handled herself. Sydney was a pleasure to coach and her presence in the program will be missed.

— Ian Anderson, LHS girls baskerball coach

This athlete simply does what she is supposed to do and she does it to the best of her ability. Her initiative is noticed by her teammates, and younger athletes look up to her. Her leadership will be missed by both peers and coaches.

— Tait Christensen, LHS girls track and field coach

DRAGON AWARD

Landon Wagner

Landon is well deserving of the Dragon Award. A young man that has seen ups and downs during his football career. On Friday nights, Landon and his linemates dominated the line of scrimmage, both offensively and defensively. Landon utilized the weight room from a very young age to sculpt himself into a physical presence. He is never one to complain, question or display any frustration or negative body language on the field. He is a “yes sir, no sir” kind of guy, who is always willing to give his best.

— Jim Jackman, LHS football coach

Landon is not only one of our top throwers of all time, he is also one of the hardest workers we have had in track and field. Landon spent last spring training and practicing on his own during the canceled season. His work ethic and positive attitude will take him far in his future.

— Shane Satterlee, LHS boys track and field coach