Little Sullivan honorees are gracious winners

2013-05-05T22:00:00Z 2014-03-23T17:06:04Z Little Sullivan honorees are gracious winnersBy JOHN LETASKY The Billings Gazette

Rachel Semansky might be tired of accepting awards.

But on the other hand, she's enjoying the limelight while it lasts.

One night after being named co-MVP for the Montana State women's basketball team along with teammate Latisha Adams, Semansky received the highest amateur honor in the state. On Saturday at the Holiday Inn Grand Montana in Billings, Semansky was honored with the Montana Amateur Athletic Union's female Little Sullivan Award. Two nights, two cities, two banquets, two awards.

"I was thinking about that. It is fun and the last hurrah for me," Semansky, of Highwood, said of her competitive athletic career.

Semansky noted the other female finalists — Emily Carroll (Fresno Pacific University, volleyball) of Billings Senior, Sarah Graves (a 2000 Montana State University Billings graduate who qualified to run in the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials) of Ballantine and Heather Haug (Montana State, track/cross country) of Livingston — were all deserving.

"I am honored, blessed and grateful for being recognized," Semansky said.

Before one day maybe entering the coaching ranks, Semansky said she has one more year of school at MSU left to finish her studies in elementary education.

For the male athletes, a pair of Billings high school graduates hit the jackpot and were crowned co-Little Sullivan winners. For the first time in the history of the award, which dates to 1955, there was a tie in the vote and football star Caleb Schreibeis and wrestling All-American Trent Sprenkle shared the honor.

Schreibeis, who was all-state in football as a senior at Billings West and who won the Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision as a member of Montana State last year, said the Little Sullivan humbled him.

"I want to say thanks to the Montana AAU. It is something special to be recognized by your home state," he said. "Thanks to my parents and most importantly I want to thank my Lord."

This past season, the Bobcats defensive end forced eight fumbles, the most in NCAA football in 2012 according to MSU.

Schreibeis said it was an honor to share the award with Sprenkle, a three-time State AA championship wrestler at Billings Senior who became an All-American this season with a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Division I national tourney at 125 pounds. This year Sprenkle, a redshirt senior for North Dakota State, was voted the unanimous Western Wrestling Conference wrestler of the year. Sprenkle is second all-time in wins at NDSU with 109. He was a three-time NCAA tournament qualifier.

"I think it's great," Schrebeis said of the dual winners. "All eight (nominees), after hearing all the accomplishments and accolades, any could win the award."

Sprenkle could not be at the ceremony due to prior commitments.

While Schreibeis was talented enough to chase a career in the National Football League, the consensus first team All-American was satisfied with the way his football career ended. The mechanical engineering technology major now has a job with Bozeman engineering company Montana Instruments, where he is a product designer.

"I decided not to pursue the NFL," he said. "It was a hard decision, but I was content where I was at."

Also up for the male award were Michael Asay (Montana State, track/cross country) of Manhattan and Sam Gratton (University of Montana, football) of Billings Senior.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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