When you think about Billings Central athletics over the past four years, Jacob Stanton and Sammy Elliott undoubtedly come to mind.
Playing on some talented teams, Elliott helped the Rams win four consecutive State A soccer titles and was a member of two Class A basketball championship teams. Playing quarterback, Stanton led the Rams to the State A football title and was a member of two state championship track and field relay teams.
Both were members of three different varsity sports in all four years of their storied careers.
Along with their state championships and personal individual accomplishments, Wednesday night at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center will without hesitation stand out in their memories.
Stanton and Elliott were presented with the Midland Roundtable Athlete of the Year awards at the annual event, which honors the outstanding senior male and female athletes amongst the four Billings high schools.
Other boys nominated included a pair of Rams in Dylan Hanser and George Smith, along with Billings Skyview’s Daine Muller and Billings Senior’s Nolan Saraceni.
Both winners were gracious in victory, thanking the Roundtable, their parents, coaches, teammates and the Central staff.
“It’s a humbling experience and a real honor being picked out of everyone,” Stanton said.
The four other girls nominated for the honor were KC Christensen of Billings West, Rachel Koehler and Kiahna Steiner of Senior, and Kennedy Robbins of Skyview.
“It really is a great honor. All 10 nominees are great, competitive athletes,” Elliott said. “It’s the cherry on top to all my achievements. I’m honored, surprised and happy.”
Stanton and Elliott are the second duo to sweep the award for the Rams. In 1990, Steven Falls Down and Brittany Schaff were crowned for the green and white.
The only other times classmates have taken the award were in 2005 when Josh Hedge and Sara Bents of West claimed honors, and in 1992 with Skyview’s Guy Atkins and Rachel Smetanka.
“It’s pretty special and it shows a lot about our class and the athletes we have,” Stanton said.
Added Elliott: “We had a really strong year. Central has had a couple state champions. It’s a highly competitive class and the next couple of years will be, too. … You’ll hear about Central for awhile.”
Elliott’s older sister, Jackie Elliott of Central, shared the award with West’s Danielle Muri in 2011.
“I’m honored to have our names next to each other,” Elliott said. “It’s a family legacy.”
Stanton was a four-year varsity letterman in football, basketball and track and field. The past two years he has been recognized as an all-state selection at quarterback (2012) and wide receiver (2011). In basketball, Stanton was a four-year starter, and as a point guard guided Central to second place in the state tournament this past season.
In track and field, Stanton was a part of the 400 meter state champion relay team in 2011 and the State A champion 1,600 meter relay in 2012. Stanton will be a member of the Montana State football team next fall and is slated to play wide receiver.
Stanton threw for 974 yards, rushed for 713 more and accounted for 20 TDs this past football season. He had more than 800 receiving yards and 13 touchdown catches as a junior. Stanton said he wasn’t nervous during the ceremony Wednesday night until just before the winners were announced.
“I was fine until I got up and they announced it,” he said. “I started to shake a little bit. It’s surreal and a big honor.”
Elliott was on the varsity soccer, basketball and track teams all four years of her high school career. A three-time all-state selection in soccer, she became the school’s all-time leader in assists. Elliott helped Central win four consecutive Class A state soccer titles.
During her junior season, the Rams won the state championship in basketball with Elliott as the starting point guard. She was a freshman on their 2010 state-winning squad.
Through her junior year, Elliott was a nine-time medalist (top six) in track and was a member of the 2010 Class A 1,600 relay state championship team. Among the nine track medals are four second-place finishes and a third. She has committed to join the women's track and field team at Rice University.
Aside from this year’s winners, Falls Down, Schaff and Jackie Elliott, the other Central athletes to previously win the award are Aleksei Grosulak (2009), Casey McMillan (2008), Dallas Leslie (2002), Parker Aldrich (1997), Kate Brayko (1996) and Christy Otte (1994).
Last year’s winners were Brady Gustafson of West and Dani Aragon of Senior.
The Kathy Maier Award was given to soccer player Marcus Jolovich of Senior.