July 7, 2011 by wcobserver
By Brent Harrison
FAYETTEVILLE – Despite the summer break from school, area athletes and a pair of hometown coaches brought their competitive natures out of hiding last week.
Jared Johnson, Sarah Sagely, Logan Genz and Tessa Mesplay of West Fork and Jordan Larkan of Greenland took part in the 56th Annual High School All-Star games at the University of Arkansas.
From the West Fork coaching staff, Rodney Selph served as a West assistant in the football game. David Ferrell served as head coach of the West boys basketball team.
Johnson and Sagely took to the floor at Bud Walton Arena in the basketball contests and Genz showcased his talents on the turf at Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Larkan manned the hot corner for the West squad at Baum Stadium during the baseball game, and Mesplay, a member of the award-winning West Fork cheerleading squad, was in action during the basketball and football contests.
Johnson, who plans to attend John Brown University, pulled down seven rebounds in his 13 minutes of action in what he termed a pretty enjoyable experience.
“It was a lot of fun to get to play with athletes of this caliber,” Johnson said. “This was an awesome experience that I will remember the rest of my life.”
West Fork’s big man said that despite averaging 17 points a game and 9.7 rebounds for the Tigers, there is still room for improvement.
“I need to run the floor harder and learn how to pump fake so my shots don’t get blocked. The speed in this game was a big difference.”
Crowder signee Sagely reiterated the fact that playing alongside the top players in the state was something not soon to be forgotten.
“This [experience] was one of the best times of my life and I learned a lot,” she said. “This was a big honor. I was so happy when I got picked that I worked my butt off.”
Genz, who rushed for 1,425 yards and 23 touchdowns this football season was selected to the All-Star squad for his defensive abilities. The Arkansas Tech signee had 139 tackles, including 19 for losses. For his play during this week’s All-Star contest Genz was named the Outstanding Defensive Lineman for the West.
“This week was a lot of fun,” he said. “I met a lot of cool guys and you could find out where you were as a player before you went to college. The speed of the game is a lot different at this level. It shows you what it will be like in college.”
Larkan agreed with the West Fork trio that All-Star week games are pretty enjoyable all the way around.
“It was a really good experience and you got to meet a lot of new people,” he said. “I had a great time.”
The night before Monday’s doubleheader, Larkan said that he and his teammates were able to relax and discuss things other than baseball.
“Sunday night they took all of the people involved in the All-Star games to the Jones Center and we got to hang out,” he said.”We hung out in our [dorm] rooms a lot also so we got closer that way.”
Larkan said next fall he plans to attend the University of Arkansas as a Finance Major.
Unlike her counterparts, Mesplay found herself on the sidelines during both the football and basketball games.
“It was fun getting to be with girls from all over the state,” Mesplay said. “It was hard because all of us hadn’t done [cheerleading] in a couple of months, so we were a little out of shape, but it was really fine.”
Mesplay, who was a member of the West Fork team that went to National Competitition at Disneyland in February and won the state title in its division earlier in the year at Hot Springs, says she plans to attend the University of the Ozarks in the fall and major in secondary education.
For Selph, being able to coach Genz, his three-year starter on defense one more time was just icing on the cake.
“We got to meet some kids and coach some kids that were just awesome,” Selph said. “Getting to coach Logan one more time was obviously a lot of fun. He played his game. He made a lot of tackles and was all over the field. I can’t think of a more deserving kid to win [the Defensive Lineman Award]. He worked hard all week and it showed tonight,” Selph said. “He’s a great kid and he’s going to be a great college player at Tech. They got a good one in him. He’s a good student and a good person. He’s a good player … but those other two [student and person] are pretty important.”
Ferrell was named All-Star coach for the second time. He first coached the West All-Stars in 1994.
“This was a great week and we had a great group of kids,” he said. “Sometimes all-star games can get ugly and you don’t play as a team. But we battled and it was fun.”
Ferrell’s unheralded West squad fell to the East All-Stars led by Arkansas signee Ky Madden, 77-70.