Mountain Lion senior soccer and tennis player and state Knowledge Bowler Sophia Newton was named as the 2022 winner of the Claude Watkins Award, while three-sport athletes Jadyn Mitchell and Noah Holston were awarded Senior Athlete of the Year accolades at the annual Liberty Bell year end awards assembly last Thursday in the Lions’ Den at Liberty Bell High School.
Mitchell played both volleyball and basketball in each of her four years on campus, making multiple all-league teams, leading the Mountain Lions as a captain on both squads and in the statistical charts. She is one of only a very few who have scored over 1,000 points in basketball in the history of high school hoops in the Methow Valley, be it Liberty Bell, Winthrop or Twisp, boys or girls.
When she heard the call go out for players so there could just be a team, Mitchell joined Mountain Lion softball this year and contributed significantly, even in her first ever on-field experience, according to coach Chad Surface.
Of Mitchell’s contributions, Liberty Bell Activities Director Michael Wilbur said, “The fact that Jadyn was willing to support her friends and teammates by playing softball — learning how to play as a member of the varsity team — says just as much about her remarkable character and her commitment to athletics at this school.”
Holston, who was not present Thursday, has been a three-sport athlete each of his four years, competing in football, baseball and wrestling. As a wrestler, he was the third Holston to win a 2B state wrestling title, following brothers Milo and Findlay. Wilbur, in summing up Holston’s accomplishments over the years had high praise, stating he is “another remarkably deserving winner,” pointing to his team leadership and local honors as all-league in football offensively and defensively, all-league honors in baseball and being a key factor in the Mountain Lions advancing in both the state football and baseball tournaments. “In wrestling, all he did was win the state title at 195 pounds. Noah’s character is every bit as outstanding as his athletic achievements,” Wilbur said.
Newton, a significant member of the girls’ soccer team, was a force on the offense, scoring two goals in consecutive games last fall. She went out for tennis this year, she said, “to learn how to play tennis and try something new.”
Newton ended the season qualifying for, and playing in, the district tennis tournament a couple of weeks ago.
While she didn’t qualify for the state tournament, Newton wasn’t done with her activities schedule just yet. “She lost at districts just in time to rush back for our amazing school play, contributing immensely there as well,” said Wilbur. “A talented artist, Sophia created a logo that now appears on Liberty Bell T-shirts and sweatshirts. She is also an outstanding student, with a GPA that rounds down to 3.9. “
Wilbur added, “I could go on and on about her sportsmanship and citizenship, but anyone who knows Sophia knows immediately what an outstanding human being she is and how well she represents our school.”
Newton is the 50th winner of the award, named for the former publisher of the Methow Valley News in the 1950s and ’60s, who was an ardent supporter of both the Twisp and Winthrop school districts academically and athletically.
The Watkins Award, first handed out in 1973, goes to the senior who participates in at least two sports, carries at least a 3.5 cumulative grade point average throughout their high school career and exemplifies exceptional citizenship in the school and community. The award is voted on by the Liberty Bell faculty.