Girls Swimming: Grandview twin Morgan Ammon stands out in winning Hoyt Brawner Award

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Grandview senior Morgan Ammon waits to leave the blocks on her leg of the 200 yard freestyle relay final during the Coaches Invitational girls swim swim meet on Dec. 20, 2014. Ammon was selected co-winner of the Hoyt Brawner Award as the state's top senior swimmer/scholar/citizen. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)
Grandview senior Morgan Ammon waits to leave the blocks on her leg of the 200 yard freestyle relay final during the Coaches Invitational girls swim swim meet on Dec. 20, 2014. Ammon was selected co-winner of the Hoyt Brawner Award as the state’s top senior swimmer/scholar/citizen. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

Morgan Ammon decided to do her leading in a different way this year and it helped lead to her selection as co-winner of the prestigious Hoyt Brawner Award.

In balloting of coaches, the Grandview senior and Arapahoe’s Ella Moynihan share the 2014-15 award, annually given to the state’s top senior swimmer/scholar/citizen.

Grandview senior Morgan Ammon, left, gets a huge from Arapahoe's Ella Moynihan after the two were named co-winners of the annual Hoyt Brawner Award during the Coaches Invitational on Dec. 20, 2014, at the Veterans' Memorial Aquatic Center. The Hoyt Brawner Award is given to the state's top swimmer/scholar/citizen in voting by coaches. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)
Grandview senior Morgan Ammon, left, gets a huge from Arapahoe’s Ella Moynihan after the two were named co-winners of the annual Hoyt Brawner Award during the Coaches Invitational on Dec. 20, 2014, at the Veterans’ Memorial Aquatic Center. The Hoyt Brawner Award is given to the state’s top swimmer/scholar/citizen in voting by coaches. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

Ammon received the award Dec. 20 in the middle of the annual Coaches Invitational at Thornton’s Veterans’ Memorial Aquatic Center, much to her surprise given the other four finalists, a group that included Smoky Hill’s Julia Song.

“I was really shocked, the other girls up there had just the same credentials as I did, so I’m proud of them, too,” Ammon said. “I was really happy to get it. It’s an honor.”

Ammon and twin sister Mackenzie both excel academically — on a team that finished 11th in the country with a 3.896 GPA last season and earned a Gold scholar award from the National Independent Swim Coaches Association (NISCA) — contribute heavily to a team that finished sixth among 28 5A teams at the Coaches Invite and have donated nearly 400 hours of community service.

The difference for Ammon’s mother, Karen, Grandview’s head coach, came when Morgan decided to take a step back and lead in a different way while her sister served as one of the captains.

“Scholastically speaking, as seniors, Morgan and Mackenzie are the strongest and they do everything together,” Karen Ammon said. “The difference between the two is that Morgan said she thought there were too  many Ammons in leadership, so she wasn’t going to run for captain.

“I thought that was pretty big, so I thought, ‘you know what, let’s let her shine.’ …I didn’t chose it, but I know it was difficult to pick from so many girls who are so academically oriented.”

Morgan Ammon said she thought she didn’t need to be a captain to set an example for the team.

“I thought I could stand back and still show my leadership skills, but in a different way,” she said.

In the water, Ammon said she was disappointed to miss making it back in the top 16 in the 50 yard freestyle, but “got angry and took it out on the 100 free,” in which she finished 13th. She also swam with sister Mackenzie and twins April and Mia Wood on Grandview’s fourth-place 200 yard freestyle relay.

Lizzie Wiley won the Hoyt Brawner award last year for Smoky Hill and the Buffaloes had another shot at it this season in Song, a valedictorian candidate and part of a team that had the 18th-highest GPA in the country last year.

Song — who recently committed to Duke — felt honored to be among the final group, though she was sure she got a boost from the words of coach Scott Cohen, who has a track record of Hoyt Brawner winners on the boys and girls sides.

“I hear Scott writes really, really good letters of recommendation,” Song said with a smile. “It was great to be in the running for it.”

Song made the finals of the 100 freestyle, finishing eight, placed 11th in the 50 freestyle and anchored two placing relay teams for Smoky Hill.

Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel