Best of Kansas Preps 2020 is going virtual.
Originally scheduled for June 25 at the Stormont Vail Events Center, the third annual Best of Kansas Preps event honoring the state’s top high school athletes has been canceled due to uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. But those athletes’ accomplishments won’t go unrecognized and instead will be celebrated in a different format.
Replacing the physical event will be an on-demand broadcast to be aired at 6 p.m. June 18. Brought to you by The Topeka Capital-Journal and Gannett Media Kansas, the star-studded awards show will be available on any smart device through YouTube and CJOnline.com thanks to the continued support of title sponsors Envista Credit Union and the University of Kansas St. Francis campus.
The show will be hosted by TV sports personalities Jesse Palmer and Sage Steele and feature more than 20 celebrity athletes who will present the individual sports awards. Among them is Topeka’s own Gary Woodland, who will present the golf winners.
"We take great joy in celebrating our high school athletes and their many accomplishments each year during our Best of Kansas Preps event," said Stephen Wade, Topeka Capital-Journal publisher and senior group publisher for Gannett Media Kansas. "While we were greatly looking forward to the opportunity to do so in person once again, we recognize the importance of exercising great caution and safety during these uncertain times and are thrilled to offer a high-energy, dynamic alternative celebration that will be unlike anything our honorees have previously experienced.
"We also are excited that Gary Woodland, one of Topeka’s favorite sons, will still be part of the event as one of our star-studded celebrity award presenters."
In addition to Woodland, celebrity presenters will include New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Olympians Michael Phelps, Misty May-Treanor, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Gabby Douglas and Venus Williams.
More than 1,200 student-athletes, coaches, administrators and family members from across the state have attended each of the first two Best of Kansas Preps event. Awards are given annually in each of the 23 sports sponsored by the Kansas State High School Activities Association as well as overall male and female athletes of the year and a most inspirational award, though no spring sport winners will be selected this year due to the cancellation of those seasons in March.
This year’s show is free of charge and will feature opportunities to win autographed gifts and other prizes both before the debut and during the show. Students who register by May 10 on the event website will receive event updates and be included in any gift mailings.
Gannett owns and operates the largest high school athlete recognition program in the U.S. Viewers can find various locations, including the Best of Kansas Preps Awards show, at sportsawards.usatoday.com as well as on the event website at cjonline.com/preps.