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Community lifts Halls to Central Iowa Sports Award

Published: Monday, March 11, 2013 1:02 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, March 11, 2013 1:26 p.m. CDT
(Contributed photo by CHRIS ROBINS)
Murray senior Austin Halls (third from left) poses with parents Ted (left) and Melanie Halls (right) and Katie Fencl, Sports Projects Manager for the Des Moines Area Sports Commission, Thursday afternoon in the Murray gymnasium after Fencl presented Halls with the 2012 Central Iowa Sports Award for High School Male Athlete of the Year.

MURRAY — It’s not often someone from Murray goes head-to-head with someone from Southeast Polk, Ankeny or Des Moines Roosevelt and comes out on top.

But that’s exactly what Austin Halls did thanks to community support when it came to the 2012 Central Iowa Sports Awards, a set of awards given out by the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Des Moines Area Sports Commission.

Halls won the award for High School Male Athlete of the Year, and was presented the award Friday during an all-school assembly at Murray High School.

“It’s a unique honor,” Halls said. “The community voted in it, so it kind of shows the type of community we have. That’s what I was most impressed with, was the amount of support I received right when the nomination occurred. This is a very memorable experience for me.”

The Central Iowa Sports Awards are open to athletes and events that are located within a 75-mile radius of home plate at Principal Park.

Only statistics and events that occurred in 2012 were taken into consideration for the award.

During 2012, Halls was named to the Class 1A second-team all-state by the Des Moines Register for basketball, while leading the Mustangs to a 22-2 record. He averaged 24.6 points per game, 7.8 assists, 6.9 rebounds and 4.8 steals per game.

During track, Halls competed in races ranging from the 100 meter dash to the 3,200 meter run. He also ran the maximum distance allowed during the Bluegrass Conference Meet, in helping the Mustangs win their third straight conference title.

Halls helped lead the Murray baseball team to a 17-6 record while leading the state in batting average at .603. In 23 games, he accumulated 25 runs batted in and 28 stolen bases.

Halls had a memorable senior season in football, making the Des Moines Register elite all-state team as a defensive back, and being named the Eight-Player all-state team captain by the Iowa Newspapers Association.

Halls led the Mustangs to a 12-1 record, with the only loss coming in a historic 78-76 semifinal loss to Don Bosco at the UNI Dome.

Other nominees for the award were Ankeny’s Joel Lanning, Southeast Polk’s Corey Clark and Des Moines Roosevelt’s John Meeks.

“They’re all big school athletes, but this community, and not only this community, but communities all around,” Halls said. “The other schools in our conference were all involved. It meant a lot. It’s a lot of fun. The competition, there was a lot of good athletes in this thing.”

Halls said when he found out he had been nominated for the award, he thought there was a chance he could win it, knowing the type of support he would receive from the community.

“Yeah, this community will surprise you,” he said. “Everybody around here will surprise you. The coaches get behind you, and they all made sure everybody got behind it. I knew there was a chance, but to see it actually come true, it was fun. It’s definitely something I’ll never forget.”

Halls, who said he plans to play college basketball next year, but is still deciding on where, said it was an honor for the community and school to share in the moment, being there when he received the award.

“That’s something this community’s about,” Halls said. “Everybody’s united, everybody’s one. Just to be a representative of the community means a lot to me, so I hope I did a good job of it.”

Murray head football and head track and field coach Keith Shields nominated Halls for the award.

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