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Bryan Costabile, Savannah Buchanan named Sun's High School Athletes of the Year

With help from some of today's finest athletes and a number of past standouts, The Baltimore Sun celebrated prep excellence at its 50th annual High School Athletes of the Year awards luncheon Wednesday at the newspaper's downtown headquarters.

Bryan Costabile, a two-sport standout at Mount Saint Joseph, and Savannah Buchanan, a three-sport star at McDonogh, were named this year's Male and Female Athletes of the Year as they joined elite company at the milestone ceremony.

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The two seniors were selected from a list of 10 boys and girls finalists, all of whom were recognized at the luncheon. Don Russell, who played football, basketball and baseball at Baltimore city's Southern (now Digital Harbor), was the inaugural male winner in 1967. Karen Stout, a three-sport standout from Bel Air, became the first female recipient in 1978.

Tommy Polley, a two-sport star at Dunbar who won the award in 1996 before moving on to play in the NFL, was the keynote speaker at Wednesday's program.

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After the impressive accomplishments of all the finalists were read during Wednesday's program, Costabile and Buchanan –- each set to play lacrosse at Notre Dame -- were surprised, excited and humbled to be singled out as the top winners.

"It's such a great honor," said Costabile. "There's so many good athletes here and right when I walked in and heard all of their awards I thought there's not a chance I can get this. These kids  are way too good, it's ridiculous.  It's just an honor to be here and to win this award."

Throughout her four-year varsity careers in soccer, basketball and lacrosse, winning followed Buchanan.

This season, she earned All-Metro honors in soccer and lacrosse with both teams capturing Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championships, completing perfect seasons and finishing No. 1 nationally. In basketball, she was a main cog that helped the Eagles reach the title game.

She finished her high school career playing on nine championship teams and reaching the title games in each of the 12 seasons.

"It's amazing, especially with three different sports and three completely different teams.  To be able to experience all of that with a lot of my good friends from school is just amazing," she said.  "When I was a freshman and sophomore, I really looked up to the upperclassmen and wanted to play well for them and bring home championships.  And I think as a senior and even a junior, I wanted to do what the older girls did for me when I was an underclassmen and lead the team."

Costabile enjoyed a record-breaking season at quarterback for the Gaels football team in the fall, throwing for a program-best 2,594 yards, and then completed a stellar four-year varsity career in lacrosse this spring.

An All-Metro midfielder who scored 53 goals and added 11 assists this season, he was selected to play for the U.S. under-19 men's national team that will compete at the World Championships in July.

Last summer, he was one of 108 college and high school lacrosse players selected to try out for the U.S. under-19 men's national team. After four training camps and a series of cuts over an eight-month period, he was one of only a handful of high school players who made the 25-man roster.  He considered not playing football to fully concentrate on lacrosse during his senior year, but was quick to credit and thank his coaches – Stephen Berger in lacrosse and Richard Holzer in football – for keeping him playing both and working around his hectic schedule.

"Both my high school coaches were such a great inspiration to me. They always pushed me to do so much more," Costabile said.  "When I didn't want to play football and just focus on lacrosse, they kept me in it, said I should play and that it's going to help me. And any time there was competing interest, they always told me to do whatever I wanted, whatever made me most happy.  I learned some great lessons, they were the best and so were my parents.  They always pushed me through and I'm so glad they did."

Polley, who now coaches and mentors youth in Illinois, spoke about his career and took questions from the audience. He shared an important message to the athletes -- believe in yourself, work hard and stay the course using all resources available and appreciating the people around you that provide support.

The other boys recognized were Malik Anderson (Howard), Dalton Hengst (McDonogh), Ellison Jordan (Gilman), Silas Kelly (South Carroll), Austin Kraisser (Centennial), Tre Pulliam (Archbishop Curley), Immanuel Quickley (John Carroll), Eric Walz (Dulaney) and Logan Wisnauskas (Boys' Latin).

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The girls were  Maria Coffiin (Annapolis), Lizzie Colson (Manchester Valley), Brindi Griffin (McDonogh), Eva Klaus (Severna Park), Nyjari McNeil (Franklin), Kia Rankin (McDonogh), Tyeisha Smith (St. Frances), Deja Stevenson (Poly) and Hannah Warther (Century).

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