November 3, 2014

Grand Rapids, MI – The National Congress of State Games has awarded the Athlete of the Year awards for the 2014 Male, Female and Youth Athlete of the Year at their Annual Awards dinner in conjunction with the NCSG Symposium.

The 2014 Youth Athlete of the Year is Braden Ivey from Enterprise, MS. Braden is a 12 year old Martial Arts participant that was the 2014 Gold Medal winner and overall Grand Champion. He has accomplished more in his 12 years than most athletes do in a lifetime.

In the past seven years of his martial arts training his competition resume reads like a novel: Braden became the 2007 Mississippi State Champion in his age group for the Mississippi Karate Association. He continues to defend his title and has renewed it every year, becoming a six-time “13 and Under Grand Champion.”

In 2012, at the age of ten, he was honored to have earned a position on the Amateur Athletics USA team. While martial arts is currently not an Olympic sport, this team is the equivalent to being the U.S. Olympic team. By competing on the AAU team, Braden was exposed to more tournaments and competed on a much higher level. He continued his reign as the AAU regional, state and national champion. In 2012 he also became the National Champion for the Japanese Karate Association.

In 2013, Braden had the opportunity to compete with his AAU team in Melbourne, Australia, at the World Karate Confederation Tournament. He represented his country and his dojo from Mississippi well by coming home as the WKC World Champion.

In the 2014 State Games, Braden became the 18 and Under Overall Grand Champion. Nationally, he took home a bronze medal in the 2014 U.S. Open in Las Vegas and a bronze in the 2014 International Cup.

This year, Braden qualified to be a member of the 2014 Junior Pan American Team after winning a silver medal at the elite team trials and national championship in Reno, Nevada. He will represent the U.S. in Lima, Peru.

Braden, a man of few words, was able to receive the award at the annual banquet for the National Congress of State Games, with his parents.

The 2014 Female Athlete of the Year is Jennifer Buckner a weightlifter from New Mexico. She won gold medals in both the Clean & Jerk along with the Snatch portion of the games. She started weightlifting in December of 2001 while she was a hammer thrower at Colorado State University. She met the weightlifting commissioner of the New Mexico State Games who asked her what she was doing after college. She said “Not throwing”. He talked her into trying Olympic Weightlifting. Before she knew it, she was competing in her first meet at Manzano High School in Albuquerque. At that meet, she qualified for the American Open. There are two major national events every year in the sport of weightlifting, the National Championships and the American Open. Both meets require a qualifying total.

In her career she has competed in a total of 60 meets combined: 9 American Open Championships (’02, ’03 ,’04, ’05, ’06, ’08, ’10, ’11, ’13), 10 National Championships (’04, ’05, ’06, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12, ’13, ’14), 3 Collegiate National Championships (’03, ’06, ’07) 16 State Games: 8 NM State Games (’02, ’03, ’04, ’06, ’08, ’10, ’11, ’13), 3 AZ State Games (’06, ’07, ’09), 1 Games of the West in 2008, 3 Rocky Mountain State Games (’02, ’03, ’05), and 1 KS State Games and Open in 2003, 17 local competitions in NM, TX, AZ, and CO, and finally she has competed in four World Team Secondary Qualifiers and one International Meet, the Mermet Cup (Team USA vs. Team AUS).

Jennifer is currently considered a master’s level lifter because she turned 35 this year but still competes in the senior division because she’s making the qualifying totals. In July, she went to Senior National Championships as a Master and broke the Master’s records for her age group in the snatch, clean and jerk, and total. She hit 88k (194 lbs.) in the snatch and clean & jerked 110k (242 lbs.) ending with a total of 198k which placed her fourth overall. She is currently preparing for the American Open in Washington, D.C. in December.

Jennifer was on hand, with her Mother to receive the award.

The 2014 Male Athlete of the Year is Elmer Hawse, a competitive shooter from the Show Me State Games in Missouri. In the 2014 Show Me State Games won 9 medals. Elmer at the age of 81, has been competing in the Show Me State Games and the Missouri State Senior Games for the past 14 years. In this time span, he has accumulated an impressive 132 medals for in the various disciplines of the Shooting competition.

Show-Me State Games shooting commissioner, Mary Ann Gates, said of Elmer, “Every year he shoots all 9 events and he always shoots competitive scores against those much younger than him. He usually takes home so many medals that we tease him about needing to bring an SUV to carry the loot home! In addition, at the end of the shoot, prior to the medal ceremonies, he always changes from his shooting clothes into a clean, pressed pair of white shooting shorts and shirt, earning him his fond nickname of Colonel Sanders! People enjoy shooting with Elmer. He also holds Missouri State Senior Games records in 6 Shooting events.

Elmer loves the challenge of the sport of shooting – especially as he ages. He also enjoys the camaraderie that an event like the Show-Me State Games offers. He says, “It provides an opportunity to meet people from all walks of life…rich, poor, healthy, handicapped, young kids, boys and girls and women and men that are shooters with the same goal in mind – to enjoy the sport.”

He also takes part in several shooting fundraisers including those for the Mid-Missouri Food Bank and the Conservation Federation, and mentors young shooters.

Elmer was on hand with his family to receive his award.


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