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Brandi LaFountaine has a unique perspective about adding her name to the list of illustrious winners of the Don Morris Multi-Sport Athletic Award.

Not only does she get to share the girls' honor with a fellow senior for whom she has so much respect, but she also changes the family dynamic when it comes to the Morris Award.

“With my brother and sister being nominees and winners, it's special to keep that tradition going,” said LaFountaine. “Honestly, I didn't know about this award until high school when my brother got nominated and then Brittni won it (in 2017), so I was really looking forward to my senior year.

“My brother was a great athlete, but that was a long time ago. Now I just know that Brittni can't brag to me — that's the big one. … But she's not a bragger by any means.”

This year's winners, though, have plenty about which to brag. LaFountaine and Moline's Megan Pittington shared the girls honor of being the Western Big Six Conference's top female student-athlete. Quincy football and basketball standout Jirehl Brock, who is headed to Iowa State on a football scholarship, won the boys honor. They were honored in a ceremony on Wednesday morning at Wharton Field House.

All three winners shared an appreciation for not only being nominated for the 36th annual award but being honored for their classwork and citizenship. LaFountaine is ranked No. 6 in her class of 313, and Pittington is No. 14 in the MHS class of 503.

LaFountaine — a four-year, three-sport athlete in swimming, basketball and softball — was proud to share the honor with Pittington. It is the first time there was a split vote of Big Six athletic directors for the girls honor and the second time there has been a share.

LaFountaine is the third straight female honoree from UTHS. She and Pittington are the ninth girls winners from their respective schools.

“She deserves it 100 percent, so I think it's awesome that we are sharing it and both getting recognized,” said LaFountaine, who will play softball at Illinois State and plans on being a math teacher. “She's a great competitor.”

Pittington, a four-year, three-sport athlete in volleyball, basketball and track and field, thought the share made the Morris honor even more special.

“I have complete respect for Brandi,” said Pittington. “We only play basketball together, but I think she's an amazing softball player. … The fact that we played basketball together and banged together in the paint, it is funny because we've been on such a competitive level and now we're both getting this award. I totally respect her and think she is an amazing athlete. I think it's awesome that we both get rewarded for all we've put in for being three-sport athletes.”

Pittington admitted she has eyed this award since her freshman year.

“I have always had an internal drive for education,” she said. “I don't do it to get rewarded; I just do it for myself. Being in sports, it would be so easy to not care about education and my grades. It's been a grind at times, but it's something I put as a priority.”

She is ending her athletic career in style. A qualifier in two events for this week's Class 3A state track & field meet in Charleston, it will be her final official athletic endeavor. She will be attending Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville this fall and will begin working toward her nursing degree without participating in varsity athletics.

“It's hard,” she said of making that decision and instead turning to intramurals. “I hope I don't have regrets, but I think I'm at the point now where I've had my fun, and if I continue that might end. So I'm content with where I am right now. … I think I just want to focus on school because nursing isn't an easy major.”

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