The year’s biggest moments and brightest stars were recognised on Friday at the Geraldton Guardian Mid West Sports Awards. In its 51st year, the ceremony is the longest running awards night of its kind in regional Australia, and gives a chance for locals to be highlighted and celebrated by their peers for their achievements in the past year. With 11 awards up for grabs, there were many deserving nominees. At the end of the night came the most highly anticipated award — the Senior Sports Star of the Year which was taken out by basketball superstar, Johny Narkle. The 22-year-old has risen to national fame in the past year for his performances on the big stage adding the award to his growing collection from 2023 that included NBL1 West sixth man of the year, grand final MVP and NBL1 national tournament all-star, to name a few. Winning this award at home was special for the Geraldton local. “It’s good, especially with family and friends, it feels good, especially in front of Geraldton, so it’s pretty good,” Narkle said. Senior Sports Star of the Year was heavily contested this year, with any of the 11 nominees worthy of winning the award, but Narkle still believed he was a chance. “Kind of, but was put up against some good competition like Jy Thurstun and Gemma Dix,” he said. “I was relieved, my heart was beating pretty fast, I was pretty scared I wasn’t going to get it, but my name was read out, that slowed me down a bit, so it was pretty good.” During the NBL1 West grand final, Narkle took over to help the Geraldton Buccaneers win their third premiership and became the first Indigenous player to win grand final MVP. Narkle made history again on Friday, when he and the Junior Sports Star of the Year, Khyan Townsend, became the first Indigenous duo to win the junior and senior star awards in the same year. “I think when (Lennelle Papertalk) first told me about it, I was star struck a bit, it’s crazy . . . especially after the first Indigenous to win grand final MVP, then to win this, it feels good,” Narkle said. Previously, the junior and senior Aboriginal Sports Star of the Year were separate awards held by the Geraldton Sporting Aboriginal Corporation, however, in 2013 it was merged with the Mid West Sports Awards and all athletes were assessed under the same award. Townsend claimed the top junior award after his big year in taekwondo, travelling all the way to Kazakhstan for the Taekwondo World Championships. Narkle was on stage twice in the awards, as the Geraldton Buccaneers took Team of the Year after their second straight grand final appearance, bringing home the win this time around. In the biggest category with 24 nominees, the Mid West Academy of Sports Athlete of the Year, it was Jy Thurstun who came out on top. The softballer couldn’t be there to accept the award because he is in Mexico representing Australia in the Softball World Cup. Across the other categories, polocrosse coach Jane Marriott won Coach of the Year and basketball statistician Mandy Lalor won Official of the Year. Boxing coach Jake Peacock was on stage for a second year in a row, this time winning the Brian “Putter” Smith Sports Personality of the year while Ross Newman from the Equestrian club was named the Local Achiever of the Year. The ATLAS Inclusion award was won by Sportsmans Cricket Club and team manager Declan Thill. Paula Steenson from the Geraldton Clay Target Club was recognised as Administrator of the Year and the Geraldton Board Riders were voted Club of the Year.