It is one of the most coveted awards in the Lancaster-Lebanon League, and a pair of talented student-athletes this week were rewarded handsomely for their work in the classroom and on the playing fields for the 2020-21 school year.
Cocalico senior Hannah Custer and Penn Manor senior Graham Thomas are this year’s A. Landis Brackbill award winners. That talented twosome maintained at least a 3.5 GPA and participated in two or more PIAA-sanctioned sports, and they were tabbed for their exceptional multi-purpose abilities in the greater community.
Brackbill was a principal at Penn Manor, and he was the first executive director of the L-L League. The award was established in his name in 1989. Custer is the third female from Cocalico and Thomas is the third male from Penn Manor to be honored.
“It’s an important award because it showcases those kids being whole people,” current L-L League executive director Ron Kennedy said. “It’s the athlete, the person, the academics, the volunteerism. But it’s not just about being a great athlete. They’re unbelievable students. It’s the whole package. These are the best of the best.”
Each school in the league can nominate two student-athletes for the award. Custer and Thomas took top honors for 2020-21.
Custer is having a sensational senior year for Cocalico:
Last fall, she scored five goals and added three assists while earning Section 2 second-team all-star honors for the Eagles’ field hockey team.
This past winter, Custer averaged 16.8 points, helping Cocalico win the Section 3 basketball championship on the way to earning section MVP honors.
Her best sport is lacrosse, and Custer is having a season for the ages this spring for the Eagles. The league’s Most Valuable Midfielder and first-team all-star selection helped Cocalico reach the league title game, and she has a school-record 125 goals and 10 assists as the Eagles set sail in the district playoffs.
Custer will play Division I lacrosse on scholarship for Richmond University.
Thomas has spent his senior year burning up local cross country courses and tracks. Last fall, he was the L-L XC champ and he earned first-team all-star honors. Thomas followed that up with a victory in the District 3 Class 3A finals, becoming Penn Manor’s first male district champ since 1981.
Thomas capped his cross country season in style with a third-place finish and the bronze medal in the PIAA finals, and that success carried over to the track this spring; Thomas won L-L League gold medals in the 1,600 and 3,200, and he’s the top seed in the 3,200 event in the upcoming district finals.
Thomas is set to run at the Division I level for Temple University.
“You look at their whole body of work, and their whole body of work is just incredible,” Kennedy said. “I wouldn’t say it was one thing in particular about either of them, but it’s always amazing to me when I look at the list of these kids. It’s incredible.”
FEMALE NOMINEES: Alyssa Ulrich, Annville-Cleona; Nyla Buie, Cedar Crest; Hannah Custer, Cocalico; Olivia Sensenig, Cocalico; Cassidy Cook, Columbia; Abigail Morley, Conestoga Valley; Isabella Silvaggio, Conestoga Valley; Aysha Gibbs, Donegal; Ashley Yoh, Elco; Megan Handshew, Elizabethtown; Alyssa Fedorshak, Ephrata; Olivia Fedorshak, Ephrata; Logan Martin, Garden Spot; Jess Weinoldt, Hempfield; Chloe Blantz, Lampeter-Strasburg; Daisy Frank, Lampeter-Strasburg; Gabrielle Kambouroglos, Lancaster Catholic; Arielle Breuninger, Lancaster Country Day; Ella Brubaker, Lancaster Mennonite; ShanAnn Simmons, Lebanon; Emma Levitan, Manheim Central; Emma Hagg, Manheim Township; Jenna Crowley, McCaskey; Emily Hauck, Northern Lebanon; Hannah Hershey, Octorara; Jordan Schucker, Penn Manor; Megan Yoder, Pequea Valley; Nikki Trout, Solanco; Hanna Martin, Warwick.
MALE NOMINEES: Casey Hess, Annville-Cleona; Matthew Smith, Cedar Crest; David Hershey, Columbia; Garrett Blake, Donegal; Sam Azzaline, Elizabethtown; Joe Sharp, Garden Spot; Tanner Hess, Hempfield; Daniel Biondolillo, Lancaster Catholic; Luke Forman, Lancaster Country Day; Cole Fisher, Lancaster Mennonite; Jin-Song Zheng, Lebanon; Nate Reed, Manheim Central; Sean Cliff, Manheim Township; Sam Hershey, McCaskey; Nate Shirk, Northern Lebanon; Justin Hay, Octorara; Graham Thomas, Penn Manor; Josh Jarvis, Pequea Valley; Colesen Sheaffer, Solanco; Tanner Haines, Warwick.