TOPEKA - With a turnout of over 7,100 athletes, the 29th Annual Sunflower State Games had more than a few star competitors considered for the honor of being named 2018 Stormont Vail Athlete of the Year. This year, Chad Lorenz, 36 of Beloit, and Mckinsey West, 12 of Emporia, have been honored with this recognition.

In order to be chosen as a recipient for this award, an athlete must show outstanding achievement and good sportsmanship both on and off the field of play by embodying what the Sunflower State Games represent, living a healthy lifestyle through participation in sports.

Chad Lorenz, the 2018 Stormont Vail Male Athlete of the Year, brought home two gold medals this summer at the Track and Field meet in the 1500m run and 800m run. A Program Director at the NCK Wellness Center in Beloit, Chad has been competing in the Games since 2012. Lorenz enjoys the opportunity to compete at the Sunflower State Games because the event allows him to keep pushing himself to stay active and to set a good example for his daughter and the kids on his track team.

"We all still have that dream inside of us to grow up to be an Olympic Athlete standing on top of the podium. The Sunflower State Games give you the opportunity to feel that way again, and dare to dream to be the best you can be," said Lorenz. "I also enjoy competing against other athletes that push you to be your best. It's not just a small-town easy race that you are going to go out and win, you have to put in some time and effort to come to the Games and succeed."

In July of 2015, Lorenz had to undergo open heart surgery to repair an inherited congenital heart defect. After recovering from the surgery, Chad's life was back to normal until March of 2017. While out on a 10 mile run, Lorenz went into cardiac arrest and suffered a heart attack. Thankfully, local bystanders saw him collapse and stopped to perform CPR and called 911. Chad has since recovered and is again serving as an inspiration to those in his community by leading a health and active lifestyle.

Mckinsey West, the 2018 Stormont Vail Female Athlete of the Year, has been an active participant of the Sunflower State Games since 2016. For the third consecutive year, West has brought home Gold Medals in both 3D Archery and Target Archery. Mckinsey is currently a 7th Grader at Emporia Middle School and enjoys participating in the Sunflower State Games because it provides the chance to meet new people in her sport from across the entire state.

"The Sunflower State Games is one of my favorite shoots of the year because I get to meet new people and make new friends," said West. "It's a good chance for others to meet new people of all ages that enjoy some of the same activities and interests. It shows the athletes of Kansas as an entire group of people while bringing them together in one place at the same time."

In addition to the Sunflower State Games, Mckinsey has hardware to show her accomplishments from countless archery shoots in the Midwest, including the Monster Buck Classic, Kansas Indoor Championships, Kansas Outdoor Championships, Missouri Outdoor Championships, and Iowa Deer Classic, just to name a few. In 2017, West was honored with the opportunity to carry the Kansas state flag at the State Games of America Opening Ceremonies in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mckinsey also enjoys reading, art, playing the piano, baking, and playing the trumpet in band. West also is heavily involved as a participant in JOAD (Junior Olympic Archery Development).

The 2018 Sunflower State Games were held July 13-29 in Topeka and hosted 7,147 athletes who competed in 47 different sports. To learn more about the 2018 Athlete of the Year recipients please visit sunflowergames.com. The Sunflower State Games is a non-profit organization located in Topeka with a mission to promote physical fitness, personal health and well-being for Kansans of all ages and skill levels.