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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has come a long way in its history of sport, welcoming teams from the NBA, Major League Soccer and other leagues to town, along with its history of extreme and outdoor sports.
But college football still holds a special place in the hearts of most Utahns — and it showed at Tuesday's fourth annual Governor's State of Sports Awards.
Utah State coach Matt Wells earned coach of the year, Utah football took home team of the year and BYU quarterback Taysom Hill was the highlight of the year at the fourth-annual award show held at EnerySolutions Arena.
The awards celebrate Utah's sports industry, from the high school and amateur level to professional sports, in each calendar year. Categories are selected by sports media and industry leaders throughout the state, and fans vote online to determine the individual winners.
When it came to coach of the year, Wells won after leading the Aggies to their third-straight postseason victory in the program's fourth-straight bowl game, both school records. Wells guided the Aggies to a 10-4 record overall, the second-most all-time at Utah State.
Utah football wrapped up its third year in the Pac 12 with an 9-4 record, including a 45-10 win over Colorado State in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Utes were known for last-minute plays and tight finishes, including three games totaling five overtimes and six games decided by four or fewer points.
BYU's Hill only played in the first four games of the Cougars' 8-5 season before a broken leg suffered against Utah State ended his junior season prematurely. But the BYU signal caller had enough time to leave Utahns with this highlight over then-No. 25 Texas in the second week of the year.
Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman won pro athlete of the year following his role with the U.S. men's national team at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and Olympian Noelle Pikus-Pace was female pro athlete of the year.
Tyler Haws of BYU and Mary Beth Lofgren of Utah each won collegiate athlete of the year honors, while high school athlete awards went to Timpview's Britain Covey and Enterprise's Riley Lyman.