Exceptional Defined

Best Athlete 

She’s tough. She’s fierce. She’s competitive — Mizzou’s Sophie Cunningham tops the list for Best Athlete. Her attitude on the basketball court is infectious, and her talent has helped draw record crowds to see the women’s team in action. With a lengthy awards list, Cunningham is still a hometown girl at heart, and she is helping put the town she grew up in on the women’s basketball map. Mizzou Basketball, @sophaller  

SILVER: J’den Cox
Mizzou Wrestling, @SuperstarW14T

BRONZE: Carl Edwards


Best Author

Gold-winning author Teresa Shields Parker has been on a weight-loss journey for much of her life. It wasn’t until about 15 years ago that she began to achieve long-term results. Her books revolve around that journey and her faith in God, intertwined. Her first book, “Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor” (2013), chronicles the mindset and the change that made all the difference., @TreeParker

SILVER: Laura McHugh, @LauraSMcHugh 

BRONZE: Jill Orr, @jillsorr      


Best Chiropractor

Dr. Curt Kippenberger at Focus on Health Chiropractic treats diverse physical issues in his practice. An avid cyclist and rock climber himself, Kippenberger’s area of emphasis lies in cycling and the multisport world. He caters to endurance athletes, but also treats Grandma like an athlete so she can return to doing what she does … better. His sports medicine-based clinic focuses on helping clients get back in the game. Focus on Health Chiropractic, 4200 Merchant St., 573-777-5900,

SILVER: Mark Pressley, Pressley Chiropractic Center
315 S. Providence Road, 573-875-0203

BRONZE: Brittany Overman, Columbia Chiropractic Group
3302 West Broadway Business Park Court D, 573-397-5980,


Best Bartender

When Las Margaritas opened in Columbia five years ago, Britney (Garrido) Beck was there to tend bar. She moved here from southeast Missouri specifically for the task. A seasoned mixologist, Beck has a couple of unique creations to her name that Las Margs customers love: Starburst (red and pink are the most requested) and Dreamcicle margaritas. Beck can mix cocktails by request and loves to please her customers. Just tell her to make you something good; that’s what she’ll do. Las Margaritas Mexican Restaurant, 10 Southampton Drive, 573- 442-7500,

SILVER: Andrew Ruth, Barred Owl Butcher & Table
47 E. Broadway, 573-442-9323,

BRONZE: Dan Dethrow, Flyover Restaurant
212 E. Green Meadows Road #9, 573- 825-6036, 


Best News Anchor or Host

An award-winning investigative reporter, Ashley Strohmier was named KMIZ-TV’s evening news anchor in 2017 after a two-year stint as anchor of “ABC 17 News This Morning.” In her coverage of the news, she has shown particular interest in the opioid epidemic and a legislative investigation into the Department of Social Services, which her reporting instigated.

SILVER: Angie Bailey, KOMU


Best Dentist or Orthodontist

From football to fillings, Dr. Chase Patton holds a couple of Columbia claims to fame. A Columbia native, Patton secured gridiron recognition as a backup quarterback for the MU Tigers before he zeroed in on the profession of dentistry. Each day his purpose and passion are met when he is able to affect the physical and mental health of patients through his work. Five years in, Patton excels at making his patients’ smiles sparkle. Dr. Chase Patton, 3005 Falling Leaf Court, 573-875-7040,

SILVER: Bradley Miller, Columbia Center for Dentistry
4301 Rainbow Trout Drive #101, 573-446-2687, 

BRONZE: Brad Twaddle, Twaddle Orthodontics
4600 Executive Drive, 573-234-2774,


Best Youth Sports Coach 

Kelly Eagle “flipped” for tumbling, cheerleading, dance and gymnastics when she was 3 years old. She’s been teaching cheer and tumbling in Columbia for more than 10 years and opened Eagle Elite Cheerleading in 2014. She founded the gym because she has a passion for cheer and tumbling and wanted to provide a safe and positive environment for youth. Eagle works hard to set an intentional culture of positivity, teamwork and perseverance, creating an environment where hard work is always rewarded and goals are achieved as a family. Eagle Elite Cheerleading, 2309 Industrial Drive, 573- 397-6114,

SILVER: Sam Bornhauser

BRONZE: Beau Baehman


Best Personal Trainer 

Nikki Wilson (no relation to the founders) has been with Wilson’s Fitness Centers since 2012. She has always had a passion for sports; she grew up immersed in them. She loves being able to help her clients become better versions of themselves. The gym is like a home to Nikki, and she thrives on motivating, instructing and supporting her clients. But she says her clients help her just as much and are a big part of her life. Nikki heads up Wilson’s kickboxing program and is head coach of the MAC Shark swimmers. Although tough love is her specialty, she does have a soft spot for her two Shih Tzus, Princess Samoa and King Capias. Wilson’s Fitness Centers, 2902 Forum Blvd., 573-446-3232,

SILVER: Scott Schutte, Columbia Strength and Conditioning
501 Fay St. #102, 573- 289-2806,

BRONZE: Ericka Hill, Wilson’s Fitness Centers
2902 Forum Blvd., 573-446-3232,


Best Tattoo Artist      

When you think ink, think Roxane Jeffries. With Living Canvas Tattoo, Body Piercing & Art Gallery at its inception more than 10 years ago, Jeffries’ portfolio is impressive. She once did a three-quarter-sleeve tattoo of a cameo and jewels with lace behind that took seven sessions to complete — at three to four hours per session! She loves working in the tattoo field and getting to create every day. She feels that art on skin has more life than art on a flat canvas. She also enjoys the collaboration with her clients and says some of them are very imaginative. Living Canvas Tattoo, Body Piercing & Art Gallery, 520 E. Broadway, 573- 442-8287,

SILVER: Tommy Volmert, Living Canvas Tattoo, Body Piercing & Art Gallery
520 E. Broadway, 573- 442-8287,

BRONZE: Jon Bush, One of a Kind Tattoo 
1301 Vandiver Drive, 573- 442-8228


Best TV Weathercaster         

Always a voice of calm in the midst of the most turbulent mid-Missouri weather, KMIZ-TV 17 weathercaster Sharon Ray is known for her informative and reassuring forecasts. Ray demystifies the weather, explaining it in a friendly, no-nonsense way. Her faithful viewers count on her extensive expertise to know what to expect weather-wise, and while she can’t always promise sunny skies, she always promises a sunny disposition!

SILVER: Kenton Gewecke, KOMU-TV 8

BRONZE: Tori Stepanek, KOMU-TV 8

Best Radio Personality          

Far from being just some voice on the radio, Scotty Cox feels like the nice, friendly — albeit sometimes slightly cranky — neighbor you’ve known for years. That could be because you have known him for years — he’s been on Clear 99 for 18. Personable and approachable, his warmth comes across “Clear”ly during his morning broadcasts. Besides being the well-deserving winner of our 2018 award for best radio personality, Cox is well known in the community for his philanthropy and generous spirit.

SILVER: Cosmo, Y107

BRONZE: Simon Rose, 102.3 BXR


Best Chef 

One bite of a mouthwatering CC’s City Broiler steak and you’ll know why Scott Cleeton is the Best of Columbia gold winner for Best Chef. Better yet, try the Aunt Jackie, CC’s most popular dish and get the full surf-and-turf picture. He’s a restaurateur chef who pays attention to detail when it comes to food: the best cut and the best quality. From appetizers to dessert, Cleeton’s elegant food speaks for him. CC’s City Broiler, 1401 Forum Blvd, 573-445-7772,

SILVER: Mark Sulltrop 44 Canteen, 44 Stone Public House
3910 Peachtree Drive, 573-443-2726,

BRONZE: Adam Wells-Morgan Flyover Restaurant
212 E. Green Meadows Road #9, 573-825-6036,


Best Entrepreneur 

From garage bands to garage beers, Tyson Hunt’s journey at Logboat Brewing Co. has been with his friends. It’s been a fast four-year ride from the garage to the growing brewery now at a historic location on Fay Street. The young company, named the 2016 Small Business of the Year by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, has worked through logistics and legalities to make a name for itself. That name, Hunt says, gets him invited to a lot of fun events. Logboat Brewing Co., 504 Fay St., 573-397-6786,

SILVER: Brant & Brock Bukowsky Veterans United Home Loans
1400 Veterans United Drive,

BRONZE: Rebecca Miller, Peggy Jean’s Pies
3601 Buttonwood Drive, 573- 447-7437,


Best Dog Groomer

It’s hard to get an appointment with Best Dog Groomer Denise Wallace at Lizzi & Rocco’s Natural Pet Market. In fact, she’s booked several weeks out and is not taking on new clients. Her pet parents are pleased with her service, though you might need to know someone who knows someone to get on her calendar. We hear she’s worth it. Lizzi & Rocco’s Natural Pet Market, 1610 I-70 Drive SW, 573-445-8249,

SILVER: Stephanie Wilhite, Treats Unleashed
1400 Forum Blvd., 573-234-2275,

BRONZE: Rose Kennon, About Paws
3301 West Broadway Business Park Court G, 573-446-4070,


Best Veterinarian       

Dr. Greg Chapman graduated from MU with his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1982. In 1987, he and his wife, Dr. Terry Payne Chapman, opened Noah’s Ark Animal Hospital at Bernadette Square Shopping Center. The couple built their current freestanding facility in 1992. Chapman has always loved animals and cares deeply for their health. Besides caring for pet patients, Chapman has always had pets himself. He currently cares for five dogs, three cats, two horses, parrots, cockatiels, parakeets, a bearded dragon, and saltwater and freshwater fish. Noah’s Ark Animal Hospital, 1003 N. Fairview Road, 573-445-1388,

SILVER: Candace Stormer, Rolling Hills Veterinary Hospital
3505 Buttonwood Drive, 573- 449-7387,

BRONZE: Tom Rose, Rolling Hills Veterinary Hospital
210 Keene St., 573- 449-3791,


Best Radio Team

 You wouldn’t know it by listening to them, but country station Clear 99’s Scotty and Catryna haven’t been a team for all that long. Their easy, comfortable banter makes mornings a little less tough to take. Although distinct in their personalities, the two share deep Missouri roots. Their on-air relationship is familial, like that of a fun, crazy uncle and his millennial niece. Indeed, Scotty regularly razzes his co-host about her age. Their family-friendly show is marked by “relevant silliness,” Scotty says, and segments such as the Country Feed keep Clear listeners coming back for more. 

SILVER: Cosmo and Jax, Y107,

Bronze: Shags and Trevor, 96.7 KCMQ,


Best Pediatrician 

A physician at Tiger Pediatrics for 22 years, Dr. Holly Bondurant says she has an unfair advantage over other outstanding pediatricians: She’s been practicing longer so she has had more patients. But longevity alone doesn’t account for the affection and respect Bondurant’s patients have for her. Bondurant enjoys the journey from infancy to adulthood with her patients, seeing them grow up and getting to know their families. But of all developmental stages, she particularly loves 3-year-old boys, she says, because they say the darnedest things. Tiger Pediatrics, 303 N. Keene St. #404, 573-777-7627,

SILVER: Adam Wheeler, Tiger Pediatrics
303 N. Keene St. #404, 573-777-7627,

BRONZE: Nathan Beucke, University of Missouri Health Care
555 E. Southampton Drive, 573-882-4730,


Best Sportscaster or Writer       

MU School of Journalism graduate and KOMU-TV 8 sports director Chris Gervino has long been a leading voice of sports in
Columbia and the surrounding area. The popular personality and die-hard Tigers fan knows all the ins and outs of high school, college and pro sports, taking viewers behind the scenes for all the passes, pitches, punts and plays. He anchors weeknight sportscasts and hosts “Sports Xtra with Chris Gervino” on Sunday nights. He also serves as the Mizzou football sideline reporter for Tiger Radio Network, and recently joined the Mizzou basketball radio crew as an analyst.

SILVER: Brad Tregnago, 93.9 The Eagle

BRONZE: Gabe DeArmond, Power Mizzou


Best Hair Stylist

The Clip Joint’s Staci Mains loves a challenge, especially one that helps a client look his or her best. Hair color and the total transformation it provides is Mains’ specialty, but if extensions or a simple cut is what a client needs, she adept at that too. Her clients trust her to make them beautiful, and she strives to earn that trust through continuing education and exceptional service. The Clip Joint, 1001 Cherry St. #101, 573- 443-8711,

SILVER: Mitchell Farris, The Strand and Spa
1100 Club Village Drive #105, 573-875-3008,

BRONZE: Paige George Loesch, Hair by Paige George Loesch
1301 Vandiver Drive, Suite G, 573-539-4053 


Best Principal  

Elaine Hassemer has been the principal at Our Lady of Lourdes Interparish School for five years. The school has 642 students, kindergarten through eighth grade. Hassemer enjoys the school’s welcoming environment and the fact that she gets to share her faith every day with students and families. She relishes how community-oriented the school is. Her favorite part of being the principal is helping children in the formation of their faith. As principal, she feels it’s important to have connections with the community and families, and to be visible and approachable. Our Lady of Lourdes Interparish School,

SILVER: Jennifer Rukstad, Rock Bridge High School

BRONZE: Tony Gragnani, Hickman High School


Best Teacher   

A teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes Interparish School for 16 years, Amy Gundy has been teaching third grade there for the past three. She previously taught physical education at the school for 13 years. Our Lady of Lourdes is “home” to Gundy. She and all her siblings attended the school, and her two children went there as well. She loves teaching third grade because she sees so much growth in the children. She says they seem very young when they come in and seeing their development is exciting. Our Lady of Lourdes Interparish School,

SILVER: Emily Cissi, Rock Bridge High School

BRONZE: Hannah Kruse, Shepard Boulevard Elementary School


Best Womens Health Doctor 

Dr. Karen Thies has been in practice with MU Health Care for 15 years. During that time, she’s delivered approximately 4,500 babies. Beloved by her patients, Thies is passionate about her work. Funny, disciplined and hardworking, Thies always keeps her door open to her patients. She inherited her love of medicine from her father, a rural Missouri doctor. Through him, she learned that medicine provides endless opportunities to help others and make a true difference in their lives. MU Health Care, 404 N. Keene St., 573-499-6084,

SILVER: Elizabeth Wilson, Women’s Health Associates
1601 E. Broadway, 573-443-8796,

BRONZE: Stephanie Womack, Women’s Health Associates
1601 E. Broadway, 573-443-8796,


Best Volunteer        

Michele Spry has volunteered consistently since 2006. She currently volunteers with the Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, Central Missouri Honor Flight, Honor Everywhere (a virtual reality experience that takes veterans too frail to physically fly on an Honor Flight to see their memorials virtually), Partner in Education with Midway Heights Elementary School, and the Mizzou Ambassadors. If Spry could be anything in the world, it would be a professional volunteer because she truly enjoys giving back to the community. A sense of happiness fills her heart knowing she is helping others. She particularly enjoys working with children and seniors/veterans.

SILVER: Wally Pfeffer

BRONZE: Crystal Umfress

Best Yoga Instructor  

Jeseca Downes had her first experience with Sumits Hot Yoga while she was a student in high school, taking morning classes there. Fast forward a few years, she found herself working at the Sumits’ desk and once again taking classes. Now certified, she works as an instructor at the studio, and her devoted following earned her the distinction of best yoga instructor. She says her experience as a cheerleading coach was instrumental in teaching her patience and how to instruct others. Sumits Hot Yoga, 505 E. Nifong Blvd., Suite 103, 573-474-9642,

SILVER: Ericka Hill, Wilson’s Fitness Centers
2902 Forum Blvd., 573- 446-3232,

BRONZE: Amber Treece, Sumits Hot Yoga,
505 E. Nifong Blvd., Suite 103, 573-474-9642,


Get your 2018 checklist here: 2018Checklist.pdf


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