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SportStars’ #CoverMadness Championship Winners SportStars’ #CoverMadness Championship Winners
#CoverMadness Championship: A Fan-Powered Tournament To Select The Top Cover From SportStars Magazine’s First Decade Results In Co-Champions After More Than 185K Votes • SportStars... SportStars’ #CoverMadness Championship Winners

#CoverMadness Championship: A Fan-Powered Tournament To Select The Top Cover From SportStars Magazine’s First Decade Results In Co-Champions After More Than 185K Votes •

SportStars will turn 10-years old on June 10, which has us feeling quite nostalgic. So for part of our celebration, our editor and production manager sifted through more than 300 covers to select 32 favorites. We then seeded a field of four 8-cover regions, called it #CoverMadness and turned things over to the fans. After 195,000 votes were cast over four days of semifinals, the #CoverMadness Championship reached 185,000 over approximately 18 hours.

The #CoverMadness Championship was set up to be a Best-Of-3 Series based on unlimited voting over three 12-hour periods. It would feature our Sept. 2018 cover of Cosumnes Oaks-Elk Grove volleyball standout, Amaria Kelley, and our June 2019 cover with Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa football’s Jackson Pavitt out front.

Game 1 on Saturday, May 30, went convincingly to Amaria Kelley and her supporters. Game 2 on Sunday, May 31, broke the system, literally. Our voting software crashed two separate times in the first six hours as both athletes topped 50K votes. When the second poll crashed, Kelley’s cover led by just 360 votes.

Not wanting to crash yet another poll, the event was postponed for two days while we worked with the voting software company. On Tuesday morning, we learned that unlimited voting would no longer be an option. To start a new voting method would’ve meant scrapping the first 100K votes of Game 2. Also, naming Kelley the winner after just six hours instead of 12, didn’t seem right either.

So after speaking with both athletes and getting their support — we are naming both winners of the #CoverMadness Championship. We will be featuring both covers with an article in the upcoming 10th Anniversary Issue releasing June 10 here at Have a look below at the two winning covers.

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DELTA REGION CHAMPION: Amaria Kelley (Cosumnes Oaks-Elk Grove VB), Sept. 2018

#CoverMadness Championship, Amaria Kelley

(David Gershon photo)

Kelley, a 2-seed, was the highest seed to win a region. She emerged from a bracket that featured our overall-No. 1 seed Najee Harris from 2016. Support for the former Cosumnes Oaks star and current Fresno State Bulldog has only grown in each round. After pulling more than 100K semifinal votes, she enters the #CoverMadness Championship as the one to beat. PATH TO FINALS: d. Darius Thomas (St. Francis-Mtn. View Track) 2015, d. Austin Jones (Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland Football) 2017, d. Carter Harris (Elk Grove Football) 2019, d. Chase Saldate (Gilroy Wrestling) 2020. 

LAKE REGION CHAMPION: Jackson Pavitt (Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa FB), June 2019

#CoverMadness Championship, Jackson Pavitt

(Ike Dodson photo)

This 4th-seeded cover is already an accomplished winner, having won a fan vote to determine our best cover of 2019. It may be our best game action photo cover ever. Support for this cover has been steady throughout as well. The semifinal result was never really in doubt. PATH TO FINALS: d. Alex Van Dyke (Cosumnes Oaks Football) 2013, d. Jake Browning (Folsom Football) 2014, d. Navid Khamush (Dublin Soccer) 2016, d. Daniel Susac (Jesuit-Carmichael Baseball) 2020.




Chace Bryson

Chace Bryson is the managing editor of SportStars Magazine. Reach him at

  • Amy brauch

    May 30, 2020 #1 Author

    Team Pavitt all the way….


  • Dain Milliman

    May 31, 2020 #2 Author

    Jackson Pavitt


  • David Turner

    May 31, 2020 #3 Author

    Going by the rules that were established from the beginning of this final, this contest was won by Amaria Kelley. It’s unfortunate that a website that celebrates young athletes is setting a poor example of gamesmanship by advocating the changing of rules and the end of an already finalized vote/competition.


    • mm

      Chace Bryson

      May 31, 2020 #4 Author

      We are are going by the rules that we established at THE BEGINNING of this final. There was no 100K limit announced at the beginning of Saturday’s competition. Nor was there a 100K limit included when we announced the championship rules via Twitter on Friday. As we have stated on Twitter, our decision to add that this morning was a foolish one. Our plug-in software closes polls after 100K votes. We were trying to avoid making our staff watch for that happen late in the evening and to post another one. However, the vote climbed so fast on Sunday that we reconsidered our decision and believed that we should stick with our ORIGINAL guidelines. We have been 100 percent supportive of Amaria throughout this contest, shielding her and backing her up against several negative comments toward her voting success. We were wrong in changing the format this morning, and we apologize for the confusion it caused. We will apologize to Amaria directly as well.


  • Christina Ball

    May 31, 2020 #5 Author

    I would like to ask you to stick by the original rules you posted when this final round started! I would expect this level of sportsmanship from our athletes and especially those who represent them! Amaria Kelley clearly won this competition. Please follow your own guidelines as set and posted!


    • mm

      Chace Bryson

      May 31, 2020 #6 Author

      Christina, please see our reply to David. Thanks.


  • Jamie Ervin

    June 2, 2020 #7 Author

    When the 2nd link was put up Sunday, it was frozen for many of us and we could not vote for Amaria, so her opponent’s fans were able to vote before that one closed down also. Seems very unfair this is still not addressed and you are going forward. The 2 nd link did not work, so those votes should not count and should go forward from 1st round votes on Sunday. It feels that he was given extra help.


    • mm

      Chace Bryson

      June 2, 2020 #8 Author

      We’re as bummed as you are that the software stopped working when it did. We’re working on a plan to move forward and are including both Amaria and Jackson in the process.


  • Diana B.

    June 3, 2020 #9 Author

    What a wonderful testament to the hearts of these two leaders, that they have agreed to share this triumph. I am so blessed by both of them. These young adults are our future leaders, and our collective future is brighter with them at the helm. Right now, the world needs nothing more.

    Congratulations, Amaria and Jackson!!! You both are so loved!


    • mm

      Chace Bryson

      June 3, 2020 #10 Author

      Thanks, Diana. We couldn’t agree more.


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