By: T.J. Hug
The Village Reporter
In one of his final acts as Head Coach of the Stryker Track and Field teams, Larry Freshour presided over the squads’ annual track awards on Tuesday, May 25. After just one year at the helm, Freshour will be moving on to Ayersville, where his wife is currently employed.
The girls were first to receive recognition. Nine Lady Panthers were awarded their track letters this year, including Gabrielle Paxton, Megan Graber, Audra Rupp, Brittany Breier, Shi’anna Whitman, Paige Speelman, Sierrah Whitman, Kira Pettit, and Jaden Shy.
Freshour also handed out specific awards to four individuals. Speelman, a sophomore, was given the distinction of the team’s Most Valuable Player(MVP). It was a simple matter of her contributions on the track that allowed the coach to make such a decision.
“This person put up at least ten points in every meet we’ve competed in this year,” Freshour included in his introduction of the MVP winner.
The Coach’s Award went to senior Gabrielle Paxton. Her hard work in the off-season, which included giving up her final year of basketball, was not lost on Freshour. In fact, it was that effort which led him to place her on the 4X200 and 4X400 meter relay squads.
“Gabrielle transformed her body over the Winter.” said her first year Head Coach
Audra Rupp was given the Panther Award. Her own hard work, particularly her efforts during the meets themselves, allowed her to stand out for consideration of this award. Competing in the shot put, the 400 meter dash, and both the 4X200 meter and 4X400 meter relays, she was spread pretty thin during meets. Yet she still managed to excel in all four events.
Earning the Dedication Award was Brittany Breier. The junior’s can do attitude and will to do whatever it takes to make herself better made her an ideal match with this award.
“She’s willing to do whatever it takes to become a better athlete,” claimed Freshour of the speedy sprinter.
All four of those girls, each making up part of the Lady Panther 4X200 meter and 4X400 meter relay teams, were also recognized as a group for their performance throughout the season. At the time of the awards ceremony, the group had broken the school record in the 4X200 meter relay five times, and did so for a sixth time at the Division III Regional Track Meet, which took place just days later.
For the boys, four athletes stood out on a team low in numbers but high in talent. Winning their track letters were Brannon Woolace, Alex Bost, Israel Aguilar, and Kaid Woolace. Both Woolace boys entered the season new to track and field.
“When Kaid walked into my room at the beginning of the year and told me he wanted to run track, I got excited,” Freshour expressed. “And then, not to much later, his cousin (Brannon) walked in to my room as well.”
Both sprinters had strong years for the Panthers, racking up places in the 100 and 200 meter dashes, as well as the 4X100 meter and 4X200 meter relay teams. Their efforts earned Brannon the Most Valuable Player Award and Kaid the Coach’s Award.
Alex Bost was the recipient of the Dedication Award. A high jump specialist, Bost was asked by Freshour to take part in more running events, a choice that even the coach admits may have held back his player in his event of choice.
“I asked him to do more running events,” Freshour confessed, “and that probably hurt him a little bit in the high jump.”
Still, Bost’s sacrifice was in the best interest of the team, and his willingness to do what his coach asked is what earned him the Dedication Award.
Aguilar took home the Panther Award from the ceremony. His consistent improvements throughout the season, in addition to the leap he made between his freshman and sophomore year, are what caught Freshour’s eye. He expects big things from the thrower in the near future.
“We just need to get him stronger,” Freshour stated on Aguilar, “because his technique is flawless.”
Despite his departure from the program at the conclusion of the school year, Coach Freshour couldn’t have possibly been any prouder of the efforts displayed by all of his Panther kids.
T.J. Hug can be reached at email@example.com.