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Receiving top honors at Wednesday’s 36th annual Park Rapids All Sports Banquet were (from left) Hannah Williams (Female Student Athlete), Ian Johnson (Male Student Athlete), Jake Waggoner (Outstanding Male Athlete) and Grace Bateman (Outstanding Female Athlete).

Johnson, Williams honored

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  Ian Johnson and Hannah Williams received top honors at Wednesday night’s 36th annual Park Rapids All Sports Banquet.

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     Johnson and Williams were named the 2013 Male and Female Student Athletes while Grace Bateman and Jake Waggoner received the 2013 Outstanding Female and Outstanding Male Athlete awards.

     In addition, James Enfield and Julie (Benjamin) Cobalt were inducted into the Panther Athletic Hall of Fame.

     Johnson was a three-year letterwinner in football, a five-year letterwinner in hockey and a four-year letterwinner in golf. In football, Johnson was an all-conference honorable mention selection as a sophomore and all-conference selection as a senior. Johnson received all-conference honors in hockey three times and was a Section 8A honorable mention player as a junior and senior. Johnson earned MVP honors as a sophomore in golf and advanced to the Section 8AA meet as a junior.

     Williams was another three-sport athlete, earning six letters in swimming, five letters in hockey and five letters in golf. Williams earned all-conference honors in swimming three times and qualified for the state Class A meet in the 400-yard freestyle relay as a sophomore and in the 200 medley relay, 100 breaststroke and 400 freestyle relay as a senior. The medley relay finished 15th. Williams received all-conference honors in hockey five times and was an all-conference honorable mention golfer her senior season.

     Bateman also lettered in three sports: three times in volleyball, twice in basketball and six times in track. Bateman was an all-conference performer in track the last five years and qualified for three state meets. Bateman qualified for state in the 300 hurdles and placed 16th as an eighth grader. Bateman returned to state as a sophomore in the 300 hurdles and 4 x 400 relay (which placed ninth). As a junior, Bateman finished eighth in the 300 hurdles and ran on the 4 x 400 relay that placed sixth and on the 4 x 200 relay that placed ninth at the state meet.

     Waggoner also competed in three sports, earning four letters in cross country, swimming and track. Waggoner helped the boys cross country team qualify for the state meet last fall. In swimming, Waggoner was an all-conference swimmer the past two seasons and qualified for the state meet as a junior and senior. As a junior, Waggoner advanced to state in the 500 freestyle and 200 freestyle relay. This year, Waggoner qualified for state in the 200 freestyle (placing 14th), 500 freestyle (placing 13th) and 200 freestyle relay. Waggoner broke the school record in all three events and was named the team’s MVP.

     Enfield and Benjamin also were outstanding athletes at Park Rapids.

     Enfield was the first four-sport letterwinner at Park Rapids. Enfield earned letters in football, basketball, track and baseball during his junior and senior years in 1955 and 1956. Enfield was a three-year letterwinner in baseball and qualified for the state meet in track his senior season.

     Enfield played football at Bemidji State College for three years from 1957-1959. The 1957 and 1959 teams were inducted into BSU Hall of Fame in 2008.

     Enfield went on to coach football, basketball, wrestling, baseball and track at Lake Park, Winnebago, IL, Battle Lake and Mounds View for 35 years.

     Benjamin was a three-sport athlete at Park Rapids, competing in swimming, basketball and track.

     Benjamin was the first individual state qualifier for the girls swim team in a swimming event when she advanced to the state Class AA meet in the 100-yard butterfly as a senior. At one time, Benjamin held nine of the 11 school records. Benjamin held the 100-yard butterfly record for 26 years before it was broken in 2009. She still ranks in the top 10 in the 50 freestyle, 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke and finished in the top 8 in the section three years.

     Benjamin went on to swim at Hamline University where she earned All-American honors. Benjamin was the MIAC champion in the 100 freestyle twice and 100 butterfly once and placed in the top 8 at the NCAA Division III nationals in those events and several relays. Benjamin still holds Hamline’s school record in the 100 freestyle with a 53.11 and in the 400 freestyle relay.

     The main focus of the evening was to highlight the accomplishments of this year’s senior athletes.

     In addition to Johnson, the other Male Student Athlete candidates were David Dirks (football, baseball), Zach Eystad (football, swimming, baseball), Ben Kading (swimming), Tanner Otterness (cross country), Waggoner and Andy Waller (football, basketball, baseball).

     The other athletes meeting the criteria for Female Student Athlete were Bateman, Kaylee Hilmanowski (cross country), Heather Kniss (swimming), Tori Lauderbaugh (basketball, track) and Lora Remus (cross country, track).

     The other finalists for the Outstanding Male Athlete were the Student Athlete nominees and Cory Gartner (football, basketball, baseball), Chris Goplerud (football, basketball, baseball), Kyle Goplerud (football, basketball, baseball), Chris Shaw (wrestling, tennis) and Kody Walsh (football, baseball).

     Joining the Student Athlete nominees as candidates for the Outstanding Female Athlete were Jessi Andersen (swimming, track), Jordyn Bynum (cross country, track), Emily Creager (swimming), Katherine Erickson (swimming), Katelyn Hilmanowski (volleyball, basketball, softball), Caitlan Isaacson (basketball, softball), Tonya Melott (volleyball, track), Elizabeth Nichols (swimming), Morgan Olson (cross country, basketball, track), Jill Simpson (tennis, track) and Ashley Thelen (volleyball, hockey, softball).

     This year’s banquet also recognized all the state participants from the last year.

     That group featured Austin Carlson and Isaac Overmyer in boys track from last spring; Summer Ellefson, Lydia Lutz, Shelby Pierce, Jenna Polley, Bateman, Mady Vaudrin, Megan Grimes, Hannah Gorder, Sarah Harshman and Heidi Lageson in girls track from last spring; and Katie Kristofferson in girls golf from last spring.

     In the fall, the Park Rapids boys cross country team of Overmyer, Waggoner, Otterness, Zach Jewison, Bailey Mueller, Brad Eischens, Carlson, Nathanael Rairdon and Tanner Eischens advanced to state as did Tayah Otterness in girls cross country. Julia Renner and Christina Smith qualified in girls tennis. The Park Rapids girls swimming team won the Section 8A title to qualify for the state Class A True Team meet while Williams, Creager, Erickson, Taylor Graham, Ellen Hoffman, Alex Pederson, Lauren Rossman and Kayla Andersen qualified for the state Class A swimming and diving meet.

     During the winter season, John Kyllonen advanced to the state Class AA wrestling tournament while Waggoner, Eystad, Kading and Connor Smythe qualified for the state Class A boys swimming meet.

     Steve Prenevost received a Blanket Award for serving as a girls tennis, girls basketball, softball and girls track coach for 37 years.

     Nine $600 Park Rapids Memorial Scholarships were given to Bateman, Chris Goplerud, Kyle Goplerud, Johnson, Otterness, Remus, Waggoner, Waller and Williams.

     Remus and Waller were recognized as this year’s AAA representatives while Smythe and Vaudrin were recognized as this year’s ExCEL Award representatives.

     The Park Rapids music department performed and all senior athletes received plaques. The banquet, which is put on by the Park Rapids Coaches Association, also featured the parade of champions and the annual “Year in Review” video show.

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