Senior athletes honored at All Sports Banquet
During their high school athletic careers, Lydia Kantonen, Sam Eystad, Justin Dravis and Julia Smith competed in 19 state competitions and earned 20 all-conference or all-district honors.
Those four were recognized for their achievements by receiving top honors at Wednesday's 40th annual Park Rapids All Sports Banquet.
In addition, Tyler Lehrke and Janessa (Wolff) Green were the latest members inducted into the Panther Athletic Hall of Fame during the banquet.
Kantonen was named the 2017 Female Student Athlete while Eystad was named the 2017 Male Student Athlete. Dravis received the 2017 Outstanding Male Athlete honor while Smith received the 2017 Outstanding Female Athlete award.
Kantonen was a four-year letterwinner in cross country and five-year letterwinner in track and field. During her cross country career, Kantonen qualified for the state Class A meet four times, placing 43rd as a freshman, 38th as a sophomore, 75th as a junior and 22nd to earn all-state honors as a senior. Kantonen earned Mid-State Conference honors all four years and was the team MVP three times. In track, Kantonen qualified for the state Class A meet as a member of the 4 x 800-meter relay team as a freshman and sophomore and qualified in the 3,200 run as a sophomore. Kantonen earned all-conference honors three times and also competed in two state Class A True Team meets.
Eystad was a four-year letterwinner in both swimming and baseball, earning all-conference honors in swimming as a sophomore, junior and senior and capping off his senior season by competing at the state Class A meet in the 200-yard freestyle relay, which broke the school record.
Dravis competed in three sports during his entire high school career, earning four letters in football, six letters in wrestling and two letters in golf. Dravis was an all-district honorable mention player as a junior and all-district player as a senior in football and received the Mike McClelland award as a senior. Dravis excelled on the wrestling mat, earning four trips to the state Class A tournament and placing three times by finishing fourth as a sophomore and third as a junior and senior. Dravis was also an all-conference wrestler four times and the team MVP three times. Dravis graduates as the Panthers' all-time leader with 189 wins and 133 pins.
Smith earned five letters in tennis and four letters in hockey. Smith qualified for four state Class A tennis meets in singles and earned all-conference and team MVP honors as a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior. Smith ended her high school career with 113 wins. In hockey, Smith received all-conference, team MVP and all-section honors as a senior.
Lehrke and Green followed outstanding high school athletic careers by competing at the NCAA Division I level in college.
During their high school careers, Lehrke was a four-year letterwinner in hockey and three-year letterwinner in baseball while Wolff was a four-year letterwinner in volleyball and basketball and two-year letterwinner in softball.
Lehrke earned Mid-State Conference honors in both hockey and baseball as a sophomore, junior and senior. Lehrke graduated as the Panthers' all-time leading scorer in hockey with 89 goals and 103 assists for 192 points. Lehrke currently ranks third in school history in scoring. Lehrke also received Section 8A honors as a junior and senior and was an all-state honorable mention hockey player as a senior.
Lehrke went on to play two seasons of Tier 1 junior hockey for the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League, scoring 18 goals and tallying 25 assists in 112 games, before playing four seasons for Bemidji State University. In 123 games for the Beavers, Lehrke scored 18 goals and had 28 assists as a forward. BSU went 9-6-5 in College Hockey America and 14-14-5 overall in 2006-07, 13-4-3 in the CHA and 17-16-3 overall in 2007-08, 12-5-1 to win the CHA title and 20-16-1 overall in 2008-09, and 14-3-1 to repeat as CHA champions and 23-10-4 overall in 2009-10. Lehrke helped BSU advance to the Frozen Four for the first time in school history in 2008-09.
Lehrke concluded his hockey career by playing one season for the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, which was a minor league professional hockey team in the Central Hockey League.
Wolff still holds several school records in volleyball and basketball.
During her four-year varsity volleyball career, Wolff earned all-conference honors as a sophomore, junior and senior and ended her career as the Panthers' all-time leader with 1,026 kills and 414 ace blocks and graduated with school records for kills in a match (30), kills in a season (337) and ace blocks in a season (111) and currently ranks second for digs in a match (35) and ace blocks in a match (14).
Wolff earned all-conference honors in basketball four times and still holds school records for career points (2,116), career rebounds (1,348) and career blocked shots (363) while holding single-game records for points (42) and rebounds (24) and single-season records for points (685) and rebounds (427). Wolff was the Mid-State Conference Player of the Year as a junior and senior, an all-state player as a junior and senior, was named the Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior and was a Miss Minnesota Basketball finalist as a senior.
Wolff also earned two letters in softball and was an all-conference and all-section player as a sophomore.
Wolff went on to play three seasons for the Penn State University women's basketball team, finishing her career by averaging 5.7 points and 4.6 rebounds a game. Wolff compiled 515 points, 416 rebounds, 67 blocked shots, 55 steals and 38 assists in 90 games, 16 as a starter. Wolff shot 48.4 percent from the field (186 for 384) and 71.4 percent at the free throw line (142 for 199) in helping the Nittany Lions go 4-14 in Big Ten Conference play and 13-18 overall in 2007-08, 6-12 in the conference and 11-18 overall in 2008-09, and 8-10 in the conference and 17-14 overall in 2009-10.
In addition to announcing the top athletic awards and inducting two more Hall of Fame members, the annual banquet honored all of the senior athletes.
Joining Kantonen as candidates for the Female Student-Athlete honor were Isabel Bagstad (volleyball, softball), Olivia Fischer (swimming, gymnastics), Drew Hilmanowski (tennis, golf), Smith, Madison Steffel (cross country, golf) and Macky Warne (cross country, basketball, softball) while Nolan Booge (cross country, wrestling, tennis), Kaleb Carlson (cross country, swimming, track), Jake Dickinson (football, basketball) and Adam Herberg (football, basketball) joined Eystad as candidates for the Male Student-Athlete award.
The other candidates for the Outstanding Male Athlete honor were the five Student-Athlete candidates and Jacob Bittmann (football, wrestling, golf), Jack Christenson (cross country, swimming, track), Kenny David (football, tennis), Cole Hoscheid (football, hockey), Adam Jacobi (cross country, track), Logan Johnson (football, wrestling), Jarrett Johnson (football, hockey), Zach Nelson (football, wrestling, tennis), Jared Sunram (wrestling), Randall Scott (football, wrestling) and Logan Veo (football, wrestling). Lizzie Bannerman (swimming, softball) and Jasmine Cease (swimming, gymnastics, golf) joined the Female Student-Athletes as candidates for the Outstanding Female Athlete honor.
Tom Ahrendt, who served as a coach at various levels in various sports for 24 years (including the head football coach from 2003-2008), received a Blanket Award for his contributions to Park Rapids athletics.
State participants were also recognized. Competing at state this season were Smith in girls tennis; Kantonen and Jacobi in cross country; Maija Hovelsrud in girls swimming; Eystad, Matt Benson, Zach Behrens, Casimir Simonson, Spencer Fritze and Marcus Benson in boys swimming; Justin Dravis, Booge, Bittmann, Sunram, Ashton Clark and Cody Dravis in wrestling; and Kantonen, Caroline Drury, Katelyn Warmbold, Kennedy Carlson, Tori Hilmanowski, Jaiden McCollum, Abby Eystad, Coral Johnson, Julia Johnson, Whitney Steffel, Kayleah Breitweser, Kamree Carlson, Paige Johnson, Jada Renneberg, Hannah Morgan, Kendra Scholz, Ellie Ulvin, Quinn Hunter and Holly Johnson in the state Class A True Team girls track and field meet.
Park Rapids Memorial Scholarships (worth $1,000 each) were awarded to Booge, Carlson, Dravis, Eystad, Fischer and Kantonen. Eystad and Kantonen were this year's "AAA" representatives while Matt Benson and McCollum were this year's ExCel Award recipients.
The Park Rapids Coaches Association put on the banquet.