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Park Rapids senior athletes, 1987 boys track team honored at All Sports Banquet

Sam Reish, Abby Morris, Holly Johnson and Tristan Hill receive top athletic honors.

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Receiving top honors at the 45th annual Park Rapids All Sports Banquet on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, were (from left) Tristan Hill (Outstanding Male Athlete), Holly Johnson (Outstanding Female Athlete), Abby Morris (Female Student Athlete) and Sam Reish (Male Student Athlete).
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise
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PARK RAPIDS – Sam Reish, Abby Morris, Holly Johnson and Tristan Hill were named the top athletes from the Class of 2022 while the 1987 boys track and field team was inducted into the Panther Athletic Hall of Fame during the 45th annual All Sports Banquet at the Area High School gym on Wednesday, May 18.

Reish was named the Male Student Athlete while Morris was voted as the Female Student Athlete. Johnson was selected as the Outstanding Female Athlete and Hill was chosen as the Outstanding Male Athlete.

Reish was a three-year letterwinner and three-time all-district academic football player while also receiving the team’s Most Improved Player award as a junior and the Kip Gauldin Leadership Award as a senior captain. Reish also lettered in basketball as a sophomore and was a five-year letterwinner in track and field. Reish also has a 4.0 GPA.

Morris was a Mid-State Conference performer in three sports. Morris lettered six years in tennis, earning all-conference honors her last four seasons and all-conference honorable mention honors as an eighth grader. Morris qualified for the state Class A tournament as a freshman and a senior; was named the team’s MVP as a sophomore, junior and senior; and served as captain as a junior and senior. In basketball, Morris earned four letters and was the team’s MVP and an all-conference player as a senior while earning all-conference honorable mention honors as a sophomore and a junior. Morris was named the Most Improved Player as a sophomore. Morris also lettered four years in softball, serving as captain all four years while receiving all-conference honors as a junior and all-conference honorable mention honors as a freshman.

Johnson was a four-year letterwinner in cross country, a three-year letterwinner in basketball and a six-year letterwinner in track and field. In cross country, Johnson served as captain and received the Coaches Award as a senior, was named Most Valuable and received the Coaches Award and the Tough Runner award as a sophomore, and received the Most Spirit and Tough Runner honors as a freshman. Johnson served as captain in basketball as a junior. In track and field, Johnson was a True Team state participant as a seventh grader and a junior while qualifying for the state Class A meet as an eighth grader and freshman, earning a state medal as a freshman. Johnson competed on Park Rapids teams that won the subsection title the last five years (the 2000 season was canceled because of COVID) and the section title her seventh grade year. Johnson earned all-conference honors as an eighth grader, sophomore and senior as well as all-conference honorable mention honors as a junior. Johnson was named Rookie of the Year and Hardest Worker as a sophomore and received a Coaches Award as a junior.

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Hill lettered four years in football, two years in wrestling and five years in track and field. In football, Hill earned all-district academic honors three times and was an all-district player as a junior and a senior. Hill was named the team’s Most Improved Player as a sophomore, received the Mike McClelland Defensive MVP award as a junior and senior, received the Gary Rehn Team MVP award as a senior, was named the Panthers’ Top Lineman as a junior, and served as captain as a senior. Hill served as captain in wrestling as a junior and senior, placed fifth at the section meet as a sophomore, and earned all-conference honors as a senior. In five seasons in track and field, Hill competed on two subsection championship teams as a freshman and a junior and qualified for the state meet in two throwing events as a junior. Hill earned all-conference honors as a junior and a senior, competed at the state True Team meet as a junior, and served as captain as a junior and a senior.

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Members of the 1987 Park Rapids boys track and field team that captured the state Class A True Team title were (front from left) Dave James, Brad Packer, Jami Harsha, Terry Falk, Dan Firehammer, Ron Soukup, Rod Stevens, Todd Ebert, Jon Smythe; (middle row) Mark Freeman, Dave Hamann, Todd Vik, Tom Bittmann, Eric Thomason, Greg Steele, Dennis Bittmann, Berry Crist, Dennis Dodge, Mike Ackerman; (back) head coach Andy McCarty, Mike Grage, Ron Swanson, Jim Wagner, Chris Bolton, Chip Soukup, Pete Schmutzer, Bryan May, Cory Aukes, assistant coach Leo Jacobson.
Contributed / Andy McCarty

The 1987 boys track and field team joined the Hall of Fame after becoming the first team sport in Park Rapids history to win a state title. The Panthers won the inaugural state Class A True Team title with 330 points as Stewartville finished second in the eight-team field with 301.50 points. Park Rapids went 1-2 in the pole vault and won the 4 x 400-meter relay to seal the win. Members of that team were Todd Vik (fourth in the 100 and 10th in the 200), Mark Freeman (15th in the 100), Dave Hamann (eighth in the 200), Dan Firehammer (third in the 400), Terry Falk (10th in the 400), Eric Thomason (third in the 800), Rod Stevens (fourth in the 800), Troy Larson (first in the 1,600 and first in the 3,200), Todd Ebert (11th in the 1,600 and 14th in the 3,200), Ron Soukup (second in the 110 hurdles and second in the 300 hurdles), Jami Harsha (third in the 110 hurdles and first in the 300 hurdles), David James (second in the long jump, second in the triple jump and 11th in the high jump), Greg Steele (12th in the long jump and second in the pole vault), Chris Bolton (11th in the shot put), Cory Aukes (second in the discus and shot put), Bryan May (sixth in the discus), Chris Olsson (12th in the triple jump), Ron Swanson (12th in the high jump) and Jon Smythe (first in the pole vault). Hamann, Falk, Firehammer and Thomason took second in the medley relay; Vik, Hamann, Brad Packer and Freeman finished third in the 4 x 100 relay; and Harsha, Falk, Thomason and Firehammer won the 4 x 400 relay.

“We had a lot of hard-working kids and we had to get the best kids in the right events,” said Andy McCarty, who was the head coach and was assisted by Leo Jacobson. “This team was the first team to win a state championship in Park Rapids history. It was a great thing.”

Morris, Johnson, Parker Harmon, Natalie Harvey and Nick Michaelson were presented with Park Rapids Memorial Scholarships while juniors Morgan Koppelman and Luke Hartung were recognized as Excel Award recipients. Joe Grimes was presented with a Blanket Award for his years serving as a football and basketball coach.

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The five recipients of the 2022 Park Rapids Memorial Scholarships were (from left) Nick Michaelson, Holly Johnson, Abby Morris, Natalie Harvey and Parker Harmon.
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

The evening also featured the Parade of Champions, presentation of senior plaques, recognition of state participants from the 2021 spring season, the 2021 fall season and the 2022 winter season, and the “Year in Review” slide show.

The banquet was put on by the Park Rapids Coaches Association.

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