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Panther athletes celebrate success on and off the field

PHS girls head basketball coach Scott McKenzie gives a congratulatory hug to senior Tayli Stenerson at last week’s Athletics Awards Night. Stenerson was named Senior Athlete of the Year, along with TJ Abraham. PHS girls head basketball coach Scott McKenzie gives a congratulatory hug to senior Tayli Stenerson at last week’s Athletics Awards Night. Stenerson was named Senior Athlete of the Year, along with TJ Abraham. Tribune photo by Don Cogger

Abraham, Stenerson recognized as Senior Athletes of the Year

It was a memorable year for Powell High School athletics, as students were recognized for their accomplishments both in competition and in the classroom at the 2016-2017 Athletic Awards Night last week.

Awards were handed out for both fall and winter sports, in categories including Most Valuable, Most Improved and Most Inspirational. PHS Activities Director Tim Wormald served as Master of Ceremonies, with dinner served courtesy of the Powell Athletic Roundtable. Wormald praised all of the students who participated in athletics this year in his opening remarks, calling them worthy ambassadors of the school and of their community.

“Our students who are recognized tonight truly represent the people who are invested in the educational aspect of athletics,” Wormald said. “That’s a very positive thing, and these guys and girls exemplify that better than anyone.”

Fifteen multi-sports medallion award winners were honored: Gold medals went to Eli Briggs, Zach Easum and Nate MaGill. Silver medals were handed out to TJ Abraham, Paige Gann, Mason Olsen, Josh Schuler, Jennifer Bonander and Teo Faulkner. Bronze medallions were given to Shattuck Swenson, Dani Asay, Katie Brown, Kiley Cannon, Rachelle Cole and Tayli Stenerson.

Team awards were handed out next, recognizing participants in cross country, volleyball tennis, football, golf, girls swimming, boys and girls basketball, wrestling, boys swimming, cheerleading and dance.

Senior awards were reserved for the end of the program, beginning with the Pat Finney Service Award and the Jim Stringer Memorial Scholarship. The Pat Finney Award is given to a student athlete who along with participation in school sports, gives back to the community outside of regular school activities. The award was given to Dani Asay and Tessa Eller.

This is the third year the Jim Stringer Memorial Scholarship has been awarded, created to honor the late football coach and what he meant to PHS athletics. The $500 scholarship was presented to Terrance McLaughlin.

“This year was a good conversation, because we landed on an individual Coach Stringer would have loved,” Wormald said of McLaughlin. “He would have loved having this young man on his line. ... He worked hard and ended up contributing a lot to the Panther football team.”

U.S. Army Reserve Scholar/Athlete Award

The U.S. Army Reserve Scholar/Athlete Award — which recognizes academic and athletic achievement, as well as extracurricular involvement — went to Jennifer Bonander and Mason Olsen.

“Jennifer has seven varsity letters, two in tennis, three in basketball and two in track,” said tennis head coach Joe Asay in his introduction of Bonander. “She also has six academic letters with a 3.9 GPA.”

Olsen, voted the Panthers’ Most Valuable Offensive Player for the 2016 football season, is a four-year letter winner in football and track, an All-State selection in football and has been chosen to play in the 2017 Shrine Bowl this summer.

“When I think of Mason, I think of hard work,” said head basketball coach Chase Kistler. “His senior year he finally had his breakout season and realized what his potential was. It was amazing to watch him come out of his shell as a leader and as an athlete.”

U.S. Marines Distinguished Athlete

The U.S. Marines Distinguished Athlete Award is given to those athletes recognized as having best exhibited the personal traits of courage, poise, self-confidence and leadership while performing as a varsity athlete. This year’s recipients were Dani Asay and Eli Briggs.

Asay earned two letters in volleyball and three letters in basketball during her PHS career and served as president of the Letter Club.

“Dani’s leadership is what really stood out to me,” said head volleyball coach Randi Bonander. “Even when she was on the bench, she was like an assistant coach to our team. There were so many times during volleyball and basketball games that she would put her arm around a younger teammate and explain things, or redirect them.”

Briggs, a four-year letter winner in football and wrestling and a two-year letter winner in track, was named to the 2016 All-State Football Team. He also finished fifth in the 3A State Wrestling Tournament this year. He will graduate with a 3.36 GPA.

“Although his love for the game was not commonly voiced from Eli, he consistently expressed it through his work ethic, coach-ability and physicality,” said head football coach Chanler Buck. “More often than not, a blue pickup was seen in the parking lot at 6 a.m., indicating the weight room was open. Eli was consistent in attending off-season training and bettering himself each day.”

Gerald Sleep Most Inspirational Athlete Award

The Gerald Sleep Most Inspirational Award, given to athletes whose effort and dedication serves as an inspiration to teammates. went to Rachelle Cole and Nate MaGill.

Assistant girls basketball coach Troy Hildbrand said Cole acted as a team leader and mentor throughout her career at PHS. She was a Bronze-Medallion winner (five or six letters earned), participating in volleyball, basketball and track and named most improved in all three sports during her career.

“Rachelle was the hardest person on herself and always wanted to be her very best for the team,” Hildebrand said. “It was never about personal accolades ... whatever we asked of her, she stepped up and answered the bell every single time. The more confidence we showed in her, the more she showed in herself.”

MaGill was a Gold Medallion winner (10 or more letters earned), lettering multiple times in football, swimming and track. He was named to the All-Conference team in football and placed third in diving at the 2017 3A State Meet.

“I talked to a lot of Nate’s football coaches, and one word came up multiple times,” said head track coach Scott Smith. “That word was motor. He had a motor that would not stop. He almost always had to go against guys who were bigger and stronger than he was, and yet he found a way to win. Teams would have to especially prepare for him because of the things he did and the energy in which he did it.”

Dr. Ray Christensen “Stout Heart” Award

The winners of this award routinely exhibit loyalty, dedication, a respect for teammates and coaches, leadership qualities and the ability to achieve a degree of excellence. This year’s winners were Teo Faulkner and Zach Easum.

Faulkner lettered in cross country and track all four years. Cross country head coach Cliff Boos said Faulkner has earned the respect of her teammates and coaches for her hard work and dedication, as well as her ability to work through adversity.

“I’ve had the pleasure of coaching Teo for four years in track and cross country,” Boos said. “She’s one of the toughest kids I’ve ever had the good fortune to coach. She has an incredible dedication to her sport. She’s had a great deal of physical problems that have hindered her in being as effective as she wants in competition, but she never backs off. It’s been a real privilege to work with her the last four years.”

Easum was a four-year letter winner in football, track and wrestling. He finished his high school wrestling career with a 94-34 record, medaling at state three times. He was a regional champion and two-time state finalist.

“Zach has been a team leader since day one,” said head wrestling coach Nate Urbach. “He’s the only guy that didn’t mind wrestling Riley Stringer, which I’m sure his teammates still appreciate to this day. He’s always willing and eager to put in the hard work. He will absolutely be missed next year and in the years to come.”

Senior Athlete of the Year

The final award went to the two athletes who coaches felt best exemplified sportsmanship, citizenship, leadership, cooperation with all school personnel, a desire to excel and win and a willingness to sacrifice for the team and the school. The two athletes chosen this year were Tayli Stenerson and TJ Abraham.

In the classroom, Stenerson is a three-year member of the National Honor Society and will graduate with a 3.95 GPA. She earned five academic letters and served as the secretary/treasurer of the Letter Club. Athletically, she earned six varsity letters — three each in volleyball and basketball. She earned All-Conference honors in both sports and was voted team MVP in volleyball and co-MVP in basketball.

“Tayli is a great young lady,” said girls head basketball coach Scott McKenzie. “She was a strong leader, the voice of our team. She stepped up and defended some of the best players in our league and encouraged the younger players to do their best.”

Abraham will graduate at the top of his class with a 4.0 GPA and lettered multiple times in football, basketball and track. On the football field, he was a two-time Super 25 selection as one of the top 25 players in the state of Wyoming, covering all conference classes, as well as a two-time All-State selection. Head football coach Chanler Buck said Abraham enriches those around him and will be missed.

“TJ has every asset that we all wish to see in our kids that come through this school and in this community,” Buck said. “He’s going to represent himself well in the future as an athlete and as a person. He’s going to be better for those programs that will be privileged to have him in the future.”

Cross country — Most valuable: Alan Merritt and Emma Andreasen; Most improved: Brian Brazelton and Emma Korte; Most inspirational: Jesse Erickson and Teo Faulkner/Emily Sweet.

Volleyball — Most valuable: Tayli Stenerson; Most improved: Mallory Triplett; Most inspirational: Dani Asay.

Tennis — Most valuable: Jesse Brown and Hattie Pimentel; Most improved: Nathan Whitham and Nicole Sanders; Most inspirational: James Sheets and Lauren Asher.

Football — Most valuable: TJ Abraham; Most improved: Carter Olsen; Most inspirational: Paige Gann; Lee Blocking award: Max Gallagher; Most valuable defense: Brooks Asher; Most valuable offense: Mason Olsen; Most valuable special teams: Nate MaGill.

Golf — Most valuable: Reece Hackenberg and Rob Sessions; Most improved: Austin Asher; Most inspirational: Kyle Church.

Swimming — Most valuable: Caitlyn Miner and Kacey Creed; Most improved: Lauren Lejeune and Dillinger Wilkerson; Most inspirational: Claire Miner and Austen Layton.

Boys Basketball — Most valuable: TJ Abraham; Most improved: Carter Olsen; Most inspirational: Paige Gann; Free Throw Award: Luke Washington, 66 percent.

Girls Basketball   Most valuable: Jennifer Bonander and Tayli Stenerson; Most improved: Rachelle Cole; Most inspirational: Dani Asay; Free throw award: Maddy Hanks, 62 percent.

Wrestling — Most valuable: Reese Karst; Most improved: Logan Lamb; Most inspirational: Zach Easum.

Cheerleading — Most valuable: Deasia Daugherty; Most improved: McKenzie Thompson; Most inspirational: Sarah Rodriguez.

Dance — Most valuable: Rylee Ramsey; Most improved: Alex Nicholson; Most inspirational: Madyson Riedinger.

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