Receiving top awards at this year's Blue and Gold Banquet were, left to right, Wolfgang McStravick and Carrie Nyce, Outstanding Athletes; Devon Kriebel and Mason Cassel, All-Around Athletes.
Bringing the past and the present together, Upper Perkiomen celebrated the conclusion of the 2013 athletic campaign with the annual Blue and Gold banquet and Athletic Wall of Fame inductions last week.
This year’s Wall inductees, Nikki Thren and Anthony O’Hara, both moved on to Ursinus after their Upper Perk careers, and both proved to be the epitomes of successful college student-athletes.
Thren graduated magna cum laude in 2009 and was a member of the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division III Academic Team all four years at Ursinus. In her seasons as a hockey player, Thren was part of conference championship teams and won a Division III National Championship with the Bears in 2006.
O’Hara earned a doctorate in physical therapy at Arcadia in 2002 after graduating magna cum laude from Ursinus in 1999. He won three conference championships in the javelin at Ursinus, and, as a senior, O’Hara won his second Mid-East Regional Championship and finished ninth at the NCAA Championships.
“Ursinus is a great school, close to home, great academics,” O’Hara said. “Very competitive, but you have time, flexibility and, honestly, you are better off playing a sport in college.”
Thren, whose father, Greg, and sister, Alyssa, graduated from Ursinus, also extolled the virtues of “going to a Division III school where you can really focus in on academics and athletics.”
Her selection created a Wall of Fame first: mother and daughter members. Vicki Thren, a physical education teacher at Upper Perk, was added to the Wall in 1975.
“It’s an incredible honor,” Nikki Thren said. “The fact that my mom was in there makes it even more exciting.”
Vicki Thren, who played hockey and lacrosse at East Stoudsburg, is proud of the fact that her daughter earned her way onto the Wall. Selection is no longer automatic for the Outstanding Athlete award winner.
“The reason I got in was because I was automatically put in,” Vicki said. “I never will know if I would have been selected, but being selected by a committee to actually get into it means more, I think.”
Both O’Hara and Nikki Thren were multiple sport athletes in high school. O’Hara, whose favorite sport was, and still is, football, earned several honors on the gridiron and as a power lifter.
He threw the javelin 208’ to earn a gold medal in the PIAA State Tournament and Upper Perk’s only state championship in a field event.
In his acceptance speech, O’Hara, who was introduced by his brother Pat, urged Upper Perk’s athletes to play something every season. “Don’t get sucked into playing one thing,” he told the attendees.
After the inductions, attention turned to the current crop of Upper Perk athletes. Basketball player Stacey Auckland earned an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Sports Boosters for going over the 1,000 point mark in career scoring. She also picked up an Athlete of the Season Award and was the Girls Basketball MVP.
Swimmer Mason Cassel took the male Outstanding Achievement Award for his accomplishments in the pool, including a Most Valuable Swimmer designation at the District I Championships, where he led Upper Perk’s swimmers to the title again this past season.
Cassel, who will be heading to Marist College, was also named All-Around Athlete and the Boys Swimmers MVP.
Field hockey and lacrosse stalwart Devon Kriebel was named the female All-Around Athlete.
Carrie Nyce (field hockey, track, lacrosse) and Wolfgang McStravick were voted the Outstanding Athletes by the coaching staff.
Wrestlers McStravick, Dylan Steffenino and Dante Steffenino were commended for exceeding the magical 100-career-win mark.
The Samantha Snyder Memorial Award was given to Brandon Umstead and Christina Williams.
Quinn Perlstein was awarded the Coventry Transportation Football Award, the Terry Fetterman Award and the U.S. Army Scholar Athlete Award. Sami Stalford was also a recipient of the latter.
Chandler Junk took the Champion Award.
The Kicks Club Scholar Athlete Awards went to Corey Burkhart and John McHale. Burkhart was also given the Valley Soccer Award, as was Sierra Kahler.
Dylan Steffenino was presented with the Joe Ricapito Sr. Award and the U.S. Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Award; Nyce with the Deborah Hodge Memorial Award; Bryon Scholl and Kim Kachmar with the Ralph W. Engle Memorial Award; Ryan Harris with the Kyheim Tripp Memorial Award; Dan Heinrichs with the Keith Klepac Memorial Award; and Danni Moser received the Lori C. Moll Memorial Award.
Moser, Kachmar and Rachael Keeney received Citizen Athlete Awards.
Of the 99 seniors honored at the Blue and Gold, 82 will be going on to a post-secondary education. Six will be going into the military.
Perlstein closed the banquet with a student thank you ,in which he commended the school board and central administration for their awareness of the importance of co-curricular activities in the development of Upper Perk students.