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The Chenoweth Awards Lead the Way

Every year since 1999, Gulf Winds Track Club has recognized the top male and female athlete for track and field and the top male and female athlete for cross country from the area high schools.  There have been at least 75 awards for $37,500 in aid and assistance. You can find the complete list except for this year’s winners on the GWTC web page at Chenoweth Winners.  To me the awards ceremony, along with the Pot Luck Bash 4 mile run, make for an extraordinary weekend.

The talent level of this year’s Chenoweth awards winners was as good as any so far and a look through the all-time list will reveal some outstanding young men and women. As you know, cross country is run in the fall, and the awards presented in June were for performances in the fall of 2016. 

The male cross country award winner was Michael Phillips. Nominated by Chiles High School head track and field coach Philip Browning, the junior harrier was the 3A state champion in cross country and helped lead his team to the state championship.  He was also nominated for the top cross country award by Maclay coach, Gary Droze, who reported Michael had the fastest 5K cross country time in the area by 30 seconds.  On the track, he ran the top area times in the 1600 and 3200 meter events, 4:13.5 and 9:05.2.  It also should be noted that the cross country and distance running coach for the team is Michael’s father, Mike Phillips.

On the female side the top award went to a runner who will hopefully be back not only next year, but also for grades 10-12.  The Chenoweth Award winner for the 2016 cross country season was Alyson Churchill.  Alyson was the state champion in cross country, and dominant on the track, where she ran the top area times in both the 1600 (4:55.63) and 3200 (10:23.81), earning a silver medal in both these events at the state meet.

Tyricke Dickens was the top male for track and field, breaking up the distance runners’ party.  Tyricke starred at Godby High School, becoming the 2017 State Champion in 110 hurdles and finishing 3rd in the 300M hurdles at state meet.  He was ranked 21st in the country in the 300 meter hurdles and ran on the 4X100 meter relay team and the 4X400 meter team which qualified for the state meet.  He was the 2017 2A region 1 champion in the 110M hurdles (13.85).  He has demonstrated impressive resiliency, leaving his coach in awe of how well he has done academically and athletically despite difficult circumstances. 

Ana Wallace was the top female competitor and earned the top track and field award with a sensational junior season for Chiles High School.  Ana was all-state in the 1600 meters, the 3200 meters and the 4X800 meters relay. She smashed the 5:00 barrier with a 4:57.11 clocking in the 1600. She also ran 10:54.14 for 3200 meters and 18:33 in the 5,000 meter race. She was first team All-Big Bend (2016). 
A new and very special award was created this year in memory of Wakulla High Coach Paul Hoover.  The award, called The Paul Hoover Extra Mile Award, will include a $1,000 scholarship for the high school senior who competed in cross country or track and field and best embodies those things that made Paul Hoover special – a commitment to excellence in everything he did, a willingness to “go the extra mile” and not give up, leadership skills that made the people around him better, honesty that creates trust, and a kind and caring soul.

In what must have been one of his last coaching acts, Coach Hoover nominated Haleigh Martin as his choice for Cross Country Athlete of the Year. And even though there was no such award at the time he wrote his nomination, the following passage describes the essence of the award perfectly.

Although Haleigh unquestionably had a great career at Wakulla High School and accomplished many things individually, I think her greatest contributions were to the WHS teams and the cross country program as a whole.  She is one of the hardest working runners we have ever had in the program and she was a coach’s dream.  She bought into the program and never argued or questioned, at least overtly, the coach’s directions or training program.  For the last three years she has been the runner we depended and relied upon to set the example for the other kids.  We put a lot of expectations and pressure on her and she always stepped up.  She led by example and served as an inspiration for both the girls and boys teams.  She served officially as the girl’s team captain this year, but has been a leader almost from the get-go.  We kidded her a lot this year about being the “minion mister” because she provided transportation (and inspiration) to four of the boy’s team members.  They pretty well followed her directions, but more importantly, they ended up emulating her work ethic and dedication and were part of the boys team who placed 11th at the State Meet, which is the highest team placing we’ve ever recorded at that meet.   This track season she had surgery on her arm the day before the FSU Relays in which she had qualified for the Invitational 3200 meter run, but rather than cancel, she showed up the next day with her arm wrapped up to protect the stitches and ran as scheduled, I’m sure without her doctor’s blessings.  But that is just Haleigh….

And that was one special coach.  The committee was most proud to present the award to Haleigh Martin.