Johnny Reid – Mustangs Ahead

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL)- The 3rd Annual Best of HT Preps banquet recognized several Mustang athletes Monday night at Robarts Arena in Sarasota.

Throughout the year, athletes from Manatee, Sarasota, and Charlotte counties were honored as either finalists for player of the year in their respective sports, or named to a first team or as an honorable mention all-area.

The Mustangs were well represented as senior Karen Lyvers won Female Track Player of the Year, senior Pablo Garabitos won Male Baseball Player of the Year, sophomore Avery Goelz won Softball Player of the Year and senior Damien Gordon won Male Basketball Player of the Year.

The banquet honored over 500 athletes with dinner, special awards, and an appearance by newly-hired Florida State University (FSU) head football coach, Willie Taggert.

Dinner began at 6 p.m. and included live music and many photo opportunities with fellow area athletes.

Following the awards, Taggert, a former state champion at Manatee High School, spoke to the parents and athletes in a question and answer format. He addressed several topics such as perseverance, academics, and his personal life.

Special awards were presented after this, including the inspiration, determination, community service, and academic awards.

The banquet concluded by announcing the overall male and female athlete of the year awards, along with the coach of the year.

LRHS junior Kailtin Bell, an honorable mention for girls basketball, thought the banquet was well run and inspired her to continue to work hard.

“Listening to Willie Taggert was very relatable, and I liked hearing his story and the way he’s worked hard to get where he is today,” she said. “He pursued his dream and never gave up.”

(Goelz was inadvertently omitted from earlier versions of this story.  “Mustangs Ahead” apologizes for the error.)

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