Stovall, Simpson and Wymore selected as Army High School Top Performers

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MARCH 2015 – Each month Kansas City Sports & Fitness Magazine teams up with the U.S. Army to honor High School Top Performers. This month we visited Olathe North, Liberty and the Northland Recruiting Center to honor three Top Performers in the Kansas City metro.

Blake Stovall  – Olathe North – Student/Athlete
Olathe North wrestler Blake Stovall overcame a lot of adversity, on and off the mat, to earn this month’s U.S. Army Top Performer. He won the Sunflower League championship at 138 pounds, upsetting a top-ranked statewide contender in the weight class despite battling a severe nose bleed.

“I got a bloody nose and it was pretty bad,” Stovall said. “I was swallowing a lot of blood and started throwing up, so I was dealing with that the entire match. He was actually ranked ahead of me. It felt really good to get that win.”

Olathe North wrestling coach Josh Carroll, a two-time champion for the Eagles in 2000 and 2001, said the road has not always been easy for Stovall beyond the athletic competition.

“Blake does a lot of great things on the mat and off and he has some struggles, too,” Carroll said. “It’s been a process working with him daily, trying to get him to understand all through life you’re going to deal with obstacles and adversity and you’re going to have to be able to handle it appropriately to be successful.

He’s starting to understand that and handle better those situations that come about.”

Carroll took Stovall’s perseverance through health challenges at the conference meet as a positive sign.

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“He did a good job handling himself,” Carroll said. “He had a lot of opportunities that in the past he would have exploded. This time he did a good job handling it and keeping it inside and just competing. That’s all I want my kids to do is compete hard.”

Stovall was one of eight wrestlers to win a conference title as Olathe North rolled to a Sunflower League crown. The Eagles won a regional title a week later and Stovall again placed first.

Olathe North finished second at the state tournament. Stovall, who won a state title as a freshman, narrowly missed out on his second individual title, losing in the 138-pound championship match.

“I think it’s an award he’s worked extremely hard for in just the last two months,” Carroll said. “I’m excited for him and to see his growth from here on out.”

Noah Simpson  – Liberty High School – Girls’ Basketball Coach
As a new gymnasium rises on the west side of Liberty High School, fans of the Blue Jays basketball teams packed into the legendary Cokely Fieldhouse one final time in late February.

TP-SimpsonThey were not just there to send off a building that has hosted more than 40 years of Liberty hoops and was home to three state champion teams, but also recognize a wonderful season for the girls’ basketball team.

The Lady Jays, under U.S. Army Top Performer coach Noah Simpson, closed out the regular season and historic gym with a rout of Park Hill South. They head into the post-season with a 22-3 record and winning 17 of their past 18 games.

“It’s been a really good season,” said Simpson, who is in his third year at Liberty. “We have some great kids that work hard every single day. It’s been fun to be a part of this ride.”

With the win over Park Hill South, Liberty also claimed a conference title with an unbeaten record.

“The conference championship is huge,” Simpson said. “Something we’ve talked about every year is having a chance to start putting numbers on those banners up there. When those kids come back here in 10 or 15 years, that’s something they can look up at and realize they helped make it happen.”

Even though he’s relatively new to Liberty, Simpson quickly understood how tremendous the atmosphere is at Cokely Fieldhouse.

“There’s so much excitement that happens when people get into this gym and to be able to celebrate that and be able to look back over the history, it’s pretty neat,” he said. “The new facility is going to look great. I think it’s the people that have made Cokely so special, so I think when those people walk into a new gym it’s still going to be special and that has us excited.”

McKenna Wymore – Future Soldier
When Future Soldier McKenna Wymore was told she was receiving the U.S. Army Top Performer award she knew it sounded familiar. Her boyfriend Chris Sammons received the same honor two years ago.

TP-Wymore“He told me about the award when he got it,” Wymore said. “When I found out I was getting the same award I had to call him, ‘Chris, you’ll never believe it.’”

Wymore was graduated early from Smithville High School and enrolled at Maple Woods, getting a jump start on her college education before shipping out for basic training and AIT this summer.

She enlisted in the Army Reserve last August and will be a Civil Affairs Specialist. Despite coming from a family with several military members, she had never really considered joining the Army until her mom suggested it.

“My grandpa was in the Air Force and my uncle is currently serving in the Army,” Wymore said. “My dad was a Marine. Mom called me one day and said, ‘what about the Army?’ And I thought, ‘yeah, I could do the Army.’”
Wymore has a slight build, but any questions about her toughness can be answered by her hobby: Roller Derby.

“I first got into Roller Derby through my Spanish teacher in the eighth grade,” Wymore said. “She was on the Kansas City Roller Warriors team. So I got into the junior league.”

She has out grown the junior league, but plans to join an adult league in the future.

“Hopefully after I get out of basic training and AIT I’ll be able to find a league and get back into it,” she said. “It’s super fun.”

Wymore is looking forward to basic training, AIT and resuming her college career, while serving in the Army Reserve. And to comparing Top Performer awards with her boyfriend.

“He got a trophy and I got a plaque,” she said. “We’ll have to display them next to each other.”

Article by Nick McCabe

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