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Lopez gets late invite to All-State wrestling

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

SAPULPA — Michael Lopez’s high school wrestling career was over, then it wasn’t.

The 126-pound senior from Piedmont assumed he’d watch Thursday’s All-State wrestling match as spectator, but as it turned out, he took it in from a much different perspective.

Lopez received a call from PHS wrestling coach Erik Ford Wednesday afternoon. The West team’s 126-pound wrestler had dropped out, freeing up a late opening for Lopez.

“That was one of the biggest surprises of my life,” he said.

There was just one problem. Out of season and in the middle of his summer, Lopez was overweight and needed to shed six pounds in about 24 hours.

“I went and got some sweats and T-shirts and went up to the old wrestling room and ran for two hours,” he said. “Then I took a little break for an hour and ran some more.”

Lopez wasn’t sure he could make it.

“I was pretty scared,” he said.

He did make it, though, just in time to wrestle for the West team against the East’s Hunter Youell of Owasso, a state semifinalist in 6A last season. Lopez took an early shot from Youell, but recovered to scrap out a 3-1 win to help the West to a 25-14 victory in the dual.

Lopez said in retrospect the early shot from Youell was just what he needed to settle into the match.

“He came out there with a hard club and it shook me for a minute, but then I got everything under control and started wrestling at my own pace and wrestled my match,” he said. “Getting that early shot gave me a better feel for how hard he was going to wrestle.”

Lopez’s wrestling career isn’t over now. He’ll wrestle in college at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in Miami next season.

“It’s a great opportunity. I went up there and toured the college and everything is really nice,” he said. “The coaches really know what they’re doing up there. It’s going to be fun. I can’t wait.”

That wasn’t at the front of his mind late Thursday night. With his teammate and fellow All-Stater Brody Largent standing just a few feet away, Lopez chose to reminisce about his career in Piedmont instead.

“I’ll never forget the bus rides from freshman year, the teammates I had sophomore and junior year and how close I grew as a family to them,” he said. “I had good times and I had bad times. We won and we lost, but we were always a family. It’s a great memory to have.”

Now, Lopez has one more memory to take with him.

“It is perfect. Coming over here was just icing on the cake,” he said.

Largent represents Piedmont in All-State wrestling

Daniel Smola
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

SAPULPA – Brody Largent competed for the Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State wrestling team on Wednesday night at Sapulpa High School.

Largent represented Piedmont wrestling and the Large West squad at 195 lbs. His opponent was Walker Smith of Shawnee, who will be Largent’s teammate at the University of Central Oklahoma next year.

Largent never trailed in his match, scoring two points in the first period and one point in the third period. He went on to win the match 3-2 and helped the Large West team to a 25-14 victory over the Large East.

Largent shared his thoughts about his performance in the match.

“I thought it was sloppy,” he said. “I’m out of shape, but I went out there and had fun and did work.”

He also talked about how much he knew about Smith going into the match.

“I knew this last season he went undefeated, state champ in the weight above me,” he said. “We’re going to the same college this year, so it was kind of like a ranking match for me.”

In the third period, Largent started to feel ill. A timeout was taken with 19 seconds left in the match, and he walked over to the scoring table with his hand over his mouth. He ended up vomiting.

“I felt it coming, and then it went away and I thought it wasn’t going to come back,” he said. “Then right after that it came back and I had to hold it in my mouth for a little bit. But that relieved me after that.”

Fortunately, he was able to shake it off and finish the match. Largent also discussed what it meant to him to be recognized as an All-Stater.

“It’s an honor,” he said. “It was a privilege to wrestle and it was a lot of fun.”

Largent also got to share the All-State experience with another Piedmont wrestler in Michael Lopez, who was an alternate and was called up to compete in the event.

“He called me today. He was an alternate, he got called up to come wrestle. He was worried that I had left already. He called me and said “Hey can I ride with you? … I’m wrestling today,” and I was like ‘no way!’ It’s awesome having a teammate come wrestle in this event.”

On the horizon for Largent is UCO, where he will be wrestling for the Bronchos.

“I’m excited,” he said. “I’m going to be fresh meat going into that thing. I have high expectations for myself though, I’m excited.”

He also had a few people to thank for all of his success in wrestling.

“Both of my parents, my family, all of my coaches and my teammates,” he said. “Always pushing me and always on my butt about eating right and working out. I just gotta thank them.”

Hardy, Mylonas ready to lead Piedmont volleyball

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

Transition has been the name of the game for Piedmont volleyball this summer.

Head coach Brad Brucker resigned in early July and assistant coach Lauren Bernhardt was named the new head coach two weeks later.

For senior starters Skylar Mylonas (libero) and Kasidi Hardy, (setter) the coaching change came as each was facing bigger roles in their final season in Piedmont. Adding another dynamic for a senior duo on a team with big goals in Bernhardt’s first year.7-10 Skylar Mylonas Volleyball

“I think we can go to state this year if we keep the negativity down and we really hone in on all our skills,” Mylonas said. “We have the talent, we just need the personalities.”

That’s where Piedmont’s two most pivotal seniors come into play. With a total of six years of varsity experience between them, ability likely won’t be in question for either, but keeping a team together through a long season filled with ups and downs will be a new challenge.

“We have good talent right now, we just have to stay focused and keep our chemistry,” Hardy said. “That’s what will get us there. It’s definitely a responsibility of ours to make sure that happens.” Read more →

Lallemand shaped by adversity and loss

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

Adversity hardly fazes Piedmont head boys basketball coach Troy Lallemand.

Sure, the 34-year-old Girard, Kan., native is fiery on the sidelines and in practice, but he’s always in control. He never looks past the next step.

Probably because life has given him no other option.

Raised in Girard, a small farming community in southeastern Kansas about 40 minutes from the Oklahoma border, Lallemamds’s most likely
future was on the farm.

“Growing up it was kind of like, this is your land and you’re a farmer,” he said.

Photo Provided The Lallemand family from left to right: sister Tanya Davied, Troy Lallemand, Marye Lallemand, Travis Lallemand and Nichol Lallemand.

Photo Provided
The Lallemand family from left to right: sister Tanya Davied, Troy Lallemand, Marye Lallemand, Travis Lallemand and Nichol Lallemand.

Lallemand, and his older brother Travis, had other ideas, though. Although their parents (Dad, Bob and mom, Marye) weren’t athletically inclined, the brothers took to sports early. By seventh grade, Lallemand knew he wanted to coach basketball.

It was a deviation from years of tradition. But for his father, a lifelong farmer, that was OK.

“The only thing my dad ever told me was to do what I wanted and to do it to the best of my abilities,” he said. “We were very close and he wanted us to follow our hearts.”

Travis and Troy became the first of their family to go to college. Travis played baseball at Berry College in Rome, Ga., and parlayed that into a coaching career as the head baseball coach at Crowder Junior College in Neosho, Mo, where he’s coached since 2003. Troy Lallemand played college baseball at Missouri Southern. He had scholarship offers in basketball, but opted to play baseball like his brother. Read more →

Business After Hours

The next Piedmont Chamber of Commerce “Business After Hours” event will be Thursday, July 30 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Fina Municipal Building.

Co-hosts for the gathering are the City of Piedmont and Piedmont-Surrey Gazette.

The Business After Hours event provides Chamber members an opportunity to network, socialize and become better acquainted with their fellow chamber members in a relaxing, after-work environment. Catering the free event will be Cocina De Mino, the popular Mexican food restaurant.

“What a great way to beat the heat and meet your fellow chamber members,” noted chamber executive director Lisa Gigstad.

The Fnia Municipal Building is located at 314 Edmond Rd. NW.

Bernhardt named head volleyball coach at Piedmont

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

Lauren Bernhardt is Piedmont’s new head volleyball coach, ending a two-year stretch as an assistant on the Lady Wildcats’ staff.

“I’m excited. This is definitely something I’ve wanted since I started coaching,” she said. “It’s something I didn’t want to rush into. I’m glad I was patient about it because I have a lot of confidence now and feel great about this opportunity.”

Bernhardt replaces former head coach Brad Brucker. Brucker, who led Piedmont’s volleyball program for its first three years of existence, resigned for personal reasons earlier this month. He will continue his role as girls head soccer coach.

Blake Colston/Gazette Newly named Piedmont head volleyball coach Lauren Bernhardt, center, poses with last year’s senior class prior to their senior night match with El Reno last season. Bernhardt was an assistant then.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Newly named Piedmont head volleyball coach Lauren Bernhardt, center, poses with last year’s senior class prior to their senior night match with El Reno. Bernhardt was an assistant then.

“I wanted and needed more time with my family,” he said. “I’ve had lots of personal changes in my life the last year and needed the extra time.”

Though he won’t coach, Brucker intends to stay close to Bernhardt and the Piedmont program.

“I still talk with (Lauren) quite a bit,” he said. “She came on my highest recommendation. She’s got a little fire to her, she’s detail-oriented and she’s passionate. I think she’ll do really, really well.”

Bernhardt inherits a team that won a program-best 13 games last season and returns a bulk of its talent this season. Talented frontline players Maddie Booth, Brooke Spears and Laureli Grothe – all sophomores – return along with senior setter Kasidi Hardy and senior libero Skylar Mylonas. Read more →

Strong pedigree helps Ford succeed as young coach

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

By his count, Piedmont head wrestling coach Erik Ford has celebrated four state titles in his career.

The first came as a 112-pound sophomore at Chickasha High School, and the last three as a head coach at Piedmont while Aaron Hane (2012), Blane Culp (2014) and Brody Largent (2015) won state championships under his watch.

At just 29, Ford will enter his sixth year as Piedmont’s wrestling coach this winter after a decorated high school career with the Fightin’ Chicks that he parlayed into a three-year career with the University of Oklahoma’s wrestling team.

Photo by Julia Henry Erik Ford, left, watches from the bench during a match last season.

Photo by Julia Henry
Erik Ford, left, watches from the bench during a match last season.

These days, Ford claims the titles as his own, not because he takes credit for his wrestlers’ hard work and success, but because he delights from their successes as much as a coach now, as he did his own as a competitor.

“It’s a lot like winning yourself,” he said. “All three have been a little different and all three were among my top accomplishments and moments as a coach.”

That, as much as anything, defines Ford now.

As a young athlete growing up in Chickasha, Johnson preferred baseball and basketball. He didn’t even step foot onto a wrestling mat until seventh grade when Chickasha head wrestling coach Chad Randle convinced him to come to offseason practice. A 75-pound wrestler then, Ford liked the sport
from the first practice. Read more →

Wallace, Belcher have rodeo in their blood

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

SHAWNEE –– Mia Belcher and Blakely Wallace aren’t typical high school students. As their classmates spend the summer on vacation, the cousins from Piedmont are busy trying to make the short-go at rodeo events around Oklahoma.

Last week, Belcher and Wallace took part in the International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee.

For Wallace, the final youth rodeo event of her high school career didn’t go exactly as planned, but it hardly put a dent in her overall resume.

Racing on a slow, muddy track against the top competition in the World at the IFYR in Shawnee last week, Wallace wasn’t happy with her times in the pole bending or barrel racing competitions. Read more →

Sharon Morgan named as a finalist for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year

sharon-morgan

Sharon Morgan

Sharon Morgan

Piedmont school district Teacher of the Year Sharon Morgan has been named one of 12 finalists for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.

State Superintendent of Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced Oklahoma’s 12 Teacher of the Year finalists at the EngageOK Conference on Thursday, July 9 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

For the past three years, Morgan has taught first grade at Piedmont Elementary School. She has been teaching for a total of 17 years.

“These teachers demonstrate incredible talent, creativity and dedication. They represent the best-of-the best, and that is not an easy achievement when you consider how many amazing teachers our state has in all of its schools,” Hofmeister said. “I am honored to recognize our finalists, and I look forward to collaborating with them and sharing their successes with all of Oklahoma.”

The winner will be announced Aug. 25.

Stark off to fast start at PHS

Kelli Patterson image

Kelli Patterson is one of Piedmont’s few returning players with varsity experience that head coach Jordan Stark will have next season.

By Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

Newly hired Piedmont girls head basketball coach Jordan Stark has hit the ground running at her new post.

Literally.

With two weeks left until summer conditioning ends for the Lady Wildcats, when Stark arrived she wasted little time implementing her system and getting to know her personnel, junior guard Kelli Patterson said.

“When coach Stark came she got straight down to business, she wasn’t going to ease into it,” Patterson said. “She said, ‘we’re going to run these offenses and these defenses, so let’s get ready to work.’”

Sometimes that includes running through the drills with her players.

“She doesn’t just do them, she does them well,” Patterson said. “She’s really good.”

That’s part of what the 25-year-old Stark, who’ll begin her second season as a head coach this winter after two years as an assistant in Clinton, hopes will help her relate to her players, while gaining their respect in the process. And, hopefully, finding out who can do what. Read more →

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