Kentwood’s Nick Zografos proved this year to be a rare breed: the three-sport standout. There weren’t many of them among the boys this prep season. Zografos’ all-out athletic assault helped him capture The Reporter’s Male Athlete of the Year honors.
But there were plenty of other big-time performances from some big-time athletes.
Below is a look at a handful of male athletes from our three local schools (Kentwood, Kentlake and Tahoma) who were in the running for The Reporter’s Male Athlete of the Year award.
Nick Bayer, Tahoma
Talk about a smooth operator. None were smoother, calmer or downright more pleasant to talk with than Tahoma wrestler Nick Bayer.
And without question, when it comes to the wrestling mat, no one was better.
Bayer ripped through his first three matches of Mat Classic XX, pinning his first opponent before working over his next two, 10-4 and 8-1.
Then the level-headed sophomore ran into a bit of a roadblock in the championship match against Graham-Kapowsin’s Tyler Story. Down 6-4 with 28 seconds remaining, Bayer methodically worked a one-point escape before finishing the season in style, notching a title-winning takedown with 1.8 seconds left on the clock.
Bayer finished the year with a 37-5 overall record.
Demitrius Bronson, Kentwood
In a program that seems to churn out elite-level running backs every year, Bronson has been the man at Kentwood for four seasons.
The University of Washington-bound senior continued to drop jaws this past fall, rushing for 1,450 yards and 12 touchdowns in 10 games. Those numbers become even more impressive when considering that Bronson missed 2 1/2 games with an ankle injury.
No doubt, when Bronson played, Bronson delivered. Matter of fact, he scored at least once in every game he suited up, eclipsed the 200-yard mark three times and finished his prep career with a Kentwood-best 3,569 yards rushing, breaking the previous mark established by John Gardenhire.
Zach Smith, Kentlake
Smith is no stranger to the highest level of track and field.
A year-round competitor, his name is well known. But at the state level, Smith’s name hadn’t reached elite status until last month.
A junior, Smith missed most of the last two years after a lower-back injury his freshman season. Any thoughts that the Kentlake junior wasn’t yet at 100 percent were put to rest last month during the Star Track state meet in Pasco, where Smith captured the long jump crown with a lifetime-best leap of 23 feet, 3 inches.
The title was the first ever for track and field in Kentlake’s 11-year history.
Chris Marangon, Tahoma
Marangon picked up where former Tahoma star David Bentrott left off last spring.
A versatile athlete on the football field and baseball diamond, Marangon excelled in both.
In football, he became the Bears’ go-to receiver, pulling in 14 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns. Marangon also was a first-team defensive back and an all-league kick and punt returner.
The junior stepped it up a notch on the baseball diamond, helping the Bears earn a third straight state berth and a share of the SPSL North Division crown.
An honorable mention outfielder and second-team pitcher, Marangon went 2-1 with 25 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings pitched on the mound during league play, hit .350 and drove in a team-leading 19 runs.
Max Manthou, Kentwood
This powerful-swinging sophomore is now halfway to his goal of winning four Class 4A state boys singles titles. Manthou, already with back-to-back division, league and district crowns, notched No. 2 on the state scene when he defeated Juanita’s James Russell in the final at the Vancouver Tennis Center, 6-2, 6-4. There’s every chance those two could meet again next spring, as Russell is a junior.
Jonothan Lafler, Tahoma
The Bears senior has spent the last four years going the distance to make a statewide impact. Lafler finished fourth in the Class 4A state cross country meet last fall, helping Tahoma take home the third-place team trophy. This spring, Lafler ran to a silver medal in the 3,200 meters at the Star Track state meet, logging a 9:18.61. That helped ease his disappointment from the 1,600, when a hamstring that tightened up on him slowed him considerably, leaving him back in 16th.
Erick Walker can be reached at 425-432-1435 or email@example.com.