Owatonna High School junior Lindsay Bangs was announced Wednesday as the Huskies top junior athlete. Payton Beyer earned the honor as top junior male athlete. The high school athletic staff led a small caravan of coaches, media and well wishers to the houses of all the finalists for the honor. A similar parade will recognize the top seniors on Thursday.

Finalists for the junior female award included Sarah Kingland and Grace Wolfe. The other finalists for the boys were Zach Kubicek and Brayden Truelson. Senior finalists are Sara Anderson, Asia Buryska, Isaac Gefre, Kaitlyn Madole, Keenan Young, and Zach Wiese. The 110-percent award winners and O-Club members are also being honored.

Bangs was taken aback by the number of coaches (about a dozen) taking part in the caravan, "I'm kind of surprised. Yeah. A lot of people here." Regarding the honor, "Getting this (award) this year, makes me want to try harder next year for more achievements."

Bangs won three medals at the state gymnastics meet in February, while participating at state for the fifth time. She is a four-time finisher in the top five of the all-around. Bangs has earned All-State honors five times. After this year's state meet she said, "I got my season high score...I'm happy about it. I can't be disappointed. But I'm hoping to come back next year and do even better."

Bangs told the Owatonna People's Press that one of her top memories of her high school career so far was being part of Owatonna's first-ever team at the state gymnastics meet.

Gymnastics coach Evan Moe commented at the state gymnastics meet, "Really a quality meet from her. Season high by a good bit of 38.1...Big expectations from her next year in her senior year. She fully expects to be back taking another run at that title."

Bangs also is a member of the OHS honor roll for the high jump during the track and field season. She won the Big Nine title as a sophomore and competed in the Hamline Elite Meet in 2019.

Listen for reaction from Bangs and other athlete of the year finalists on the AM 1390 KRFO Coaches Show Saturday morning, May 30 at 9 am.

Kingland was thrilled to be a finalist for junior athlete of the year, "Very exciting, There's a lot of girls who are good in our grade who definitely deserve this." She didn't hesitate to say basketball was her favorite sport even with her soccer and track coach within earshot, "I like in basketball how I took a bigger leadership role."

Wolfe congratulated Bangs, "That is awesome. Congrats to her. She's an amazing athlete, I think everybody knows that." Wolfe enjoys sports overall and the people she gets to play with, but hockey has most of her heart, "It's to one I have more passion for. I hate to say that when my soccer coaches are here...I have so much joy when I play it." Wolfe hopes to pursue college hockey in the future.