Owatonna High School junior Payton Beyer's thievery on the football field and basketball court might be why he was announced Wednesday as the Junior Athlete of the Year at OHS. The delivery of his honorary plaque was the opening act of a rolling high school coaches parade that stopped at the houses of each of the six male and female finalists.

Lindsay Bangs earned the top female athlete honor. Bangs won three medals at the state gymnastics meet in February. The other junior finalists are Bryaden Truelson, Zach Kubicek, Sara Kingland, and Grace Wolfe. The senior athlete honors will be announced Thursday, May 28. Finalists are Zach Wiese, Kaitlyn Madole, Asia Buryska, Keenan Young, Isaac Gefre, and Sara Anderson.

Beyer said, "It's pretty sweet. I work hard and it pays off I guess." He said he really enjoys the competition aspect of sports, "Go for the win. Go for it all." Catch more from Beyer and all the junior finalists on AM 1390 KRFO Coaches Show Saturday morning at 9 am.

Beyer led the section championship football team with five interceptions and six pass deflections. He was also tops on the Huskies basketball squad in steals with 50.

Beyer landed All-District honors as a receiver and defensive back for the gridiron squad. At the time, coach Jeff Williams said, "Payton is a tough match up for defenses who tried to cover him one-on-one. His height, leaping ability and hands allowed him to come down with most contested passes. He is a great cover guy and was instrumental in shutting down a team's best receiver."

Basketball coach Josh Williams said Beyer had a bumpy start to the hoops season due to mono, but recovered, "The second half of the season with Payton, he was no doubt a difference maker. He was just playing at another level athletically than most guys on the floor." Beyer was an All-Big Nine honorable mention selection.

Beyer also plays baseball. In fact, his family created Silo Field, a grass baseball field in their backyard that he says got played on quite a bit in his younger days.

Truelson said, "It's a cool honor and I'm happy to be named with the other guys who got announced as finalists." He is moving along from a knee injury during basketball season  in December and hopes to be ready for football season in the fall. About being a three-sport athlete, he said, "I just love always being in-season and having something to do."

Kubicek was happy to be included as a finalist, "Kind of surprised but also honored. It's a great award...I never thought I would be in this position." He enjoys the time with teammates, "It's a great way to make lasting friendships and also fun to compete."


silo field baseball
Roy Koenig/Townsquare Media


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